An Uncomplicated Life Blog


Thursday, September 19, 2019

"I Don't" Mom Culture

There's a new trend in mom culture, listing all the things you "don't do" with pride. Here's why I think it needs to change.

Typically, I write my blog posts out weeks in advance. I have my month entirely planned out, and usually half the next month too, in terms of content. But if you've been watching my IG stories, you know we got utterly taken out by a tummy bug (some of us twice!) and it's thrown off everything, so here I am writing this post the week it goes up. Interestingly enough, in the time I brainstormed it, asked y'all in last Thursday's post if I should actually write it and had the chance to sit down and write it, my perspective on the whole thing has changed! Not my opinion, but my perspective. What was going to be a fairly strong worded post on "I Don't" mom culture (if you haven't heard of that yet, I'll explain below) is now, hopefully, going to be more encouraging as opposed to scathing. I've actually been reading some of my old posts and thinking, "Jeez Paige, that was a little strong worded... If people didn't know you personally, they'd think you're a real jerk!" So! While I will share my thoughts on "I Don't" mom culture, because it's still me here, I also want to share the weird/divine interventions that have inspired me to change my tone.

First, let's talk about "I Don't" mom culture. I guess on one of the bigger, collaborative mom blogs in Australia (think similar to Scary Mommy, Her View From Home, etc that we have here in the U.S.) there was a post from a mom blogger who started the "I Don't" list. I think she probably had good intentions. It was a way for moms to vent about how they don't do it all - they don't cook from scratch every night after working all day, they don't have tidy homes, they don't limit their children's screen times, and so on. It was a post intended to laugh and bond over some of our shortcomings or imperfections or what-have-you's about motherhood. Here's a link to the post. It was shared in multiple mom groups I'm in, from local to international, and the thread of comments from women who loved this idea was expansive. Hundreds upon hundreds of women chimed in, proudly displaying what they "don't do" as moms/wives/caretakers/spouses/etc.

So that's "I Don't" mom culture. And I'm going to tell you exactly what I think about it and how it's failing us as women. But first (well, secondly at this point) the divine intervention! I knew if I laid out all my thoughts as passionately as I felt them, I'd get burned at the cross by other moms for it. It'd come across as judgmental, snarky, a know-it-all, and a do-it-all post. I went to lunch with a friend whom I haven't seen in several years a bit ago, and we talked about it. She wants to start a Christian blog with an unconventional twist, so we were talking all things blogging as I shared my idea with her. 

She listened to my ideas and thoughts on the topic and said she agreed - there was a lot of truth in what I had to say. But she suggested that instead of just criticizing the "movement" (should we even call it that?) that perhaps I should use it as a way to encourage moms to do better. To say, hey it's ok to not do everything perfectly, or as we "should" do it, but instead of giving ourselves a virtual high five for all the things we DON'T do, lets change the narrative to ways we can help each other. I loved that!

It's now Sunday and I'm sitting down to write this post that goes up Thursday (like I said, I'm way behind from this tummy bug!) Every Sunday morning I do a devotional from this book and this book (both take less than 2 minutes and are seriously LIFE CHANGING! I'm not religious so much as I am spiritual, although I was baptized and raised Christian, and I highly suggest getting them. $10 or less each and they're both BEAUTIFUL books to boot, full of encouraging and beautiful thoughts) and the topic of the day's post was judgment. I laughed as I read the title because I was just about to sit down and write this post! Anyhow, this passage really struck me: "But we have a tendency to see someone else's sin before we see our own... We never know how far someone has come, and we're not always sure what another family is going through. As moms, we need to be careful of thinking that the way we do things is the only way to do things. Instead, we need to walk humbly with one another and always extend grace, remembering how much we ourselves are in need of it."

Boom. The older I get, the more I see how much God is trying to talk to me and my heart, everyday. It's always right there in front of my face, I just have to choose to see it.

I don't think there's any inherent harm in "bonding" over shortcomings as moms. I know I've definitely spoken with a mom friend and talked about how I made a nasty dinner (burned it, recipe fail, doesn't matter!) and she's responded with a similar story. I've confessed to friends about how I wasn't proud of the way I disciplined one of my children before. I feel like talking about the ways in which we make mistakes as parents is normal and healthy. It's a way for us as moms to confess, process and move on with them.

But this movement isn't that. If it was intended as that, it's morphed into something else. 

It's almost like a competition to see which mom doesn't do even some of the most basic parenting. I can't tell you how many moms replied that they didn't limit screen time at ALL, that they fed their kids fast food most days of the week and that their houses were a disastrous mess. Newsflash: you're child isn't getting any smarter staring at that screen (probably while you stare at yours...), fast food has no nutrition in it, not to mention all the preservatives and chemicals that make it not even real food (oh, and the sodium and high calorie count...) and while my home isn't always perfect (there's toys all over the floor as I write this) who wants to live in filth?!

As parents, it's our job to instill good habits and behavior in our kids, and I don't get how any of those things are doing that. WE are the ones who need to set boundaries. WE are the ones that need to encourage physical and imaginative play for brain and muscle development. WE control what our children eat and the nutrition they (do or don't) get. WE control our home's environment, and have the power to assign chores so that we don't have to do it alone.

The internet emboldens people. They say things online they'd never have the courage to say to someone's face. And this "I Don't" mom culture is a bizarre way to brag about how you're a crappy mom. Nobody expects perfection! My kids had grilled cheese and tator tots last week from a local greasy spoon/fast food type spot. But it's one thing to occasionally do these things and it's another to have it be your lifestyle. A lifestyle that you brag about online. It's not brag worthy to live that lifestyle.

Speaking of "mom culture" I wrote this post earlier this year on some other bizarre things that are cool with moms that I simply don't identify or agree with if you want to check it out. 

I'd love to switch the "I Don't" mom culture to "I Didn't" so that it's not a lifestyle of things we don't do, but hey - something I didn't do today but I'll try again tomorrow. I fed my kids fast food last Thursday (after I had been up the whole night with sick kids) so I DIDN'T cook that night; but Friday I defrosted some homemade bone broth chicken soup and baked biscuits! Isn't that a much better narrative to tell? I didn't that one day, but dangit, I'm going to try again tomorrow! I feel like "I Didn't" gives us the room for grace on the bad days, but encourages us to try again the next day. It doesn't let us ingrain bad habits into our lifestyle with a flippant "oh well!" I'd love to see the negativity of the "I Don't" mom lists switched to an "I Didn't" with encouragement from other moms that tomorrow is a new day.

Monday, September 16, 2019

8 Best Zero Waste Eco Friendly Products

Live a greener lifestyle with these no waste, environmentally friendly product swaps

I'd love to think that by 2019 - heck, we're nearly into 2020 now! - most people are aware that climate change is real and that we're slowly destroying the planet with our carbon emissions, use of disposable plastics, heavy meat processing and consumption in developed nations, and our fuel consumption (gas is bad enough but jet fuel is outright horrific). Even if you're not on board with climate change (ummm...) you're probably aware of various endocrine disruptions you've had: perhaps fertility issues, unexplained weight gain, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, skin problems. I could go on and on! Some people really do get it and are looking for ways to limit waste so that both their personal health and the health of the planet improves; others are just starting to connect all the dots on how ALL of this is intertwined and our personal health is not independent of that of the environment. If you're looking for ways to reduce your waste and become more environmentally friendly, you've got to check out these 8 best zero waste, eco friendly products to help reduce your footprint - and improve your health while you're at it! *affiliate links used*

Starbucks is doing some great things, like taking away straws... But they still serve their coffee in paper or plastic cups. Ouch! If you get a reusable cup like this one, not only will you help reduce non-biodegradable waste (those plastic cups their iced drinks are served in aren't going anywhere for hundreds of years...) but you'll save money making your own coffee! Finance tip from a former financial adviser: buying coffee out is the BIGGEST waste of money - a "fancy" drink can set you back close to $10 now. Do the environment AND your wallet a favor and make your coffee at home. I like ceramic best because you can microwave it to heat it again, and as a mom, I zap my coffee hot again... and again and again.

So many cities, and even a few entire states, are getting on board with how absolutely terrible plastic bags are. I wish I could say Dallas was one of them, but we're about 20 years behind the curve down here. In fact, the city council passed a law taxing the use of plastic bags by a measly 5 cents each in an attempt to discourage their use and people threw such a fit, the law was reversed after a few months. Way to friggin go, Texans. Get reusable bags. These stand up better in your car so that your food and provisions don't spill all over your trunk, so that alone is a big win over plastic bags.

Y'all know you shouldn't be microwaving food in plastic, right? NOPE. The BPA will "bleed" into your food. You're not going to die overnight, but it will slowly cause a disruption to your endocrine system, which will in turn mess with your hormones which will mess with EVERYTHING about how your body functions, fights sickness and disease, and more. So, just don't store your food in plastic, mmmmk? Trust me, these will last longer than plastic containers anyway, plus they don't stain (raise your hand if you've ever stored marinara in plastic to have it turn a nasty shade of pink, permanently!).

We all know plastic straws are terrible for the earth. Some people have moved to paper, which is a step up, but still - any sort of disposable straw isn't idea. The paper ones also start to disintegrate in your mouth if you're sipping alcohol, which is pretty gross. My go to has become these metal ones. I love that they come with a cleaning wand if you need to scrub the inside and they're dishwasher friendly for disinfecting. Win win. Another win is that they're super cheap!
Plastic baggies are on the same level as plastic bags from stores, in my opinion. We used to use tons of these for the kids' lunches, but this year we got smart and got compartmentalized food storage boxes to reduce the waste. I will say, I LOVE not having to write my kids names on every single baggie (if you've got preschoolers, you know what I'm talking about) and I just throw them in the dishwasher with the dinner dishes after a day at school so they're ready for the next day. If my kids went to preschool daily, I'd probably get two per kid so that there wasn't the immediate need to wash them, but I'm kinda lazy like that.

Beeswax covers
Just like with food storage containers, if you're microwaving food with plastic wrap over it... You're going to want to stop! Clearly, all that wrap just ends up in landfills for decades upon decades, or in oceans where it kills fish and wildlife. But the chemicals that comprise the plastic also leak into your food when heated, which means you're ingesting them. Beeswax covers function in the exact same way as plastic wrap but are washable and reusable. No waste and no harmful chemicals. Yesssss.
This one was one of the first things I did many years ago to reduce my personal waste output. It's been preached for years how destructive plastic water bottles are. We've seen the photos of ocean bays covered in floating plastic bottles. And I have to say, I'm saddened and disgusted when I see how many people in Dallas are buying them in bulk. Almost every time I go to Target, Walmart, Sam's Club or Costco, the people in front of me and behind me in line are buying several cases of bottles of water. WHY?? Dallas actually has some of the best public water in the U.S. (it's rated in the top 10 of major cities for taste and purity) so what the heck is up with all the plastic bottles folks?! Ughhh. I wrote the linked post on the best insulated water bottles that keep your beverage cold. Get one of those, save yourself some serious money and do the planet a favor. Your kids and grand kids will thank you for it!

Seems like a silly, small detail but all those plastic toothbrushes you use in your life? Yeah, they add up. And they stay there. They're not decomposing in your lifetime, your kids lifetime, your grandbabies' lifetime, your great-grandbabies' lifetime... and on and on. We don't know how long they'll take to decompose because it hasn't happened yet, but current estimates are several hundred years. Think about that - you brushing your teeth today will negatively impact the world for hundreds of years. That's intense! Reduce your load by switching to bamboo tooth brushes, which will combine back into the earth in just 2-3 years. Oh, and they're SO MUCH CHEAPER than the plastic ones, and also come in brush softness levels.

These are all some great products you can swap in to take over conventional products that not only aren't so great for the environment, they're also not so great for you. The more you look into being eco friendly, the more you learn that eco friendly is HUMAN friendly, and the product swaps are good for you on a personal level too. These 8 best zero waste eco friendly products are a great place to start for better health for you and a planet that stays greener for longer, too.

Like it? Pin it! 8 Best Zero Waste Eco Friendly Products

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Currently, September Edition

Here's what I'm thinking and feeling, currently

Holy moly, we're already halfway through September! Man, the older I get the faster time moves. I swear that we just got back from our beach vacation but no... That was already 6 weeks ago. Soon, it will be sweater weather here! Then I'll blink and it will be Thanksgiving, then Christmas and all of a sudden it's 2020. I skipped over the fact that the twins' first birthday is basically next week and three days later I turn 35. What the heck. I'm being really cliche here but man if my mind isn't blown with how fast life moves the older you get. Hell, it's basically time to plan my funeral with the speed things are moving! Too much? Ok. Anyway, here's what's been going on around these parts since my last currently post back in the summer:

The twins' first birthday party and my 35th birthday trip! God finally validated my love for Halloween with twins born mid-October (I was trying to get them born as close to Halloween as possible!) so their birthday party theme is The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is one of my older sons' favorite "scary" movies. It's a "cult" film, so there's actually a ton of adorable decorations on Amazon for the theme! I'm sure I'll do a recap post with links to shop from, so if you're a Halloween freak like me and want an unconventional kid's birthday party theme, I got you! My 35th birthday is four days later, and hubby and I are taking our first solo trip together after having the babies. We're still trying to figure out where we're going, but now we're thinking of heading to Richmond (so that I can see some of my inner circle friends!) and taking a day trip to Charlottesville for some wineries. The Virginia wineries are seriously breathtaking and the weather should be perfect mid-October.

The twins' invites! Looks a little funny because I've blocked out key info but you get the idea

Preparing for:
A trip! I'm headed to NYC with my best friend from high school. I haven't been to NYC since 2009 (funny how travel is limited with four kids, no?) It's definitely NOT my favorite city, but hopefully by the end of the month it will feel like fall there (still triple digits here...) and we'll have some amazing food. Oh, and spending time with her is always a good time. You know people who just get you? That's her. She and I understand each other's souls, I swear. Hanging with her is not only always fun, but I feel recharged. I don't have to explain my crazy feelings or bad jokes to her, she just gets me. Loooooove friends like that! I have a handful of girlfriends like this and every single one is such a gift to me. I know well that I'm a very intense person and it takes a "special kind" to be my friend. While I'm an extrovert and know many people and have a wide circle of friends, I have a small "inner circle" who get to know the emotional side of me or who get to know my real, true life story and all those gals (and one guy!) are as loved by me as my own children and hubby.

Me and my homie, back before high res cameras were on iPhones and I actually wore makeup. Weird. 

Ohhhhhhkay, that's enough emotions, let's move on and get back to the sarcasm and self-depreciating humor that y'all come here for, mmmmk?

Frustrated? Annoyed? Dismayed? The twins started preschool three days a week for a few hours. Since they're still under a year, along with their lunch I send a bottle of breast milk, since we all know that up until a year, babies should get the bulk of their calories and nutrition from that or formula. And they're being sent home with nearly full bottles! They eat all their lunch, and love food, so I know they're not hungry but y'all... Pumping that milk is HARD WORK. I used to just wake up in the middle of the night and pump out 8oz in under 15 minutes, easy as pie. Which is perfect because they both take 4oz bottles. But now I'm mayyyyyybe getting 4oz total, sometimes just 3oz and I've increased my pump time to 25 minutes. I'm cutting into my freezer stash daily. Sigh.

We'll make it to a year, but I'm working way to hard for that milk to go to waste! Of course it's sour when they come home because it's been sitting out for five hours. Now, they've only had two days of preschool so obvi we're still figuring out all our "systems" and routine, but I'm going to talk to their teachers and see what we can do about it. Or, I'll be sending them to school with 2oz bottles so I'm not wasting as much milk! I CANNOT WAIT for them to be a year so I can stop pumping... Cannot. Wait. We'll continue nursing on demand until they no longer want to, but lawd have mercy, pumping is just the WORST and I'm so ready to no longer be stressed about how many ounces I've pumped and what kind of bottles they're getting (and actually drinking) for the day. So ready.

BTW, if you get an email from me or I respond to your Instagram DM between 1:30-2am, that's what I'm doing. No, I'm not a night owl or someone who works around the clock. I'm well aware I look like an insane person, but if I'm going to be up pumping I may as well multitask!

Knox isn't sure about this first day of school business...

Taking Otto to tumbling class. He and the twins only go to preschool three days a week, so on Thursday mornings, a nanny stays with the twins while I take him to White Rock Tumble and Cheer with about 8 other rambunctious 3 year olds. He LOVES it and talks about going there every single day, and I love that he gets to bounce some energy out... And have something special for him, since all the attention is usually on Henry, who's a big kindergartner now, or the babies, who are not only our babies but are twins to boot. Poor middle child Otto! This has been something for him to do on his own that his brothers don't do, a chance to connect with other kids his age (beyond his preschool class) and a chance for him and me to spend one on one time together.

If I may brag for a second, it's so fun to watch him because he's one of the best listeners in the class. There's a few boys that just run WILD and I'm reminded about how amazing my kids are, but especially Otto. The first day they did a race across the tumbling floor at the end of class. Nobody listened to the teacher, and while he never said, "GO!" they all started racing... Except Otto. He stood there and said, "Where are you going, the teacher didn't say go!" and the teacher said, "Otto wins! He's still at the start but the only kid who's listening! Yay Otto!" Awwweee, my sweet boy.

Why is she always named Janet?!

Thinking about:
Writing a pretty controversial blog post. I've noticed a huge trend in parenting lately. I'm not in many mom groups, but the few I'm in have all had posts on the topic recently. But my view is 100% OPPOSITE of what most moms feel, so I'm scared to write it because I legit might get crucified... It'd be on how being a "bad mom" has become in fashion and if you're a "classic" or "good" mom, you're the "Janet" of Facebook memes and a total jerk. For instance, one group I'm in started an "I don't" thread, where moms posted what they don't do - so many people replied saying they don't cook, they don't clean, they don't limit screen time ever, they didn't/don't breastfeed and don't feel remotely bad for it... You know, all the things you AND your spouse should do as parents (not just moms!) has become what "annoying, perfect" parents do and no longer the norm. It's kinda like how wine culture with moms has become the norm, and it's a way to hide behind being either a borderline alcoholic or a functioning alcoholic or a straight up alcoholic. If you cook meals from scratch and have a clean home, all of a sudden you're marginalized by current mom culture. I really want to do a deep dive into why I think this is not only wrong, it's outright destructive, but I'm really scared I'm going to be burned on the cross in the comments and on social media for it. What do you think - should I write it?!