I Set the Mommy Bar Too High

posted in: Motherhood, My Life 25 comments

Perhaps I should be a little lazier so my kids don’t expect super project mommy all the time.  Since having kids I have become uber crafty DIY woman.  I build furniture, make scrapbooks, and have art projects coming out the wazoo.  Basically I found real joy in working with my hands and making things myself.  I wanted to pass this joy on to my kids.  They assist with tools when they can and with paint (at least on the first coat).  They help with their scrapbook pages.  Usually I have something for the kids to make a couple days a week and have special things planned for the holidays.

Last year on Valentine’s Day we made photo frames and took pictures and get this…I did it for Sophia’s entire class.   Be careful doing this…the mommy bar applies to other parents too.

Valentine Frame

We painted 15 frames red and pink the night before, made a huge trip to Michael’s for supplies, organized everything and hit the 3′s for some frame decorating and picture taking.  I brought a 4 week old Violet into the class in her carrier with all the supplies.  The kids decorated with my help for an hour or so and then after taking a picture of each one I came home, nursed Violet and printed out all the pictures and brought them back into class to put in these frames for their mommies and daddies.  Sophia thought this was fabulous.  I did too, but it took a long time.

This week I realized that I have created children who expect fantastic crafts all the time.  Whenever there is not something awesome going on, they expect a cool art project from mom or ask to build something and paint it.  

Over the weekend Sophia asked when we were making Valentine’s for her class.  I almost jumped and said “Right now sweetie!” but then I was hit with a wave of exhaustion and explained that this year Target would be providing out Valentine’s.  She was more than a little upset.  I think she was assuming we would still rock an awesome project for this holiday of hearts.

Just moments after Sophia and Miles wished me a Happy Valentines Day they asked what our Love project was going to be.

Crap.  Violet is sick.  I am sick.  I am barely making it through the days here and I had nothing.  Well, I did have a text message from a friend reminding me that I was watching her son for an hour or so in the afternoon.  I felt so bad.  I had nothing.  No plans.  No special paper.  No hanging heart mobiles or Valentine treasure boxes.  I pulled “We’ll make a Valentine for Daddy” out of my ass and tried to ignore the confused  and disappointed look on Sophia’s face.  Miles was cool with this.  Anything for Daddy is good for him. 

So we got home from school, got out some construction paper, scissors, heart craft punches and glitter and made cards for Daddy.  Without the glitter I would have been toast but kids and glitter make for lots of smiles and a huge mess.  Miles made the green one.  Sophia cut her own heart (I was so proud) and rocked the purple and red.

Paper Hearts

Sophia said it was fun and that when I felt better maybe we would do something bigger again.   I told her that lots of kids do not do big projects every day and she told me that’s one of her favorite things.  That makes me special.  My heart melted. 

That, people, is a mommy bat set too high.  I don’t have it in me.  I can’t nurse the baby and do the laundry and do crafts and clean the house and make dinner.  Maybe I could institute a 1 day per week project with the other days sticking to coloring and glue.  Maybe we could make a really cool calendar and mark the craft day with lots of glitter (there I go again).  I am hopeless. 

Any suggestions?  I need to lower the mommy bar enough so that it hits me in the face when I try to tackle way too much with too little time again.

Where is your Mommy Bar?  Did your abilities change when you added more children?  Do you still try to do everything or have you made some cuts?  Do your kids understand?  Seriously, I need my kids to be okay with me doing just a little less.  Thanks for any and all advice!

Brittany
I'm Brittany. I believe that simple is best and that smiling can make or break a day. I love being a woman, a wife and a mother. I like to make pretty things and making things with big tools. I am a huge fan of good design. I love to travel. Hugs make me happy. I share my life, experiences, tips and tutorials in the hope that this community can find a whole lot of awesome together.
Brittany
Brittany

24 comments… add one

  • February 15, 2011 julie gardner

    Wow. That IS a high bar…and how wonderful that your daughter loves this about you. Wonderful AND a lot of pressure.
    I am not crafty. At all. Which is strange to me since I was artistic as a child, drew constantly, took 6 years of painting lessons, AND loved to babysit/play with kids /come up with activities.
    Now? The idea of orchestrating crafts for children sends shivers up and down my spine.
    So I left THAT bar on the ground. Terrible, I know. But true.
    My daughter has a sewing machine and bin after bin of art supplies (she’s eleven) and comes up with projects on her own. A lot of times they’re terrible because she has no help.
    Me? I’m in the corner saying, “Let me know when you’re done and we can read together.”
    That’s my bar. Love to read. Would do it all day.
    But glitter? God bless you. Seriously.
    julie gardner recently posted… Today call me pantsedMy Profile

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    • February 16, 2011 Brittany

      Yes, Gillter is so pretty and I love it too but it will forever be on me and my house and my children. My husband has to explain the glitter in his hair at work. Haha I actually like that part of it. I think it’s cute.

      Reply
  • February 15, 2011 Jamie

    I do the SAME thing and, like your kiddos, my kiddos LOVE “projects”. In fact, I just made 18 pompom flowers for decoration for my 11 year old’s sleep over. It was crazy, but we (myself and the two big girls) loved it.

    I don’t designate a project day, but I kind of keep a list of ideas or projects that I’d like to do and then on a day when we need something to do or I’m all caught up or someone is really REALLY begging to be crafty, I have the idea already.

    Of course, I’m willing to give up on my housekeeping a little bit to do the things that we love to do. Not always, but sometimes.

    Reply
    • February 16, 2011 Brittany

      Give up on housekeeping for projects. You are mah people sweets, seriously.

      Reply
  • February 15, 2011 Christine

    My mommy bar plummeted with each child (we have three). It’s doubly tough trying to work from home and homeschool at the same time; we no longer have a schedule for anything so everything suffers. The kids are okay with it. . .but that’s not necessarily a good thing.
    On the other hand, when you lose the schedule, then everything becomes spontaneous, so every moment you do spend together is exciting.
    I just don’t want to de-prioritize them, you know?

    Reply
    • February 16, 2011 Brittany

      Homeschool on top of it all…bless you. I have thought about it but I just don;t have it in me. Actually, I love our local public school too and Sophia is soooooo excited to start Kindergarten so I am lucky. I am sad that my bar has plunged too with each child but I think as they get older and we can all do things together it will improve.

      Reply
  • February 15, 2011 gigi

    I have this problem around holidays and it involves food. I always commit to making wonderful cakes and treats for the kiddos and they love it, but I find that it gets harder with each passing one. I always say I’m going to give myself a break and just buy a cake, but I can’t bear it.

    it’s a sickness, I tell you.
    gigi recently posted… Nobody Paid Me To Say This- But I Wish They WouldMy Profile

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    • February 16, 2011 Brittany

      You and my husband have the same sickness. He has food, I have projects. Massive meals and sides and desserts and it overwhelems me just to get dinner on the table. He loves it though! I will say I have become obsessed with making my children’s birthday cakes and I think I have a general going overboard issue with everything. I don’t just bake a cake. I build a castle cake with chocolate dipped ice cream cones as turrets and hershey bar doors and a full castle layout on plywood. I have your sickness babe. Can we get better or does this particular sickness make us awesome moms? I am prone to go with the awesome mom bit.

      Reply
  • February 15, 2011 AZLB

    I wish I had the answer…my mommy bar is too high as well. Enter making homemade crayons for the class this year. I realized what was ahead when as I scrambled eggs for her breakfast she asked if I was coming to her V-day party. I said no and the crushed look about killed me…so I made it happen and was there. I know very soon my schedule is going to change (back to an office versus working from home) and she is not going to lay on the guilt thick when mommy isn’t there for everything or always willing to make a super special over the top craft. I am dreading this to no end.
    AZLB recently posted… Hips Don’t LieMy Profile

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    • February 16, 2011 Brittany

      Oh no that will be hard but I am sure, since you make crayons (I Love that idea…going on the list), that you are like me and you will find time for these special projects!

      Reply
  • February 15, 2011 Ilana

    I am glad I read this when I did. I was very much into arts when I was little and I have been counting the days till I can introduce papers and crayons to my 14 month old. (As soon as she doesn’t try to eat them). But it’s good to know that I should temper my creativity or else there will be pressure to perform on command!

    Honestly, it sounds like you are doing a ton. Which is no doubt why it makes your kids feel special. But maybe you can encourage some projects for the kids to do themselves? Maybe take Sophia to Michael’s and have her pick out stuff for a solo project?
    Ilana recently posted… Mazzy- My ValentineMy Profile

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    • February 16, 2011 Brittany

      Oops I let Violet draw and she is 13 months old. Our girls are soooo close! I think there is alwasy pressure for moms to perform on demand. Sometimes I feel like a sideshow act but I am all the acts you know? They are the stars and I do everything else to keep the show running! I am so glad I found your blog btw!

      Reply
  • February 15, 2011 angela

    You have definitely set the craft bar high! Abbey is like this about baking; for a playdate this year, my friend asked that everyone bring a piece of candy to pass out. I had to make butter heart shaped cookies, dipped in pink chocolate, & decorated with sprinkles. Then we put them in little cellophane bags with hearts all over them. Why? But I digress.

    I think having a “craft day” might be a fun way to lower the bar a little. Maybe each Wednesday (or whatever) is CRAFT DAY and a huge deal can be made out of it, even if the craft isn’t such a huge deal. That might help a little?
    angela recently posted… Monkey See- Monkey DoMy Profile

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  • February 15, 2011 Beth

    I’ve never been crafty! For me crayons and glue at the same time would be a high bar!
    Beth recently posted… 6 Year Old LogicMy Profile

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    • February 16, 2011 Brittany

      All glue makes a high bar. It means messes and cleanup and spells project for kids. You go with your crayons and glue! If you did want to push it grab a craft punch on clearance and give her some shapes to glue. My kids love it and this they can do by themselves.

      Reply
  • February 15, 2011 Bryna

    Seriously, how often are you doing crafts? Is this a DAILY occurrence? Good-ness, you need a break!
    You may need to wean them off of the crafts. I wouldn’t just go “one day only” all cold turkey on them. Start by cutting it back to three days a week first. And then, have a bag of things that they can do (mostly) unsupervised. My daughter has construction paper, crayons, popsicle sticks, tape, glue sticks, etc. and she will just sit down and create. Granted, I have no clue what it is when she is finished, but she has fun. And it gets her creative juices flowing.

    Luckily, I’ve been more sporadic on my approach to projects. So she doesn’t expect them, but loves when we do them! (But reading your blog along with a couple other crafty mommas out there makes me feel like I’m a bit DIY lacking!)
    Bryna recently posted… Happy Valentines Day!My Profile

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    • February 16, 2011 Brittany

      Hehe it makes my kids sound like Craftaholics like we need a CA meeting or something. I actually thought if we are going to do this much crap I should start a little kids camp or something once a week and make a little money. 10 kids and a craft for 2 or 3 hours. What do you think?

      Reply
      • February 16, 2011 anna

        cutting down the time you spend doing crafts with them could also open them up for more independent creative play, where they just play/ do things in a more self-directed way. sorta like what the above poster said, about leaving her kid with crafts and not knowing what the heck her kids creations were meant to be.

        Reply
      • February 20, 2011 Bryna

        You totally should capitalize on your stong points! There are so many mom’s who don’t have the crafty gene and would LOVE to pay someone to do these fun things with their kids!!! Maybe just sell crafty kits on etsy for those of us who like some of the things you’ve done, but don’t know where to start on our own… Like the princess castle. :)

        Reply
  • February 15, 2011 Making It Work Mom

    My mommy bar is not high for crafts, but for parties. For instance this Saturday I am hosting an ice skating birthday party for my two oldest children and 60 of their friends!!!! Yes 60!!!! I may have set the bar waaaay too high this time. I am trying to make it work on a budget so my husband doesn’t freak, but just as special as all their birthdays have been. I have already taken Friday off because I am making about a bajillion cupcakes!
    Wish me luck!
    Oh and how can you stop doing your crafting after what Sofia said to you- I’m sorry, but you are going to be making prom desses in 10 years!!

    Reply
    • February 16, 2011 Brittany

      Good for you! I adore parties and planning and doing them! I think kids love special parties and they remember how much you put in to them. If they don;t actually remember, they will think they do because you can remind them of your awesomeness all the time.

      I built a castle and pirate ship out of cardboard for my kids’ bdays that the kids could play in. I will never let them forget :)

      Reply
  • February 16, 2011 Hollee Temple

    First, I should out myself by saying that I just wrote a book called Good Enough Is the New Perfect, so it’s not too hardto figure out where I stand on this one! As I have relaxed into motherhood, I have realized that I have to pick my battles and choose my priorities. When I try to be “the best” at everything, I usually end up disappointing someone — most often myself! When I want to make an awesome Thanksgiving, I go all out! But when I’m not feeling well and don’t feel up for Valentine’s crafts, I go with store-bought. It’s about the big picture. Hang in there – hope you feel better!
    Hollee Temple recently posted… Talk-Back Tuesday- How Do You Teach Your Kids to Be ThemselvesMy Profile

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  • February 17, 2011 Jess

    You do set the bar high, but the kids won’t remember the small disappointments, rather the totality of it all. And it will make them be better parents one day. I remember my mom and all the crafts and things we did and I am sure there were many days where she just said, forget it, go out and play, or whatever, but I remember the making playdough and everything else we did together. and try to do the same for my kids. So don’t beat yourself up about needing to take a break – bc that too makes you a better mom. and it’s good to let them do it themselves too – this year, work was too overwhelming before valentines, so I got out a bunch of red paper, glitter glue (not straight out glitter bc I can not deal with that!), the crayons, the markers, stickers, cut out some hearts and for 4 days straight the kitchen table was valentine central. They would craft for a bit, then run away for a few hours, then craft a bit longer, and in the end, came up with some pretty cool things, without much involvement from me at all. Would I have liked to have been more present in it? Of course. But we can all do only what we can do. And I think they will have good memories of it. you’re a rockstar, and don’t you forget it!

    Reply
  • February 17, 2011 Elaine

    I think it’s awesome that you do so many crafts with your kids but what is more awesome is that you recognize that you simply cannot do it ALL. I think your idea of one simple craft a week is a good one and if you get inspiration at another time and it works out, well then that’s good too!

    I set my bar too high with baking (back before I started eating a low carb/sugar diet) and the kids always expected homemade sweet treats. Now they’ve gotten used to the fact that it’s more of an occasional thing. Your kiddos will adjust too. :)
    Elaine recently posted… What A Croc Crocs™ ReviewMy Profile

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