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After a wonderful month-long vacation from school, I am back in school. Things are crazy and busy again. Mike and I are lacking sleep, I am staying up late to do homework, my house is a mess, and our calendar is covered in scribbles. Do you know the feeling? Things are out of control, or at least on their way in that direction. Mike is putting peas in the cupboard and cereal in the fridge, and I have written down appointments on the calendar and promptly forgotten all about them. It’s one of those times of year! Here is a list of 5 things I have learned in my last months as an MBA student, mom, employee etc.

1. Multi-tasking is not a good idea: I always said I could multi-task. And I can! Just not very well… but can anyone? I have tried to play with my daughter and read my course readings. She’s two. Any mom out there who has a two year old is smiling to herself right now. Toddlers don’t let you do readings!! So this is the result of this experiment: my daughter is cranky because I am not paying attention to her. I keep reading the same paragraph over and over because I keep getting distracted by her climbing the bookshelf beside me or dumping a box of Cheerios on the floor. Result? A lose-lose scenario. Or I have tried to run on the treadmill while reading my textbook… besides the jarring attempt at reading, again it is ineffective. Which brings me to my next point…

2. Pick a goal. It’s okay to have dreams. In fact, I think the more dreams you have the better. However, working on those dreams one at a time (especially those BIG ones like completing your MBA) makes sense. (See point #1. Multitasking is not a good idea). I had it in my head that in the next few months, I would: learn how to run 10 km, upgrade my math, start following a home cooked diabetic diet (to reduce sugars in my diet), join the Kinettes to get more volunteer time, while completing my HR Management course in my MBA. Why not right? Go big or go home! Well, it turns out if you take on too many goals, you don’t do any of them well. Since I am putting such an investment into getting my MBA, I figure I should do well at it. It’s okay to go for a jog or make a healthy dinner, but having a goal to do these all the time at the busiest time in my life? Maybe not the best idea I’ve come up with. I asked my husband yesterday if I could become the chair of the Fundraising committee at Braeden’s school. Can you guess what he said? See point #3.

3. Take a break! Yes, the list of things to do is insanely long. And the list of required readings is even longer. I can’t take a break and have a rest! Then I will never finish! What I have learned, is that if you do not take a break, you will break. Those nights when I have tried to pull all nighters to do homework, my work isn’t done to the best of my ability, and I have a hard time functioning for the rest of the week. Sometimes these breaks help to spend a moment with the kids. Mike and I will take the kids to the local rec center and get a few balls, then let them run around with us for a bit. Get some energy out (never helps to have them sleep better at night either!) When I take a moment for myself and get into the bathtub, or even head to bed at midnight instead of 2 am, I am a much better and more efficient person because of it.

4. It’s okay not to be perfect. Really. I always put this pressure on myself to have a perfect clean house when company comes to visit, to have healthy home cooked meals for my kids, to make sure they get their exercise and outside time every day, to volunteer at every event at the school … these are all good and important things. However, I have learned that it’s okay if things don’t work perfectly all the time. The other day we had hockey for Braeden right after school, then rushed to swimming lessons. I had to do my paper after the kids went to bed, so I didn’t have enough time to make a healthy dinner… we went to A&W. I know, unhealthy, greasy meal. But it’s okay! My kids are fine after this one-time splurge, and they still went to bed fed, happy and healthy. It’s okay to let some of those things go. Which brings me to the next point…

5. Enjoy a moment. Sometimes things are so crazy that we aren’t enjoying ourselves all the time. We’re so caught up in the rush and the to-do list, that we forget to stop and really look at what we have. I try to do this daily. You can’t enjoy every moment – sometimes, the kids are going to act out, things are going to seem to crazy. But as long as you can stop from time to time and really take a look at the things that matter, then you’ll be okay. Last night I had to work on my paper. I was worried about not getting it done, and I was thinking how the kids had to get to bed on time so I could get back to work. But Jordyn was upset for some reason, and needed som extra cuddles. Braeden asked for some more of his story. And I gave it to both of them. So I started my paper an hour later. So what? I also soaked in the smell of my beautiful little girl as she wrapped her chubby fingers around my hand and helped me sing Baa Baa Black Sheep for the hundredth time in a day. And I laughed with my son as we shared funny moments of the day and enjoyed our favourite book together. These are the reasons I want more out of life, so it’s important not to forget what it’s all for.

Braeden and Jordyn dressed for the holidays. (Braeden is 6, Jorydn 1 1/2)

I know it’s almost been a month since Christmas. That’s the problem with writing a blog about being a busy mom/student/employee – it’s too busy to find time to write! So I will share my holidays with you a month late – it really could be worse.

The holidays were special for me, as we spent time with both Mike’s and my family. I had requested that everyone tone down the gifts this year. How do you teach your kids that they don’t always get what they want, when they do? I know they love their grandchildren, but Grandma and Grandpa can show their love in other ways – through spending special time with them and doing thoughtful things for them. For example, Mike’s mom Verna is amazing with Braeden. They have such a special relationship. When Braeden is anxious or upset, as he gets whenever his routine is changed at all, he asks if he can call Grandma Verna long distance. She creates stories for him about such characters as “Silent Man” and the three michevious travelling mice, Lily, Lollie and Lulu. He can spend hours on the phone with her, listening to stories and putting in his two cents. That is a gift that is worth more than any bought in a store.

So this year, the kids got a single present from people, instead of a stack. And it was perfect. We made and decorated cookies. We went sledding. We did crafts. We made Christmas ornaments. The adults had rum and eggnog, board games and visits. It was a Christmas like the ones I remembered when I was a kid. Here were my two favourite gifts:

Braeden was given money to go shopping by himself in the store. He handpicked and bought me a basket of bath stuff. He was so proud of himself! He even asked for the receipt at the end. What a big boy he is becoming.

Jordyn found my wrapping paper after Christmas, and took an entire jumbo roll and wrapped herself and several toys up. “Mommy! Present for you! Baby Jordyn is present for you!” Big mess, but so sweet.

I’m a lucky lady!