Kansas City’s Best Co-Working Space

Kansas City co-working space

For the past 7 years, I have worked from home. I began my #WAHM (work-at-home-mom) career as an administrative assistant for someone living in Germany and eventually grew into a role that largely has me working for myself as a digital marketing and social media strategist from Kansas City.

During these past 7 years, our family also grew and I had children’s schedules to work around. Nap time was my work time. As soon as the kids were down for naps, I got an unseemly amount of work done.

Then they grew older and grew out of their naps. So I had to work around preschool schedules and planned quiet activities for them that they could do while I worked. Working from home with kids who no longer nap was definitely a challenge. I often felt like I was working all day and doing a poor job at mothering. I’m sure neither were actually true, but it just felt like I was never as good at either of those roles as I would have liked to be.

So when it came time for all of our kids to be in school this year, I decided it was time for a change for me. You see, I’ve probably spent about 75% of the past 7 years within the 4 walls of our home.That’s a lot of time at home! I do not regret it and I wouldn’t change anything. I am glad I was able to be at home and do outside work that was meaningful to me and helped our family financially.

But . . .

Getting out of the house and joining a co-working space in Kansas City has been a game changer and I’ll tell you why.

Work-life balance: When I worked from home, it was easy to let work seep into my time with my kids and husband. After all, my desk was just a few steps away. And we all know you never really get ahead with work. There is always more work to do. It was too easy to tell the kids, “I’m going to go back to my room and work for a bit” and find myself getting sucked into work an hour and a half later when I found the kids fighting with each other because they probably just needed some attention from their Mom.

Now, after spending uninterrupted time with my family before they head off to work and school, I get in my car and drive downtown to WeWork Corrigan Station. I head up to the 3rd floor, find a space in the “Hot Desk” area and get to work. I’m not thinking about the laundry I could be doing, or the cleaning that needs done around the house, I’m just thinking about work. It’s like my brain has a dedicated spot for my work productivity. I am “at work” so it’s far easier to stay focused on work.

I’m also highly motivated to stay focused because I know that I have to leave at a certain time to get the kids from school. Once they come home, I’m not on work time anymore, I’m on family time. Having the distinction of work and home has done wonders for my work-life balance.

Networking: I am currently working more hours than I ever have so I am not able or wanting to take on more clients. But if I was, WeWork would be an excellent way to grow my business. I’ve been asked by several WeWork members if I am looking to take on more clients because I have a skill set that would help their business. I will not be surprised if I someday do this, but for now, simply growing my network is a good thing for me.

I’ve also watched countless interactions between WeWork members where one person realizes the other person may have a skill set that benefits the other. Meetings between potential clients definitely happen here.

Kansas City wo-working spaceSocializing: Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to plan parties and be with people. I planned a really informal Taco Bar potluck a few weeks ago and the turn out was great. I met a British couple who run a branding and design company. One guy brought his very own nacho cheese machine because his company is called IT Nachos. Another guy I’ve gotten to know designs countertop displays in a very niche market. Everyone I’ve met does something a little different and it’s honestly just fun to be around people doing work they love.

If you’re looking to grow your network, joining WeWork is a fabulous way to do it. One other benefit I’ll mention is that when you join WeWork, you’re actually getting access to over 100,000 people worldwide. I regularly see posts within the WeWork member app where one company in another location is looking for a website build or graphic design needs or something else entirely. You may work here in Kansas City but you get access to potential clients from all over the world. This in and of itself is an incredible resource.

Now let’s talk about some cons. While I’ve painted a very rosy picture of this Kansas City co-working space, there are, of course, some cons.

Noise may be an issue for some people. I met one couple who started as Hot Desk Members which means they get to be in any open common area. This is my level of membership, too. They ended up going with a higher level of membership so they could have a private office and less noise. The noise doesn’t bother me and if I ever need a quiet space, I find another area or utilize the phone booths. Headphones also help if I want more calming music. So consider how you feel about room noise, conversation noise, and music noise before you decide to join WeWork in Kansas City.

It will cost you. Obviously, you don’t get access to this amazing space for free. I pay a monthly Hot Desk membership fee of $250. This gives me 24/7 access to the building and I can use any common area that I wish. I also get access to the phone booths on floors 4, 5 and 6 which is very helpful for conference calls. I would be saving $250 each month if I worked from home. So you need to weigh out the cost of your WeWork membership. I am in my 3rd month at WeWork and on the days when I’ve needed to stay home for some reason or another, my level of productivity plummeted. For me, it’s worth it to pay $250 a month. It gives me that work-life balance I was looking for and gets me into the community right here in Kansas City.

So that is my review of WeWork Kansas City. As you can see, I’m very happy here and highly recommend it. Feel free to comment below with any questions and I’ll be happy to answer as best you can. Now go schedule a tour and visit this brand new WeWork location!

P.S. I was not paid or compensated to write this review. In fact, the WeWork staff here in KC don’t even know I’m writing this. So if you’re wondering how honest this review is . . . it’s 100% my words. If you decide you want to join, this referral link is my personal link and if you sign up, I get a small discount on my monthly membership. 

 

How I teach my kids to do their own laundry

Laundry is one of those things I actually don’t mind doing. Before we had kids, folding laundry meant I could sit down and watch an episode of “Friends” guilt-free because I was still doing work while having fun.

But with 3 kids, a husband and ME to do laundry for, it can be hard to keep up. Plus, I really hate when laundry gets behind. Seeing a basket of clean clothes that need to be folded is like seeing the last chocolate chip cookie on an empty plate. The clothes scream at me to be folded and the cookie screams at me to be eaten. I almost always acquiesce to one of those screams for help. I’ll let you guess which one it is.

So back to how I teach my kids to do their own laundry.

Let me first say that teaching your child to do laundry is a process. You will want to decide what aspect of laundry you want them to do. Do you just want them to learn how to run a load of wash? Or do you simply want them to fold their own clothes? My kids start their own laundry, switch loads, fold clothing, and then put it all away. But we had to build up to that. Here is what I did to teach them to do their own laundry:

Training is key. Two summers ago, I implemented a summer chore system that involved teaching the kids to do laundry, among other things. I taught them every single step in the process.

I first explained how laundry was done, and then we did a load together. I also designated roles for each kid. At the time of training, my oldest was the only one who could reach the knobs on the machine so, to this day, she’s the one who actually starts the washing machine and dryer. Her brothers help get the clothes in and out of the machines and they also switch the loads.

how i teach my kids to do their own laundryWhen the clothes were all clean, the kids carried the basket upstairs and dumped the clothes on the floor. Don’t worry, I asked them to do this. With all of the clothes dumped out, it was easier for them to search for their own clothes and pull them into a pile for folding. Once they had created their own pile of clothing, I showed them how to fold a shirt. Then a pair of shorts. And so on and so forth. Their clothes were not folded perfectly but that’s ok. The point is, they were learning to clean their own clothes and put them where they belong. I didn’t care if the clothes were folded perfectly.

Have low expectations. Let’s talk about expectations for a minute. When I say I taught my children to do their own laundry, I don’t mean I taught them to do laundry like I do laundry. To be honest, the boys are TERRIBLE folders. The 5-year-old is the worst. Their shirts look more like a wad of clothing than a neatly folded shirt. But I’ve learned to let it go. Also, their shirts are often falling out of their drawers because they don’t fit in as well when they aren’t folded neatly. Again, I’ve learned to let it go. There are more important things to be doing in their little lives than perfecting their shirt folding skills.

At the end of the day, my children clean, fold and put away their own laundry. Even though it’s not done to my standards, it’s still done.

A few final thoughts:

  • I have bins for their play clothes that are separate from their dressers. Play clothes do not have to be folded. That helps the task of folding clothes not take as long.
  • Socks and underwear also don’t have to be folded. They just have to be organized and placed in the correct drawer.
  • None of my kids have traditional dresser drawers. We use a variety of Ikea organizers with plastic bins. This makes it easier for the little boys to put away their own laundry.

And lastly, a true confession: I go into the boy’s room every once in awhile and fix their shirts because sometimes I just want the drawers to look like I fold their clothes perfectly. Yes, I lower my expectations. But sometimes, I just have to raise them even if it’s temporary.

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How I teach my kids to do things around the house

A few weeks ago, I was making my bed and realized how much work I would have to do around the house if I did everything for everyone. Imagine if I cleaned every toilet, made every bed, washed every piece of clothing, and cleaned every dish. Because I work full-time now, there is no way I would be able to do it.

how to teach your kids to cook

Sammy’s first meal he made all on his own.

I’m truly grateful that our kids are now old enough to actually help. But I also want to teach them the value of work for their own sake. Kids need to feel valuable. One easy way to make them feel important is to teach them to contribute to the family.

Of course, I also felt this topic would be great fodder for my blog.

I’m finally done turning my nose up at the title “mommy blogger” and embracing it fully with a new series called “How I teach my kids.” I want to show you how I teach my kids to do things around the house like laundry, cook, empty the dishwasher, and clean toilets.

Later, I hope to share with you how I teach my kids economics, business, and entrepreneurship. Some of the things we’ve been doing for years like taking virtual flights around the world, memorizing Bible verses through songs on YouTube and learning about other cultures may turn up in blog posts as well.

And . . . I plan on making them short blog posts. Because really, who has time to read a long blog post these days?

Stay tuned. More to come. And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any of the posts in this series, subscribe to my blog and I’ll send them your way!

How to start a bullet journal the simple way

Before we dive in, you need to know that this is a doozy of a blog post. It’s not a quick read. I go into a lot of detail describing what a bullet journal is and how I use it. So if you’re in the pickup line at school, I recommend you scroll to the pictures and then bookmark this page for later when you can really focus on the content. My hope is that by understanding how I use a bullet journal you’ll know how to start your own!

 

If you’ve been around social media lately, you’ve probably seen people using the hashtag #bulletjournal, #bulletjournaling or even #BuJo. Some are posting pictures of beautifully scripted quotes and elaborate calendar arrangements. You are probably wondering what a bullet journal even is. I had never heard of it until one of my cousins told me about it. Lest you think bullet journaling is just a girly thing, the cousin that told me about bullet journaling is a dude, a body builder, and an ex-marine. So yeah . . .  it’s not just some girly thing.

So what IS it?

Don’t want to read a long blog post? Watch me explain on Facebook how I use my bullet journal.

Ryder Carroll is the creater of the bullet journal and he describes it as “an analog system designed to track the past, organize the present and plan for the future.” I tell people that basically, it’s a planner.

But not just any planner. It’s one you create yourself, making it work for you rather than trying to fit the way your mind works into someone else’s planner layout. Yet it’s also more than a planner. It’s a place where you can plan out what you want your life to look like. For example, I put my personal hopes, dreams and long term plans in my bullet journal so that I can strategically work towards those goals. They live in the same space as my weekly/daily to-do list so that I can be reminded of what those larger goals are that I’m working towards. I truly love it. Now let me tell you why.

How I Use a Bullet Journal

how to start a bullet journalI’ve always been a digital, techy person. I like gadgets. I have several Mac products including an Apple Watch. My husband knows I’d rather have something techy than a piece of jewelry. My parents bought me a Google Home for Christmas and I love it even though I didn’t ask for it. So you may be surprised that I like something so . . . non-digital. 

The reason I love it so much is that when it comes to task management, nothing beats paper. There is something about writing a task down that makes me remember it more, focus on it more, and see it as a priority. There is also something extremely gratifying about crossing a task off a to-do list. I’ve always liked tasks written down on actual paper.

With the bullet journal, I can write things down within a system that makes sense for me. And if I find something that isn’t working, I can tweak it as I go which also makes it awesome. I also love that I can easily track how I’m progressing towards various goals I’ve set for myself. It’s one thing to have goals. It’s another to actually write them down, figure out a plan for how you’re going to reach them, and then track your progress. I don’t know about you but I’m way more motivated to work towards change when I can look back and see incremental improvement, even if it’s just a little bit.

In short, I use my bullet journal to keep on top of daily/weekly tasks and keep an eye on long-term goals.

How a Ton of Other People Use the Bullet Journal

how to start bullet journal

Now, if you were to head to Pinterest and search for bullet journal ideas  you would find loads of blog posts that showcase gorgeous and elaborate drawings on every single page of their journal. Take a look on Instagram by searching the hashtag #bulletjournal.(Go here, here, and here to see the pics above). Do you see what I mean? I swear some people spend an hour a day making their bullet journal look like a piece of artwork. That’s fine for them. But if you’re a busy mom with a job and . . . you know. . . STUFF to do, you’re probably thinking . . .

 . . .”Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

That’s right. I DON’T have time for that. So let’s dive into MY bullet journal. You’ll see that you don’t have to do all those artistic drawings. My daily/weekly log is really quite plain. I add a few flourishes on my other spreads, but overall . . . it’s just meh.

How to Start a Bullet Journal the Simple Way

bullet-journal-2Ok. Now that we have the foundations for a bullet journal laid out, let me show you my actual bullet journal. Obviously, some parts are blurred out. But I hope you get the gist of how I use it so you can decide if it’s the right system for you.

I use a Leuchtturm1917 (pronounced loy-strum) dotted notebook. You can find them on Amazon for around $20. Please note that you don’t have to buy a special notebook to start bullet journaling. In fact, when you first start, I almost don’t recommend you buy anything because it takes a bit to figure out how exactly you’ll use your own bullet journal. I started out with a $5 Wal-Mart notebook that was lined. I switched to the Leuchtturm notebook because I wanted a dotted notebook and it made sense to start a new one in January. Truly. Any notebook will do. Any notebook.

The Indexhow to start a bullet journal

The index is pretty self-explanatory. The Leuttchrum1917 comes with an index and numbered pages all ready to go for you. If you don’t have an index, just designate one of your first pages as your Index, then label each page in your notebook. This goes faster than you think. I had to do this for my first bullet journal.

The purpose of the Index is that you will be adding spreads and logs to your journal throughout the year. It’s useful to have them indexed so that you can easily reference a spread later. For example, I was watching a webinar yesterday and created a spread between my January and February weekly logs so that I could take notes on the webinar. I glanced at the page number I was writing on, then wrote that page number on the index with the appropriate level. Now I can easily reference those notes later by using the index rather than flipping through the entire journal.

The Calendarhow to start a bullet journal

After the Index is my calendar. This is kind of my year-at-a-glance spread. I created a far bigger and more detailed calendar in my first bullet journal and found I never used it. I still use the calendar on my iPhone for all of my events, appointments, and meetings. So this time, I only used two 2-page spreads to create my 2017 calendar. It’s nice to see 6 months all in once place with key work events and various birthdays and holidays.

My Various Spreads

Some bullet journalers call these “collections,” or “lists.” For whatever reason, I’ve settled on the term spread. Each spread takes up at least 2 pages while some repeat that same 2-page look over multiple pages. Think of your spreads as the place where you track long-term projects and goals.

For example, you may have a writing project that involves research, writing an outline, writing chapters, book promotion, etc etc. Each aspect of that project has various deadlines and mini-tasks to get the entire project DONE. If you keep them all on one spread, you can use that spread to drive your weekly tasks. Sometimes we know we need to do X, Y, and Z but X doesn’t need to be done until July while Z has some tasks that need to be accomplished next week.

My spreads are a mixture of projects and goals. Most of them are at the beginning of my bullet journal, between the calendar and my weekly logs.

Here are my GOAL spreads:

reading-list-spread

My Reading List is where I write down books I’m reading or want to read. I color them in on the bookshelf once it’s completed. On the left side of this spread, I have a space to write book recommendations. There are 3 different categories of books I’ll read this year: Business/Marketing, Spiritual/Health, and Fiction. I read fiction before I go to bed each night but want to read various non-fiction books throughout my week. I have a very low goal to read 12 non-fiction books this year. Don’t judge me. It’s a recent discovery of how much I enjoy reading non-fiction.

how to start a bullet journal

My Financial Goals spread is what we used to do some fun dreaming for the future. At the beginning of this year, Jesse and I discussed some practical 2017 goals (pay off debt, save for a vacation etc) as well as some life-long/long-term goals we would like to shoot for. I use Google Sheets to manage our monthly budget and an app to manage our monthly spending. So this is really a “dream” page. It was fun to write down our goals and it’s gratifying to color in the goal trackers on the right page. In my last bullet journal, I drew 2 different “cones” like you would see in a fundraising poster. Each of these cones represented 2 different debts we were working on paying off in 2016. I was seriously giddy to color both of them in all the way to the top as we knocked those out last year.

how to start a bullet journal

My Fitness Goals spread is where I laid out 2 different fitness goals, and how I was going to get there. I’m tracking both my weight and inches this year. I’ll record those measurements at the beginning of each month. I gave myself 3 different levels of goals: gold, silver, and bronze. If I reach the gold goal that would be amazing (and would mean I would look almost as good as I did on my wedding day 12.5 years ago) If I reach silver, I was even more successful than I thought I could be. If I reach bronze, that means I did what I’d set out to do. I laid out a basic plan for how I’m going to work towards those goals on a daily basis on this spread as well.

how to start a bullet journal

My Family spread is a new spread this time around. I haven’t filled it out yet because this one also involves Jesse. We are going to sit down and talk about each child, what their strengths and witnesses are, and some areas we want to really work on with them this year. I’m not talking about their own areas to work on, I’m talking about things we need to work on with each child as it relates to our relationship.

For example, I relate better to our middle child and struggle with our oldest. Jesse is the opposite. (The youngest is pretty easy for both of us to relate to.) So there are certain things we can do to work on that with each kid. This is where I’ll lay those ideas out for reference later and also because once we talk about something and write it down, it’s easy to remember that we have a goal we are working towards with those relationsips.

I have some things I want to work on as a wife too, this year and I’ll fill that last square out soon.

Here are my PROJECT spreads:

I won’t go into a ton of detail on these since they are super specific to me and my job. But I wanted to show them to you so you can get an idea for how to create your own spreads based on what projects you have. I have already added a few more since starting this blog post a few days ago. I simply made sure they didn’t divide up a month of weekly logs by counting out the pages I hadn’t yet made.

how to start a bullet journal

social-media-campaign-spreads

After all of the goal spreads and a few project spreads comes the bullet journal’s sweet spot: the weekly log.

The Bullet Journal’s Sweet Spot: The Weekly Log

I begin my weekly logs with a month spread. Below you can see that I have a January spread where I listed a few tasks. I will add to it as the month goes on. Sometimes, I simply need to quickly write down a task from a meeting and I don’t have a specific day in mind yet that it needs to get done so I’ll write it here. It will get moved to a weekly log later. As I add more tasks here, it will help drive my weekly log.

In my last bullet journal, I used this place to write down each day of the month per the recommendation of Ryder Carroll. However, I found I never used it or referenced it so I turned it from a calendar function to a task function. I also added a new feature by including a spot to write down memories and celebrations. I thought it would be fun to be able to look back over the year and see what cool things happened both at work and personally. This may be anything from “Sammy lost a tooth!” to “That one campaign totally bombed and I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.”

how to start a bullet journal

Next, comes the actual weekly log:how to start a bullet journal

A few components of my weekly log are unique to me. Before I get into those, let me explain the basic gist of my weekly log.

You can see I have a day for each day of the week (Mon-Fri). The top portion of the page is for work related tasks. The bottom is for personal tasks. In those personal boxes, I also have a place to track 3 things each day: weight, calorie burn and if I’ve done 50 push-ups or not (Again, don’t judge me for my weak arms.) I’ve seen some people track the amount of water drunk, steps taken, etc.

On any given day, I create a task with a bullet point. When the task is done, I make an X through the bullet point. If I don’t get it done, I write a > over the bullet point which means I’m migrating it to another date. I then re-write the task on another day. If I find myself migrating the same task over and over again I have to stop and ask myself, is this really worth my time? Or I ask myself if I’m prioritizing my tasks appropriately. This method is all explained in the original bullet journal video by Ryder Carroll.

I also have a slot for “Memoires.” This is another place to write down something I want to remember from the week. I may migrate these to the monthly memories/celebrations or I may leave them as they are and flip through it occasionally to remember the year’s happenings.

One aspect unique to me in my weekly log is that I track our various social media channel’s growth. That’s what that extra box is on my Monday work column.  I also have this info online but I do it here simply because it forces me to pay attention to that each week and helps me focus on where I want to take our social media as we continue to improve.

I build out my weekly logs a month at a time. So I currently have all of January’s weekly logs created AND I went ahead and made the February month spread and the first week of February just because I was feeling ambitious one day. Towards the end of January, I’ll make the rest of February’s weekly logs. This takes me maybe 30 minutes each month.

So that’s my bullet journal. 

I told you it would be a doozy of a blog post, didn’t I? If you made it here I congratulate you! Like I’ve said, what makes the bullet journal so great is that every single person can make it work for their unique needs. And . . . you can tweak as you go! In my last bullet journal, I did that often. I found myself changing my weekly log as I realized I didn’t need or want to track certain things.

It really is a great system. However, I will say it’s probably not for everyone. My husband is NOT a planner. So I figured this would be a great system for him. He tried it and couldn’t really get into it. He and I are about as different as they come when it comes to how we get things done. I’m a feeler and a doer. He’s a thinker and a processor (which is why he’s a great a counselor). I think that if you’re goal-driven, task-driven, and like long-term planning, it can be a really useful tool.

So that’s a wrap! I’d love to hear how YOU use a bullet journal. If you have any questions please comment and I’ll try and answer them as best I can. Happy bullet journaling!

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It’s ok to be the mean mom

Today was supposed to be my first day “back” to work after 2 weeks “away.” I put those words in quotations because I work from home. My kids have been on Christmas break for 2 weeks now. One week was spent out of town with family and it was glorious. The other week was spent here at home and it too was pretty great, but about 2 days ago my kids starting getting on each other’s nerves and because I’m not a saint, I’ll admit they were starting to drive me crazy too.

So I was looking forward to January 5th, the day when 2 of the 3 kids headed out of the house for 8 hours and I could head to my desk to dig back into work while the youngest played with all of his Christmas toys (and the toys his brother and sister got but won’t let him play with). I really love my job. I really love who I work with, even though most of our interactions are via email, text and conference calls. I love the creative work I get to do and the purpose behind it. I was not sad about going “back” to work.

However, we live in the Midwest. Lo and behold, snow swept through the metro last night and I woke up to find that school was canceled.

Sigh.

You’re going to have to believe me when I say that I love my kids. I really do. But having them all in the house today has made my non-mom job very difficult. God is good and gracious and reminded me of how precious they are, and that my role as their mom is to train them and disciple them to glorify God with their lives. He created them, after all, and Jesse and I have the privilege to steward our relationships with them well.

I adjusted my attitude, prayed for patience and dealt with interruption after interruption. Some were legitimate (“Can you help me get my glove on?”) and some were not so I had to gently remind them that I was working and they needed to figure out said problem on their own.

So this is my frame of mind going into the post-lunch clean up. At that time, the boys, ages 5 and 7, began to run around upstairs while they waited for me to get a movie set up. We have rules in our house (gasp!) and one of them is that all roughhousing, running and wrestling need to happen downstairs. As I watched them run through the kitchen (where I was cleaning up) another set of thoughts began to seep in:

“Oh don’t tell them to go downstairs. They’re just kids. Let them be. They just need to run off some energy.”

“You’ve been busy with work today. You’re not a good mom because you’re not spending this snow day baking cookies, making snow angels and snuggling with your kids on the couch.”

“Be a fun mom for once.”

So I let them keep running.

And a few minutes later I heard a loud crash. The 7-year-old had run into a large potted plant and the entire thing had fallen over. There was dirt and water all over the floor.

“Great,” I thought, “this is just what I need right now.” I tried to remain calm as I saw my son was near tears. He knew he had made a mistake. I confirmed with him that it was a mistake and mistakes are ok to make, but he needed to make it right. The clean up took FOREVER and I had to work hard at being patient at his somewhat pitiful efforts. As I helped him clean up the mess, I couldn’t help but reflect on how my thoughts had been thwarted.

it's ok to be the mean mom

This picture doesn’t do it justice. Really. I promise.

Jesse and I are the parents in our house. (I know, big surprise.) Which means we set the rules and expectations in our house, not the kids. So why is it that I failed to stick to a clearly set rule of not running around upstairs?

I gave in to one of my idols of being liked. It is my lifelong struggle to care too much what others think of me. I just recently have seen how that thinking sometimes seeps into my parenting. The reality is, I want my kids to like me. I don’t want them to be angry with me. I don’t want them to get mad at me.

So guilt infiltrated my thinking today. I felt guilty for working. I felt guilty for not doing ALL THE THINGS our Instagram feeds tell us other “good moms” are doing. I set aside the standards of our house in exchange for approval  . . . from a 5-year-old and 7-year-old, and from the non-existent observers that judge me as a “good mom” or “bad mom” based on what I do.

How ridiculous was my thinking today??

Fellow moms, fellow parents . . . do you ever struggle like I did today? Do you ever cave to what the world says we should be as parents? Our culture says we should give our children what they want. That we should make them the center of our lives. This kind of thinking is turning normal people into harried, stressed, and guilt-ridden parents.

Before we had our first child, my husband and I talked earnestly about the fact that we were already a family. The focus of our family was Christ. When children entered our family, they would not become the new focus. Instead, they were given to us as good gifts that we should disciple and train so that they will one day grow up to glorify God with their lives. This was how we thought 10 years ago and this is how we still think. Yet, it’s easy to let the cultural parenting norms of our day seep into our thoughts, especially when we see everyone else’s parenting displayed on social media for all the world to see (and approve of or judge).

The running boys and crashing plant today reminded me that it’s ok to be the “mean mom.”

After the whole ordeal was done, I actually talked with all 3 kids and told them that I was sorry for not being consistent. I asked them if they remembered what the rule was about running around upstairs. Every single one of them remembered perfectly.

When I decided to set aside out predefined rule, that was not me being a good or fun mom. It was actually me being a “bad” mom. I demonstrated to my children that the rules in our house are flexible. Sometimes there are consequences, sometimes there aren’t. Can you imagine living with that kind of inconsistency as a child? It’s anything but fair. It’s chaos for a child.

I apologized to the kids for not being consistent and then I asked them if God is consistent. The 5-year-old said no which tells me this whole conversation might have been a bit over his head. But I digress . . . This whole stupid plant ordeal (that is really not that big deal AT ALL . . . but also, my picture doesn’t do it justice) gave me an incredible opportunity to remind myself and the kids that God is NOT like me. He is consistent. He tells us how we can receive redemption from our sins in the Bible and that truth doesn’t change. He does this out of love for us. Everything God every does for us is out of grace and love.

So thank the Lord that He does not parent us like I parented my children today. I want to encourage you parents, but especially moms, that it’s ok to be the “mean parent” at times. You have such an amazing and precious task as you raise children. You get to partake in the glorious task of teaching a child about our consistent, gracious God who finds joy in us despite our sinful hearts. As you parent today, remember this:

Having rules and expectations for your children is GOOD.

Expecting your children to abide by those rules is GOOD.

Following through with consequences when those rules are broken is GOOD.

Following up with hugs, love and reconciliation is VERY GOOD.

We have the amazing opportunity to point our children to Christ by doing our best to model how He parents us. Yes, you will mess up like I did today. And because God is consistent in his love and grace you can know that the gospel is still true today, it will be true tomorrow and for the rest of eternity.

Oftentimes, when you feel like you’re a “mean” mom, you’re actually being a very, very good mom. Keep it up, fellow mean moms!

If you liked this post, you may like my other posts on parenting. 

That time I got cussed out at the grocery store

My trip to the grocery store began innocently enough. It was a busy time of day, right before supper, so the aisles were filled with shopping carts and kids as many parents tried to make a quick stop at the store. As the lone cash register lane got longer and longer, the woman behind me heard another line was opening up and asked me if I wanted to go first since I was next in line. I thanked her and made a beeline for the next available register.

It soon became apparent that no one was coming to open another register, and the kind woman behind me apologized and told me to come back and get my original spot in line. I had my three children with me and was eager to get home after a long day. As I began unloading my groceries on the original register, a third woman noisily began to berate the woman behind me for what she felt was cutting in line.

As a lifelong avoider of conflict at all costs, the stress level in me instantly began to rise. It was clear there was a misunderstanding, and I went out of my comfort zone to apologize to the angry woman and explain that the woman behind me had just moved out of line in order to let me back in.

It was then that expletives and harsh name calling began. Not toward me (or by me) but toward the original woman who had tried to help me. Things escalated from there, and my stress quickly turned to what I believe was righteous anger. It was as if things came into focus, and I saw the situation for what it really was. One human being felt it was OK to treat another human being like she was nothing more than a dirty piece of trash. In fact, that’s exactly what the first woman was called, just with more expletives. I knew I had to speak up.

“No. You cannot talk to her like that. She is a human being! She deserves to be treated with dignity! Her children are here, and my children are here, please do not speak like that. She was simply trying to help me.”

It was then that the angry woman turned on me. My children heard the venomous words spewed toward their mother and the first woman. I remained calm but was thankful a security guard stepped in and asked the woman to leave. My oldest daughter was visibly shaken and close to tears.

The entire front of the store observed the exchange. Heads were shaking as the woman left. We all tried to proceed with normalcy. But I could not shake the feeling that I needed to speak up again to the woman who had verbally been attacked. The woman tried very hard to contain her emotions, but I knew she couldn’t possibly be alright. Her face was covered in some kind of birthmark that no woman would want to look at in a mirror each day. She looked tired and haggard as she held one child in her arms. Her husband didn’t speak up or defend her. I turned back to face her and said, “I am so sorry that woman said those terrible things to you. They aren’t true. You are a human being created in the image of God and should not be spoken to like that. Thank you for helping me.”

We ended up walking out to the car behind her and her youngest child. I said “thank you” one more time as I pushed my cart of groceries and kids past her car. She turned to look at me, and I could see tears were streaming down her face.

Embracing the teachable moments

The kids and I quietly unloaded our groceries. When the doors were closed, I began to help our children process what had just happened.

“Why did I tell the angry woman to not speak like that to the woman who was trying to help me? Why is it not OK to treat another person like that?” It brought tears to my eyes to hear all three children answer, “Because they are made in the image of God.”

You see, lately, we have been trying to help our children, ages five, seven and nine, understand this very concept of being created in the image of God.

  • When our daughter uses her words to hurt our oldest son, we remind her that he is a human being created in the image of God. He deserves to be treated with dignity.
  • When our sons fight over a game or a toy, we remind them that their brother is more important than an inanimate object. Their brother is a human being, created in the image of God.
  • When we watch movies or shows that show a person being cruel or mean to another person, we point out that every human is created in the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • When we’re around the dinner table, we sometimes talk about treating the elderly and those not yet born with the same kind of dignity that we should give to each other.

I believe this random altercation at the grocery story helped attach roots to these seeds of truth we’ve been trying to plant in our children. And it also became a teachable gospel moment. While my oldest accused the angry woman of acting like a five-year-old (and she was), I was able to talk about how I often act selfish and angry. “I am no better than that woman who was mean to the other woman. She needs Jesus to save her from her sins just like I do,” I told my children as we drove out of the parking lot. We all left the grocery store a little shaken, but I left with a deeper faith in the God who finds value in every human being created in his image.

I encourage you to use today—and every day—to teach your children about the dignity of all lives. It is a gospel issue. Teach them to see that all human beings are worthy of respect and all human beings are in need of the wonderful saving grace that comes from Jesus alone. It will change how your family interacts with others, how you speak to your children, and it will remind you of your own need of the gospel.

I originally posted this on ERLC.com. I am resharing it here on my blog in an effort to talk about what it means to be pro-life. Being pro-life means more than speaking up for the unborn. We MUST speak up for the unborn. Hear me say that. But we must also speak up for life as a whole. This woman in the grocery store was being treated like she wasn’t even human. This is not ok.

If you want to learn how to be a voice for life in your community, as well as participate in the annual March for Life in D.C, please consider joining me as I will be attending the Evangelicals for Life conference on Jan. 26-28, hosted by the ERLC and Focus on the Family. Speakers include Matt Chandler, Russell Moore, Eugene Cho and many others. Save 20% off your registration cost with this code: EFLJM