Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

Nothing Went As Planned Today April 15, 2013

Thankfully, we hadn’t planned to attend the Boston Marathon. My heart goes out to everyone affected.

I’d planned to do my homework. I’m nearly one week behind on turning in my assignments. I’m trying to keep from being stressed out about it, but there are only two weeks before the end of the semester and I’m not ready to do my final project, nor am I ready to dive into my next (my last) two courses.

PlanningI’d planned to wake up and get to reading my lessons. I wound up waking up and getting some laundry started, made breakfast and straightened my kitchen, then contacted my lawyer, led the girls through their learning assignments, took the girls on a walk past a pond (where we saw seven sunbathing turtles) to a playground (where I learned that pushing them on the swings while wearing two pound wrist weights is a great arm workout), and then back home where we played Candy Land and Barbies after lunch, then I cleaned the condo some more and had Mommy and Me time with each of them before dinner and Bedtime Business.

Things didn’t go as I’d planned for them to go today. Around lunch time though, I gave up on getting any homework done before the girls went to bed, and although I was disappointed it became easier to accept. I admitted to myself that what I’d wanted wouldn’t be happening, and slowly but surely I felt the tug of self-defeat loosening. Every activity then became a valued experience instead of another nuisance task keeping me from my studies.

Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way I hope, but the more flexible I become in dealing with whatever I’m thrown without freaking out the more capable I feel about controlling the only thing I really have the power to control, myself. I truly believe in leading by example, and I want my daughters to know me as the mother I’ve always wanted to be. Lately I’ve been making a lot of progress, and although nothing went as planned today, I am pleased.

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Back to Basically Alright March 25, 2013

Nohra is over 11lbs at four weeks old! That's a gain of 4lbs+ since birth :)

Nohra is over 11lbs at four weeks old! That’s a gain of 4lbs+ since birth 🙂

Today is my first day of feeling good again.

I was able to use various natural remedies (warm, moist heat and massaging, increasing my Vitamin C and taking Echinacea, increasing my fluid intake and resting) to beat mastitis without antibiotics. Yay! It also helped that Nohra is going through a growth spurt and was begging to nurse almost constantly these past few days.

I was in so much pain at times, but several things helped me to push through. One was knowing that I couldn’t afford to get any worse as there wasn’t anyone to care for my daughters. Another was that if I had to take antibiotics and transfer them to Nohra by nursing her I’d feel incredibly guilty. Another was that no one was here to comfort me regardless of how much I complained so it was better to stay tough (very similar to birthing). I’m happy to have won this battle. Thank you all so much for your kindness and advice!

Terra and Amara modeling their new sunglasses and outfits courtesy of my sister :)

Terra and Amara modeling their new sunglasses and outfits courtesy of my sister 🙂

Today was spent cleaning, trying to get back on track from several days of letting the girls go off their schedule and wreck the condo. It was bad. It still isn’t perfect, but today alone I got everyone bathed, the gerbil cage cleaned, the cloth diapers and the dishes washed, the bathroom cleaned, a load of laundry folded and put away, and a draft of my Master’s Project Prospectus completed.

The plan was to stop and celebrate every small victory along the way. Every cleaned body, room, dish, diaper and whatnot. But I was too busy scurrying to clean as quickly as I could each time I was able to put Nohra down to stop and enjoy each accomplishment. I can certainly say that being a single mother of three young children has made me much more efficient. I have no time to do anything slowly anymore.

There’s still a lot of cleaning to be done. My summer semester proposals need to be finished this week, there are bills to pay and appointments to make it to and Terra’s fourth birthday on Saturday. I cannot wrap my head around it all. When I dreamed of my adult life I never saw it being like this. I thought that I’d have babies, yes, but everything else was inconceivable. I do enjoy having children, I’m just eager to reach the period of our lives when I can share so much more with them.

There’s still so much I want out of life, but days like today I am certain that we’re going to be alright.

 

Nesting…or not January 7, 2013

Nesting.GlovesThere’s still so much to get done and nothing is clean enough and nothing stays clean very long around here.

I’m always doing the dishes. I’m always folding the clothes. I’m always cleaning the girls’ room for them because I’m too tired to incorporate it into their schedule.

I’m always cleaning their gerbil cage. I’m always giving the girls baths, washing, conditioning, combing, and braiding their hair. I feel like I never stop cooking.

I am so low on energy as I am still rarely sleeping, but every ounce of me is saying…MUST PREPARE FOR BABY!

I have to get the bookcase disassembled so that I can put up her swing in that corner. This entails removing the knickknacks, boxing the books and moving the boxes down to the cellar. There’s no space in the cellar for the boxes until I bring the baby gear up. There’s no place in the condo to store the baby gear except the kitchen, but I still have the Christmas stuff in the kitchen and the buckets for the laundry detergent. I need to take the Christmas boxes to my storage unit, make three batches of laundry detergent and clear the kitchen space to get the process started.

But I never have the time to make it to my storage unit or the strength and will to load the boxes in the van. I have little opportunity to be in the kitchen making laundry detergent because I cannot seem to get a break from cooking and cleaning. I just…AAUGH!!! There is so much to get done and so little time before she comes and I want everything to be perfect and I’m just not doing enough.

I am not capable of doing so much.Overwhelmed Mother

Despite my desire to get everything perfect I have to listen to my body as well. When I am low on sleep and doing everything to provide for my two little earth-side ladies it’s hard to find the time and energy to focus on Baby #3. I really want everything to be clean and organized and ready, but it’s so hard to do my nesting when I have so many other responsibilities.

School starts back up in ten days. It does not feel like I’ve had nearly one month of a break. I cannot believe that somehow I am supposed to keep up with the every day, my education, a new baby, a three-year old, a five-year old, and the aftermath of a failed marriage. What am I thinking?! How am I going to handle this?!

Keep breathing…that’s the first step. Keep doing what I can handle every day. Keep being the mother that I want my children to remember me being. Keep believing in myself. Keep refusing to quit. I can get through this. Maybe I will not make it to every nook and cranny of the condo, and maybe the baby gear assembling will take the back seat to sorting cloth diapers and infant clothing. The most important part is getting Baby here safely; I must remain confident that I will be able to sustain.

We’re going to make it through this okay. I would feel so much more relaxed though, if I could just dismantle that bookcase.

 

Earth Paste Recipe September 28, 2012

Seems all I do is homework and housework.

I’ve yet to find a simple solution to getting all of my homework done, but I have a recipe for what we call “Earth Paste” that will make your cleaning experience easy, efficient, and eco-friendly.

 

Earth Paste Recipe

Ingredients

1 2/3 cup Baking Soda

1/2 cup Castile Soap (we use Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Pure Castile Soap)

2 Tbsp distilled water

2 Tbsp distilled vinegar

3 drops Essential Oil (optional for scent)

 

Directions

In a large bowl mix the baking soda, Castile soap, and distilled water with a fork until smooth. Add the vinegar (the girls love watching the mixture bubble). At this point you’ll add your drops of essential oil if you’ve chosen to use them. Mix everything again, until smooth. Use a rubber spatula to scoop the mixture into an airtight container (we make and store ours in an old plastic ice cream bucket).

We use this mixture to clean our bathroom (toilet, shower, bathtub, sink), but it’s great for plenty of other things too (stove top, cutting boards, etc). It’s very easy to use, just put a tablespoon or two on a towel or sponge and get to cleaning. You’ll be amazed at how softly you scrub, and how wonderfully the solution cleans up! If you want to make it even more abrasive try adding lemon juice and salt (I’ve never had to do this, and I’ve been using this recipe consistently for the past five years).

I hope you like using your Earth Paste as much as I do!

 

Homemade Laundry Detergent August 20, 2012

I’ve been trying to do my best to plan sensibly for Baby # 3. I saved all of the gear, cloth diapers, wipes, bibs, and burp cloths from my first two babies. I have plenty of clothing if I’m having a girl, but, for the first time, I’m going to find out the Baby’s sex so that I can prepare accordingly. I spent the first few weeks of my pregnancy making a Plan A and B and C for all of the bigger things (i.e. how to continue with my schooling after the baby’s birth, how to survive financially, how to make sure that my girls still get time with me and avoid sibling rivalry). Now that I am 16 weeks pregnant I have time to focus on smaller things. One of my first goals was to make several extra batches of laundry detergent. By several I specifically mean ten, and by batches I mean five-gallon buckets full; so yes, 50 gallons of surplus laundry detergent in all.

You may be thinking that 50 gallons of laundry detergent is excessive, but I reasoned with this: we usually use one five-gallon bucket every month and a half (give or take half a bucket depending on the season, number of bed-wetting accidents, and the amount of spills the girls make with their cups, or splashes that come out of the bathtub). I figure that since I’ll be exclusively cloth diapering Baby #3 we’ll be using a maximum of ten gallons of detergent every month. More than likely it’ll be less, but I wanted to be on the safe side. I wanted to know that I could go a full five months after Baby’s arrival without having to make another batch.

It’s not extremely difficult to make a batch of laundry detergent; tedious and slightly dangerous, but it could be accomplished while a baby is napping. However, I am quite sure that I will have a lot of needs pining for my attention while Baby is napping, and I figure that once I have the detergent surplus there will be one less thing I’ll have to worry about doing soon after Baby is born. Thus far, I have made five surplus batches. My goal is to make one batch of detergent each week until I reach my surplus goal. Some weeks I may be replacing one of my two in-use buckets, so it may take me another two months to be officially complete, but I am excited to be planning ahead and creating a sweet relief for my postpartum phase.

 

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

 

Yields: Five-gallon bucket nearly full (approximately two inches from the top)

 

Supplies

1 five-gallon bucket

1 long-handled wooden spoon

Cheese grater

Enough pots to boil 6 quarts of water and a pot to heat 4 ½ quarts of water with room to stir ingredients

 

Ingredients

4 ½ Quarts of Water

1 Bar of Zote Soap, grated

1 ½ Cups of Washing Soda

1 ½ Cups of Borax

3 Quarts of Hot Water

6 Quarts of Boiling Water

4 ½ Quarts of Hot Water

15 drops of Essential Oil (Optional – I use tea tree oil)

 

Instructions

Start heating 6 quarts of water to a boil. In a large pot, mix 4 ½ quarts of water with the grated Zote Soap. Heat the mixture on medium and the soap will dissolve. Stir the Washing Soda and Borax into the mixture. Continue heating the mixture, but do not let it boil. Stir the mixture until it thickens (less than five minutes), and then remove the pot from heat.

Add 3 quarts of hot water to the bucket then add the soap mixture from the pot and mix well. Add the 6 quarts of boiling water to the bucket and mix well. Add an additional 4 ½ quarts of hot water to the bucket. If you’re using essential oils add these now. Mix the contents of the bucket.

Let the mixture set for 24 hours or until it thickens. Use 1-3 cups of the mixture per load of laundry (use more for heavily soiled clothing).

 

My mother-in-law gave me this recipe about seven years ago. I have used it consistently for six years and through two exclusively cloth diapered babies. It cleans everything, smells wonderful, and doesn’t leave residue or cause skin irritations. We love it, and if you try it let me know what you think!

 

Toy Cycling July 20, 2012

Our house in Illinois is spacious; built in the 1930’s, two stories, and ample space for storing rarely used things. Our condo in New England is about 1/3 the size of the home we own (though we pay more than twice our mortgage to live here) and there is absolutely no space for things that are not needed daily. Unfortunately, when we moved in I was not the one to handle the unpacking, and as I was busy with the beginnings of graduate school I just became accustomed to the way my husband had arranged things.

Since our separation I have begun going through each room and reorganizing, removing what is not vital, and making the space livable by simplifying our surroundings. I saved my daughters’ room for last. Their room was a scary beast that I was unwilling to wrestle with on the little strength I’ve been able to manage between my normal mothering responsibilities, our to-do list, and the never-ending pregnancy nausea and fatigue. Today, I won the battle, but what a battle it was!

My daughters have been absolutely refusing to help put their toys away for the past four days. Usually I kindly encourage them, let them listen to music while they’re working, or break the cleaning up into toy groups and after each group has been put away they get a prize. Sometimes I’ll put on a wig and use a southern accent and call myself Missy Lou; I tell them I’ve taken a break from my farm work to help out, and after the room is clean I always throw some type of party (painting, reading, play-doh, baking), they love this bit! Today I let them play ABCMouse.com, had them do pages from their learning workbooks, and let them use their V Tech V.Smile.

Their room was a disaster zone, but it was not only because they haven’t cleaned it. They have so many toys to choose between that it’s nearly impossible to keep everything clean. They cannot access a good amount of the toys in their room because they are blocked by other toys, and they cannot play with the toys they have access to because their room is so cluttered there’s no space to enjoy them!

                                                         

I started with a deep clean of the entire room. Once everything was back where we usually put it I took almost everything out. I thought it through and had the girls each pick three sets of toys that they would like to put back in their room. I already knew I would keep their books, puzzles, and board games.

Amara choose the Strawberry Shortcake set, the Little People set, and her bin filled with small animals. Terra choose Elefun (a toy she rarely plays with, but maybe only because she could not access it before), a jar of multi-colored cookies, and her babydoll with select accessories. I let them each choose three noise-making toys, one backpack, and a selection of friends to keep in the hammock in the corner of their room.

I didn’t take away any of their dress up clothes; the bottom two drawers of their smaller dresser are completely filled with dress up clothes. They come up with the most elaborate costumes and play with the items creatively every day, so I figured they could stay.

I didn’t really take anything away. I’m just removing it from their room and our small condo. I’ve told the girls that once every few weeks we’re going to take a trip out to our storage unit to pick out toys to replace those we’ve been playing with. They know that their things are safe, and they have both given their approval for the added playing space.

My plan is to actually start getting rid of some toys after a few months; those they never choose to play with, forget about, or I deem inessential. I wouldn’t do it without telling them, in fact, I want them to be a part of our donations. I think it will be a good experience for them to learn the value of giving, not for the sake of getting something back.

                                                           

I hope that cycling out their toys will teach them to respect the space they have, foster the creativity necessary to play with the same things in different ways, ease the cleaning process since there’s not nearly as much to take care of, and help them to appreciate the newness of old objects once they’ve been out of sight awhile.

Their room feels so much more peaceful now. The battle is won, but the journey has just begun.