When You Realize You’re Out Of The Baby Stage

A few days ago I brought a meal to a friend who just had her third baby. I walked in to their house around 5pm, and I felt like I was walking into my life about 3 years ago. Their oldest, who’s 4, was absolutely smitten over their new baby brother, showering him with kisses the whole time I was there. The middle, who’s 2, was clinging to her mommy for dear life, trying to soak up as many cuddles as she could, since she now had to share them with the new baby. Mom and Dad were happy as can be, but I could also tell they were in a bit of a haze from the whirlwind of becoming a family of 5 overnight.

I had no idea this simple encounter would affect me so much, but as I sit here writing this, I can’t stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks. Three years ago, I was the one with the newborn, 18 month old twins, and a newly 3 year old. At the time, it felt like time itself had stopped, and all I could think about were the diapers I had to change, how I was going to nurse my baby when my twin toddlers needed me to help them constantly, and how I was going to get to my three year old who was yelling from the potty because he couldn’t get his pants up on his own. It was complete and utter chaos 24 hours a day, yet right now I would do anything to go back, even if it was just a for a few minutes.

Amidst the craziness, kids grow up. They keep changing and learning and settling into their personalities. In what feels like a blink of an eye, I find myself a mom of a six year old, four year old twins, and a three year old and I’m asking myself, “How the heck did we get here?”

It feels a little awkward, actually.

I think it’s a bit of a mourning process to be honest. I finally knew what I was doing with the baby thing! I was the master of organized chaos!

And here I am in a brand new season, feeling like a new mom all over again, trying to discover my place in it all.

In some ways, life is so much easier. They can dress themselves, feed themselves, entertain themselves, and we can even take them out to dinner without experiencing epic melt downs.

 

 

But it’s a mental transition going from the one they needed every second of the day, to being the one on the sidelines watching them develop and discover who they are independently.

Leaving the baby stage is the first glimpse of ACTUALLY realizing that they won’t need us forever. That one day my babies will leave the nest altogether.

“It goes so fast.” I used to hate when older moms would tell me that. In the thick of blowouts and spit-up, the last thing I wanted to hear was to “soak it up, because it goes so fast…” Yet now that I’m on the other side, I get it.

It really does go by faster than we could ever realize…

I don’t remember the last time I put my baby to bed in a crib. One day he crawled out of it too many times to count, and it was time for a big boy bed. 

I don’t remember the last time I used that nasty nose sucker. One day his nostrils were big enough for a tissue. 

I don’t remember the last time he crawled. One day he was ready to walk. 

I don’t remember the last time he sat in a high chair. One day, he was ready to sit in a big boy chair. 

I don’t remember the last time he wore a onesie. One day, his little body outgrew the largest size. 

I don’t remember the last time I spoon fed him baby food. One day he had enough teeth to chew. 

I don’t remember the last time I nursed him to sleep. One day he didn’t need it anymore. 

I don’t remember the last time he needed my help to climb at the park. One day he had conquered even the biggest slides. 

As I continue down this journey, there will be so many more “lasts” and it makes my heart hurt just thinking about it.

But I also know there will be so many more “firsts.” Every era is a beautiful gift. Whether we have babies, preschoolers, grade schoolers, middle schoolers, high schoolers, college kids, or we’re empty nesters, motherhood will be magical. We will always have a special ever-changing role to play.

We were chosen to be mommas because our kids NEED us (even when they might disagree).

I couldn’t be more grateful to ride the emotional roller coaster of motherhood alongside all of you.

xo,

Amber

For more reflections on motherhood, feel free to follow our journey on Instagram: @ambermariekuiper and on Facebook: Mommy’s Me Time!

 

 

 

 

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The Group Every Busy Mom Needs Going Into The School Year

Sundays used to stress me out. I’d think about the week ahead and all the things I had to get done. As moms, our to-do lists are unending. Between work and family life, there’s always something to be thinking about next to ensure that we don’t totally drop the ball on something.

It’s kind of crazy, actually, to think about all the different hats we wear, and all the pressure that’s on us every single day.

I don’t know about you, but when I stop to think about the gravity of our role as moms, my heart starts beating really fast because there is just so much at stake. Raising humans is one of the most important jobs in the ENTIRE WORLD!

All that to say, as I think about the upcoming school year, I like to look at it as a fresh start. Summer is CRAZY, we’ve been out of our routine, the kids have been up later, and our days have sort of been all over the place.

Next week my oldest will go to Kindergarten. I’ve always had this vision of how I want our house to run when my kids are in school. I want our home to be a place of refuge and comfort, a place where my kids can come home to and things are prepared for them. A place where things are organized and everything has it’s place.

And my goodness that is SO not how it is right now! I have major work to do to create routine and structure after this summer! You should SEE the hot mess that is our house right now. It’s humbling.

With all six of us running in different directions this fall, the one time each day that we’ll really have together is dinner.

Again, I have MAJOR work to do here. I’m not a cook, and our meals are typically thrown together last minute. In fact, often I’ll call Jake around 4:00pm and ask him to pick something up on the way home. And in the stress of it all, my kids end up eating way too much mac and cheese and hot dogs. (Insert mom guilt.)

As Jake and I were talking about all this over the last month, an idea was born. Surely we weren’t the only family who struggled with getting healthy dinners on the table? Perhaps we could create a place to support busy families overcome this struggle and at the same time help own family?

We decided to hire a Registered Dietitian to create a weekly menu and grocery list for us, and opened up a Facebook group where we shared it and invited families in. In just a little over a week, our Take Back The Kitchen Info group has gone from 0 to 8,000 members!

WOAH. Clearly, we were in fact NOT ALONE!

This past week we ran a FREE week where families incorporated the menus, and it was so much FUN to see families, including our own, take control over their family’s food choices! We all grocery shopped on the same day and held each other accountable, we all meal prepped on Sunday, and then shared photos of our meals that we prepared throughout the week! The week went off without a hitch for all of us because we leaned on one another! The truth is, when we try to do all of this on our own, it feels overwhelming. But when we get into community with other parents who are experiencing similar struggles? Together we can help even our pickiest eaters to eat healthy food!

TOMORROW, August 14th, we officially start our FIRST MONTH of membership! The deadline to register is TONIGHT at 5pm CST! We already have almost 800 families registered and we’d love to have you! In my heart, I KNOW this group is something that ALL busy families WILL benefit from!

As a member of our Take Back The Kitchen community, you will receive the following each month: 

-4 weeks of family friendly menus and grocery lists from our Registered Dietitian, Monica Hoss

-Access to a private Facebook group where you will receive additional support from Monica to ask questions to help your picky eaters implement a healthy diet

-A Family Nutrition Ambassador (me) who will hold you accountable to implementing the menus

-Daily encouragement posts and check ins from Family Nutrition Ambassadors. The posts this month will be specifically geared toward helping moms incorporate routines and systems for the school year to make our homes run more efficiently! 

-30 Day Supply of Daily Sunshine (organic kids smoothie) or Shakeology (adult superfood meal replacement shake) on Home Direct (30 day money back guarantee and can be canceled at any time)

​Wait a minute, Daily Sunshine or Shakeology? Does your family REALLY need shakes and smoothies? Can’t you just buy all your food at the grocery store and all it good? If you’re skeptical about shakes and smoothies like I was, I’d invite you to watch the video below. I had the opportunity to interview Isabelle Daikeler, the creator of Shakeology and Daily Sunshine this week. Check out that video here: 

The ONLY requirement to become a Take Back The Kitchen Member is that you place at least one monthly order of Daily Sunshine or Shakeology for your family! This comes to about $30 per week. We personally decided to make Shakeology and Daily Sunshine an “instead of” cost, not an “additional cost.” I simply cut out $30 worth of snacks (quite frankly, JUNK) from my grocery shopping each week! We use Shakeology and Daily Sunshine EVERY day for me and my kids and it gives me incredible peace of mind knowing that even on the days when they don’t eat the foods I’d like them to, that they are still getting fruits, veggies, protein, and healthy fats! 
We will take care of paying the Registered Dietitian (this alone would cost a family hundreds of dollars a week!)
Membership will open once a month for this group! The deadline to sign up for this month’s membership is TONIGHT, August 13th, at 5:00pm CST! This group will run until Sunday September 10th and then our next month of membership will start the following day! 
If you are interested in receiving an email with more information to get signed up TODAY, please fill out this short form with your name and email, and I’ll shoot you over an email!
If you’re not able to jump into this month or you’re reading this after the deadline, please feel free to fill out this form below and we’ll send you an email as soon as registration opens for September Membership group!
Oh, one more thing! I ALSO have a fitness boot camp starting tomorrow! If you’re interested in being in Take Back The Kitchen AND my boot camp where I’ll also hold you accountable to working out, please fill out this form for more info. You deserve to feel AMAZING in your own skin, even as a busy mom!
*Membership is not available to Team Beachbody coaches who are not on my team. 
I can’t wait to get to know you and your precious families more as we lean on each other to make our homes a place of refuge and comfort this fall! It’s an honor and JOY to be on this journey of motherhood with you!
xo,
Amber
To follow our day to day family life, feel free to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

 

 

 

 

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Her Priorities Don’t Have To Be Your Priorities

Up until recently, the voices in my head were constantly telling me that I wasn’t quite doing things good enough. That as hard as I tried, I just didn’t have what it took to be a successful wife or mom.

This is why.

In the stay-at-home mom world, there’s quite a bit of emphasis on organization, laundry systems, making beautiful meals, home making, and everything that falls into the category of having your crap together.

Wherever I turned, it seemed I was reminded of the things I wasn’t doing enough of. If only I followed these five steps my life would be easier, if only I did this one thing before I went to bed each night, I could finally feel like I had peace in my home.

I’m all about self improvement. I really am. I want to become better every day, and I’m sure it’s true that a little more organization and a few solid processes could go a long way for me.

But sometimes? I forget about all the things that I actually am doing on a daily basis that make me a pretty damn good mom and wife.

When it comes down to it, it’s not society, Pinterest, anything or anyone else and the pressure they put on me. It’s not about whether I have a type A or B personality. In reality, it boils down to me needing to take the pressure off myself.

I need to learn to practice is self-forgiveness.

If you’re like me, (which I’m guessing you are if you read my blog) then you carry around this huge pile of shame about all your failings, shortcomings, mistakes and perceived sins.

I have a hard time letting myself off the hook.

But what I’m learning more and more every day is that life isn’t about comparing myself to the way other moms do things and then shaming myself when I’m not doing the things they do.

Life is about doing the best I can, and recognizing that my life in no way can even BEGIN to be compared to the life of another. Each of us have so many unique gifts and skills and callings. Each of us were placed on this earth for a unique purpose, and our time is split in different directions than those of our friends and family. Some of us will be at home with our kids, and some of us will work outside the home. Some of us will be somewhere in between.

We all have priorities. Maybe you have a perfectly organized home where everything has it’s place, or maybe you don’t. Maybe you have your laundry done on the daily, or maybe you let it pile up. Maybe you get your workout in every day, or maybe you’re just struggling to keep the kids alive. Maybe you have a clean car, or maybe your floorboards are covered with chicken nuggets and Cheerios.

Whatever your life looks like today, will you take a minute and recognize that you are ROCKING it?!

That your story is YOUR story and you are changing the world simply by being YOU!

So the next time you see another mom approaching a situation totally different than you would? Don’t judge her or compare yourself to her. Her priorities don’t have to be your priorities.

Walk confidently in the season and stage of life you’re in, and rest assured that all you can do is all you can do, and all you can do is enough!

xo,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@mommysmetimeblog) and Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

I share my fitness journey over on Instagram: (@mommysmetimefitness) or on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time Fitness).

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Our Small Children School Us Daily

I thought life was crazy when I had four kids under three years old. And it WAS. Don’t get me wrong. Remember when I struggled with depression? But this new season we’re in with a 2 year old, 3 year old twins, and a 5 year old? It’s craziness on steroids. See, when we had really little ones, the days were NUTS, but come 7:00pm we could promptly put them in their cribs where they couldn’t escape, and have the ENTIRE night kid-free.

These days, nights go a little something like this.

After we chase him down and crocodile wrestle him to get his pajamas on, Case, the two year old, goes to bed easily still around 7pm. We sing him a few songs, and he’s OUT. He’s still in a crib and I plan to keep him in there as LONG as we possibly can. (We let the other kids out way too soon.) He may still sleep in a crib when he goes off to college if it means him sleeping as soundly as he does. 😉

The twins. We start their bedtime around 7:30. They share a room, and MAN, are they CHATTY! For hours. And hours. And hours. No joke, the other night we thought they were sound asleep, and I found them in their bathroom at 10:30pm playing Barbies. They fight us and fight us and fight us. They want this and that. I seriously feel like a wounded soldier by the time we FINALLY get them to sleep.

Then there’s Baylen. He’s his Daddy’s mini, and may be the most convincing salesman you ever did meet.

“Momma, snuggle with me. ”

“Momma, I need to go potty.”

“Momma, can I have a drink please?”

“Momma, when I close my eyes I see monsters. Please snuggle with me.”

“Momma, my allergies are bothering me. I need allergy medicine.”

“Momma, can I watch your phone for a few minutes?”

“Momma, I love you. Will you snuggle with me again?”

“Momma, can I tell you about the Legos I want to get at Target? They’re AWESOME. You can build them with me!”

“Momma? I need to go potty again. Poop this time.”

“Momma, will you please lay by me again? I’m scared.”

I know, I know…we should probably have this figured out by now.

But we SOOOOO don’t.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I laid by him to help him fall asleep for months on end around age 4 and a half.

Maybe it has something to do with us letting him stay up LATE with mommy and daddy so we could get one on one time with him for a while this past year.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that by the time bedtime comes around we’re just so dang tired that we’re a little off our parenting game.

Maybe it’s because I’m not the best disciplinarian. As hard as I try, the truth is I kind of suck at it.

Or maybe? It’s just that we’re human, and that story we tell ourselves about all the other parents having it figured out? It just isn’t true.

The parents who SEEM to have it all figured out? Their day will come when they’re served a slice of humble pie too.

When I feel overwhelmed about parenthood? I remind myself that we’re all in this together. We all have ups and we all have downs. And at the end of the day, as long as we love our kids to the moon and back and do the best darn job we can, everything will turn out okay.

So to you, tonight, my parent friends…

Rest assured that you aren’t alone. When your kids aren’t sleeping? Or listening? Or doing ANYTHING that good kids are supposed to be doing? When you JUST want to feel like you have a clue about what the heck you’re doing?

Know that there are some parents over here popping open a bottle of wine who get you. Who are with you.

We’re in this together, and if we keep fighting the good fight, our kids will turn out just fine.

We’ve got this.

You are INCREDIBLE parents, no matter WHAT!

Cheers!

xo,

Amber and Jake

 

 

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@mommysmetimeblog) and Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

I share my fitness business over at amberkuiperfitness.com and on Instagram: (@amberkuiperfitness) or on Facebook (Amber Kuiper Fitness).

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Kids Don’t Need A Perfect Mom, They Just Need You

I need to come clean with you. I’ve been struggling to blog this year. I’ve been trying to think about why, and I really think it boils down to this.

When I started this blog four years ago, I was basically a BRAND NEW mom. I had a 17 month old boy, and twin girls on the way. I was absolutely CLUELESS about motherhood. And I was okay with admitting that!

When you have babies and toddlers, it seems totally acceptable to talk about the fact that they aren’t sleeping, that you can’t get them to listen, and that you don’t have your crap together most of the time.

But I’m not in the baby stage anymore. My youngest is two, my twins are three, and my oldest is five.

At this point, I feel like I should have a clue what I’m doing. I feel like my kids should sleep better than they do, shouldn’t throw as many tantrums as they still do (Target YESTERDAY – OMG!!!), and that I should have my life together at least a little bit. After all, I’ve been at it for FIVE years!

It’s hard to admit this, but I feel like it’s harder to share our story these days, because there’s a piece of me that’s nervous about being judged or criticized or getting unsolicited advice.

I think it’s because the longer I’m a mom, the more pressure I put on myself.

I tell myself that all the others moms in the stage I’m in probably have it all figured out by now, and that I should have done more of this, or less of that along the way, so that I too, could feel like a good mom.

The truth is…

Most of the time, our family is STILL a hot mess.

Most of the time, I STILL feel like a new mom.

Most of the time, I STILL question whether or not I’m cut out for this motherhood thing.

Gosh, it actually feels freeing to SHARE that! Man oh man!

But you know what keeps me going when I feel like this?

I remember that I was entrusted with my kiddos for a reason. Yes, I should always strive to be the BEST mom I can be, I should constantly be learning things that I can implement to make our family better. But my heart tells me that the most important thing I can do is the recognize that it’s OKAY to be ME. THAT’S what my kiddos need more than anything. A momma who is comfortable in her own skin and personality to where she loves them like CRAZY despite how our life might look to outsiders.

I don’t need to be like the “perfect mommas” out there (is there such a woman?), because God KNOWS I will never have it all together. I will likely always be the mom with thousands of cheerios on my van floor. I will likely always be the mom who brings her kids to school looking like a hot mess. I will likely always be the mom who keeps the library in business because of all our late fees. I will likely always be the mom with a messy house and piles of laundry.

But along the way? I’m sure I’ll learn things little by little, and eventually I’ll look back and realize just how far we’ve come.

Sweet friends, I don’t know where you’re at today. I don’t know what battles are going on in your house and family, but what I do know, is that you are an INCREDIBLE mom JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.

And when you think about it? We’re ALL new moms, always going through a NEW PHASE of life that we’ve never experienced before!

I know that you are doing the best darn job you can, and that your kiddos are without a doubt BLESSED because they get YOU.

I love you all to the moon and back, and from here on out, you can expect me to tell myself to screw the judgers and know-it-alls, and continue to share OUR imperfect journey!

EVERY season is a blessing. Let’s keep rocking this thing in our own way! Motherhood looks different for each one of us, but it’s certainly BETTER TOGETHER!

xo,

Amber

Photo credit: Photography By Nealy

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@mommysmetimeblog) and Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

I share my healthy living journey over at amberkuiperfitness.com and on Instagram: (@amberkuiperfitness) or on Facebook (Amber Kuiper Fitness).

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Will It Ever Get Easier?

This morning as my husband and I were departing ways for the day, I asked him, “Do you think this will ever get easier?”

It’s Monday morning and honestly? I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. As I say that, I almost hate myself for it, because I know I’m so blessed. I have four healthy kids and a wonderful husband. I have a cozy house to spend time with them in, resources to take care of them, and the list goes on and on. If I was to jump back in time to when I was a little girl dreaming about my life, I can honestly say all my dreams have come true.

But yet, the weight is heavy.

This morning when I walked down the stairs, I saw every single countertop full of dirty dishes, We chose to spend time together as a family last night instead of cleaning, which was great while lasted, but now it’s staring me in the face. And I find myself feeling a little sorry for myself that my husband just gets to leave for work without giving it another thought. Weight.

There are toys on the floor, and also food under the table that the kids spilled. I need to sweep today, but really the floor needs a good scrubbing, which I KNOW I won’t get to anytime soon. Weight.

The kids wake up one by one, and there’s always one that’s in a funk, isn’t there? This morning she’s screaming because her legs are broken so she can’t walk down the stairs. She wants milk, but only the kind with the pink lid. And she has to go potty but she can’t go alone because again, her legs are broken, and she’s also scared. We get to the potty and she freaks out because she’s nervous her nighty is going to dip in the toilet water. We’re done on the potty, when I hear the other girl come down stairs. Weight.

“Hi Mommy! Can I watch your phone?” Oh yeah, that’s right. I bribed her to go to bed last night by telling her if she did she could watch my phone in the morning. It sounded like such a good idea at 9:00pm when it was way past her bedtime. Now I had to pay up. Weight.

Soon Baylen comes and finds me. “Mommy, will you play with me?” And my heart wants to. It really wants to. But we have to leave for school in about 25 minutes and I know there’s no way we’ll have time to squeeze it in. Mom guilt. I feel like I NEVER just get to play with my kids, because there’s just too many directions I’m always being pulled. Weight. 

Just then, cries come from my little man’s room. Number four is up! He’s SOPPING wet, and we’re all out of diapers upstairs. I strip him down and pray to God he won’t pee on me while we run downstairs and get him a new diaper. Fail, he pees all over me. Weight.

I look at the clock. Twenty minutes until we need to leave for school. I run around like a chicken with my head cut off looking for four sets of clothes, socks, shoes, jackets, backpacks, lunch boxes, and folders. Thankfully, Jake’s home this morning and he can help me. Although we usually end up bickering in these situations because my stress level is so high. I end up being the wife I DON’T want to be. “WHERE ARE THE LIBRARY BOOKS?! Have you seen them?! Can you PLEASE find Case’s other shoe? I have no idea where it is. Oh, and can you find sippy cups? They all need milk. I CAN’T FIND THE STUFFED ANIMALS THEY NEED FOR REST TIME! Jake! I can’t do this! I’m a horrible mom. Will I EVER have my crap together?” And that’s when I say, “Will this EVER get easier?!”

Weight, weight, and more weight.

By the time we’re done getting them ready for the day, I feel like I’ve run a marathon and deserve a drink.

And I also feel a pit in my stomach. Because as hard as I try to set myself up for success, I rarely feel successful. It doesn’t matter how early I get up. It doesn’t matter how prepared I try to be the night before. In seconds everything can crumble beneath me.

After I dropped the kids off this morning (and finally had brain space to think clearly again), I had a light bulb moment.

This is LIFE. Life is hard.

We can try to make life easier on ourselves. We can have systems and routines and do our best. We can TRY to stay on top of the housework and treat our husbands with grace and respect. But sometimes? A LOT of times? We’re still gonna feel like we’re failing.

And when we reach that point when we FEEL like we’re failing, we need to look ourselves in the mirror and remember that it’s not true.

“I’m not a failure.”

YOU’RE not a failure.

Here’s the thing. We weren’t made to be perfect. We aren’t going to be perfect, so we need to get whatever idea of perfection we have out of our minds and stop letting it affect our hearts.

The awesome thing? We WERE made to be victorious.

The truth is, life is full of PRESSURE.

It’s just pressure. HANDLE it!

Handle it in the best way you can, and know that your best IS enough! And also know that every time pressure comes your way, you have the opportunity to handle it just a little better the next time!

Life is about progress, not perfection!

So WILL it ever get easier?

Honestly, I don’t think so. I don’t think any stage of life will ever feel like its all sunshine and roses.

But WE will get stronger! Every day, we’re becoming better versions of ourselves whether we feel like it that day or not!

Let’s go out and HANDLE our pressure today, momma friends!

We’ve got this!

xo,

Amber

 

 

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@mommysmetimeblog) and Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

You can also learn how I stay sane by following my healthy living journey over at amberkuiperfitness.com and on Instagram: (@amberkuiperfitness) or on Facebook (Amber Kuiper Fitness).

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If I Want My Kids To Be Successful In Life, They Need THIS

This past weekend I was at home in northwest Iowa at my parents’ farm. I got to spend some time with my two brothers, Joey and Jason, and whenever I’m around them I truly become the proudest big sister in the world. Joey’s 18 months younger than me and Jason’s 18 months younger than him, and they are some of the most solid men I know.

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As I was hanging out with them, I noticed that one thing we all bring to the table is a CAN DO attitude. We don’t pout and complain about what isn’t, but we generally focus on what IS!

As I go through life, I notice time and time again what makes people successful. It isn’t how much they know, or how much money they’re making. It isn’t having the perfect circumstances TO succeed.

The thing successful people have that others don’t is a successful MINDSET. It’s a mindset that says, “I’m not a victim. I’m not a product of my circumstances. I’m not defined by my income. I’m not defined by what other people think of me. I GET to work. I GET to face these challenges. I GET to create opportunities for myself! I’m not going to wait around for someone else to build something for me. I’m going to find the materials and resources I need to BUILD IT MYSELF!”

When it comes down to it, a successful mindset is determined by how GRATEFUL you are.

So why is it that my brothers and I all have a successful mindset? Why is it that we overcome our excuses?

I’m 100% confident it’s because of how we were raised.

Every day, we saw my parents working hard. We saw them wake up early and have coffee together at 5am before my dad headed out to work on the farm. (We lived in a small century old farm house when I was little and the upstairs was usually too hot to sleep in the summer and too cold in the winter, so we spent a lot of nights sleeping in the living room, next to the kitchen where my parents had their morning coffee. I remember hearing them get up in the morning and smelling the coffee brewing, while they did their devotionals and talked about their day. I was half asleep, but the impact of knowing they were in the next room talking filled me with security and has had a life long impact on me.)

We saw my mom tirelessly encourage my dad while she worked full time outside the home as a nurse.

We heard them affirm us OFTEN. They were constantly speaking confidence into us. They were constantly telling us how proud they were of us, even if it was just us putting the dishes away from the dishwasher.

Above all, they told us how much they LOVED US. Were they perfect? No! No parents are! But to this day they know how to UNCONDITIONALLY love and have taught us to do the same!

All this got me thinking. I want my kids to have that same positive mindset. I want them to be grateful! But what am I doing on a daily basis to encourage this?

I heard something a while back that said research shows that parents can play a huge role in hardwiring their kids to have a positive mindset instead of a negative one.

By simply having our kids sit around the dinner table every day and asking what they are thankful for, we can help them to focus on the GOOD, instead of the bad.

We started doing this a few months ago. At the dinner table we go around in a circle and ask each of them what they are thankful for. Baylen goes first, then Emersyn and Mckinley, then Case. They TOTALLY get it. We usually start by talking about each family member, and then they want to keep going around in a circle, and we end up talking about how we’re thankful for the grass, and for food, and for toys, and for rain, and for band-aids. My littlest guy just turned two and even he LOVES to participate.

The other morning, I put the kids’ breakfast on the table and went back into the kitchen. The next thing I heard was Baylen taking the lead and asking everybody else what they were thankful for! My heart exploded into a million pieces. Positivity is CONTAGIOUS. We LONG for it!

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I’m convinced it’s the little things we expose our kids to day in and day out that make the biggest difference. Sometimes I put all this pressure on myself to do all these amazing and complicated things as a parent to make sure my kids turn out okay, but really, it comes down to the simple things.

Maybe you didn’t grow up in an environment that fostered a positive mindset. Maybe you know your default is generally negative. It’s NEVER too late to start training your mind! Start TODAY! You are worthy of feeling EXCITED about your life.

The things we do today are going to determine how our kids act today. I’m so grateful my parents instilled an attitude of gratitude in me, and I pray every day I can do the same for my kiddos!

xo,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@mommysmetimeblog), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), and Snapchat: amberkuiper.

You can also follow my healthy living journey on Instagram: (@amberkuiperfitness) or on Facebook (Amber Kuiper Fitness).

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14 Things That Might Happen Before 8am When You Have Kids Under 5

 

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When I was in college you know what I hated? When I had to take an 8:00am class. That was SOOOOO early! Oh man, if only I could time travel back to that life and tell my pre-mom self to stop pouting and thank the good Lord above for the UNINTERRUPTED sleep I was getting.

Four kids later, life looks a little different. This morning I was standing in my kitchen and looked at the clock while little people crowded around me. It was 7:55am.

Have you ever stopped to think about all the things that happen before 8am with little kids?

Moms, we are legitimate rockstars.

14 Things That Might Happen Before 8am When You Have Kids Under Five

  1. You might wake up in your bed, or you might not. Most likely, you played a game of musical beds all night, tip-toeing from one to the next, doing whatever you could to keep them from waking each other up when they yelled “POTTY!” and “MOMMY!”
  2. You might go down to the kitchen to find someone fixing some cereal, and by fixing I mean pouring the entire contents of the Cheerios box into the back of his toy dump truck.
  3. You might get requests for milk, but only if you can manage to find the right colored cup. It MUST be the yellow one, but NOT the blue one. Not today at least, but be aware that by tomorrow morning, preferences will be different.
  4. You might make yourself a cup of coffee, set it on the counter, glance at it a million times, but never take a sip. As a result, baristas love you because you aren’t picky. Caffeine in any form at any temperature is your best friend.
  5. You might check your phone and within seconds it’s confiscated by your four year old, who NEEDS to watch weird videos. You might wonder why YOU didn’t come up with the idea to unbox toys, review them, and become a YouTube sensation millionaire.
  6. You might run upstairs to put a load of laundry in the washer, and come downstairs to find your two year old hanging from the refrigerator door, holding a can of beer, and yelling, “DAD’S JUICE!”
  7. You might simultaneously hear your three year old shout, “Mommy, I helping you!” and you find her in the bathroom with a toilet brush in hand, splashing and “cleaning the floor.”IMG_1656
  8. You might hear your other three year old yelling bloody murder from the basement because Netflix disconnected and she was frantically worried about what happened to My Little Pony.
  9. You might come back upstairs to find that your two year old unlocked the front door, went outside on the front porch, and is now completely naked and pointing at his diaper yelling, “Off! I did it!”
  10. You might run upstairs to help your husband find clean underwear, when you realize someone has taken your tampons out of the drawer, unwrapped them, and is feeding them as “popsicles” to their dolls.
  11. You might declare you’re taking a shower, and 30 seconds later, there you are with four little ones who want to take a shower too.
  12. You might be showering when one of your three year olds decides she’s going to use the scale in the corner for her stage so she can be Elsa and sing “Let It Go!” at the TOP of her lungs. You might be invited to share the stage with her, taking “singing in the shower” to a level you don’t know you’re comfortable with.
  13. You might get out of the shower and realize there are no towels in sight, but your little one really wants to get out. So he does. You run to get towels, and when you get back you hear him yelling, “POOP! I did it!” There it is, straight up on the floor.
  14. You might throw a diaper on him, and free him to run downstairs while you clean up his poop. Upon walking down the stairs, you realize that he’s taken the carton of chocolate milk and poured it all over the kitchen table. You go over to the sink, while everyone crowds around you. That’s when you look at the clock.

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It’s 7:55am and you realize that you’ve basically already put in a full day of work. At first you feel defeated. How in the WORLD are you going to get through the rest of the day? But then you remember something. You smell like poop, your house is a MESS, and your husband is STILL looking for underwear, but you are with your people, and there is no place in the world you’d rather be.

Chaos is your life, and your LIFE is blessed.

xo,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@mommysmetimeblog), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), and Snapchat: amberkuiper.

You can also follow my healthy living journey on Instagram: (@amberkuiperfitness) or on Facebook (Amber Kuiper Fitness).

To join my mentorship community and learn how to grow on social media, you can go to amberkuiper.com and follow me at Amber Kuiper Inc. on Facebook and @amberkuiperinc on Instagram!

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To The Thirtysomething Moms

 

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Dear fellow thirtysomething mum,

I see you in the supermarket, I see you at the playground. I see you at the school drop-off, I see you on the train and in the kid-friendly restaurants. Sometimes you see me too, and we exchange a little smile, an eye-roll, an “I get it” moment. More often you don’t see me – you are chasing your toddler down the aisles, watching your pre-schooler like a hawk as she climbs higher than you’d like, admonishing your kid for pinching her brother, reaching for a wet wipe, mopping up a spilled drink.

A few days ago I was at our public swimming pool, and if ever there was a stark metaphor for life as a mum in her 30s, the public swimming pool has to be it. There we all are – the stereotypes we swore we never would be – wading knee-deep in the kiddies’ pool, eyes locked on our littles – and genuinely delighted by their antics. Although we may be there in pairs or groups, our conversations are piecemeal, we cannot relax. Our focus is entirely on our children. We are tired. We are distracted. Our tankini-clad bodies are battle-scarred and utterly not what they used to be. 

Up on the hill are the shiny twentysomethings. They are flipping through magazines, chatting to their friends, Facebooking and selfie-snapping on their iPhones. They are rested. They are toned. They are magnificently oblivious to what is coming their way in the future. They don’t even see us. Or if they do, they swear they will never be us.

It’s okay. We were there once, and we know better than to be offended.

You see, the truth is, we thirtysomethings have let ourselves go. No. We have let our SELVES go. We have small children and for the next little while, our SELVES will not come first. We will be sleeping (or not) according to the timetables of our toddlers and/or newborns and/or a combination of the above. Our hair will not be washed as often as we’d like. Sit-ups? What sit-ups? We will be wiping noses and bottoms and messes from the walls. We will be cooking what feels like continuously from breakfast to supper time and not leaving the table until at least a forkful of peas have been eaten. We will spend hours a week kneeling by the side of the bath and then reading “just one more” bedtime story until we pass out on the edge of the toddler bed. We will be fluent in the language of Paw PatrolSofia the FirstPeppa Peg and Doc McStuffins, and will use said characters shamelessly as threats, bribes, or as digital babysitters so we can dash upstairs to grab a shower. We will find ourselves negotiating with terrorists even though we swore we never would. We will answer to “Uppy” and “More” and “I don’t want to”, and we will say “What’s the magic word?” more times a day than we ever imagined possible. This is thirtysomething. It’s not easy – and that’s the truth.

But there is another truth. Up there on the hill, nestled subtly amongst the twentysomethings, are the fortysomethings. They too are rested. They too are toned. They are alone, quietly reading a book. They see us, and they are sympathetic but also a bit smug. They’ve been there and done it and they know it doesn’t last forever. Girls, fortysomething is the holy grail. Fortysomething is coming.

The decade we get our SELVES back.

Not that I want to wish away the time. Although thirtysomething so far is a bit of a blur, it’s also a kind of magic. Never again will I feel a squidgy cheek rest on my chest in the middle of the night. Little arms reaching up to me after a fall. The delicious baby smell and the little pairs of skinny jeans and sparkly trainers. The scooter rides and monkey bars and the bed time stories with a small person in the crook of each arm. Hearing “I want Mummy,” and “Please can you help me?” and “I want to huggle you.”

Yes, fortysomething is coming, and it’s going to be bliss. But don’t let it come too fast. If I’m to lose my self for a decade, motherhood sure is a delicious thing to lose it to.

Love, Catherine

This was originally published on Littles, Love, & Sunshine

About the writer

Littles Love & Sunshine Catherine

Catherine’s a wife, tea drinker, stay-at-home-mum to two girls, and blogger behind Littles Love and Sunshine. Right now, home is beautiful Switzerland, but she counts herself lucky to have lived in Cape Town, London, the Isle of Man, and now Nyon – a beautiful medieval town outside Geneva – so she supposes that officially makes her an expat. She’s left a piece of her heart in every place she’s called home and learned a lot about herself with every move.

In a past life, words were how she made her living. She started her career in book publishing and then moved on to magazine journalism, where she worked with the ad team before becoming the resident “how to” girl, Features Writer and Digital Editor at Shape South Africa, a women’s health and lifestyle magazine. She can confidently say that for a twenty-something girl in love with writing and shoes, there was no better job in the world – she worked with incredible, powerful women, got to tell inspirational stories, traveled, and shared a desk space with the fashion editor – so that was pretty much all her dreams come true right there.

A few years later, she talked her eventually-to-be husband into moving to London, as it had always been her dream to live and work there. She fell head over heels in love with the most exciting town on earth, took a corporate gig in The City and continued her love affair with footwear.

Fast-forward to now… one husband, two baby girls and three homes later, more often than not her days are a treadmill of busy nothings punctuated by the beautiful surprises of motherhood.

You can follow Catherine on Facebook: Littles, Love & Sunshine and on Instagram: @littlesloveandsunshine.

If you’d like to submit a piece to be published on MommysMeTime.com, please send your work to submissions@mommysmetime.com. As always, please follow Mommy’s Me Time on Instagram: @mommysmetimeblog and on Facebook: Mommy’s Me Time

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Relax Momma Friend, You’re Doing The Best You Can

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We have a dog named Mabel. If you live in our neighborhood, you know her. She’s the crazy puppy who constantly runs away and goes on to roam without any intention of listening to us as we chase, yell, and bribe her to come back home. Most of our neighbors are very gracious, and often help us track her down while mentioning that they’ve been there. They too, endured the puppy days, and completely understand.

The other day, though, I was working in my office which is in the front of our house, when a teenage girl brought Mabel to the front door. She must have run away when our nanny and the kids went outside. She handed her to me, and bluntly said, “It’s fine if you want to have a dog, but you need to take care of it.” I explained that we have four little kids who like to open our door, and when they do, Mabel runs out. She went on to say again, “Yeah, I understand, but if you’re gonna have a dog you need to take care of it.”

Clearly she didn’t understand. Whatever I told her wasn’t going to change her mind, she felt extremely entitled to her opinion. So I replied with as much kindness as I could muster, “You know what? We’re doing the best we can. In life, you don’t expect the worst out of people. You assume they’re doing the best they can, and extend grace.” She walked away.

My heart breaks to think about the damage that happens when we look at someone else’s life from the outside and feel entitled to have an opinion on it. This girl saw my situation in black and white. When you have a dog, you take care of it in a certain way or otherwise you aren’t a good dog owner. I have to be honest and say I thought of her in no better light. After all, when I was her age, I would have NEVER had the audacity to walk up to a 30 year old and say something like that! Quite frankly my first thought was to overgeneralize the next generation.

See? It’s so easy. It’s so easy to pick each other apart. It’s so easy to give ourselves permission to cast judgment on someone else just because their story isn’t quite like ours.

I don’t quite know why we do this, but I think it might have something to do with how we protect ourselves or justify our own lives. I think it also can has to do with our own insecurities. In the situation above, I felt attacked. Every time our dog runs away I already feel embarrassed, so having someone at my doorstep calling me out made me feel extremely insecure and inadequate.

I realize the example with my dog is a bit trivial. But I’m guessing if you thought about your own life you might be able to think of a recent example when you too felt misunderstood.

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For me, it happens in motherhood all the time. I feel like I’m constantly the “hot mess” mom. I look at the lives of other moms (which I know, I know…I shouldn’t do) and the voice in my head wonders how it can be so easy for them? The photogenic pictures, the perfect decor, the cute clothes, the clean house, the well-behaved kids who actually listen and practically know how to read by age two. The lovey dovey Facebook posts about their spouse (eye roll). Jake and I can rarely keep our crap together during this season of life!

The truth is, though, NO ONE else on the planet has the exact same story. NO ONE! The truth is, by the time we reach this point in our lives, we’ve been through a lot. We’ve been through good, and we’ve been through bad. But we haven’t been through all the same things. The way we see the world and interact in the world is likely a direct result of the experiences we’ve had. So the next time you feel judged by someone else? Remind yourself that it’s okay that they don’t get it! There’s no way they COULD or SHOULD get it!

The truth is, we are all doing the best we can, and our best is good enough.

The truth is, we need to be surrounding ourselves with REAL people, who give us the freedom to be us, without feeling like we need to perform. Here’s why. When we feel supported and affirmed by the people who matter most to us, the outsiders can cast judgement all they want, and we’ll be able to remain confident that our best is enough.

Momma friend, if you read this whole post and only remember this next part, I’ll be forever grateful.

Your best is enough. Even on the days when you feel misunderstood, when the world doesn’t seem to have any idea what you’re going through, your best is still enough. When your kids are well-behaved and when they’ve pitched fit after fit, your best is still enough. When you showed patience to them and when you didn’t, your best is still enough. When your marriage is on cloud nine and when you’ve had a string of arguments, your best is still enough. When your house is spotless, and when you haven’t cleaned the bathrooms in a month, your best is still enough. When you had time to make dinner and when you ordered take-out, your best is still enough.

Life isn’t rainbows and sunshine all day every day, but you are strong. You are fierce. You will persevere and come out on the other side even stronger. You, my friend, are beautiful even when that little voice inside you tells you you’re a failure. 

My sincere desire for all of us is that we would truly expect the best from each other. That we would look at our friends, families, neighbors, and acquaintances, and assume they’re doing the best they can. When we expect the best from people, without judgment, there’s space for freedom and unconditional love that can move mountains. Our minds can be focused on things that actually move the world forward.

Cheers to you and me, rocking the life that we’ve been given.

xo,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@mommysmetimeblog), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), Periscope (@AmberMKuiper), and Snapchat: amberkuiper

You can also follow my healthy living journey on Instagram: (@amberkuiperfitness) or on Facebook (Amber Kuiper Fitness).

For business tips, you can follow me at Amber Kuiper Inc. on Facebook and @amberkuiperinc on Instagram!

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