Quit Your Job as the Maid: The Art of the Invitation

***This is the third post in a series called Quit Your Job as the Maid. Post 1, Post 2

Invite SquareYou’re probably thinking “inviting” your kids to do chores sounds like a joke. Sure, we can invite all we want but they won’t do anything unless they are bribed, nagged, reminded, and punished if they don’t. People who talk about “inviting” kids to do stuff they don’t want to do are up in the night.

I hear ya. I think about my two-year-old who is the Queen of Stubborn and think, “Invite her to pick up her toys? Haha..riiiiight.” In fact, one day when I told her to pick up her toys, she grabbed them and started walking toward the toy box. About halfway there, she stopped, threw them on the ground, and started waving her arms in the air and screaming. As if to say, “Wait, what?! What am I doing?! She wanted me to put my toys away and I almost actually did?!”

So then I started thinking about this idea of invitation. It’s so counterintuitive to think that if kids won’t do it when we tell them to, what makes us think they will do it when we ask them to? Except that, it’s also insane to think that the way we’ve been telling them to do it all their lives isn’t working, so we must need to keep doing that. I was ready for a change. She’s not doing it when I tell her to, I guess I could try asking…


Then something amazing happened. She actually picked up her toys! Like, several days in a row now. And it’s funny, I thought I would feel like a grovelling mother who turns all parental authority over to a two-year-old tyrant. But it didn’t feel that way at all. I am confident that if I keep up this patient, inviting parental role, she will continue to pick up her toys. It’s really me I’ve got to worry about. I know how close those raging feelings of frustration are to the surface. If I can keep those feelings under control while I “invite” my kids to clean up, I actually believe they will do it.

Granted, they are young enough to work this reverse psychology on. Older kids will probably get that you’re trying a new tactic, and that’s ok. They will still feel empowered by this process and hopefully more aware of the “why” behind it. Just trust the process and give it a try.

If you’ve been following this series and doing the “homework” then you are aware of what your children are capable of and where they technically should be and are ready to fill in the gap. You should have a list of:

β€’   What your kids can do and will do

β€’   What your kids can do but don’t do

β€’   What they can’t do because they haven’t been trained

It’s important that in these 2-3 observation days, you commit to not reminding or nagging your kids to do anything. This is the only way to get accurate information. If they only do it when you remind them, then it falls in the second column of things they can but don’t do (on their own). This list is an excellent starting point for you to build on what they know and help them create essential habits that will make both of your lives easier in the long run.

As a quick sidenote, don’t expect this to work like magic in one day. Vicki explains that when kids are used to a certain behavior from their parents (ie. yelling, nagging, reminding) and there is a sudden change, they become suspicious. This is a good thing because it gets their attention. Expect them to decline your invitation the first few times. As long as they are in the position of choice, they will feel empowered and will eventually be intrigued by this new way of getting them to do chores. The younger the kids, the easier it will probably be to get them to say “yes.” Keep at it and don’t give up!

1. Choose the time


Choose a time to have a conversation with your child (individually) when you are feeling patient and calm. Remember you may have to have this conversation many times in the future but lay it all out in the open and explain to your child that there are 3 main reasons you are committed to training him to learn how to run a home:

  • He will leave home eventually and it is your job to teach him how to take care of himself and his future home.
  • It is the only way you won’t have to resort to nagging, reminding, and threatening him about helping around the house.
  • If he wants you to spend more time with him doing fun things then you need some help around the house because you can’t do it all by yourself. Would he rather have a mom or a maid?

2. Brainstorm

Brainstorm together tasks and skills your child wants to learn and master. If she is included in this process it will have her even that much more invested and she will feel listened to and validated when it comes to what she knows and what she still needs to learn. Go ahead and point out what you noticed during your observations and see what she thinks about it. You may want to explain that you noticed she always gets dressed by herself but doesn’t always remember to put her dirty clothes in the hamper. 

3. Ask

Let your child make the decision to choose one skill from the list that she would like to learn first. Don’t jump in and say which one you think is best, allow her the power of choosing. This will keep her motivated and eager to learn since she was the one who chose the task.

4. Invite


Finally, invite him to learn how to do it. Next week we will talk about a training approach that sets your child up for success. The art of invitation is where it starts though. When children are in a good place, a place of empowerment and choice, they are so much more eager and excited to learn. When they are coerced to do something unpleasant, the outcome is infinitely different.

Your Homework

Try to talk to each of your children this week and explain that there are going to be some changes. Work through this invitation process to explain why you’re making some changes and to get a clear plan of what they want to work on. 

This concept of extending an invitation isn’t as crazy as it might seem. Think about how you react when someone tells you what to do as compared to when someone invites you to learn something new. Our children are just tiny, emerging adults and if we want to be respected, we must learn to respect them as well. This doesn’t mean we are undermining our authority as the parent or the adult, it just means that we are teaching respect by example.

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What do you think about the concept of inviting our kids to learn new skills? What are your concerns with trying this method?

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Cleaning Kits for Kids

Cleaning Kits Square2Sometimes it feels like all kids speak the love language of Receiving Gifts. They always get so excited for any event that involves presents.

Why not take advantage of that and give them a little gift to get them excited about cleaning! This is especially helpful for little kids, if you get your teenager a cleaning kit, he’s probably going to roll his eyes at you πŸ™‚

I made a little trip to the dollar store and for less than $10 I got enough stuff for two cleaning kits for both my kids.

clean Spray3

I also saw some fun stuff on Amazon if you want to be more elaborate. They have little vinyl gloves for little hands (when we get to learning to clean the bathroom, those will be a necessity). They have little brooms and mops that are mostly intended for play but a lot of the reviews said they worked for cleaning up real messes.

Here are the things I included in my cleaning kits for kids ages 4 and 2:

  • 1 small spray bottle (filled with water and vinegar as an all purpose cleaner that isn’t toxic and won’t require an ER visit if ingested)
  • 1 microfiber cloth for drying
  • 1 scrubbing pad for cleaning
  • 1 duster
  • 1 handheld broom and dustpan
  • 1 mini apron (I can’t take credit for this one, my mom made them–cuz I asked her to and she’s amazing like that)
  • 1 bucket to hold it all (doubles as a basket to carry toys from all over the house to their toy box)

Cleaning Apron

Now, I’m not saying that after giving this cleaning kit to your preschooler he will be all about cleaning up every little mess. Well, he might be, for like a day. But just like any other toy, the newness will wear off and eventually you’ll have scrubbers and dusters scattered all over the house. 

This is why I suggest putting this cleaning kit up and being clear, from the get go, that it is only allowed out when it’s time to clean. This will make it special and, hopefully, your kids will be begging for a chance to clean. Well whad’ya know, there might be a secret to getting kids to clean after all!

If you’re keeping up on the Quit Your Job as the Maid series this month, you’re probably starting to realize how much we should be teaching our kids about cleaning. Stay tuned because on Monday, we’re going to be talking about how to introduce this idea to your kids in a way that will set you, and them, up for success. Including this gift as part of your “invitation” to start taking more responsibility will add that much more “cream to the tacos” as my husband puts it. 

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Tell me what you include in your cleaning kits and how your kids respond! 

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10 Ideas to Stop Drifting and Be Intentional with your Time

Intentional Square

It is depressing to know that I have spent so much of my life just floating along, with no real direction or purpose. Even as a mother, I hardly remember the first year of Liliana’s life. I think between postpartum depression and severe sleep deprivation, it has become nothing but a foggy dream.

My brother has a little wooden block in his room that reads, “Every day matters.” I remember reading it a while back and for some reason it was kind of a revelation for me. I was living each day as if I were just waiting for the next. It went something like this: Monday, “Why didn’t I get to bed earlier last night? I am so exhausted! I need my sleep so I’ll just sleep in…tonight I’ll go to bed earlier and then I’ll be able to get up earlier tomorrow.” Later that day as I’m mindlessly scrolling through channels on the TV, “I really am so tired, I’ll do something productive tomorrow.” Then Tuesday, “I don’t feel like doing anything today, in fact, I might be sick. I’ll relax today and tomorrow the kids and I will go to the park.” Then Wednesday, “I forgot that today we have a dentist appointment so I’ll relax until then and we’ll go to the park tomorrow.” And so it went, all week long.

Every Day Matters

I had a lot of goals and things I wanted to accomplish but I was living each day doing the bare minimum. Part of that is the season of life I was in, I suppose. Newborns have a tendency of throwing us into survival mode. It was so refreshing to have this revelation that “Every Day Matters” and that I don’t want to “wait until tomorrow” to do something meaningful.

So I am working on living with more intentionality. And since “time” really is the only universally equal gift that we share, it’s important to make it count.

Here are 10 ideas to help you get your life back by being intentional with your time:

1. Track

Just like when you need to know what your mindless eating situation looks like you are told to track it and write it down, so it is with the mindless way we spend our time. Laura Vanderkam has a great document to help you get started. Just print it out and use it for 2 weeks. Write down what you’re doing every 30 minutes or so. It can seem annoying but it will make you mindful of how you’re spending your time. Which is the first step to change.

2. Be mindful

We can’t change something we aren’t aware of. If you can’t figure out why you’re getting to bed so late every night and then you realize (probably through tracking your time), that you’re spending an extra hour on your phone at night watching YouTube videos, you can easily work on changing it now that it’s come to your attention. True story.

3. Budget


Just like we budget our money, we can budget our time. You can use the same document you used to track but use it to plan out your day ahead of time. You see that, it’s being intentional about our time. It’s acting instead of reacting. It’s being proactive, which is the first habit of highly successful people.

4. Have a bigger “Why”

I had the great fortune of attending the Build Your Blog Conference last year in Salt Lake where we got to listen to Jason Meade talk about “Your Why.” Wow. Can I just say it was an absolute revelation inside of me. We got free access to Simon Sinek’s Why Discovery Course and I was on that like a fat kid on cake. I was devouring the course before I even got home from the conference!

The point of this course and the book for that matter, is to help people figure out what their mission is in life. Of course, I have my own beliefs about what God wants me to do but this helped me to really narrow it down and put my finger on why certain things are so important to me and how I can make a difference in the world with my one passion in life. You can read the book and purchase the course if you want. I totally think it’s worth it. Even if you don’t though, make it a goal to figure out what your one thing is in this life. It will give you a greater purpose and make you a much better person in every role you are struggling to fulfill.

5. Set goals

After figuring out your “Why” you can easily set goals to help you accomplish what it is that will be most fulfilling to you in your life. There’s a 30 day video course you can get for free from Chalene Johnson that teaches you how to set a “Push Goal.” It’s a fascinating topic that will have you setting one 90-Day goal that will work as a domino effect and making all of your other goals much easier to accomplish.

6. The Focusing Question

What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” This is a slightly different take on Chalene Johnson’s “Push Goal” and comes from the book The One Thing by Gary Keller. Either way, it’s a critical question to make sure you’re asking yourself on the daily in order to be intentional about your time.

7. Eat that frog


Once you figure out what the ONE thing you need to do is, do it first. Brian Tracy’s book “Eat That Frog!” is based on a quote by Mark Twain that goes something like this,

β€œEat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Most often the frogs we need to eat in the morning are the ones we constantly avoid. They are the biggest dominoes and are what will move the needle the most, yet we resist doing them. Figure out what that is for you, and do it first thing. You will not only feel accomplished, you will actually be accomplishing your most important goals.

8. Time Thieves

We all have them. Mine is my phone. Maybe yours is the TV. It doesn’t really matter what it is. Find them on your tracking document and work on minimizing them or eliminating them altogether. Make sure you spend that recovered time working on your most important goals.

9. Be flexible

Just as with anything in life, be sure to have an open mind and be flexible. If your time budget doesn’t go as planned, just pick up where you left off and ask the focusing question again, “What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” Or in other words, “What is the most important thing I can be doing right now, in this moment.”

10. Routines and Systems

Eventually, you will develop your own routines and systems. The more mundane tasks you can put on autopilot the more energy and time you will have to spend on the most important things in your life. A morning and evening routine are essential to starting and ending your day right. Anything you can automate or systematize will save you brain power and allow you to focus on what you’ve been avoiding for so long.

Don’t allow yourself to float through life with no direction. What do you want to think of yourself and your life when you’re old? What do you want people to say at your funeral? Commit yourself to act, not to be acted upon. Make a difference.

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Do you use your time intentionally? What are some of the things you do to accomplish your goals? Do you find it difficult to work on your goals? Do you feel like you’re living without a real purpose? What are you going to do differently now?

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Quit Your Job as the Maid: 3 Stages of Learning

***This is the second post in a series called Quit Your Job as the Maid. Post 1

***This post contains affiliate links. Anything purchased from an affiliate link on this website will result in a small commission for me, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support 

3 Stages of Learning Square

Have you ever caught your kids doing something that you had no idea they were capable of? I think about the time my three-year-old made his own eggs. I was keenly aware in that moment that I wasn’t giving my son enough credit or enough responsibility.

In Duct Tape Parenting, Vicki gives us an excellent visual of how much we should be expecting of our children. She explains the Timeline something like this:


If we realize that we have just 18 years to train our children to be adults, then we must also realize that by age 9, half of that training should be done. That’s mind-boggling isn’t it! Even when I look at my son who is almost 5, I think he is still far away from having 1/4 of the skills to live on his own. If you think this is a little extreme, keep reading to see how these skills are broken down into 3 stages or windows of time. Vicki explains that there are ideal windows in which to learn certain skills and if we follow this layout, we will receive less push back from our kids and they will be more eager and willing to learn at each stage.

Birth to Age 9: Life and Self Skills

washing dishes2

Babies are constantly learning new skills and we hardly have to help them. They are eager to master one stage so they can move onto the next. First they sit up, then they crawl, then they walk, then they run. We are standing by, cheering them on and watching them change before our eyes. If we encourage this learning and refrain ourselves from saving them every single time they start to fall, they will grow up confident in their own abilities.

This window of time is ideal to teach basic self and life skills. This includes:

  • getting themselves up and ready for school
  • being responsible for their own homework
  • cleaning house and doing laundry
  • answering phones and making appointments

  • help with paying bills
  • creating shopping lists
  • learning time management
  • creating their own routines

There is a more exhaustive list in the book and when you look at it, it seems like so much!

In fact, in another part of the book Vicki explains that by kindergarten, her 5-year-old had learned how to get herself up, get ready, make her own cereal for breakfast, pack her own lunch, and head off to the bus, all on her own. Remember however, this kind of training doesn’t happen overnight and in the following posts in this series, we’ll learn how to train our kids and how to determine which skills to focus on.

Ages 10-15: Social Skills


Once our kids are heading into adolescence, they are much less interested in learning how to mop the floor and their life begins to evolve around their friends. This is an ideal time to learn social skills and how to be strong in social situations. These skills include:

  • Making friends
  • Saying no
  • Talking to a teacher about a grade
  • Making phone calls
  • Fighting for what you believe in
  • Accepting those who are different

  • Accepting themselves
  • Defining their identity
  • Exploring new interests
  • Conflict resolution
  • Prioritizing
  • Empathy and compassion
  • Respect

It’s easy to see why so many older kids give us such negative attitudes about cleaning up when it isn’t something they’ve been doing since they were very young. With so much brain power being focused on learning these kinds of skills, it is much harder to devote some of that to learning basic cleaning skills. If it isn’t a habit already in place, it will be so much more difficult to develop during this window of time. We want our kids to be resilient and responsible. We want them to be able to stand up for themselves among their peers. If that’s the case, we need to invest in them when they’re young so that when they get to this stage, they have the confidence and available mental energy to do so.

Ages 16-18: Life Skills and Lessons


Once puberty is on the downhill slide and our kids are approaching high school graduation, they start to realize how much they have left to learn! This small window of time is where a lot of important skills must be learned, many of which are not taught in school. Some of these things include:

  • Buying a car
  • Dating
  • Finding a job
  • Budgeting their finances and opening a bank account

  • Handling offers of drugs or alcohol
  • Choosing a college and applying
  • Following through with plans
  • Resiliency
  • Taking responsibility for their choices

If these skills can be mostly mastered before age 18, think of how much easier your child’s college experience or work experience will be! I remember getting to college and was lacking in so many of these skills that it was completely overwhelming. How could I focus on school when I couldn’t even pay my bills?! I wish I had been a little more ready to deal with those parts of life before I left home.

List of Age Appropriate Chores

For the purpose of this series, I will be focusing on the life skills portion of this timeline, namely ages 0-9. Here is a list of chores or “life skills” most 9 year-olds should possess and a goal for you to work towards with your younger children.

  • Getting up on their own
  • Getting themselves showered and ready
  • Making breakfast
  • Packing lunch and backpack
  • Organizing and turning in homework
  • Washing dishes
  • Doing laundry
  • Cleaning bathroom
  • Making shopping lists

  • Vacuuming
  • Sweeping and mopping
  • Learning how to cook
  • Making bed
  • Answering phones
  • Help with paying bills
  • Making appointments
  • Setting the table
  • Dusting

Once these skills are in place and become habit, it will be much easier for them to continue while learning other, more advanced skills.

Your Homework

Your homework is, over the next week or so, to observe each of your children and to write down, in three different columns, the following: 

1. What your kids can do and will do

2. What they can do but don’t do

3. What they can’t do because they haven’t been trained

It’s important that while you observe, you refrain from reminding, nagging, or threatening. Just simply observe what your kids do on their own and without reminding. This will help you prepare for the next post when we talk about how to invite our kids to learn and do more.

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Does this resonate with you? Do you think it’s possible? Have you tried it?

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3 Tips to Help You Be Emotionally Available to Your Kids

Emotionally Available Square2After I had my first child, I thought I had motherhood figured out. In the scope of my life, I had never been happier. I was savoring every moment I had with my little boy. I was finishing my degree and doing my student teaching. I had lost a significant amount of weight and felt really good about myself and my health, for the first time in a long time. I was hired to coach the high school drill team I was once a part of and everything seemed to be going my way.

Then I got pregnant.

Let me explain that pregnancy is not easy on me. I am NOT one of those cute little pregnant ladies that goes to her spinning class, cooks three meals a day, and cleans her house from top to bottom, all while wearing 6 inch heels. I’m more like Wendy from What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Have you seen that movie? Well, this scene might make you pee your pants and yes, this was me.

The point is, pregnancy does not look good on me. My whole world changed. I was struggling to keep up with even just the most mundane tasks like switching the laundry from the washer to the dryer and cooking breakfast for my 2-year-old son. Instead, I was making trip after trip to the bathroom to throw up whatever ounce of bile that was left in my stomach. Soon, I just started carrying around a bowl because it took too much effort to run to the bathroom every time. 

I would sometimes sit on the bathroom floor, with the door closed, and cry. Wondering how on earth moms do this! Last time I was pregnant, I was just as miserable physically but the advantage was that I had the freedom to lie in bed and sleep. I didn’t have a little toddler needing me every second. I didn’t have many outside responsibilities and I certainly didn’t have so. much. laundry. 

I tried to hold it together as much as I could and although some of the nausea passed, I was still on an emotional rollercoaster most of the time. Even the silliest things set me off and had me completely overwhelmed. 

After I finally had our sweet baby girl, I thought it was going to be butterflies and rainbows. I had survived pregnancy, now it was time to just savor this precious little newborn baby. Again, I was in for a rude awakening. 

One of my friends told me while I was pregnant that having two kids wasn’t all that different than having one. This gave me hope. Hope that was smashed like a fly on the windshield of my car.

I remember coming home and repeatedly locking myself in the bathroom with a screaming baby in her carseat and a tantrum throwing toddler banging on the door. I cried and cried and cried. Then I would pull myself together, stand up, reach for the door, and cry again. It was an exhausting and dark time. 



Luckily for me, pregnancy and postpartum depression didn’t last forever. However, being emotionally available to my children is still hard sometimes. Whether we’re going through a tough time or we just consider this particular season of child raising in general a tough time, giving our best selves to our kids is hard. There is a lot on our plates and minds and sometimes turning our undivided attention over to a toddler, or a moody teenager, is the last thing we feel like doing.

Our kids need more than just a hot meal and a warm bath at night. They need us. They need to know we care and that we like to spend time with them. It’s so easy to get to that everyday overwhelm stage and forget how sensitive their little hearts are. We have to make ourselves available, not just physically but emotionally too. 

Here are 3 things that might help you get to that place.

Just Say “No”

Just say no2


This means “say no” to just about everything you possibly can. In the midst of my emotional rollercoaster of pregnancy, I had to quit my coaching job. It was not an easy decision and I let down a lot of people in the community. However, I felt I had to do what was most important for my emotional health and my family. 

After I had my daughter I got a night job cleaning offices. It was great to have the extra income but it quickly became too much again. I stuck it out for almost two years and I was finally able to quit last month. What a relief! Just the feeling of having my evenings back has boosted my spirits 150%. I don’t have to spend all weekend trying to get caught up on my life.

When we have young kids, it’s totally ok to say “no” to just about any other responsibilities. I take my main job and my church callings seriously but I don’t feel responsible to take on much more than that outside of my own family and home. This includes extra jobs. I have decided it is far more worth it to live a little more frugally than to work a second job.

On top of that though, there are always opportunities to be involved in the community or with friends. If I sign my son up for soccer and you ask me to coach, it’s gonna be a polite, but firm, “no.” If you want me to volunteer on a weekly basis to help out the library, as much of a book lover as I am, I’m gonna have to say, “no.” I wish I could help everybody but I just can’t at this stage in my life. And you know what, it’s ok. And it’s ok for you to say “no” too.

Take Care of Yourself



Take care of yourself2

I am what some people might call an outgoing introvert (which sometimes surprises people). This means I love people and I like to be around them, but in small doses. Alone time is suuuuuper important to me. I like to think and being around people too much seriously drains my energy. 

Since getting married and having kids, my alone time has almost disappeared altogether. I sometimes find myself lingering at the store on the rare occasion I’m by myself. I get up at 5am most days, just to get some alone time before everyone else gets up. I still use the “lock myself in the bathroom” tactic when I just can’t take it anymore.

Last year I was deposed for a lawsuit and the lawyer’s office invited me to come up the night before and stay in a hotel. As ridiculous as it sounds, I was beyond thrilled! I knew I would miss my kids but I was looking forward to having some alone time. I went to dinner by myself, went shopping by myself, and then sat in my hotel room and read a book by myself. It was rejuvenating! 

What I’m getting at is that we all need to take care of ourselves. It’s true that if we don’t take care of our own emotional reserve, we’ll never be emotionally available to anyone else, including our children. If you’re more of an extrovert and need to be around people, time with friends should be at the top of your list. Maybe you really like to feel pampered and a monthly pedicure is vital to your emotional sanity. Whatever it is, do it. Do it not only for yourself but for your husband and your kids. 

If you read this post, you’ll also know I’m going to tell you to do something to move you toward your dreams. Whatever they are. You will feel more alive and more like yourself if you’re doing something that excites you, beyond the scope of raising little munchkins. It’s empowering not only for you, but for your kids as well.

Be Present

Listen Quote

Now that you’ve created enough margin in your schedule by saying “No” to less important things, and you’re taking care of yourself regularly, it’s time to focus on being present with your kids. 

My son is a serious talker. His mind never stops and his mommy is his sounding board. There have been times when he was trying to tell me something and he’s had to repeat himself several times because my mind was on other things (or my eyes were on my phone) and I couldn’t get the right response out.

“Mommy, I have a really good question. How do they get the penguins to the zoo? They live in antarctica and I don’t know how they get them to here.” 

“Uh huh honey…” 

“No, mom–I’m asking you a question!”

“Oh, what’s the matter sweetheart?”

“How do they get the penguins to the zoo?”


“The penguins at the zoo? How do they get them there?”

“I don’t know baby.”

“Mom! Are you even listening?”

It’s the sad reality sometimes. But some of the best conversations we’ve had were when I put down my phone, turned my thoughts off, and actively listened. He’s told me some surprising things, things that had I not been listening, I would have missed. He’s opened up to me about uncomfortable but important topics and I’ve had the opportunity to use those as teachable moments. 

I don’t want my kids to be afraid to talk to me, or feel like talking to me is useless because I’m not really listening, even if it appears that I am. I don’t want to miss these precious years because I’m always “somewhere else” rather than in the moment. 

Being emotionally available to our children is one of the most important things we can give them. 

It starts with how we schedule our time and how we take care of ourselves. Then it is our choice to be present in the moment. These simple habits will allow us to put forth our best selves and be the best mother we can be.

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Can you relate? What do you do to take care of yourself? How do you make sure you are emotionally available to your children?

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