Why buying used isn’t gross

Raise your hand if you’re a little put off by buying, wearing or touching used stuff?

I double pinky swear that I wont judge you for having the ewww factor about used stuff! My goal here isn’t to chastise you for your opinions! If you’re raising your hand way up high I can assure you that you are not alone. Often times, when I tell people that we buy virtually 100% of our stuff used I’m faced with some of the most interesting responses. There are those who question us – I’ve gotten asked more than once if we’ve ever “caught something from buying used”. In other situations I’ve been met with really strong and sometimes harsh opinions about how buying used is gross and that I’m actually neglecting my kiddos needs by doing it.

Buying used gets such a bad rap doesn’t it folks?

There seems to be this assumption that buying used is gross and today I’m hoping to show you that buying used is not only a great way to save you a ton of cash but also a good and responsible choice for the environment because it keeps stuff out of our landfills.

Our frugal family really doesn’t attach a value to things. After hard work and the conscious decision to really separate ourselves from consumerist chaos we’ve gotten to a point where stuff is just stuff and doesn’t shape our views of ourselves, our social standing or our place in our community. A long long time ago the story was a very different one and by living a frugal lifestyle out of necessity we developed a new appreciation or lack thereof for the stuff that surrounded us and really detached ourselves from the want cycle that is so common in consumerist culture. But, we do need stuff – tons of stuff even so when it does come time to spend our money on things we always turn to buying used first.

So, before we get into the whole buying used is gross thing, tell me, when’s the last time you went on vacation? What resort did you stay at? Are you a cruise type of person or more of an all-inclusive type? How were the accommodations? Was the food good? Did you send your kiddo to the on site daycare? I promise there’s a reason that I’m asking you these questions – so, keep a mental inventory of your answers okay?

I’m sure most of you have stayed in a hotel, eaten at a restaurant, sent your kid to daycare and driven in a cab before right? If you’ve done all these things then you’ve absolutely touched, used and been in contact with used stuff! Gross right? Or, is it? When you’re staying at a hotel you are sleeping on a used mattress and used bed linens that we hope have been sanitized correctly. When you’re eating out you are eating off of used plates with used cutlery while sitting in a used chair. And, *shutter* when you send your kids to school or daycare your kiddo is playing with toys and reading books that have been touched by dozens or even hundreds of tiny germy hands.

See where I’m going with this?

The Stigma of Used Stuff

The thing is, there’s a pretty big stigma attached to used stuff- that ewww factor is very much real and in many cases it causes people to fear used goods and completely overlook it as on option when it’s time to fulfill consumerist needs and wants. The ewww factor leads people to believe that used goods are somehow disgusting, dirty, germ-infested and useless items or objects that belong in a landfill instead of in your home or mine.

The used stuff stigma often manifests itself in two very real and overlapping ways folks.

First, there’s the personal fear of buying used because of the perceived threat of being socially inferior or judged in some way. When we first started off on this journey I was absolutely one of those people and was humiliated that I was shopping in a second-hand shop. Left with no choice but live frugally to crush our credit card debt I stuck it out and eventually as I started to appreciate frugal living more and more I became so comfortable with buying used that I’d tell anyone and everyone about my great finds and how much money it saved me compared to making the same purchase on the “new” market. Having said that, the social stigma creates fear – because *gasp* what if someone finds out you’re buying used? What if you’re labeled as one of those people who uses used stuff? Well, here’s a secret – it’s your business and nobody else’s. You don’t have to tell anyone where your awesome shirt, shoes, handbag or belt came from.

Second, there’s this pervasive need to keep up the Joneses right? The neighbor wears designer clothes, has a fancy new car and has expensive home furnishings. The whole notion to buy more, more, more in an effort to keep up with this narrative of what is acceptable has really driven people away from appreciating the used market. What if I told you that buying used can give you access to designer clothes (if that’s your thing), fancy cars (if that’s your priority) or expensive home furnishings (if that’s what you value)? Sadly, many people feel this need to buy new to keep up with what society has created as an acceptable way to acquire goods. Society has trained us that to have “made it” in our world you have to buy new and that buying used somehow makes you inferior, underprivileged and a lesser member of your community.

Cost Analysis & Little Frugal Math

I’m a numbers geek and I’m often calculating exactly how much I saved when I find a used treasure. Some times our used finds are absolutely free because we barter or dumpster dive (which is the best case scenario because free is free right?) but when we do score a used deal I always hit up the internet to calculate exactly how much we saved.

Let’s do a little frugal math, shall we? I hope to show you that the savings when buying used are astronomical.

Here’s a current photo of my back balcony. We’ve created a play area for Margsy because this kiddo loves being outside but sometimes it’s difficult to let her roam the backyard when there’s important adulting things going on. By creating this play space for her we know that not only will she be within view but she’ll also be safe and occupied.

When Mer and I decided we wanted to invest in some outdoor activity toys we both agreed that we’d hit up the used market. Kids toys are so incredibly expensive and when you’re buying any type of toy you’re always taking a risk that your kiddo wont really like it. We got really lucky with this haul because she absolutely loves each of these toys and plays with them on the regular.

Now, let’s calculate what this would have cost me new versus what I spent.

* Source: I sourced the prices on the various toys from both amazon.ca and toysrus.ca. I used the lowest price found between the two vendors.

So there we have it. Had I purchased each of these items brand new from Amazon, Toys R Us or any similar vendor in my area I would have been facing a 681.79$ expense plus applicable taxes. In our province we have a 15% tax rate that by my calculations would elevate the price to a whopping 784.06$. But, by employing some frugality to our purchasing plan we were able to score all those super cool toys for a total of 48.00$ Yup, you read that right 48$! In total we saved 736.06$ by buying used. Holy, you know what right?

How I clean my new used stuff

Generally speaking most used stuff is in pretty great condition. Thrift and second hand shops are pretty picky about what they put on their racks and the worst of the worst usually never makes it out into the store front. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve bought clothes or shoes for us with the tags still on. Think about it for a second, how many times have you donated brand new stuff to a local organization that resells it because it didn’t fit, went out of style or wasn’t useful for you anymore? Yup, I’m the lady who will likely buy that stuff.

With that in mind, we always employ rigorous cleaning methods to make sure that every item we buy is clean and ready for us to use. It’s no different than buying clothes at your local TJ Max or Target. There’s a good chance someone or several people tried it on before you so washing it before wearing is always a good idea right?

When it comes to clothing items, linens or any other cloth type product we always give the items a good soak in a hot water and vinegar bath. We have a handy basin sink installed in our garage and I just put all our goodies in there and disinfect them with vinegar. From there, I add them to our regular laundry that we do roughly twice a week. Once it’s clean and smelling fresh you’d never know that it was bought used in the first place.

For large plastic kiddo toys we haul out our pressure washer which we got from a barter trade a couple years back. First, we rub on a baking soda vinegar paste and scrub off any dirty spots. Once we’ve removed any stains or built on dirt we give it a good rinse and follow up with a soap bath made with equal parts laundry detergent and vinegar. More often than not the toys come out squeaky clean and as good as new!

For dishware and other glass or breakables I usually just give them a good soak in equal parts dish soap and liquid bleach. After a 30 minute soak I rinse them off and pop them into the dishwasher on a clean and sanitize cycle. They always come out looking as good as new.

A couple of things I’ll never buy used

Buying used is such an awesome way to get what you need for literally a tiny fraction of the cost. We’ve taken advantage of used opportunities and bought clothes, shoes, linens, dishware, furniture, baby clothes, toys, garden equipment, pool gear, baby gear, camping gear, winter wear, small appliances to name just a few. I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch of things but you get the idea that we’re pretty open to buying most things used. But, there are things that we wont buy used because quite honestly it’s not safe. Here is a list of things that you need to be cautious about and a couple of reasons why.

Mattresses/Couches/Upholstered furniture. Unless you know exactly where it’s coming from and that it’s coming from a pest free environment approach with caution. We used to live in an area that was heavily affected by bed bugs and as a result we never bought these items used. If you know where it’s coming from and you are 100% sure that bringing the item into your home wont cause you issues then absolutely go for it.

Crib & Carseats. The thing with these items is that it’s okay to buy them second hand assuming you are 100% sure of the items provenance. With cribs, it’s always wise to check out the model number for any recent recalls (think safety issues, led paint etc). If you know the people it’s coming from and the crib checks out with a little research then it’s absolutely okay to purchase. But, when you’re looking at buying from someone you don’t know and you’re unsure of the age and/or model number then I’d be cautious because cribs can pose serious risks to a baby. The same goes for car seats. I would never ever ever jeopardize my kiddos safety and as a result I would never buy a used car seat unless I knew for absolute sure that the seat had no recalls and is 100% accident free. Safety above all folks.

The rest. Always use common sense. If an item looks truly gross – it probably is. The thing with used stuff is that you can absolutely be picky. If you pass on an item today I’ll bet you any amount of money that you’ll come across something similar soon. Just because you’re opting to buy used doesn’t mean you’re prevented from being a discriminant shopper. If an item doesn’t seem satisfactory to you then simply don’t buy it regardless of its low price. Even when you’re buying used you can opt to buy for quality and durability.

How I approach used shopping

Shopping used is truly no different then buying new. Actually I’ll propose that buying used is actually more fun because you can score some pretty awesome deals and save a ton of money in the process. Who doesn’t like to save a little cash right?

Like I mentioned above, buying used doesn’t trump quality in any way. You can totally buy quality clothing, accessories, furnishings, electronics and everyday essentials on the used market. I approach used shopping like a challenge. I want to ensure that my money is purchasing an item that is in great used condition, shows as little wear as possible and will be durable for years to come. Just because I’m buying used doesn’t mean that I’ll accept lesser quality or condition – I want to use my money wisely so I’m picky and selective about what items I bring home with me. It’s okay to pass on an item no matter how great it might appear if it doesn’t meet my expectations.

Beyond this, I always set a budget about how much I’m comfortable spending. If you remember up above where I told you folks about building a play area for my little one I went into the project with a budget. I knew that I wanted to get as many toys as possible for at most 50$. We planned accordingly and headed out bright and early on a garage sale weekend knowing that we only had 50$ to spend. I also knew that I absolutely wanted a table of some kind, a ride on, a plastic house and a net. We drove around and managed to pick up each of our items by being steadfast about our price. When buying that house I was asked for 50$. I told the guy straight that I had to take it apart to get it home and that it needed a good wash so I was only prepared to spend 20$. He agreed and we took it apart and hauled it home.

A couple of buying used suggestions: go into any shopping situation with a budget and a list of exactly what you want. Negotiate whenever you can and be upfront about your best offer. Be prepared to walk away if you can’t respect your budget or if it’s not exactly what you need. Buying used can also be a trap in that the low cost can convince us to buy buy buy because we’re getting such a great deal. Always shop wisely even if you’re not spending a ton of money.

What buying used is not

  • Buying used is not a reflection of your worth as a person, member of society or social standing. Wearing used clothes and eating off used dishes with pre-loved utensils in no way minimizes your worth as a person. You my friend are not a reflection of your stuff.
  • Buying used does not mean you are poor, underprivileged and/or miserly. Instead, its a reflection of the frugal priorities you’ve set yourself.
  • Buying used is not only for the extremely cheap. Instead, it’s a conscious and well thought out decision for the well being of both your wallet and the environment.
  • Buying used isn’t gross, dirty or disgusting – it’s a sustainable way to get what you need at a fraction of the cost!

Managing the social stigma

Before I wrap up this super long post ( I apologize for that by the way – once I get going I just can’t seem to stop!) I want to address managing the social stigma that comes from buying used. I got into it up at the top of this post but if you’re just skimming I’ll give you a quick recap. Essentially, society has taught us that it’s gross to buy used by manipulating our belief system. They’ve enveloped used goods with an ewww factor that prevents many people from taking advantage of buying on the used market. We’ve been taught that buying used is gross and disgusting and so we’re feeding into consumertist chaos by overpaying and overbuying on the new market. When we walk into a room we don’t generally thumb off the places we bought each piece of our outfit. When we have a dinner party we don’t start the meal by listing off where our dishes, cutlery or tablecloth were bought. Buying used is a personal decision. If you’re into it great – if you want to try it but fear being judged just remember that it’s absolutely your business and nobody elses. Buy used and keep it your little secret if need be!

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Interested in reading even more frugal living posts? Have a look at these:

Where do you stand? Are you disgusted by the ewww factor?

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Frugal Fridays: dishwashers, dumpster diving & greens

Morning folks and happy Friday Saturday! This post was supposed to go live yesterday morning but Margsy was sick overnight Thursday and we spent the morning snuggling and watching movies. Baby girl got her 18-month vaccines on Thursday afternoon and around 3am Friday morning she spiked a pretty high fever. We dozed off and on but she clearly wasn’t feeling her greatest so I put down the phone and shut down the laptop to give her as much TLC as possible. Here’s hoping that we’ve passed the worst of the side effects!

We’re expecting a ton of rain this weekend which is extra disappointing since Mer is home and can’t enjoy the same gorgeous weather we’ve had having all week. Margsy and I have spent our days lounging outside, playing and getting ourselves wet with our own DIY sprinkler and dips in the pool. Her confidence in the water is really shining through and she gets in that pool like it’s nobodies business. Cold water really doesn’t scare this little girl off. We don’t have a pool heater and on the hottest days we might get up to around 80!

DIY saves you heaps of money

We’ve had to fall back on our frugal tendencies this week when it comes to DIY repairs. We try not to call in service people when things break down and attempt to fix things ourselves if we can. About two weeks ago our dishwasher stopped draining itself properly. After watching a couple of YouTube videos about cleaning the dishwasher I gave it a baking soda and vinegar wash hoping that it would solve the problem. No such luck. Mer then took to YouTube and started to do some research about potential problems that could be causing our issue. He pulled everything out and analyzed and analyzed and compared and compared until he figured it out.

Looks like our drain was clogged which is 100% my fault. I’m terrible at rinsing off dishes which likely led to a buildup of food in the drain. He cleaned it all out, took off a clip that protects the exit hose and before I knew it the dishwasher was back to perfect working order.

Being frugal often means exploring and getting creative when it comes to solving household problems. We could have called in a dishwasher service company but wanted to give it a good go ourselves before resorting to that. We easily saved ourselves a couple of hundred dollars by investing a little time and patience to get the job done ourselves. Mer has also fixed our washing machine, dryer and wall mounted A/C unit in the past! YouTube is an amazing DIY resource when it comes to these types of things. Having said that, if the issue is beyond the scope of our abilities we’ll absolutely call someone in. Why? It can become even more expensive to fix a problem if you damage it further yourself.

Someone else’s trash is your treasure

On one of our morning walks Margsy and I looped the upper limit of our neighborhood. It happened to be trash day and there was a woman throwing out a bunch of very cool toddler toys. We got to talking and I asked her if she would mind if I took them for Margsy to play with. They were clearly in need of a good cleaning but in otherwise great condition. After speaking with her she explained she was thrashing them because her kiddo had outgrown them and she lacked the space to store them. This is a perfect example of why I’ll never buy Margsy any toys that are brand new. At some point we’ll be itching to unload them the same way this family was.

She said “sure” and I loaded up my stroller basket and headed home with the agreement that I’d come back later to pick up the rest. Once all the toys had arrived at our place I got going on disinfecting them. My go-to cleaning solution is a good wash with diluted bleach followed by a vinegar and baking soda rinse to remove stains and built on dirt. After rinsing really really well these toys were as good as new.

Often times, people throw out perfectly good stuff because it’s just the easiest way to get rid of things quickly. The lovely lady who provided us with these new treasures told me straight that she tried to unload them on friends and family but ultimately the easiest way to get them out of the house was to trash them. Well, her trash became my treasure. My kiddo had a blast pushing her cabbage patch doll around in that tiny stroller.

When it comes to curb side treasures though you need to approach with caution. When it comes to dolls, stuffed toys or any other type of toy that can carry bed bugs you need to watch out. Bed Bugs are a huge huge problem in this neck of the woods and as a result we’re extra careful and pass on stuff that could be a breeding ground for them.

Speaking of curb side treasures we’ve managed to pick up planter vases, a lawn chair, gardening equipment and even a plant recently! You simply never know what you’re going to find!

How our garden grows

Here’s our garden last month! A photo snapped after we had first planted our veggies.

Here she is this morning! Everything is growing in beautifully and we’ve already started to enjoy some fresh garden salads. I know I’ve said it before but I will say it again – growing your own vegge in the summer is such a great way to save money on groceries. During the summer months the only produce we buy are fruits and we otherwise sustain ourselves on what we harvest from our patch!

Our beans have finally started to sprout and I’m beyond excited to seem them thriving. We plant both green and broad beans and they are just so incredibly delicious. I love freezing huge batches to stockpile for the winter. Looking forward to sharing some how to posts about how we prepare our veggies for the winter months!

With that, I’m off. I hear a tiny toddler calling for me! So, it’s time to start out our day! Have a wonderful weekend folks!

P.S check back Monday when I announce the winner of the BBQ Scraper Giveaway! Good luck to everyone who entered!

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Lifestyle Changes: Making the decision to send our toddler to daycare

When I was pregnant with Margsy I abruptly stopped working. I had no choice really because I knew that the moment I hit 12 weeks I’d get my cerclage and then be put on long-term home bed rest. This was the plan. We knew about it and I had zero reservations about it. When she was born Mer and I discussed how we wanted to manage her childcare. We both felt comfortable with me staying at home full-time because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her and childcare can get extremely expensive.

In some respects I think we naively assumed that raising a kid was easier than it’s turned out to be. I’m not saying it’s unbearably hard but as Margsy ages we’re realizing that our current lifestyle (single child, one and done family) isn’t necessarily ideal when it comes to her social development and general socialization.

Margsy is a very fearful child. She does not do well when faced with new people and has shown very little interest in playing with other children. That’s not to say she doesn’t enjoy other children’s company but she’s far more inclined to play beside them than with them.

Way back in January we decided to sign her up for swimming lessons. It was really a win win, win situation for us because it would give her far more physical activity during the winter months (baby girl was off the charts weight wise until recently), hopefully expose her to other children to socialize and teach her how to swim which is such an incredibly important skill. Although she loves her lessons and it has helped train her to be more comfortable in water and helped get her to a more normal weight it really hasn’t provided any opportunities for socialization which we thought it would.

Mer and I had a really long discussion about Margsy’s social development last month. We both agreed that it might be time to find some sort of organized activity to help her develop autonomy, learn boundaries and hopefully interact with other children about her age. We searched and searched but apart from some sporadic playgroups that usually involve infants there really isn’t much available to a family with an 18-month toddler.

Enter the conversation about daycare.

At first, we were both very much resistant to the idea. Had you asked me my thoughts on sending her to daycare a year ago I would have told you it was absolutely out of the question. That’s not to say that I think daycare itself is a bad idea but I did believe that as her mom I could provide her with everything she needed socially, emotionally and physically. Sure, I’m able to provide her with a stable, safe and nurturing home but when it comes to stimulation, play and socialization I’m really falling short.

So, Mer and I have been interviewing daycare’s much to the displeasure of both sets of grandparents. We were both raised in a community that never outsourced their childcare beyond the walls of the home of a family member. So, when we informed them that Margsy would be enrolled in a daycare as soon as possible we were met with apprehension, anger and even harsh judgement. In this moment we realized that despite our fears and those of our family we need to put Margsy first and this is something she needs right now.

The reality is an 18 month of kiddo needs to play with other kids. They need to learn how to socialize with other children and find their own way and personality by exploring, playing and socializing in ways that I simply can’t provide for her.

All this to say, we’re currently in the process of interviewing various family daycare’s hoping to find one that is a perfect fit. So far, we’ve interviewed two and one appeared absolutely perfect but ultimately did not have a space for our kiddo.

In terms of our daycare want list we are pretty specific with regards to what we are looking for:

  1. A small family daycare with no more than 5-6 children so that Margs can still get the attention she requires and not be overwhelmed with the drastic change to her lifestyle
  2. A daycare that is willing to work with us to integrate her slowly into a daycare setting. Ideally we’d like to start with 2 hours per day and work our way up to 5 hours days, 4 days a week.
  3. With regards to facilities we’d like there to be a large fenced and secured backyard with ample space for baby girl to run around (She’s a climber and will try to climb a fence if you’re not watching)
  4. A large indoor play area that encourages creative projects (painting, drawing, building) in addition to creative play
  5. A daycare that is willing to work with us with regards to her current sleep issues. Margsy was not sleep trained and therefore requires a ton of assistance to fall asleep. Generally she needs to be rocked to sleep and feel you close by.

The first daycare we met with was an absolute bust. The woman although knowledgeable about child care and friendly appeared to offer “babysitting” instead of daycare services. What I mean by this is she approached each day with no expectations or plan and basically allowed the children to dictate what they wanted to do. Although she would likely have been extremely nurturing and sympathetic to our issues (sleep namely) I suspect that her home daycare environment would have simply recreated the situation we are dealing with at home.

The second daycare was perfect. The woman we met with had 5 children in her group varying in ages from 12 months to 4 years. The entire day was scheduled and planned and the children are exposed to creative play, dramatic play and artistic play which is exactly what we wanted. She was also extremely open to a step up plan to integrate Margsy and was willing to help start the sleep training process. Unfortunately our interview was scheduled after she had technically filled the last spot. We went regardless because we were hopeful that the spot would somehow open itself up again. She called today to confirm that the spot was in fact taken but did provide a few numbers of other local in house daycares that we are hopeful will fit the bill.

So there’s that. This is what’s going on in TTBH right now. We’re actively searching for a daycare and given our current situation I’m not necessarily in a rush to place her immediately. Since I’m home with her anyway we’re going to continue looking until we find one that is just the right fit.

What are your experiences with daycare? How did you select one for your kiddo? Any tips?

 

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Mailbox surprises

Morning folks! If you haven’t already entered the giveaway happening here on TTBH please feel free to head on over to Recipe Calendar – Meal Planner post to enter for a chance to win a 50$ Paypal gift card. Thanks again to Harmonic Soft for hosting the giveaway.

Guys, it’s nearly a year that we moved. Time just flies right?

Around this time last year, Mer and I were frantically packing, decluttering and sorting through all our stuff in our small apartment. It’s really crazy how much stuff we managed to accumulate in the 6 or so years we lived there. In hindsight we were so incredibly wasteful and that purge was somewhat of a turning point for us. Even more insane was the amount of stuff we found while packing that we’d completely forgotten about! Shoes, books, baby toys, kitchen gadgets, decorative items – the list goes on and on and on.

Most of the stuff we no longer had a need for was nearly brand new and if not was still very much useful and still had a ton of life. We knew we wanted to re-home it and after discussing whether we wanted to pack it all up and dump it off at a local charity we decided we’d share some of it with our neighbors. Slowly but surely, we made our way down our old block and left gifts for our neighbors in their mailboxes. A neighbor that was always on her porch reading got a few new books. The family down the street who just had a new baby got a few baby toys and some clothes Margsy outgrew. The couple with the meticulous lawn got gardening stuff that we knew we wouldn’t need. We made our way down the block and before long nearly every neighbor got a little something from us. We even dropped off a window air conditioner to a sweet elderly woman who had told me the year prior that her apartment got unbearably hot in the summer months.

You might find it incredibly strange to be dumping stuff off at the neighbors. But, I lived my entire life on that block – moving one door over after getting married so I literally knew everyone on the crescent really well. These people were a permanent part of my childhood, adolescence and adult life. I have many fond memories of these wonderful folks and felt like showing them a some love before we left.

When we moved here to this tiny blue cottage we were met with friendly faces. We quickly became friends with our neighbors and when the lovely family living to our left sold their home last month I found myself having the decluttering conversation with them. Overwhelmed at the amount of stuff they had to pack, the couple asked us for some tips on how we managed to pack it all up. We told them the basics of how we did it and then told them the story of the mailboxes. They laughed and we thought they had forgotten.

For the last week or so, gifts have been showing up in our mailbox.

One day a tiny toddler sized straw hat.

The next, butterfly wings.

Then, a book.

and finally a small child sized guitar (it was left on the porch and not the mailbox because clearly it didn’t fit 😉

At first Mer and I wondered who was gifting us these treasures. We had completely forgotten we had told them and had no idea where this stuff was coming from. Then, one day it clicked. The neighbors were paying it forward the same way we did before we left our old stomping grounds.

Now, every time Margsy strums that small guitar we’ll think of the lovely family that lived next door.

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why mom’s need to keep it real

One of my biggest parenting goals is to teach my little girl that it’s okay to fail. Clearly, I don’t want to see her fail but I know that fostering resiliency and the ability to pick herself right back up are invaluable lessons on her journey to adulthood. To do this though, it means I need to be real with my kid. I need to fess up when I make a mistake and show her what it means to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep on keeping on ya know?

This post was inspired by a lengthy exchange I had with a fellow pool mum. One Sunday morning at roughly quarter to 9 I hauled myself slowly up to the observation deck dressed in beat up sweat pants, yawning and with a strong coffee in hand. I may have slept in those sweats the night before – I can’t really be sure at this point. Let’s go with, I rolled out of bed because I had overslept and freaked out because my kiddo was not ready for her swim lessons that morning. Despite my instinct to want to skip swimming I threw together her stuff and managed to make it there on time.

Now, back to that conversation. Fellow pool mum, who was dressed in real clothes, was sporting a gorgeous blow out and perfect makeup decided to strike up a conversation with me about parenting. What started off as simple questions about Margs turned into a full blow conversation about feeding, sleeping and socializing.

Nope. I didn’t breastfeed my kid.

Nope. She doesn’t sleep in her crib.

Nope. She isn’t in Montessori and we don’t practice any of that at home.

After the lesson we both made our way down to the pool deck where we were each handed a swim certificate in honor of our littles completing their first 8 weeks of swimming. Immediately, a conversation ensued about meeting the benchmarks for this swimming level which included: jumping unassisted off pool ledge, submerging under water and starting to kick feet in the water. Margs only met one benchmark: submerging under water while her kiddo met all three. I was then asked if I was disappointed that she “failed” the level.

Nope. Not at all I responded.

I left there feeling somewhat like failure and questioning whether I should have higher expectations until I realized that anytime we start playing the comparison game nothing good comes from the situation. Self-doubt sucks. Self-doubt when it comes to parenting and decisions in general sucks even more. See, I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I don’t pretend to do everything right. All of my adult life, I’ve approached everything in my life with a trial and error approach knowing full well that at certain points I’d make mistakes and have to learn how to solve them.

Who cares if Margs didn’t meet all the benchmarks. She’s eventually blow them out of the water. Eventually. And, that’s okay.

Pool mommy taught me a very valuable lesson that day. She taught me that I do not for one moment want my kid to think I expect her to have it all together because I surely don’t. I do not want Margs to view me as some benchmark figure in her life. Instead, I want her to see, know and acknowledge my faults and mistakes with me so she can see, know and acknowledge how I make good decisions and choose to overcome them.

Mommas need to be real. They need to admit when they’re wrong and teach their kiddos that being wrong is okay. Making mistakes or not succeeding the very first time is part of life isn’t it? But, what happens when kids are given the impression that perfection is the standard and anything less is a failure? Are we not setting them up for a world of disappointment?

Mommas need to be real so our kiddos aren’t afraid of failure.

Mommas need to be real so our kiddos are comfortable coming to them for support.

Mommas need to be real because motherhood is a tribe and anything else creates unnecessary comparison and self-doubt.

Mommas need to be real because there is no perfect mother out there.

Mommas need to be real because parenting is the hardest job their is and we need to hold on to a sense of community.

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Tell me, why do you think mommas need to be real?

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to the bereaved momma on mothers day

I see you momma. I see you dreading Mother’s day. I see you feeling anxiety about how the day will treat you. I see the apprehension, the fear, the guilt, the sadness that comes from a day that most mums celebrate and enjoy. I was you momma and on this Mother’s day I’ll think of you often and remember your little ones that were taken far too soon.

It’s all those little things that make this day unbearable right? Like heading out for breakfast and being asked if you’re a mum? Or, heading to church where all the mums are recognized and asked to stand. I’ve been there and I know the gut wrenching dread that comes from these experiences. My heart breaks for you momma because I know all too well how hard this day can be.

with love to the bereaved momma on mother's day

Be kind to yourself momma. You’ve experienced an unbelievably heart breaking loss – something only another loss mum can truly comprehend. A loss that rips your soul to pieces and shreds your heart to bits. A loss that you wouldn’t even wish on your very worst enemy.

Protect your fragile heart momma however you see fit. There’s no shame in avoiding or choosing to tackle this day head on. You do what hurts your heart the least. Speak openly about your babies or choose to keep them in your heart – whatever makes your heart ache just a little less is the right approach for you.

You momma are the strongest, most incredible and loving momma there is. You are a mother to a child you only held for a moment or not at all. You momma are faced with the inexplicably difficult and heart wrenching role of mothering a heavenly child. You momma are the strongest mum there is.

On Mother’s day, I’ll hold you close to my heart. I’ll send you peaceful vibes and gentle hugs. Be kind to yourself momma and remember that this day is absolutely about you too.

Happy mothers day bereaved momma – may this day be as kind to you as humanly possible.

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How to disconnect in an overconnected world

Let’s talk about disconnecting today okay?

Raise your hand if you’ve never got your smart phone far from reach. Raise it even higher if you check in (social media, wordpress, facebook) at least a half dozen times of day. I’m guilty of both of these and since starting this blog I find I’m even more over-connected than I was before. Pre-blog I’d check in to read a couple of my favorite blogs from time to time but I didn’t spend nearly as much time “connected” to the interwebz.

Ironically, the inspiration from this post came from my mother. She was heading out one day and I asked her to give me a shout when she arrived at her destination and she looked at me square in the eyes and said “what for?”. I couldn’t believe it – it’s natural to me to check in with friends and family throughout the day because I have the power to. It’s just normalized isn’t it? Call me when you get there! Call me when you leave there! Call me when you’re on your way. You get the idea. The point is, my mother comes from a generation where smartphones, internet and the ability to be over connected simply didn’t exist. She’s told me on many occasions that she’d head out for the day and only check in at the end of the day when she’d walk back in the door – not because she didn’t want to but because the possibility didn’t exist.

I spent the next few days analyzing my habits and I was alarmed at how over-connected I am.

learn to disconnect from our overconnected world

5 confessions from this over-connected momma

  • I spend an obscene amount of time perusing social media without actually accomplishing anything productive
  • I sometimes surf randomly without purpose because it’s become part of a ritual. It often feels like I’m going in circles.
  • I often check my phone notifications in the middle of the night if I happen to wake up. Gross.
  • The first thing I do in the morning is check my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest notifications. Even more disgusting.
  • When I have a moment to myself my instinct is to hop online and see what’s shaking in the mom blog community.

Clearly, I have a problem. I’ve somehow been sucked up into the hustle and bustle of the revolving door that is the internet which believe you me never sleeps. Never. There’s always something happening right? Awesome twitter discussion! More gorgeous Instagram photos to check out! Pinterest pins to organize neatly to your boards! Posts to write! Emails and comments to answer! Technically speaking you can never be truly done with the internet especially when you are a blogger. Am I right?

But that right there is the problem isn’t it? How and when do we call it quits? I knew this was getting out of hand when I’d spend long nights behind my computer screen perusing pinterest when I should be drafting posts and basically not being productive.

In that moment I knew something had to change.

How I’m breaking up with my habit of being over-connected

I created a blog workflow. I’ve realized that blogging takes time. Easily three to four times the amount of time I naively assumed I’d have to invest. There’s far more involved than simply writing and publishing posts. Since opting to monetize my blog and try to make a little extra cash from this space I’ve had to explore ways to make the process less time consuming and more automated. I’ve been experimenting with different options and have finally found a system that is working quite well for me. It helps cut down the number of hours I’m sitting behind the computer and makes blogging more enjoyable since it removes some of the stress that comes from tedious tasks like promoting posts and being ever-present on social media.

I’ve amended my morning routine to include a “tech free” meditation session. My morning routine is truly a saving grace. It’s my “me” time where I can center myself and focus on making my day a positive one. Instead of heading straight to the computer I sit, enjoy a strong cup of coffee and allow myself to be alone with my thoughts.

Phones are left in our kitchen at night. No electronic devices in the bedroom. This is truly a no brainer and a must for me. I plug my phone to be charged over night and forget about it. Having it in my bedroom really deprived me from relaxing and getting a restful sleep. Instead of perusing blogs before bed I now read an actual book which allows my brain to disconnect and my body to relax prior to falling asleep.

No blog/internet work after 9pm. This was a hard change to make because getting blog related work done throughout the day is rather difficult when Margsy is having an especially fussy day. Most nights I’d take advantage of her early bedtime by working on the blog late into the night. It left my brain feeling wired because I constantly felt like I was racing against the clock to get things “done”. Now, I shut down the computer around 9pm regardless of what is left to be done. Although my type A personality hates leaving things unfinished I’m far happier and more relaxed.

Remind myself that the blog, internet, Instagram, twitter, emails, comments and followers will be there tomorrow. This is probably the most effective strategy for combating being over-connected as a result of living in a technology driven society. Despite my best efforts to get things done in a timely matter I sometimes can’t. Life gets in the way ya know? And, I’m slowly learning that it really isn’t as big of a deal as I’ve convinced myself it is. The internet in all it’s fast-paced glory will be there tomorrow. Self-care comes first!

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How do you disconnect?

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