Alone In A Crowded Room – Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

A mom leaves an event full of lovely women, laughter and fun only to stumble through the door at home in tears.

This was me several times last week.

For much of my adult life, I’ve struggled with loneliness. I’m surrounded by people – good people. But often I stand in a crowded room and feel unseen. 

And alone.

As an introvert, large social events and groups tend to be a challenge. I’m much more comfortable with just one or two people. In many groups, I tend to sit back and listen instead of jumping into the conversation. As a result, unless someone asks me a direct question, I may not speak at all. Often, I go home feeling like I had things to say and I regret not speaking.

That regret becomes frustration. That frustration opens old wounds. I don’t feel heard. Or seen.

Did it even matter I was there at all? Familiar feelings of loneliness rise – powerful and painfully real.

Still, other times, these feelings of loneliness rise up out of nowhere, uninvited, and without cause. 

These feelings aren’t based on truth. They are a result of me believing a terrible internal lie – that I wasn’t wanted or needed.

The truth is, I was invited to the event I spoke of earlier. My presence was welcomed. My words and thoughts would have been welcomed as well. No one said or did anything unkind or cold to me. Loneliness doesn’t always show up when it makes sense. Often times, the feelings are real, but they don’t make sense at all.

Why do I still feeling lonely?

Usually it isn’t others who make me feel lonely.

It’s me. 

But that doesn’t change the overwhelming way feelings of loneliness hurt. Experience has shown that left unchecked, loneliness can be paralyzing. Focusing on loneliness robs my days of joy and causes me to pull back from relationships – further perpetuating the problem.

When loneliness surfaces, it is imperative that I take purposeful steps to battle against it. As I said before, I am still struggling (even as I write this) with loneliness and perceived rejection.

These are a few ways I’m learning to address loneliness when it comes up.

Seek God

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

A good friend is a beautiful thing. But no friendship can rid me of loneliness. When I’m lonely, what I need most is more of God. Whether I ‘feel’ His presence or not, I need to press into Him by reading His Word and praying.

When I feel lonely, the enemy’s lies seem like truth. I question my worth. I begin to suppress God’s truth about who God says I am. When this happens, I need to tell God my thoughts, even though they go against what He says.

‘God I know You made me without mistake. I know I am fully loved and fully known by You. Yet, right now I feel inadequate, unloved, unworthy and rejected. I feel so alone and unseen by others. Help me to see myself and this circumstance as you do. Will you help me believe it and walk in truth?’

Often, pouring out feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and self-loathing at God’s feet brings peace. It is hard to be in God’s presence and believe lies. Being with Him opens my eyes to truth and helps my soul rest in His comforting arms.

In the midst of loneliness, the focus is on me. I desperately need to worship God. Worship turns my focus outward and upward. He is still God, and He is good – regardless of any emotion or circumstance I may be in. When I remember God’s character – His goodness, faithfulness and kindness – and how He has revealed Himself to me, it becomes hard to feel alone.

Kari Jobe’s ‘I Am Not Alone‘ has helped me worship this week. What comfort there is in recalling that God never leaves me and always goes before me!

See A Friend

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Isn’t it strange that when struggling with loneliness, I tend to isolate myself?

Isolating myself happens when I believe and accept the lie that no one cares if I’m there or not. In all honesty, even after spending time with God, I sometimes still feel lonely and disconnected. Isolation only makes things worse.

In these moments, I need a good friend. I am grateful to have several women in my life with whom I can share hard things. One friend, in particular comes to mind – she lifts me up, encourages me, and points me to Jesus. We don’t see each other that often, but when we do, it is like no time has passed between us. We do spend time catching up on daily life, but we always spend time talking about what is on our hearts.

Time spent with a good friend lifts the soul.

God gave us the gift of fellowship so we can be mutually encouraged by one another. But we need to be IN fellowship with others to experience it. 

Last week, after a rough morning wrestling with emotions, I called that friend. We met at a park with the kids. Kids played. We took a walk. We talked. I shared my heart – she listened and then spoke truth and kindness into hurting places. I left feeling recharged, refreshed and so very grateful. Time spent with her is life-giving. Friends like this are a priceless gift.

As an introvert, I know I need more one-on-one time with good friends. This time has to be built into my life on a regular basis because life is BUSY. Schedule it. Show up. 

BE A Friend

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Alone In A Crowded Room - Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness | thisgratefulmama.com

Sometimes we long for deeper friendships, but we haven’t made it our mission to just go out and BE a friend.

Friendship is a two-way street – if we want people to be there for us, we need to be there for them! Cultivating deep relationships takes time and purposeful effort.

Check in with that friend about ‘that thing’ they mentioned last time you talked – the appointment, interview, struggle, celebration or milestone. Notice when a friend is unusually quiet and ask how they are doing. Then be prepared to make time to listen to how they’re really doing. 

Often, I feel the most lonely when I’m busy. Some seasons, like after having a baby, may just be busy. It happens to all of us. But sometimes, we allow good things to make us so busy that there is no margin for people. When this happens, we need to make some adjustments to maintain valuable friendships. Examine your schedule and priorities to be sure you’ve left room for people. 

Let people know you care. Be available to others. Being connected to others in daily life opens the door to have conversations about what is on your heart.

Start with one person. Who will it be?

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A Little Girl And A Big School Bus – Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up

A Little Girl And A Big Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

Two weeks ago our four year old sunshine girl climbed the stairs of a school bus for the first time. Unexpected mom-emotions threatened to overtake me as my mind raced with thoughts of all she would experience – good and bad – while away from me.

She’s growing up.

She rocked 3’s preschool and has been away from me for countless bible studies, Sunday school, and more. But as I watched her climb onto that big school bus wearing that giant-flamingo backpack, she looked so small.

Isn’t that my baby up there? 

Parenting is full of these emotion-fueled moments – when we realize our children are growing up and stepping a little further into the world. These moments remind us that we cannot control our kids or their experiences.

She didn’t hesitate as she turned back, grinning with sparkling eyes as she waved goodbye.

She didn’t hesitate. So why was I?

I stood, choked up and snapping pictures. I waved furiously with a smile plastered to my face as the bus drove away.

The bus rounded the corner. The only evidence it had been there at all was the plume of exhaust and my husband, mom and I gazing at an empty street.

Sunshine girl was on her way to school with a bus load of new friends. Without me. 

Year by year, our children will spend more time at school and activities, with people other than us. They gather life-skills and knowledge and are slowly equipped to become independent, functioning adults.

Independent. Of us. 

And what of us, their parents? Once their ‘whole world’ and providers of everything they need – we’re gradually needed less and less as our role continually changes.

We proudly cheer them on, celebrating new freedoms and opportunities while acknowledging that there is less we can protect them from. We’re grateful they don’t grow up overnight, even if looking back, it feels like it did.

And this is all right and good. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. 

Or unemotional.

Our emotions are real and powerful. And sometimes emotions creep up out of nowhere and threaten to knock us off our feet.

We need to adapt and learn to not only accept but embrace these moments and the emotions they stir up.

Stop Comparing

Your emotions are yours. They don’t belong to your neighbor, friend, or that mom over there that you don’t even know.

Stop comparing. Every parent feels emotions and processes them differentlyWhat you feel as your child climbs onto the school bus is ok.

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

You don’t have to apologize for crying, even if you’re the only mom ugly-crying on the curb as the bus drives away.

Quit worrying about what everyone else is doing and give yourself permission to feel it all.

So now we admit we have these emotions and we’re not worried about what everyone else is doing. Now what?

Own It

We love our children. So it makes sense that our emotions can be fierce. Letting go and watching our children step out into the world is hard. And excitingAnd scary.

Stifling emotions never really works. They just bubble out later in another way or at someone else, with increased intensity.

Feel something? Own it.

So what if you’re an ugly-crying mess at the bus stop? So what if you’re the only dry-eyed mom in the crowd? So what if summer was so long and tiring that a part of you feels like celebrating and maybe a twinge guilty about that (or maybe you feel no guilt)?  So what if you’re suddenly crying in Target 3 hours later because you just miss them?

What if your kids see you? While we do need to have wisdom and discernment about how and what we share with our children, it is ok for them to see you express what you feel.

In these milestone moments, watching you feel and process emotions in a healthy way gives your children permission to feel and process their own. 

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

 

Process It

Do your emotions surprise you? Days before school started, I expected to cry at the bus stop. Then, that morning as we stood waiting for the bus I felt only excitement. I was happy and exited – not sad at all!

Then she took those first steps up and WHAM!

When emotions surprise me, the best way to work through them is to process them. Feel them. Think through them. Talk about them.

This does require time and energy but is too important to pass up.

Go to God – Night or day, God is always available. Our loving Father loves to comfort His children. No matter the emotion, He already knows. When it comes to emotions I feel as a parent, it is such a comfort to know that God created our children and loves them even more than than I can. He listens and provides peace and comfort beyond our understanding. Try it! Pray through emotions and spend some time reading His word. He won’t leave you hanging.

Talk to a Friend – One of the reasons we need community is to process real-life with people who are willing to be authentic. We need to know we’re not alone and to be encouraged by other parents. Be honest. Cry if you feel like it. Speaking how we feel out loud is powerful.

Write – When home with kids all day, I can’t always process emotions out-loud with another adult. Journaling or blogging about what I’m feeling helps me find clarity and understand what I am feeling and WHY.

Celebrate 

One way to take the edge off of our emotions of sadness, longing or fear is to celebrate milestones – even if just official days like the first/last day of school and birthdays.

That said, we don’t need to celebrate everything. Celebrate events that are significant to your family and priorities. Celebrating puts the joy back into even the most bittersweet milestone.

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

Celebrate with a meal, a sporting event or activity, a gift, a handwritten card, or an intentional conversation. Celebrate to remind your children that you’re cheering them on and proud of them.

Be Present

Finally, no matter how emotional you feel, at some point, you need to step out of your own head and step into the time and place you’re in.

I spent a couple hours dwelling in my own swimming emotions and thoughts before doing anything productive with them. Once I began to process them, I was able to step back into the day and be ready and excited to hear all about that first day of school. If I’d kept it all in, I’m not sure I would have been any good to anybody – just a puddle of tears and self-pity.

Be present with those right in front of you. Don’t let your emotions put you in a funk that steals quality time from you and your family.

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

 

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com Embracing Moments

 

Hello, Fall. I’ve Been Waiting For You – 5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall

Hello Fall. I've Been Waiting For You - 5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Hello, fall.

I’ve been waiting for you.

By far, Fall is my favorite time of year. This year, the Minnesota weather has been cooler than normal, so it started feeling like fall in late August.

While some are still mourning the loss of summer…I am celebrating fall.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall

5 Reasons This Mama Is Grateful For Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

ALL. The. Apples.

By late August, I am ready for orchard apples. While Pink Lady apples are my choice when it’s not apple season, they simply do not compare to orchard apples.

I wait ALL year to pick those first apples so we headed to the nearest orchard on September 1st. It was lovely – we went early on Friday afternoon and were alone in the orchard picking a bounty of McIntosh (my favorite) and Zestar apples. Now the kids are running to the fridge for an apple after school and we don’t have to fight over what constitutes a ‘healthy snack’. I’m grateful our favorite orchard is just 10 minutes away. We’ll buy apples as long as they have them (and hopefully stock up just before they’re out).

An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but it does make all of us rather HAPPY.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Boot Weather

A former life guard, I used to love baking in the sun. And, after all those winter indoor pool hours, humidity never bothered me. That is, until we had kids. I’m not sure if I changed and can’t handle it, or if it is caused by becoming a walking pack-mule who hauls kids and their stuff everywhere we go. Either way, I loathe the heat and humidity and love the 70 degree days with a cool evening. Cooler nights mean no bugs – in Minnesota where the running joke is that the state bird is really the mosquito, a no-bug evening is a gift.

And, finally, fall marks the return of boot-wearing weather. Tall boots, short boots, rain boots, leather boots…so long shorts! Oh, how I love boot-weather!

Routines

While I miss the kids while they are at school, I love the repetition and structure of the fall schedule. It feels like we’re shaking off lazy summer days and stepping into productivity. This summer was less structured than ever before and it was wonderful. But I was also very ready for it to be done. Actually, I was ready about a month before it ended. While the lack of structure is rejuvenating and relaxing, I just don’t thrive in an unstructured environment for an extended period of time. I find I accomplish less and lack motivation without deadlines or places to be.

After this first week of the fall schedule, I’m exhausted, but I am loving the return to BSF, kids in school, and my morning routine of waking up before the kids. In the morning I feel ready for them to get up. At the end of the day, I feel so much more productive and like more has been accomplished than on the majority of summer days.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Fall Fun

Bonfires, apple, raspberry and pumpkin picking, hiking, collecting leaves and taking in the colors, cooking soups and baking pies, football, soccer and more! There are so many activities on our fall bucket list, there just isn’t enough time to do it all. Fall activities make up some of our most treasured family time of the year. We’re off to a great start but have much more to do fit in before fall ends.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Hot Cider, Tea, Coffee

I love sitting outside on a cool morning or evening holding a warm mug of hot tea, cider or coffee. It’s kind of silly, but the smell and warmth of the mug in my hands is just better in the fall. In fact, I’m going to go get a cup of something hot right now.

 

What do you love about fall?

I am THAT Allergy Mama: Thank You For Answering My Food Allergy ’20 Questions’ Before We Get Together

I am continually amazed by friends and family in our lives who go above and beyond to ensure our son is safe. Thank you for texting me ingredient labels, discussing the menu, and for graciously answering my questions time and time again. We are so grateful for all of you.

this grateful mama

Thank You For Answering My Food Allergy '20 Questions' Before We Get Together | Thisgratefulamama.com

How I miss the days when all I had to do was ask what I could bring to a get-together and not have to know what was being served…

Or when someone could bring anything they like best to our house.

Any dessert. Any bread. Any salad topping.

Sigh.

Now I’m constantly MEDDLING.

I’m calling ahead, asking friends to read food labels over the phone, and explaining that the phrase “processed on equipment with nuts” is just as bad for us as something containing an actual peanut.

I’m asking what dessert they are serving, where it came from, and usually planning to bring something similar and safe for my son to eat.

And YES, I often request foods containing nuts aren’t served while we’re there and that nuts are never brought into our home. This is my son’s SAFE zone (and ours). He should never have to question his safety here.

I DO realize…

View original post 1,316 more words

That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket – Teaching Kids About Grace

That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket - Teaching Kids About Grace | thisgratefulmama.com

Exactly 3 days after the accident with sunshine girl’s finger and the Epi-Pen, I had another humbling experience.

A speeding ticket.

My first one.

In the mini van.

With all three kids.

In the aftermath of the Epi-Pen accident, I wasn’t feeling like the best mom. I was actively fighting for joy from some pretty heavy mom-guilt. Not that there is ever a good time for a speeding ticket, but this one certainly came at a bad time.

The Ticket

We were having a rough morning. The littlest one was teething and in apparently fierce discomfort. She was just not herself.

After attempting to soothe and distract at home, it was clear we needed to get out of the house. I decided to do a quick errand.

Because baby was so unhappy, I decided to drive further to a less crowded store, hoping she would fall asleep coming home.

As we neared the store, the road was closed. We turned right at the barricade and continued on an unfamiliar road. I was just cruising along at roughly the same speed as the previous road, checking street signs to figure out where to turn.

Heading down a hill, I noticed a small park and thought – I should remember that. Then, I saw a police car parked at the bottom of the hill.

Yikes. Sharp intake of breath. You know that feeling, don’t you? See a police car and tap the brakes even though you’re not sure how fast you’re going?

Hmm. How fast was I going? Didn’t know.

Then I saw the speed limit sign at the bottom of the hill. 30.

Pretty sure I was going faster than that. Sure enough, on came the lights as he pulled into the street.

‘OK guys, mama is going to get a speeding ticket’.

Our very cautious, rule-following oldest child looked wide-eyed from the back. He was silent but his shocked face revealed concern. Or maybe horror.

I assured the kids it was going to be OK and reminded them that police help people. Today this one was going to help mommy be a better diver.

The officer was very kind but informed me I was going 52 in a 30.

By a park.

And my license plate tabs were expired.

Without excuse, I apologized. Pretty sure my eyes were as wide as our son’s.

I told him about being diverted from the road closure and how I was paying attention to street signs instead of the speed limit. I was sure we’d paid for our tabs so told him I would go home and find them. He headed to his car.

The kids were silent, even the baby. For possibly the first time all morning.

When the officer returned, indeed our tabs were paid for. Find them. Then he gave me my very first speeding ticket – but not the ticket I deserved.

I deserved a ticket for driving 52 in a 30 by a park. That friends, is a humongous ticket. Instead, he gave me a ticket for going 44 in a 30. Two full tiers below what I deserved.

I choked back tears and thanked him.

Teaching Grace

As a rule-follower myself, I could not hold back the tears as he walked away. I was still so surprised it happened, embarrassed and humbled, and felt guilty for getting the ticket in front of the kids. Then I felt bad for crying in front of the kids, but could. not. stop.

Not my best mom-moment.

I may have prayed a silent ‘really, God? – don’t you remember Monday?‘ prayer. Ok. Yes. Actually I’m sure I did that.

Now in the store parking lot just around the corner, I wept.

Our poor kids were silently watching, unsure of what to do next. Finally, our son spoke up from the back – ‘Mama. I’m so sorry you got a ticket‘.

His kind words caused me to glance up at his reflection in the rear-view mirror. His worried look put a stop to my tears – there was a lesson in this.

The moment must not be wasted. 

Oh Lord, please give me the words to use this moment for YOUR glory.

You guys, it is in these moments, when we have made a mistake, failed or been humbled in front of our children – in the midst of authentic remorse and emotion, when well-chosen words can be most powerful.

Our children are often the first-hand witness that parents are not perfect. While we don’t need to discuss our every failing with our kids, something that unfolds right in front of them should be addressed.

How we address it matters.

When these things happen, whether a speeding ticket or some other obvious show of imperfection, we need to use the moment to teach them about truth.

After some deep breaths, we talked about why I was pulled over. And the many reasons I deserved a BIG ticket – speeding was breaking the rules, having expired tabs was irresponsible, and how as a mom, I should be even more attentive to places like parks where kids could be crossing the street.

The officer had every right to give me exactly what I deserved – but he didn’t.

We talked about how the officer treated me. He spoke kindly to me and listened to what I had to say. He treated me with respect and we talked about how in our family, we respect police officers.

Then, despite the emotional roller coaster in my brain, joy crept in and we begain to talk about grace.

The officer chose to give me a smaller ticket than I deserved. In doing so, he showed me grace I did not earn or ask for.

Their sister’s middle name is Grace, which means a gift undeserved.

And like the officer’s gift was undeserved, I also do not deserve the grace of God. It still baffles me that God showed such lavish grace in sending His son Jesus to die as punishment for my sins. And for the sins of our children.

All because of the simple yet profound reason that God loves us. The imperfect, the sinful, the unlovable – we are the beloved redeemed because of lavish grace and love of Jesus Christ.

Just like I was unaware of my speeding, we were once unaware of our own sin. We didn’t ask him to give grace, He did it on His own. Salvation is God’s work alone.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (ESV)

We don’t deserve it, but Jesus stands in our place of the judgement we deserve because He chooses to. We just need to acknowledge Him and receive it.

We deserve punishment.

We get grace.

Because He loves us.

The heart of the Gospel.

Smiles. Nodding. I think these precious children really got it.

We prayed, thanking God for Jesus. We thanked God for the police officer and the kindness he showed mommy. And for the reminder of what Jesus did for each of us.

The call to my husband started fresh but brief tears as I explained how the stellar mom who allowed the accident on Monday had just gotten a speeding ticket with all the kids in the car on Thursday.

Not a great week.

My husband showed me unwarranted grace, just as he did on Monday. He is an undeserved gift to me.

Finally, we got out of the car and stumbled into the store with my tear-streaked face but a sense of God-given peace that cannot be described here with mere words.

The outing wasn’t exactly the ‘distraction’ I’d planned. I’m grateful we ended up with a lesson of eternal value that left a strong impression on their hearts.

I guess if getting a speeding ticket is what it took to give them a tangible understanding of grace, then so be it.

Sometimes the most humbling moments as moms teach the most powerful lessons to our kids.

That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket - Teaching Kids About Grace | thisgratefulmama.com

ALL speeding tickets might not be so bad after all – but I’d rather not get another one.

If you see me driving around town like a granny, now you’ll know why.

That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket - Teaching Kids About Grace | thisgratefulmama.com

This post was shared on the Salt & Light Linkup (#16). Click on the image below to find other great posts relating to Christian encouragement. Check it out!

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How To Stay Sane While Grocery Shopping With Three Kids

How To Stay Sane While Grocery Shopping With Three Kids | thisgratefulmama.com

I love going to the store with all three children.

Wait. No.

Just.

No.

While some may love shopping with a pack of squirming, squealing and wandering children, I prefer to go alone.

How To Stay Sane While Grocery Shopping With Three Kids | thisgratefulmama.com

As a stay-at-home mom of three, the likelihood of solo-shopping glory is slim. Especially in the summer when school is out.

While my husband is happy to stay home while I go alone in the evening or on the weekend, I’d rather shop during the week so we can spend those precious hours together.

We do our best to make shopping with three kids as painless as possible for them, and for me.

How to stay sane while grocery shopping with three kids

  1. Plan Ahead – Gone are the days of wandering aisles waiting to be inspired for this week’s meals. Shopping with children requires planning and a detailed list. If possible, rearrange the list in the order each item is found in store aisles – dairy and meat, pantry staples, paper goods and produce.
  2. Limit Stores – List in hand, you should have a pretty good idea which stores you need to visit. When possible, choose the store that carries MOST of your items. For me, it may mean shopping where I’d rather not in order to get home faster with my sanity in tact.
  3. Timing is Everything – Kids who are tired, hungry, or missing out on playtime may be in the mood for an unpleasant trip.  I like to run errands just after breakfast. Morning is when our kids and I are most likely to be at our best. Kids aren’t outside playing yet, and everyone is fed and well rested.
  4. Bathroom First – Never, ever leave home without making ALL children, even the oldest, use the bathroom. Emergencies aside, on most tripsthis will save you from the mad dash across the store hoping no one pees before you find the bathroom.
  5. Enlist Help – Who in your life is easy-going and genuinely wants to spend time with you and be helpful? Have someone in mind? Good. Ask them to shop with you. My mom has accompanied us on many shopping trips. She pushes an extra cart and keeps the troops in line. Have an older child? They are your built-in help. Assure them that their help will make the trip quicker so they can get on to whatever they would rather be doing.
  6. Incentives This is your backup plan. Some may call it bribery, I like to call it incentives. What motivates your kids? A fun activity? A shorter rest? Including them in meal planning and preparation? Snacks? Whatever helps them make it through the trip – DO IT – for all of you. Watch out so the habit of snacks doesn’t turn you into a human vending machine, but do not leave home without a backup plan.
    How To Stay Sane While Grocery Shopping With Three Kids | thisgratefulmama.com
  7. Not On The List, Not In the Cart – This takes discipline. Resist the urge to grab that item not on the list. It will save you money and keep the trip short. Plus, if you follow the list, you can use this rule to ward off all purchase requests from the kids. Sorry, not on the list.
  8. Use the Big Cart – Those giant carts with two seats in front are actually easier to push than you think, even when loaded with three kids. When we need to be quick, I still make our almost 7-year-old ride in the big cart. If the kids CAN fit, make them ride. Now you are free to walk as quickly as you can without running some poor soul over. Get IN and get OUT.
  9. Cut Your Losses – When everything that could go wrong does go wrong, be willing to leave the store and full cart behind. Promise your kids they will have to come back to do the entire shopping trip again and follow through. If you do, hopefully you won’t ever have to do that again.
  10. Take Care of YOU – Start the day right. A few moments alone with your God, Bible, and coffee will help you be your best all day long. Oh mama, I know how difficult it can be to fit this time in during a kid-busy morning. Have you considered waking up before your kids? Even 15 minutes can be a game changer. Trust me, you will not regret it or miss the sleep.

When the trip is done, and you’ve all survived, find a coffee-drive thru and treat yourself for a job well done.

Happy shopping friends!

How To Stay Sane While Grocery Shopping With Three Kids | thisgratefulmama.com

 

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

Can you believe kids are heading back to school already?

For me, this summer has flown by.

Are you ready? 

One of my favorite things to do on the first day of school is snap a quick picture of each child with a sign telling what grade they are in.

The photos are cute, but it may also be for selfish reasons – the signs in the photo help me keep the photos organized. Each already tells me if it was the first or last day, and what grade it was from.

In the past, I’ve used a small chalkboard for these photos.

Last year, during the busy season of having a newborn, the first and last days of school snuck up on me.

On both mornings, while the kids got ready for school, I ran around like a crazy lady trying to find our chalkboard. And a piece of chalk.

Apparently not an easy task – be prepared mamas!

It made everything feel hectic, not like an exciting day. Definitely not what I was hoping to offer them.

This year, to make it easier for me and all of you, the signs are already made and ready to be printed.

Below are free printable signs for the ‘First Day of School’, along with matching ‘Last Day of School’ signs. You’ll find matching signs for Preschool, Pre-K, and Kindergarten – 12th grade.

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

Just in case these signs don’t fit your school situation, there is also a generic ‘First Day of School’ and ‘Last Day of School’ sign for 2017-2018.

Whatever grade your kids are in – we’ve got you covered!

Each sign can be printed on standard 8.5×11 card stock or paper. Just download the PDF and print in color.

Don’t forget to Pin this post to save it so you can print the matching ‘Last Day of School’ signs in the spring!

You can also stay up to date on new free printables and all of my favorite things by following  thisgratefulmama on Pinterest.

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

First Day of School and Last Day of School

First Day of Preschool and Last Day of Preschool

First Day of Pre-K and Last Day of Pre-K

First Day of Kindergarten and Last Day of Kindergarten

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

First Day of 1st Grade and Last Day of 1st Grade

First Day of 2nd Grade and Last Day of 2nd Grade

First Day of 3rd Grade and Last Day of 3rd Grade

First Day of 4th Grade and Last Day of 4th Grade

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

First Day of 5th Grade and Last Day of 5th Grade

First Day of 6th Grade and Last Day of 6th Grade

First Day of 7th Grade and Last Day of 7th Grade

First Day of 8th Grade and Last Day of 8th Grade

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

First Day of 9th Grade and Last Day of 9th Grade

First Day of 10th Grade and Last Day of 10th Grade

First Day of 11th Grade and Last Day of 11th Grade

First Day of 12th Grade and Last Day of 12th Grade

Have a great first (and last) day of school!

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com