Hi, My name is Anna, and I've had the great privilege of guest posting at Productive Parenting for the past several weeks.
I am a (newly) stay-at-home mom to three kids. Miles is 3, Alice is 2 and Simon is 5 months. I married my college sweetheart, Matt - and we have a very large dog named Benson.
When I'm not busy taking care of my three kids or writing for Productive Parenting, I write about my kids, my life and my house at my blog: My Life and Kids.
When do you feel like you're doing your best job as a mom?
I feel like I'm doing my best job when I'm completely focused on my kids. Whether we're reading books, doing a Productive Parenting activity, dancing in the kitchen, playing with sensory trays or taking a walk - I'm doing my best job when I'm not distracted. I try really hard to stay away from the computer, the phone and the television when my kids are awake.
You knew this one was coming... when do you feel like you're doing your worst job?
I always know when I'm doing my worst job because my kids let me know it. When I'm on the phone or trying to sneak in a quick email check during the day - they act out and try to get my attention.
And I know I'm doing my worst job when I'm less than patient or get frustrated by little-kid messes. (Usually when I haven't had enough sleep.)
And I feel like I'm doing my worst job when the house isn't clean, and the laundry hasn't been put away. Even though I know those things don't matter as much as spending time with the kids, I feel like a better mom when I have a clean house (and clean clothes).
What surprised you the most about motherhood?
Every single thing surprised me. I wanted to be a mom so badly, but I never really went down the path of what that would mean. I was shocked when Miles was born (early), and I had to feed him every two hours, 24/7 for the first five weeks of his life.
I was also surprised when I started staying home with my kids full-time. I had a picture in my mind of my husband coming home every night to a spotless house, the kids playing quietly and me in the kitchen preparing some fabulous dinner that we would all sit down and eat together. Not a chance! The house is messier than it has ever been, thanks to my messy little kids. I rarely have dinner planned when Matt gets home from work, and playing quietly? Not my kids! And although it's not what I expected, I'm absolutely loving it!
What is your go-to activity when you know a meltdown is coming?
First - we eat something. My kids' meltdowns are almost always caused by hunger (or lack of sleep). After eating, we usually try to go outside. If that's not possible, then we read books or get out the craft bag. I keep it stocked with stickers, paper, glue, safety scissors, bingo dotters and other fun, crafty stuff - the kids love it. We listen to music or sometimes we just pile into the minivan and drive around for awhile. When all else fails, we watch Mickey Mouse.
What have your children taught you?
They've taught me that I don't need as much sleep as I once thought I did. They've taught me to slow down. And they've shown me what a wonderful father my husband is.
I love watching him interact with the kids. The first thing he does when he comes home after a long day at work is sit down on the family room floor and let the kids crawl all over him and they tell each other about their days. I love seeing my husband as a father!
What will you miss the most about these years with young children?
I will miss their unending energy and enthusiasm. I'll miss being able to make them laugh all the time. I'll miss waking up to little faces peering over my mattress. I'll miss having two cribs in the house. I'll miss stroller walks and bedtime snuggles. I think I'll miss pretty much everything - but I know there will be great times when they're older too... right?
You can follow Anna and her family at her blog: www.mylifeandkids.com