(This isn’t technically a parenting topic, but it is a part of my life and I am a parent so you know what? We’re going to talk about it anyways. Besides, I do think things like this are an important part of overall wellness, so from time to time exercise related topics will appear here on this blog.)
Recently I started a new workout plan, and part of it includes yoga and let me tell you, I hate it so much.
Very unpopular opinion here: but yoga sucks. It’s terrible and I hate it. So much.
Now, I’m probably being a little unfair here, because yoga can obviously be really awesome. It has a ton of benefits, and there’s a reason it’s so popular. But I’m terrible at it, and it makes me feel pretty crappy about myself when I huff and puff and struggle to do the things that the perky brunette with amazing abs on the screen does effortlessly. Even the person behind her who’s purpose is to demonstrate how to modify each move is doing this shit better than me.
So I hate it.
Most of the reasons I hate yoga are specifically things I know it can be really beneficial for. Bad balance? Check! Breathing issues? Check! Inability to relax? Obviously. Poor flexibility? Ugh, check.
The thing is, I want to be good at it. And I know the only way to get good at something is to stick with it even when it’s hard. So I keep trying, even though I’m terrible at it. I want to be the kind of person who does yoga for fun or to relax, or who can actually pull off some of the more complex poses (right now my favourite is the “corpse pose,” and I’m probably not even doing that right!) without feeling like I’m going to injure myself. I look at pictures of way-more-coordinated-than-me people doing weird upside-down bendy things on surf boards or horseback and I’m like, “Yeah!” but also, “Meh.” (out of jealousy, of course) and while I have no illusions that I will ever get to that level of yoga ability, I do want to be decent at it. Or at least not panting like a dog after only 20 minutes.
This awesome post over on a website I recently discovered called Freedom Genesis outlines some of the many benefits of yoga, several of which I had no idea where even…things, and several that I don’t understand even a little bit.
Now, because I’m such a baby about this whole thing, I had to go buy myself special yoga supplies to motivate myself to actually do it. And as I shopped, I found a bunch of really cool things that I think could be helpful for someone else who needs a little help learning to love yoga. My logic is that if I associate the at-the-current-moment unpleasant experience with other things that make me happy, maybe my brain will start to love yoga. Or something.
This super cool yoga mat that has pictures of different poses printed right on the mat.
This mat is much prettier though and comes in a variety of different options, and I just happen to be a sucker for pretty things. (I love the Vivid Zest one!)
Ok but while we’re on the topic of pretty mats: OMG. I think I just fell in love. This one in Night Sky needs to be mine ASAP.)
Yoga blocks can be the difference between kind of being able to do certain poses, and curling up in a ball and crying. Highly recommend.
I used to be obsessed with those metal water bottles for a really long time, until I bashed myself in the mouth with one and almost chipped a tooth. Now I like ones that are safer for a clumsy dork like me to use, like this one that has a straw AND motivational phrases on the side to encourage you to keep drinking water throughout the day. Plus it holds a gallon of water, so maybe I will actually get somewhere close to the required amount of water a day (doubtful still, but I’ll try.)
If lugging around a giant water bottle doesn’t sound very appealing, this 32oz option is likely a better choice. Plus those gradient effect colours are beautiful and I kind of want one in every colour.
With all things, I believe the most important part is just to try and to keep trying to improve a little bit each day. When I’m struggling, I try to remind myself of all the other things I’ve done in life that seemed impossible at first and before long became second nature.
Hopefully eventually yoga will become one of those things. Or at least I’ll learn to hate it a little less.
I’ve started posting some of my posts from this blog over on Medium as well and recently I uploaded one that I haven’t posted here about how to find the motivation to work out when you don’t want to, which is honestly probably advice I should remind myself of sometimes when I’m being grumpy brat about yoga.
(Disclosure statement: links contained in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you use these links to make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. You are in no way obligated to use these links, and your support is very much appreciated either way.)
It should have been easy. All the typical hurdles of naming a person didn’t really apply to me. One of the perks of being a soon-to-be single mom is that there’s no one to argue with over name choices. Also, the list of people I hate or really dislike is so small it wasn’t really like I had any names I really needed to avoid lest they bring up uncomfortable memories later on. (I did briefly worry because my first choice for a “boy” name was the same as the middle name of one of my ex’s, but ultimately decided it didn’t really matter because I loved the name and worst case scenario said-ex might one day hear of my child’s name and assume I had chosen it because of him and at the very least I’d get a good laugh out of that.)
Additionally, and probably the main reason I assumed it would be easy, is that I’ve always been a bit of a name nut. I love names. I have always kept lists of names I love, and I enjoy spending time looking up the meanings and origins for various names. As someone who has written stories her entire life, I’ve always really enjoyed naming characters. I quite arrogantly assumed that when it came time to name my future child, it would be a breeze.
As it turned out, I was half right. As I mentioned, I knew what I wanted to name “him” if he was a boy, and that name popped into my head with barely any thought.
But a name option for if I were to have a girl eluded me through almost my entire pregnancy. When I say eluded, I don’t just mean it was a little difficult, I mean I was having damn near daily temper tantrums, sobbing on the floor hysterically, because I HATED Every. Single. Name.
Even names I had once loved. Even names I love now.
Blame it on hormones. Blame it on the crushing weight of the overwhelming responsibility of having to name a HUMAN BEING. Whatever the reason, I just could not figure out how to choose a name.
What made it even worse – in a way – is I knew I was having a girl. Not “knew” as in confirmed by an ultrasound but KNEW in that way that pregnant women just sometimes know things about the tiny, future human being they are temporarily sharing a body with.
So I knew I was having a girl and I had no idea what to name her.
Then one day I was at the grocery store, in line to pay for my groceries, and I saw a baby name book I hadn’t read before (I had read a lot of them at that point) and just because clearly I was in the mood to cry in the grocery store, I picked it up. I flipped through a couple pages and then there it was:
Of course – for me, just because I’m a weirdo – it couldn’t be her name until she was born (I needed to meet her face to face first) but it felt right.
And it was the ONLY name that didn’t make me cry, so there’s that.
Once she was born, the name was clearly a perfect fit. Have you ever met someone and just had an idea of what their name should be? That’s how I felt when I met her.
Naming humans can be hard. It’s a ton of responsibility and pressure and if you start adding in factors like other people’s opinions that makes it even harder. I personally believe in keeping baby names at least mostly private until the baby is born and officially named. I read a comment somewhere once that basically said that most people find it a lot harder to insult a name once it’s already attached to a living, breathing person and I think there is a lot of truth to that. Once the baby is born and that name belongs to them, (most) people are far more likely to be tactful when discussing their name.
This article from the website The Tot has some really great tips for choosing a baby name, including some I definitely didn’t consider that may have made the whole process much easier.
Now that I am no longer pregnant, I love a lot of names again. I haven’t found any that make me cry and I still don’t hate very many people. And I still love my daughter’s name.
If you had any similar awful experiences naming your children, I’d love to hear about them. If only to soothe my own wounded ego. It’s been 13 years and I’m clearly still not over it. Or leave me a comment and let me know your favourite names or if you regret what you named your kids.
I hate the Elf on the Shelf.
There. I said it. You can leave me any number of hateful comments if you wish.
I don’t necessarily dislike the Elf for any one particular reason. I’m not some huge Grinchy Scrooge who hates fun and Christmas and magic. I don’t go out of my way to insult or belittle the people who are obsessed with that damn thing. I just find it…creepy.
To be fair, I have seen tons of really awesome Elf on the Shelf…shenanigans? My own (future) sister-in-law (not the one who opened my eyes to the wonder of the Instant Pot) has two adorable (creepy) elves that she busts out in December and I love seeing the pictures she posts of all the cute and creative ideas she comes up with.
But I still don’t want one – and have never wanted one – in my house.
Maybe it’s because the idea of a doll moving around the house and watching our every move just gives me Chucky vibes. Maybe it’s because even though I’m a fairly creative person, the idea of needing to come up with a new idea every day (and not forgetting, lest you ruin the magic!) gives me hives. Whatever the reason, I have a fairly negative instinctive reaction to the elf. So negative in fact that I vowed that if one was to ever end up in my home, it would shortly find it’s way into the garbage. (And then probably right back on my kitchen counter the very next day because that’s how these things work! Have NONE of you seen any doll-based horror movie!?)
Luckily for me, my kid is 13 now so I think the Elf days have passed us. Even when she was younger, she never mentioned this Elf that seemed to be taking over everyone’s homes. As far as I know, she wasn’t too emotionally damaged by the fact that everyone else seemed to have one in their house and we didn’t (maybe I should check on that…) And I certainly wasn’t going to introduce one into our lives if I didn’t need to. So I didn’t. And we have lived blissfully Elf-free ever since.
The funny thing about not liking the Elf on the Shelf is that you can’t say you don’t like it, otherwise people who happen to love it will get mad at you, or at the very least extremely defensive. It’s almost like they think you are personally attacking them in some way.
Here’s the thing, if you love the Elf, good. I’m happy for you. I hope you come up with tons of great ideas for how to set up that (potentially evil) thing around your home to delight and amuse your children for years to come. I even genuinely enjoy seeing the pictures you post (as long as they don’t get too close to the face *shudder*) and all the incredibly creative scenes you create. Just because I don’t like the elf doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it or that I’m judging you because you’re into it. I just don’t want one.
We definitely could all use a little more magic in our lives, this year especially.
But please don’t be offended that I hate the Elf. We don’t have to like the same things. I’ll still like you. Unless you give me an Elf. Then we’re done.
What does it mean to be a good mom, exactly?
Is it going out of your way to give your children all the experiences in life you wish you had? Or making sure they never want for anything – even if that “anything” includes $400 designer jeans they’ll grow out of in a month or the newest iPhone?
Maybe being a good mom means keeping a roof over their heads, food on the table and clothes on their backs, by any means necessary. Or letting them go when you’re not in the right place to care for them.
There are so many ways to be a good mom, and for every Good Mom Thing we do, there are 30 other things we’re doing or not doing that make us feel like we’re failing. That’s just the nature of motherhood, especially motherhood nowadays at the height of Comparison Culture where heavily edited, carefully curated glimpses of other people’s perfect lives leave us feeling as if we don’t measure up.
Here are some thing you might be able to relate to that let you know you’re a good mom.
(Please note, just as a general disclaimer: this is not an exhaustive list, there are many other great examples. Additionally, almost none of the examples on this list are requirements to be a good mother. You are still a good mom even if many of these do not apply to you. And finally, this is not a keeping score type of list. If you can say you check 5 of the 7 boxes on this list, that does not make you a better mom than your sister-in-law who can only relate to 3 of the 7, or vice versa.)
#1. You Love Your Kids. Even if they annoy you sometimes. Even if you wish for more time to yourself. YES, even if you sometimes fantasize about what a child-free life may have looked like for you. Despite everything, you love your kids.
#2. You Want What’s Best For Them. Even if what’s best for them isn’t exactly what they want all of the time.
#3. You Worry That You’re Failing/You Worry That You’re A Bad Mom. Does this sound weird to you? It’s totally understandable if it does, but hear me out. The fact that you worry that you’re failing means you care, and just simply caring is one of the most important things.
#4. You Understand That Your Kids Are Their Own People and Not Just an Extension of You. This means respecting their interests and their choices. Letting them express themselves the way they choose, whether that’s the way they dress, their choice of music or even what they prefer to be called.
#5. You’re Selfish Sometimes. This is something that I think a lot of mom’s struggle with, but, making yourself a priority is definitely a Good Mom habit for multiple reasons. It prevents you from burning out, which helps you be at your best. It also models a very important self-love mentality for your children. Your kids need to see you going out of your way to make yourself happy, not just to make everyone else happy.
#6. Your Kids Get Mad at You Occasionally. Motherhood isn’t just having kids. It’s preparing them for life, helping them become the adults they’re going to be someday. Sometimes this means letting them learn lessons the hard way, or saying no to things even though you know they’ll be mad about it. Obviously this doesn’t mean go out of your way to make life difficult for your kids so they are forced to learn through negative experiences, but sometimes not picking them up when they fall down is the right choice. Letting them figure out the solutions to their own problems instead of swooping in to save them every time.
#7. You Do Stuff With Your Kids. It doesn’t have to be something extravagant, it could be anything like picking up a new hobby together or taking a road trip. Family movie nights, or taking an evening walk. If you have activities you often do with your child, that means you’re giving them your time and attention in some form or another, while creating new memories.
As I said, there are a ton of other ways to tell you’re a good mom, these are just a few. Leave me a comment and let me know some of the things you can think of that let you know you’re a good mom.
I almost always cook dinner in my house. My fiance and daughter make their own breakfasts and lunches, and are responsible for getting their own snacks, but dinner is all on me. Which is fine with me. For one thing, my family never complains about anything I make and they’re both always extremely appreciative of every dinner no matter what it is, and also I kind of enjoy being the one to feed them (if anyone had told me 5 years ago I’d be typing those words I would have laughed in their face.)
Recently however, I implemented a new household rule, which is that on Sunday nights my teenage daughter has to plan and cook dinner, and let me tell you…it’s been a pain in the ass.
OK, OK, I’m mostly just joking. It hasn’t been that bad. It has been an experience though, and eye opening in ways I didn’t expect.
In a nutshell: The rules are that every week before Sunday arrives she needs to tell me what she wants to make so I can ensure we have all the necessary ingredients. Then on Sunday she does most of the cooking with assistance and instructions from me as required. Eventually we’ll move to her doing all of it on her own, but for now since she’s just learning, this is what works for us. I try to discourage her from repeating meals because the point is to learn something new, and I attempt as much as possible to be hands off during the process which for me is the hardest part.
Eventually I’ll add more details and rules into the mix. Soon I’d like to have her making the grocery list and assisting with the shopping as well so she has a better understanding of what food actually costs. But I don’t want to pile on too much just yet.
Now, I know a lot of families with much younger children have them help out in the kitchen a lot more and might be thinking, “k she’s a TEENAGER, this shouldn’t be a big deal.” and to be honest, it’s not a big deal. It’s just something new we’re trying to I’m mostly enjoying.
For her part, she doesn’t really love this new task, but has been fairly cooperative so far with just a slight amount of grumbling. She feels incredibly proud of herself with each new meal she cooks, and she gets the hugest smile on her face when her dad and I compliment her cooking. So I’m going to call that a win for now.
As for me, learning to sit back and let her do things without interfering is so damn hard. You’d think I’d have a handle on this after 13 years of parenting, but I don’t. Not at all. I’m a bit (a lot) of a control freak and I get really impatient if I’m watching someone do something that seems inefficient to me. And let’s be honest, watching your kid learn to cook seems really inefficient sometimes (why is she stirring like that???) so this has been a learning experience for me as much as for her.
Oh god I just realized she starts learning to drive next year.
Her dad can do that.
Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear what kinds of chores your kids do. Which ones do they hate, which ones do they complain about the least?
I have one amazing daughter who I would not trade for anything in the world. She is absolutely my favourite person on the entire planet and my life is so much better in every way because she’s in it. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that the fact that I was never able to give her a sibling breaks my heart. And I’ve never been able to because I deal with unexplained secondary infertility, which in a nutshell means I was able to have one baby but for reasons unknown I have never been able to have another.
For a really long time I didn’t admit this to anyone. I think I was ashamed and embarrassed by it. I had assumed it would be easy to get pregnant again. I got pregnant accidentally – while on birth control even! – with my daughter after all, and during a very unhealthy period of my life. So why shouldn’t it be easy to do it again? If I’m being honest now, I was almost cocky about the whole thing. I wanted a big family, and I didn’t see any reason why it wouldn’t happen.
Then a couple years passed with no luck. And a couple more and now, 13 years later, I’m still a mother of only one.
I really shouldn’t say “only” as if it’s a bad thing. Like I said before, I would not trade this gangly, hilarious, incredible, artistic human for ANYTHING in the world. But I can’t deny that not having the big family I had hoped for breaks my heart. I can’t push from my memory the many times my daughter has asked for a sibling and I had no idea how to respond. I can’t stop looking at large families and not feeling bitter resentment. And for a very long time, I kept it all to myself.
One day I stopped keeping it bottled up inside, however. I don’t remember the exact circumstances of the first time – it wasn’t that significant of a life event to be stuck in my mind – but at some point I stopped smiling politely while awkwardly trying to change the subject when people asked when I was going to FINALLY have another baby and I just replied bluntly and honestly: “I would love to have more children, but I’ve been battling unexplained secondary infertility for years and haven’t been able to have another.”
Once I started being more open with my struggles – and started saying the name out loud – things shifted. I’m not going to say it made everything better. But it made it different. For one, people stopped asking me when I was going to have another – which is something people feel shockingly comfortable asking, even demanding sometimes, as if they have some sort of special access pass to the inner workings of my uterus simply because they…know me? I have legitimately had co-workers tell me “You have to have another! You can’t just have one! She needs a sibling!” without knowing just how much those words were killing me at that moment. So I decided to start telling them.
As you might imagine, some people didn’t like this very much because it makes them feel uncomfortable. But here’s the thing: I don’t care. I don’t go out of my way to bring it up but I don’t shy away from it either if it’s actually relevant to the conversation and I don’t care if I make someone uncomfortable by being honest about my circumstances when they start prying into the details of my life (a complaint I have actually dealt with a handful of times, and which makes me laugh because if you don’t want to risk hearing a potentially awkward response, mind your own damn business.)
One of the best parts about opening up about this part of my life, is that I didn’t feel as alone in it anymore. That’s one of the interesting things about infertility, it’s a LOT more common than we think, but we don’t talk about it as much as maybe we should. When I started talking openly about my infertility – even just letting it drop casually in relevant conversation – I noticed other women I know would start to approach me to share their experiences as well. In many cases, I was the ONLY PERSON (other than their partner and doctor) that they had ever told and as cheesey as it sounds, it feels nice to know I can help someone else feel like it’s something they don’t have to keep a secret. It’s nice to be someone they can confess their feelings too without worrying they’d be judged, because they know I understand. There’s something really meaningful about that for me.
Opening up about infertility struggles does in a lot of cases open you up to a whole host of other questions sometimes – Have you tried IVF? Have you considered adoption? – and a lot of weird advice and quasi-reassuring stories of people they know who went through the same thing and went on to have twins or more! (thanks…?) which can all be annoying in it’s own way, of course. I haven’t found the best way to deal with those yet.
If you figure it out, let me know.
A handful of years ago, the man who was at the time my boyfriend took me to visit his sister around the holidays. While we were there, this woman who will some day (eventually) be my sister-in-law started singing the praises of the Instant Pot.
I didn’t really know what it was at the time but as she explained something about putting in frozen meat (or was it just raw?) and pushing a button and dinner being ready in about 10 minutes or so, I thought: “That’s not possible and you’re clearly lying to me right now.”
Ok I’m actually the one who is lying for the sake of comedy. My actual thoughts were something along the lines of “I have no idea how that is possible and I’m far too shy to ask you to elaborate. Sooooo…” *mental jazz hands*
I was intrigued by this Wonder Contraption that I did not actually believe existed but then I kind of just forgot about it for awhile. I had no intentions of buying one, even though I am an absolute kitchen gadget whore. I was a little put off by the price at the time (spoiler alert: I no longer think that) and my at-the-time tiny kitchen just didn’t really need yet another thing in it.
But then a year or so passed and my fiancé bought one (Or was he still my boyfriend at the time? I can’t really keep track) and I’m not going to lie: The thing terrified me.
First of all, I found it ridiculously intimidating. Which buttons do I push and will one of them cause everything to blow up? Or would I somehow give everyone food poisoning maybe? I don’t know, but for whatever reason I decided it was far too complex to use. Plus there’s that whole REALLY SCARY, REALLY LOUD noise when you’re releasing the pressure manually that just made me convinced I was very likely going to die if I used this thing.
So it went into a cupboard. And it sat there for months. Untouched.
Then one day I burnt stew and destroyed a regular pot and decided I should probably give the Instant Pot a try because I had no other options for cooking soup and not cooking soup was just not something I was willing to accept.
See, soups and stews are kind of my favourite things to make and so when the evening came when I wanted to make another batch of stew, and the burnt pot still had not been salvaged (I have since fixed it by the way, if you’re dying to know.) I decided I was going to try to use the Instant Pot.
And now I am completely hooked and I can’t stop using it.
Half of our meals most weeks are cooked in the Instant Pot, and the only reason the other half aren’t is because I haven’t figured out how yet! (Can I do Instant Pot nachos?) Everything tastes better when cooked in that damn thing.
I can’t stop looking up Instant Pot recipes and trying to make plans to streamline dinner making. And there are so many good ones.
Spending a Sunday pre-chopping and freezing ingredients so I can just dump them in the Instant Pot 30 minutes before dinner? Yes. Yes I will. That sounds fun. Sign me up.
Also, I very recently discovered you can make hard boiled eggs in this thing and now I am extra obsessed.
If you need an Instant Pot in your life (believe me, you do) you can purchase a 6 Quart one Here or an 8 Quart one Here. There are a lot of different models but this is the one we have and so it’s the one I would recommend because it’s the only one I’m familiar with.
Fun fact: I brought home a turkey not long ago, and my fiancé commented that it was too bad we couldn’t try cooking it in the Instant Pot so I’m clearly marrying the right man.
And to leave you with a little dinner inspiration, here are links to some of my favourite Instant Pot recipes, including that hard boiled egg on that blew my mind:
Chicken Noodle Soup from Spend With Pennies
Beef Stew from the Salty Marshmallow
Chilli from Dinner At The Zoo
Jambalaya from Paint the Kitchen Red
Hard Boiled Eggs from Gimme Some Oven
Let me know if you have an Instant Pot and if you use it a lot. Drop me a link to some of your favourite recipes if you’ve got them available, or even just let me know what you like to cook in there the most often.
Stay safe everyone!
(Disclosure statement: links contained in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you use these links to make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. You are in no way obligated to use these links, and your support is very much appreciated either way.)
I have always had pretty bad anxiety, and it has often caused me numerous problems throughout life. But since becoming a mother my anxiety has gone through the roof.
This is not uncommon of course, and I am not unique or special in this. I know plenty of moms who experience the same thing. Even women who didn’t suffer from anxiety before having children sometimes become mothers and then suddenly the existence of this other person (or multiple other persons!) makes us aware of just How. Many. Scary. Things. are out there.
Many of us find ways to manage this, whatever that might look like. It might be medication, or various other coping mechanisms. But generally speaking, it doesn’t go away. Managed doesn’t mean Gone, and so for most of us the anxiety is something we just deal with, and which often affects many aspects of our daily lives and the choices we make.
My anxiety makes me want to home school.
To be completely clear, this is something I’ve always thought about ever since I first became a mother. Way before Covid. We’re talking before my daughter – who is now 13 – even started kindergarten, I wanted to home school.
There were so many reasons why I wanted to home school, the most obvious one of course being that the idea of sending my child off somewhere where I couldn’t be there to personally ensure her safety made me feel physically ill. Keeping her home with me? That sounded amazing. Entrusting complete strangers to protect the one thing that is most precious to me? No thank you.
But for as many reasons as I had for wanting to home school, I had just as many reasons not to. Ultimately, I did not end up home schooling, and now, even though my anxiety regarding the issue is still as bad as ever (maybe worse some days) I am thankful that I didn’t.
I know, I know, home school mamas will hate me for saying that because they will interpret this as me talking shit about something they’re passionate about. To be clear: I’m not! But people (PARENTS) tend to be sensitive when it comes to their choices so I know it will likely still offend someone. This is by no means meant to demean or insult home schooling families out there. I really believe we all just need to do our best to make the best possible choices for our kids based on all the variables in our own lives.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with home schooling. But I also don’t think it’s the right fit for every kid.
And more importantly, I think it’s essential that as a mother I go out of my way to make sure my daughter’s experiences in life aren’t limited by what is within my own comfort zone. I try so hard to not project my hang ups and issues onto her. She’ll develop her own, I’m sure. She doesn’t need to carry around mine as well.
Obviously, there are exceptions. There are still so many things I cannot bring myself to let her do because it terrifies me. But when it comes to school I try my best to just suck it up and send her on her way, then keep myself distracted enough throughout the day until she’s back home with me so I don’t absolutely lose my mind with fear.
The recent Covid-Schooling experience we all went through for most of 2020 (and which many parents are still going through if they are continuing to do school from home) really highlighted that when it comes to my kid, I made the right choice. Without the structure of traditional schooling, she was pretty lost. She was logging on to classroom Zoom calls that were optional just because she wanted to interact with her classmates and her teachers. I was getting emails from her teachers that she was behind on her school work, and motivating her to get it done was a nightmare. For a kid who hates school, she really seemed to miss being at school, despite her reluctance to go back when the new school year started.
So if you are a parent – at any stage of parenting – who struggles with the idea of sending your kids to school because of your anxiety, just know that you are not alone. I hope you are able to make the choice that feels the most right for your family, whatever that looks like.
My daughter went back to school – starting the 8th (!!!) grade – this week, and we did not buy school supplies this year.
Let me back up a little and give you a little backstory about why this is a big deal to me. When I was a kid, I hated school. I lived for the weekends, summer vacation, basically any break where I didn’t have to be at school. So I’m sure you can imagine the end of summer back to school dread I would go through every year. The only thing that made it even slightly bearable, possibly even a little exciting, was: Back to school shopping. Specifically, back to school SUPPLIES shopping.
See, I love stationary and office supplies so much that if someone gave me pens and highlighters as a gift, I would very likely be overjoyed. I swear my fiancé could take me to Staples and call it a date and I would be Perfectly Happy (in fact, he has, and it was amazing.) Just the idea of browsing for stationary makes me smile with joy.
So why didn’t we buy school supplies this year? For a few reasons actually. The main reason being that it didn’t seem practical to buy a whole bunch of brand new stuff only to have it end up sitting in a backpack unused if we experience another wave of Covid related shut downs and the kids start learning from home again, which I am anticipating happening even though people tell me I’m being paranoid. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. Time will tell.
Another, much smaller reason is that we had so much perfectly good stuff left over from previous years that it felt wasteful to buy something new when we had the older stuff just sitting unused. Ideally we would have donated the left over stuff from previous years, but I know a lot of places stopped accepting donations and to be honest I have no idea which ones have opened back up again.
There were other reasons ranging from not being entirely sure what supplies were even required this year anyways, and not wanting to waste money on things that she didn’t actually need, but the end result is the same, we just didn’t go school supply shopping this year.
This isn’t to say that we won’t go school supply shopping at a later date, we just decided to hold off on doing it now and reevaluate after she has been back in school for awhile.
Do I regret this choice? A little bit. For one, with so much unknown going on in the world and surrounding back to school in general, hindsight has made me realize that back to school shopping might have been a fun thing to do to make it a little more exciting, and to make things seem normal. I did discuss the issue with my daughter and she agreed it made more sense to wait a little bit, so I’m not concerned that she might be secretly offended, but I do second-guess myself sometimes and I have definitely wondered if I made the right choice.
Also I just really love stationary so in a way, I robbed myself of a fun shopping trip. Who does that?
On the other hand, I am a little bit happy we chose to do it this way. For one, when we do end up going shopping, my daughter will have a better idea of what she actually needs. Also, we won’t be trying to find those things she needs surrounded by a bunch of other frantic back to school shoppers which will hopefully make the entire experience a little calmer than it might have been otherwise.
Ultimately, I feel like this was the best choice for us at this time. Which is really all I’m aiming for at this point anyways.
You know those moments we have sometimes that make us pause and go, “Oh god, I’m an adult” ? Well I had one recently when I realized how proud I am of my grocery shopping skills.
Yep, you read that right. I’m great at grocery shopping and I’m really proud of it.
I have my grocery shopping down to a science. Over the last couple years I have discovered and implemented little tricks and tips that make the experience as efficient as possible and overall it has made grocery shopping a much more enjoyable experience for me. Fun fact: I actually hate grocery shopping. Or I did. Now it’s not quite as bad.
Now, just to be clear when I say I’m good at it I mean I’m efficient. I’m not claiming I’m fantastic at saving money or finding deals or things like that. Once upon a time I was really into couponing and trying to save as much as I could, and sometimes I really want to focus on getting better at that, but it’s not something I currently utilize or am very knowledgeable about. But my dislike for grocery shopping has somehow manifested as this intense desire to find ways to make it as efficient as possible so now every time I shop I do a few specific things that make the shopping trip go as smooth and as fast as possible. I can go from parking the car, to driving out of the parking lot with 2 weeks worth of groceries in under 30 minutes.
Also, some of these tips might be no brainers for a lot of people, but they’re kinda new to me and I’m excited about them. So let me have this moment. Keep on reading for the things I do that made me stop hating grocery shopping (as much.)
Tip # 1 – Keep a Family List
That is, a written list that is accessible to all family members, ideally somewhere in the kitchen. We have a white board on the fridge for example. The 2 main purposes for this are so that anyone in the family can add things as they use the last of something or think of something they might want. I can’t tell you how many times before we started doing, where I would grocery shop only to have my kid say “Oh yeah we’re out of milk” after I already got home. The worst.
Added bonus, if you’re a plan ahead kind of person, you can use the board (if you go that route) to write down the planned menu for the week to avoid the constant cries of “What’s for dinner?”
Tip # 2 – Make a List and ORGANIZE THAT LIST
One of the biggest grocery shopping mistakes you can make – other than shopping on an empty stomach – is to shop without a list. It’s a surefire way to forget to grab things you really needed, or to end up with a bunch of random ingredients that don’t exactly translate to meals easily. I make my grocery lists in stages; First I’ll come up with some specific meals I hope to make over the next week or 2 and add all the ingredients that we don’t already have, then I’ll add all the things that were written on the Family List I described above, while I’m doing that I’ll check the fridge/freezer/cupboards for any additional things that I notice are getting low. Don’t forget the bathroom for things like shampoo and toothpaste. You can use a paper list if that works for you, like this really cool one that’s already organized by category, or use the notes feature on your phone. But personally I like using the app Listonic. It’s a free app but you can also pay to get rid of ads (possibly to unlock other features, to be honest I don’t really know because I just use the free version) and the main reason I like it is because I can categorize my items and check things off as I add them to the cart.
I also like to name my lists really stupid things because I think that’s hilarious.
I’ve tried out a bunch of different apps for making grocery lists but so far this one is my favourite.
You can organize your list however you want, personally I like to organize mine by the sections of the store because that’s how I shop and I find I’m less likely to miss something and have to backtrack if I’ve organized my list that way. I always shop in this order: toiletries, fruits & veggies, pre-packaged middle aisles, bread/bakery section, dairy, meats, frozen section. So I like to organize my grocery list in that order. That’s what works for me. If you’re using an app it may take a little experimenting to set your lists up in a way you can organize like this.
Tip # 3 – Bring Your Own Containers
Not all grocery carts are the same size, so you may need to search a little to make sure the containers you purchase will work for the carts you use the most. I personally shop with 2 Rubbermaid Roughneck totes because they (along with 2 collapsible square bags I bought from the grocery store, but which are almost exactly like these ones) fit perfectly in the carts at the store I shop at, and because we had an abundance of them left over from our move. These can be a little on the pricey side but they have proven to be exceedingly valuable in so many ways and have well surpassed their initial cost in general usefulness. Highly recommend. I also really like the Rubbermaid Brute as well. But for another much cheaper option, something like these CleverMade Collapsible Baskets would work great also, and the collapsible feature is pretty awesome if you’re low on storage space.
When I begin my grocery shopping, I put the totes in the cart right away and then just add my groceries straight into them as I shop. Then later when it’s time to check out, it’s as easy as unloading the groceries so they can be scanned, then putting them right back into the containers. I also save plastic bags from previous shopping trips and bring them along for those just in case times.
I shop exclusively at stores where you have to bag your own groceries and I used to hate it but since I’ve started shopping this way, I find I do it so much faster that now I can’t stand having someone else do it.
Obviously, be aware of the weight you’re putting into the containers. You don’t want it to be heavier than you can lift.
One of the best things about using something like this for shopping, is that nothing spills inside your car. Rotten fruit that spilled out of a bag and rolled under a seat where you couldn’t see it, anyone?
Tip # 4 – Be Mindful Of How You UNLOAD Your Cart At The Till
It’s so much easier to put your groceries away when you get home if you’ve filled the containers properly in the first place. Like items should go together (so put all the canned stuff together, put the dairy items together, etc,) and heavier items should go through first so they can go on the bottom when you’re reloading your items. It’s much easier to toss a loaf of bread or a bag of chips on top of an already packed container than to find room for that pack of steaks, for example. I also think items that could potentially leak should be near the bottom, and meat should be in it’s own container with frozen items on top, but that’s just me. You do you, these are just tips. There are no rules in grocery shopping.
Tip # 5 – Clean Out Your Fridge Before You Shop
This isn’t something I do often, but it makes a big difference when I do. It’s useful for multiple reasons;
1) Sometimes I discover items that someone else in the family thought we were out of, but really it had just been put away wrong (yay I don’t have to buy ketchup after all!)
2) Sometimes I’ll find something is expired and needs to be replaced so I don’t accidentally poison my family (pretty important obviously)
3) It clears up some space for new groceries to be put away (especially helpful if you agree that putting away groceries is the WORST PART)
and 4) It can give some insight into things you might be buying that are actually a waste of money. Keep having to throw out tons of yogurt? Maybe buy less yogurt. Always notice there’s tons of leftovers that end up getting thrown out when you make chili? Maybe take a break from making chili for awhile. I found myself repeatedly throwing out cauliflower that I kept buying because I was convinced I was going to make cauliflower cheese buns. I did not make cauliflower cheese buns. So I stopped buying cauliflower.
Other things you can do that help make things go faster include making sure you shop at the optimal time when the store is less busy than usual. Typically this seems to be early in the morning or later at night. This isn’t always possible if you work of course and have to plan your shopping around your working hours. Leaving the kids at home so you can shop alone with no distractions can also make a big difference. Of course this isn’t always a possibility so coming up with creative ways to get the kids to help if you have to bring them along can make the trip go smoother. And of course, the golden rule of grocery shopping (which I already touched on above) Never shop on an empty stomach. You’re way more likely to fill your cart with junk you don’t need if you’re hungry while you shop not to mention you’re probably going to be a lot more irritable. Eat a snack. You’ll thank yourself for it.
Leave me a comment below and let me know you’re grocery shopping tips and tricks. Do you enjoy grocery shopping or do you hate it like me?
(Disclosure statement: links in this blog post may be affiliate links. That means if you use them to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. It is completely optional and at no extra cost to you, but it does help out with this blog.)