How to Get An A+ in Parenting

Remember what success looked like in high school?  In order to obtain that coveted 4.0 GPA, you had to do it all.  Complete all the homework, do all of the extracurricular activities, get all the right answers and write all the papers to the exact specifications outlined in the syllabus.

But now, as a married, working mom, when people ask “How do you do it all?” my answer is not “I pull all-nighters.” In fact, I do not reply to every email or attend every event or have every answer. And so most often, my out-loud answer is, “I can’t and I don’t.”  This is a statement that I know to be true and have most often ACCEPTED as truth.

But then there are times I resist it.

Listen, I want to get straight A’s in all of life’s subjects: Wife, Mother, Full-time Employee, Daughter, Sister, Friend, Christian.  I want it bad.  And there are moments I try pretty darn hard to do it all… until a ball drops, a deadline is missed, texts go unanswered.  And then I’m faced with a choice.  Do I allow myself to dive head first into the shame spiral or do I let the small things slide, have a good chuckle to myself and move on?  What if I forgot to send those thank you notes… everyone will get over it.  Maybe I left some wet clothes in the dryer (twice)… whoops. Better luck tomorrow.  What if I had to say “no” to that friend’s invitation (again!) because the week was already just too jammed… catch you later and you’re still dear to me. Perhaps on a Monday morning, I realize that we are completely out of coffee beans and also out of the back-up instant coffee packets (WAIT, THIS IS ACTUALLY UNFORGIVABLE.)

It would be so very easy for me to list out the ways I got an F this year.  We are four (4!!!!) months into a full-on kitchen-turned-home renovation and I’m losing my innovative edge with my toaster oven. My husband broke his arm and just found out he needs surgery (THIS WEEK!!!!) and I am patient and compassionate but only to a point.  Addie started at a new school full time a few weeks before I began a new job at the foundation while offloading the job I’ve had for the last five years.  As a dear friend of mine says, “It’s a bit of gong show around here.”

But I know I need to redefine what success looks like now.  It’s NOT doing it all, getting it all right, being perfect in every which way.  It’s getting the right stuff right.  It’s picking the important ones and sloughing off the rest.  It’s reading my toddler one more book before bedtime (even at the expense of my expanding inbox).  It’s giving my parents and my sister a five minute phone call to say hi and I love you and letting the dishes wait.  It’s putting on my rain boots, walking outside in the dark up the stairs to the sunroom to get my husband some more ice for his arm (because that’s where our refrigerator is right now, DUH.)

I was exactly the student you think I was in high school… I aimed high.  And maybe it’s okay to keep working toward that 4.0… but it’s due time to reinvent our grading rubric.

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Best Gifts for Teachers Under $20

Let’s be real.  Teachers are heroes.  Shower your teachers with love and thoughtfulness this year and here’s one way you can do it without breaking your back-to-school budget.

Addie’s first day of school is tomorrow!  And by school, I mean daycare.  But explaining the concept of “school” is much easier when conversing with a two-year-old, so it’s off to school she goes!  My sister has been a teacher for many years and I’ve come to deeply appreciate the dedication to education and the individual care and thought she gives to each and every student.  So, I wanted to do our very “first” first day of school up right for Addie’s teacher!

T.J. Maxx is my first stop for many-a-things.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for Target but sometimes I can find just what I’m looking for at T.J. Maxx for half the price and with about half the distraction.  Plus, I know I am not the only one who gets a cheap thrill out of the “Regular Price” vs “Our Price” mind game. (See what I did there… “cheap thrill…” Oh, bless it.)

Best Gifts for Teachers under $20

Trail Mix: The way to a teacher’s heart is through their stomach.  That’s how the saying goes, right?  Grab a small bag of nuts, trail mix or dried fruit that they can stash in their desk drawer and sneak out during recess. $3.99 (originally $6.00)

Stationary: Cards are one of those things you always hope to have on hand but rarely think to buy, amiright?  Help your teacher stock up on thank-you notes and blank note-cards and let her focus on educating young minds.  Bonus points for fun and colorful designs! $1.99 for 10 cards (originally $8.00)

Nail Polish: Forget the Wet & Wild polish of your youth. Grab the good stuff for the person who is going to do you the favor of caring for your kid for eight hours a day. Some stellar brands include OPI and Essie. $3.99 (originally $10.00).

Travel-size Lotion: Pamper your teacher with some fresh, lightly fragranced lotion.  Pick a scent that’s agreeable like lavender or coconut.  Travel-sized bottles are perfect for stashing in their bag or school desk drawer for the drier, winter months. $1.99 (originally $5.00)

Small Candle: Our teachers are responsible for so much during the day.  Let them wind down in the evenings with a yummy, scented candle in a pretty jar.  “I hate candles.” – said no one ever. $2.99 (originally $8.00)

Gift Bag: Stash all the small gifts in a bright, fun bag, add some tissue paper and voila! Just remember the cardinal gift bag rule: refrain from writing on the bag tag so your thrifty teacher can re-use as they please.  It’s the gift (bag) that keeps on giving. $1.99 (originally $5.00)

Parents + Teachers: What’s your favorite back-to-school gifts to give or receive?