F*ck No Spending; Let’s Just Budget Better

We failed, miserably over here. Anyone else want to join in on the confession?

We are about 22 day in to our “30 days of no spending,” and I’m here to tell you that it’s bullshit. I have 4 little kids and am due in about 2 months with the 5th. I managed over 2 weeks without buying anything unneeded, but then I caved. And I don’t even know if I’m sorry!

I wish I was stronger… maybe…. I don’t know.

I bought Beauty and the Beast on iTunes.

I ordered a new pair of Tom’s for my 3-year-old.

I ordered tiny baby socks.

I bought wine. (That MIGHT be a necessity.)

John ate lunch out a few times at work instead of bringing food.

I stopped at Target THREE times…  (I may not have bought crazy things, but I did purchase a few non-needed items.)

We are tie-dying shirts and onesies today FOR FUN.

The point is this: I like to randomly buy fun things and live in the moment.  So does my husband.

I am a total hypocrite. I know. I know. I swore we would be so good. What kind of example am I? A REAL, LIVE, NON-LYING ONE.

SO…. here’s the deal. FUCK the whole no-spending thing. I can’t live that way. Instead, we are implementing an actual budget that includes:

  1. Cash Withdrawals (Thank you Dave Ramsey)
  2. Automatic Savings Account Transfers (WEEKLY)
  3. Meal Plans and Grocery Lists
  4. Allowances for Adults and Kid Spending (nothing crazy, but enough for a movie or other fun entertainment)
  5. Open Discussions About Our Money and Budget

I’m pretty sure that this is a MUCH better plan than the last one.

PS — You can totally join us in tie-dying some summer-awesome shirts!  This kit is PERFECT because you can dye more than 3 shirts. HA.

Our Limited-Technology Summer Rules

It has been a week and a half without iPads, daily television, Netflix, and phone play for our kids. It’s been closer to a month of limited access of these items.

While I would love to be completely tech-free, all-day, everyday, that’s not fair to anyone – including me. Not to mention that I am a writer… I have my computer open whenever creativity strikes. AND I love to watch my Netflix shows in the evening. It’s how I shut my mom-brain off and zone out. We also enjoy family movies! What a hypocrite I would be if all technology was banished for the kids, but not the adults?

This is not the early 80’s here. I want my children to live their childhoods’ fully… including summers of boredom, but I’m also realistic. Mommy likes to unwind with a glass of wine and let the kids veg out…

We are absolutely loving our #TechFreeSummer so far, but after my last post, I’ve had a few questions about what exactly our tech rules are. I figured, the best way to answer would be to the masses.

Limited-Technology Rules For Our Home

  1. NO TECHOLOGY unless Mommy or Daddy says it’s ok.

That’s basically our main rule. ha.

Here are a few others that John and I are in charge of remembering, and the kids seem to forget:

  1. All iPads are kept together and away from kids, only to be retrieved by a parent.
  2. Television is permitted before iPads.
  3. iPads will be handed over if a parent asks for one.
  4. If fighting or bad attitudes arrive due to screen time, the devices will be removed and new rules discussed.

Our kids don’t have to check a list of crap before they earn their screen time. They have things we expect of them every day that are just part of life. I hate when I hear that kids earn screen time… I feel like it is part of the reason kids melt down when their time is over.

Here’s the deal. Today was the FIRST day we agreed to iPad usage in 10 days. It was early, a Saturday morning, and I just wanted to sleep a bit longer. Selfish, I know. I should have allowed the TV and not iPads; I’ve learned my lesson.   Our morning was Hell.

We needed to get ready for baseball games, and yet no child would cooperate, help, or listen at all. There was fighting between kids, aggravated adults, tears, and a late arrival to game #1. Both John and I just shook our heads and decided it was time to take our limited-technology a step further.

iPads somehow turn our kids into crazed-mean-unhelping creatures; normally it’s Netflix or a stupid app they are obsessed with – or just the screen itself. I think the time of day and exhaustion level of the child plays a huge role too. But I have realized that the hour of ‘sanity’ for me is not worth the 2-3 hours of cranky attitudes that comes with it. So we are cutting off iPads even more.

Educational apps can be played when a parent agrees, but it will be limited to 45 minutes, unless a parent extends time and happiness is still existing. No one uses an iPad until late afternoon or evening, and that will be a rarity (if at all) on weekdays.  (This is basically what the rules have been, but every once in a while we slack and shit hits the fan.)

If any of you have cut (or extremely limited) technology in your house, what advice do you have to share?  I’m up for learning from others on this!

One thing is for sure, our entire house is a more peaceful environment with technology being limited!

PS — Because of how our morning started, the children have been scrubbing the cars are afternoon, TOGETHER….   and they are HAPPY.


The Team Our Family Created

I have a 15 month old sleeping across my lap tonight. He is the sweetest little thing, and yet will become a true toddler in the blink of an eye when baby #5 arrives in 2 months. But tonight’s writing is not really about this…

We just got home from Scarlett’s (7) first swim meet of the season – and her first here in Omaha. She cut through the water in pure beauty, and in true mom-fashion, I screamed for the entire 32 seconds she crossed the pool.  I watched as her Daddy twirled her around on the side of the pool and high-fived her as she ran off with friends.  She wasn’t afraid at all – if anything, she looked like she was at home in the water.

I drove home with all of the boys, and I let John take Scarlett for special “Dad Time.” As we drove, Emmett (5) told me about how fast he’s going to be in the water. Even Lyle (3) joined in about how much fun it was to cheer for Scarlett. We all sang and laughed and talked…

And then, after bedtime, I sat down and felt emotional. Maybe it’s the third trimester emotions starting up…. but as I look through tonight’s pictures, I realized that we are doing so much more than celebrating childhoods here. There is more happening than family-fun.

We are always focused on ‘child-led’ this and ‘child-led’ that. It rules our life, and I LOVE it. Our kids are growing and learning as they were intended to. They are truly experiencing the world and all the happiness it embodies…. but tonight, I am realizing something so much bigger is happening….

My kids are growing up. They are growing up and growing together. It’s happening so quickly, that I could miss it if I sleep in too late. My days (and John’s) are limited now. We are raising these babies, but it’s passing fast. They are becoming each other’s support systems. Soon they will be one another’s go-to for celebrations and heartaches.

Yes, it is years down the road, but at the same time, it is tomorrow in the eyes of a mother. These babies are cheering for one another as loud (or louder) than their dad and I are…

I can see them in college… and as young adults… and then as true adults. My heart is bursting and emotions are overflowing.

These babies – these siblings are more than anything I had ever dreamt of with parenthood. We have created a TEAM. I want to cherish every single moment in which I am included in this team. For the moment, I am the coach… but it will not last.

My mindset is changing from ‘child-led’ everything, to ‘soak in the rewards from leading that child-led life.’

Rediscovering Summer: Bringing Back Childhood

If you have just joined in over here, you may not know that we are a over a week into our month of no (excess) spending. When our family began the challenge, it was due to needing to rebuild our savings accounts, but after a week, I’m learning that it’s really not that hard to think through things before throwing them into a cart. This may last longer than a month!

Cutting the spending also has an impact on our kids – their expectations of ‘owning things’ needed to be scaled back… drastically.

While we have tightened our budget-belts, I decided to go ahead and add a few more ‘fun challenges’ this summer. All of this is in hopes of bringing back a true childhood for our kids and instilling stronger values while enjoying the best season of the year.

Summer is about being barefoot in the grass, exploring the creeks, staying up until the stars come out, sleeping in and making over-sized bowls of cereal, becoming brown under the sun while diving into the pool, and road tripping with your family. It’s about exploring, adventuring, bonding with friends, and testing the boundaries of new found independence.

But yet, the youth of today are lost in social media and screens. Even the youngest of the generation aren’t out exploring the world; the toddlers know how to swipe a screen better than their parents. Who am I kidding? My own generation is lost as well! And we are no saints here. We own three iPads and have 2 TV’s in our home. While the iPads are used for homeschooling, they have turned into a crutch – for the kids and myself.

I’m done with crutches. This slower, mid-west lifestyle has opened my eyes to a wonderful opportunity… The opportunity to truly be present. So this is what we’ve done, we collected the iPads for good, unless a parent grants permission for an educational app to be used (exception will be the long road trip next month!). They will be used for homeschooling still – and facetiming family! – but that’s it, for now. The TV was never really an issue here, but the rule this summer is no TV until Mama says it’s ok.

I’m not doing any of this to punish myself or the kids. I enjoy evening TV, and I know the kids do too! It’s an easy way to relax and tune out…  but for 95% of the day, music is all we need!

Good-bye extreme technology.

We are a week into these changes and have spent more hours talking together than ever before. Meals are shared, clouds are made into alligators, bikes have been rode longer (and farther), and creations have been made from moments of boredom. We have found new playgrounds, filled inflatable pools, and lived slower – together.

I write all of this in hopes that you will join our #WildTribeAdventures this summer and cut off the majority of your technology…. in hopes to bring back childhood – and bring back summer!

My  kids will be at the library, pool, and children’s museum… They will spend hours being bored at home; they will play in the rain, ride bikes through our neighborhood, and create secrets together. I will worry as they wander around, but keep them within shouting distance. I will stop arguments from turning ugly, but let them solve their own problems. I will read my own books and encourage them to do the same. There will be hard days and easy ones, but the summer will be our best one yet.

Join us, using #WildChildSummer

Are Your Kids Drinking Enough Water?

I realized today, while at the pool- in 95 degree heat, that my kids hadn’t really drank ANYTHING yet. Looking back on the day, there was a delicious breakfast, but did anyone drink their water alongside of it? Maybe a sip…

My 7-year-old began complaining about a headache within 30 minutes of swimming, and it dawned on me: the kid needs WATER.

She has been complaining nightly about stomach aches, so bad that she cries and curls into a ball. The doctor can’t see any real reason for it, suggesting we completely cut gluten and dairy from her diet. (Those of you that know us, know we eat REALLY well – but we’ll be cutting out our limited foods in these categories.)  The chiropractor swears the issue lies in the air out here. She says that farmland = pesticide land. And while that terrifies the shit out of me, I cannot control our air quality.

What do I think? I have no real idea, but after research, I have found that this area has horrible ratings on its water, soil, and air qualities. Our bodies are going to take quite a while to adapt to this significant change, and it is further evidence in my basket to not make this home for too long.

I can’t change the air. I can’t change the soil. But I can control the water. I don’t think any of my kids are drinking enough water, and that’s going to change tomorrow. But most importantly, I am going to control the quality of water my kids are exposed to.

We are faithful Berkey-Owners and absolutely love the water filter. The only time we ever drink or cook with water from another source is if we are out of town, or the berkey wasn’t refilled! And in those moments, we used filtered, bottled water.  If you are drinking water from your refrigerator filter – or worse, the sink, please please learn about the benefits of adding a Berkey to your home!

But water is not only consumed by drinking. Our skin is our largest organ and absorbs what is put on it. This means that showers and baths can have an overall effect on our health. In our case, the harsh, hard, toxic-filled crap water out here is probably not helping with any of the issues we are dealing with. After a little googling,  we will be adding a filtration ball to our bath tubs, and will continue to use Epsom salt, essential oils for baths regularly. Keep in mind that Epsom salt can dehydrate the body, so increasing water intake is a must!

I have no idea if any of this will cure the stomach aches Scarlett has been having, but altering the diet, increasing the high-quality water intake, continuing with high-dose probiotics, and ensuring plenty of exercise combined with lots of sleep are our only options right now! Cross your fingers for us.

What about you and your kids? Do you drink enough water? It’s easy to forget to monitor such a mindless task. You drink when you are thirsty, but is that enough for your children’s health?

I’ll be using larger water bottles with my kids (with easy to use lids) They’ll be filled in the morning and hopefully consumed at least once a day.

Grab a water bottle and start tracking your children’s water intake! Let’s remind each other just how important it is for them to drink up.