Have You Heard? | #mothermanifesto

#mothermanifesto cissyromano.com

I was on the phone with a friend of mine from college this morning. Our sorority house is being demolished this weekend in order to make room for a larger and fancier house on campus. I don’t know the history of the house and how long it has stood – I should know, but my days of pledgeship are over, so just take my word that it is old. My friend mentioned that I will probably be the only sister not there this weekend, which makes me sad. Sad, because I know the reason I am saying no is because I’m having to make very tough choices these days in order to manage how stretched thin I am. I am sad because I know that I am missing out on yet another event with friends who were once a priority of mine. Sad. Sad. Sad. I miss them. And I miss that part of my life.

Motherhood is hard. Ok, you are thinking this is going to be a complaint post. No, not a complaint post. More like a PSA for all of you mothers that are living day-to-day right now. So I get to my point. A friend of mine from high school has co-created an initiative called the #mothermanifesto. She charges all women from all walks of life to band together in support of being a #mother. While I know that a simple pledge is not going to be life-altering or grant me more sleep at night, I do find encouragement in a band of sisters lifting each other up in support. Sometimes, you just need to reinforcement that you are not alone. There are other #mothers out there who have to flake out on their college buddies for important events. Because, you know, you have kids. And no babysitter to be found. And you are renovating your kitchen. And those weekend hours are spent at the library picking up site-word books for your kid that is starting school in the fall. Or making Costco runs and freezer meals for the upcoming week.

So, here I am – very transparent. Letting you know that I am riding this ride with you sweet mother. I feel your struggle and I know the way your brain is rationalizing decisions. I signed the manifesto because I want others to feel my digital embrace and to know that they are not along. If you feel the need to encourage, you can sign the manifesto here, and order the cool #mother shirt here.

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Back To The Basics | Living Life With Less

Budda Quote_CissyRomano.comHave you ever seen those programs about tiny houses? The ones where the people live in spaces under 500 square feet? If you haven’t – check out this YouTube channel. Absolutely fascinating. While this lifestyle would never work for me right now, it got me thinking if one day I would be able to live with a minimal number of possessions – truly live with only what I need. I’ve been intrigued by this lifestyle for at least a handful of years. It was only recently that I started making changes in my own life to get closer to this minimal way of living.

Regardless of what you have going on in your life and the number of warm bodies (human and furry friends) you are responsible for, have you ever spent an entire Saturday or Sunday cleaning up your crap? I’ll take that as a resounding YES – even if you aren’t admitting to it now, we’ve all had to take time out of our valuable and precious weekends to sort our things out. Call it “spring cleaning” or whatever you want – it exists. And it stinks. It makes you realize real quick that you are an adult and that being an adult is just not fun sometimes.

So this whole minimalist movement is about solving that problem. What if you controlled your living space and possessions instead of these things controlling you? Admit it – its intriguing right? And completely counter-intuitive to our Western culture where more is more and less is less. What if less really was more?

As I mentioned before, my husband and I have already started making smallish changes in an effort to explore this new less-is-more lifestyle. It was easy to get him on board by merely talking about how much time we would save on our weekends and dedicated free time if we weren’t having to do mounds of laundry and spend hours picking up the explosion of toys that happens immediately after the previous pick-up session.

My first step happened in January of this year – I started in my closet. Clothes seemed to be the easiest starting place for me as I am not emotionally attached to clothing. My reason for having so many items of clothing was practical and rational for this point in my life. My body has endured so many changes over the past 6 years – I have grown and delivered three human beings, so of course my body shape has been all sorts of shapes and sizes during this time period. I was hanging onto clothing with plans in mind of not being as large or round in certain body areas forever. OK, so its taking longer than I would like for this to happen. I’ve accepted it and I have now parted with the variety of sized clothing in my closets. It is still not where I want to be – I need to shed some more – but it is better than it was when I started.

My second step was our kitchen – again out of rational thinking – we are about to undergo a much-needed kitchen reno next month, and therefore we need to have all the crap that we don’t use out of the way so its easier to work around the reno and store our belongings. I have 4 of the same-sized pyrex! How does that happen? I also shed our old plates we received from our wedding. We had more than we needed and the majority of them were chipped anyway. We upgraded to stark white plates, which I am obsessed with and they bring joy to me every time we sit down to eat.

After the kitchen purge, I watched a review of a book that seemed to be taking over people’s conversations (in the social/web community I take part in): The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Her book basically summed up everything that I was reading and watching that was inspiring me to make these changes. I picked the book up in hopes that it would help me organize my plan of attack for this new exploration of mine. I’m about half-way through the book and it is amazing. And life-changing. And magic. I highly recommend it.

This past weekend we purged toys. It was amazing. It was joyful. My house smiled when we finished. My children did not even notice. Again, I feel we could purge even more, but this was an awesome starting point. My next attack will be my closet again. I plan on documenting my process now that my house is not as embarrassing. Had you only seen where I started.

I can tell you that so much peace has already come upon me and my family. After three months of slowing chipping away at the over-abundance of STUFF that was taking over our lives, I have never felt so at-ease walking into my home. It is slowly but surely becoming a place I enjoy spending my time.

Have you been intrigued by this minimalist movement? Have you tried changes in your own life? Please share with me any successes or failures you have experienced. I hope at the end of the day the promise of minimalism comes true, and I hope you enjoy our journey.

I feel a “Namaste” is an appropriate exit of this post. So, namaste.

Cissy

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How to Survive a Beach Trip With Babies

emma backYes, a beach trip with babies and toddlers is completely doable. When my parents approached me a year ago about my thoughts on “spending a week at the beach” next summer, my only response (in thought of course) was “Are you flipping crazy?”.

Here is why:

1. I only get ONE PAID WEEK of vacation a year – and you want me to spend it all at one time?

2. Three kids ages 4 and under?

3. No pool?

4. A FULL WEEK? What will happen to my desk at work? It will take me 3 weeks to recover!

Ok. Ok. Once the automatic “No.” was decided upon, my husband sat me down and made me think about it. How often will we get the opportunity to spend the week at the beach? AND paid for?

So… we decided to go. And because it was not last minute (nothing with my family is unplanned), we had the chance to prepare the Dave Ramsey way. We saved a little each week for a year so that we wouldn’t have to worry about spending money while we were down there.

We are notorious for believing we are millionaires while on vacation.

So, my point here is to show those scared mothers and fathers that a beach trip is totally doable. AND, with proper planning, it should not break your piggy bank either.

SOME TIPS:
  • Plan to cook your meals at the beach. Not only is this a piggy bank saver, but a trip saver. We turned into so-called “beachbums” that week. We woke up bright and early for those inspiring sunrises (and because we usually had a kid screaming), ate our breakfast, then headed to the beach. We did not leave the sand until it was time to head in for supper. Cooking our meals allowed us to savor each moment in the beach breeze.
  • Don’t stay at a place with a pool. I was downright frightened about this lack ofbeachbums amenity. Our daughter has been on sand before (not during the summer) but we had never spent anytime at the beach in our 4-year parenthood journey. I have always heard horror stories about kids hating the sand / afraid of the ocean / stung by a jellyfish… what was I going to do with three young kids at the beach for an entire week if they hated the ocean and sand? So – my answer to this is to not give them the option to hate it! My oldest now looks like she is of a south-of-the-border ethnicity (I guess she already is a 1/4 Italian though) and could be a certified beachbum for the rest of her life.
  • Don’t overpack. Wow – you should have seen our van. I am now regretting not having a photo to hang in my house to remind me never to overpack again! Because I didn’t realize my family would turn into beachbums, we had enough clothing and toiletries to dad and twinslast us at least a month in our normal lives in Birmingham. If we were not in swimsuits, we were in swimsuits with coverups. The fancy outfits I brought to clothe my children in for the quintessential beach photo opps remained in our Vera Bradley bags for the entire week. I only remembered I packed them when I was repacking everyone on the last day. Geez. I can be very silly sometimes. I guess the saying down at the beach is true, “No shoes. No shirt. No problem.”.In that same vein – you don’t need $100 worth of toys and beach accessories to keep the kids happy. My four-year-old literally spent an entire day sitting on the edge of the water while scooping and pouring sand over her legs. The buckets and nets and frisbees and kites and sand tools all remained under our ez up with the adults and babes.
  • Don’t overplan. I know. I know. I just finished saying how important “proper planning” was… What I mean here is that you don’t have to have a slue of activities planned to occupy your crew. I mean, it costs a small fortune to head to the coast anyway. Jet-skiing, parasailing, deep sea fishing, etc. will not make the trip any better if you are hopping from one activity to another. My best takeaway from our trip is that my brain went to Jell-O for 7 days. Thank you Jesus for such a great blessing!
  • Swimsuits not required! haha… no, I am not an aspiring nudist. BUT, my babies – thetwins real babies (14 months) – did not, I repeat, did not need the 5 sets of swimsuits I bought and brought with me for this trip. They also did not, I repeat, did not need the swim diapers. They wore regular old Pampers for the duration of the trip. I did put them in a t-shirt at bedtime, but they were semi-nudist for a week. And they loved it. And the pictures are adorable because of it.

All in all, the trip was better than I could have ever imagined it. For a woman who works full-time, I was slightly frightened at how my system would react to being around all three of my kids 24/7. I did MUCH better than how I imagined myself – not that I don’t believe myself to be a good Mom, but I am definitely not accustomed to hearing my name five million times in a day. 😉

sandcastlessand hillemma sandcastle

So, if you are on the fence about a beach vacation with your youngin’s, I am here to witness that a parent can survive and make memories. Best of luck to all of you parents, grandparents and guardians out there. Summer of 2015: I am looking at you with eyes wide open. You better be ready for the Romano crew!

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Life With Twins | My Secret To Survival

My commute to work in the morning is about 20 minutes. It is just enough time for my mind to wander while I listen to whatever Pandora station I’m in the mood for that morning. This morning, while listening to some awesome soul music by NEEDTOBREATHE, my mind wandered to my husband. We had a tough night last night. Our second blessing, Rosie, had 103 fever yesterday afternoon. I’m crediting this fever spike to the two red, swollen buds on her top gums. Poor kid. She’s congested too – so she can’t breathe and her mouth is throbbing in pain.

My partner-in-crime with his girls.

My partner-in-crime with his girls.

Anyway, back to my husband… so, I am constantly asked “How do you do it? How do you manage work, home and twin babies?”. No matter how many times I am prompted by this question, I still feel a pit in the bottom of my stomach. The initial thoughts that cross my mind are, “What do they mean? How do I answer that?”. I’ll be honest, what my house has experienced since October 1, 2012 (conception) has been a difficult. I am a short woman with a short waist that carried over 12 pounds of baby. These babies then brought an entirely different dynamic to our house (like most new babies do) which caused us to switch gears and learn how to manage a house of five instead of a house of 3 – overnight.

Of all of the crazy twin questions I get asked, “How do you do it?” is my least favorite. Mainly because it implies that I am some sort of heroine in my crazy life story. Why don’t they ask “How do we do it?”.

I’m a pretty analytic person, so of course I’ve spent some time (probably too much time) pondering the psychology behind this question. I’ve come to realize that I’m an extraordinarily lucky woman. See, I don’t do anything by myself. There are times I feel I put too much on my plate responsibility wise (I am still a woman – and women like me do these things to ourselves. Its in our nature).

I am never alone in anything I do.

1390778_10101810035631155_1014133044_nI have a partnership with this man who was crazy enough to spend the rest of his life with me. Responsibilities are shared. Personal weaknesses are made up by the other person’s strengths. I do not do more than he does and he does not do more than I do. He is not above changing more diapers than me or washing pump parts in the middle of the night. He does not complain. He is tired. He is just as tired and worn out as I am. And he did not carry two babies at the same time to term.

I’ve never thought of my husband as being extraordinary. Mainly because he has made me believe that all men in the world are like he is.

Did I mention that he does not complain?

So my answer to the dreaded question that hits the pit of my stomach when asked “How do you do it?” – Well, we don’t think about it because we don’t have any time to think about how much it may suck to wake up in the middle of the night – twice – every night for 9 months.

We wake up everyday and power through. At the end of the day we collapse into our sheets after putting our oldest to bed and give thanks to the Big Man upstairs for trusting us with so many blessings. We look at each other and know that these tough times will pass and the fruits of our labor (legitimate labor) will be so abundant in our future.

I love my partner. I trust him with my life. I trust that he will always be by my side fighting the trials that life throws our way.

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Now, I am going to bring up something controversial. No matter your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg and her “Lean In” movement – her opinions on relationships/marriages are so parallel with mine. I think personalities like mine have a hard time letting go of responsibilities and control. This can lead to problems in a marriage with so much going on in the background and behind closed doors of homes. In order to “make it” or “survive”, there must be a shared burden of responsibilities.

My spouse is TERRIBLE at most domestic responsibilities. But, that does not mean he is not capable of getting them done!

A good parent doesn’t allow their young children to say they can’t do something without trying first. Why would you have the same expectations for your adult spouse?

I am still learning to give up some of the burden of house and allow him and trust him that he will get it done. He may not do it the way I think it should be done and it may take him twice as long to do it – wait, scratch that, it WILL take him twice as long to do things as I would take – but at the end of the day, he does it. And I don’t have to do it.

A day only gives us 24 hours. The amount of work required to run our house requires more than one person is capable of giving. If you try to do it all, you will fail. Give the spouse in your life a chance to learn and take some of the burden off of you. They may surprise you!

So, if you ever happen to run into a multi-tasking mother or father and you are curious of how they do it – be sure to ask them “How do y’all manage?”. Because behind every Wonder-Parent, there is a Wonder-Supporter. No one manages it all alone.

Happy Thursday – now, go hug a parent!