Staying Sane: Home security botched my shower


I have so many ideas that I want to write about for “Staying Sane” for working mothers. Ideas are flooding me at completely random times. And with these thoughts, I can’t help but draw a connection to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I wrote about the Hierarchy of Needs and the implications to working mothers more than one year ago — see post here. It is amazing to me the difference of where I was emotionally and with my life between then and now… but the Hierarchy of Needs still applies to me now – even though my situation has changed so much. I can’t help but think that as I continuously evolve and grow as a person, as a mother, and now as a Head of Household where I must work to not only contribute for my family but also survive… that this Hierarchy of Needs will still apply to me with the different roles that I play. I can’t help but wonder how the levels and extent of my happiness will be correlated with this… this is a topic that I will continue to explore in the future.

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Anyway, one of the needs closer to the foundation is in this model is Safety. “Security of body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, property.”

When I first moved into my new house, my very FIRST house, as a newly separated mother of four young children, Safety was top on my mind. Safety of the neighborhood, safety of the structure of the house that I just purchased, keeping my family IN and potential trouble OUT. Of course there were other issues of safety as well (e.g., resources, health, etc.) but I want to focus on this house. Of this new home. Of being on my own again after 10 years but now also being solely responsible for the health and safety of four little ones when they were in my care. A house and a home was important to me. But I also wanted to make sure that I was doing everything in my power to keep this new home SAFE for me and my children.

So I caved into the many “new neighbor” flyers and advertisements that were sent to me and a bought a home security system. This does not come without a cost. Installation and set up was expensive. The monthly service fee is expensive for me since my resources are now so strained. But for me, the cost is worth the added piece of mind.

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So far the system has worked quite well.  It not only helps me to feel secure, but the kids as well.   When they used to get “scared” at night from the “kitty cats” and the “alligators”, I was able to show them how I lock the doors and set the security alarm.   They watched me intently.  And then we would go back to their rooms and talk about being scared and how they were in fact very safe in this house.   Talking to them helped to make it easier.

Another benefit is the “chime” whenever the front door or back door is opened, even when the alarm is not activated.  This helps me to control my kids.   I know precisely if one of these little explorers is leaving the house.   Very handy indeed.

Regardless of this, I do feel very safe in the neighborhood and I often keep my car unlocked.  And even my doors unlocked during the day.  Today was no different…

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I was looking for my wallet (yes, I am forgetful and misplace things easily) and decided to look in my messy minivan.   I started to gather lots of things that needed to be taken out so that I could clean it up a bit (yes, I am messy and the minivan looks like a disaster).   I didn’t realize it but I hit the emergency button on the alarm key fob.   I thought I heard something, but wasn’t sure since I was in the car.    When I got out I realized it was the home alarm and quickly entered my password.  I did not receive a call-back so I thought I was within the normal amount of time that would not trigger a call to the police.  I was wrong.

After cleaning out the car I decided to take a shower since I felt grimy.    It is not often that I am able to enjoy a shower – particularly with four young kids.   So when I get the “alone” time, I relish in the long, hot showers that are uninterrupted.    That is when I heard a loud, deep, male voice.    And almost shit myself while I was in my own shower.   I turned off the water, in shock.   I screamed – who is this?  Who is there??!??!??!?!??!?!??!?!?!??!?!      Wondering what I had to arm myself – which was not much.   Maybe some tweezers or a toe-nail clipper.   Or some high-heeled shoes.    Again, the loud, deep voice.

“SHERIFF!!   ARE YOU OK???!!!?”

I jumped out of the shower and threw on my robe as fast as I could and there were these two huge guys in uniform and guns in my bedroom asking me if I live here (yes) and if I’m OK (yes) and if I was an intruder who decided to take a shower in the owner’s house (ha, not funny assholes, I almost shit myself in my shower just now).   Sure I fantasize about a husky man waiting for me on the other side of my shower, but two guys is a bit much, and certainly two guys from the police department under these circumstances was NOT what I had in mind.

So as these guys left my house, I was still saying to myself “oh shit, oh shit” and thankful for this security system.   And yes, there were neighbors on the street who were outside wondering if anything indeed was wrong at the single-mother of four kids’ house on their block.   I am thankful for their concern.

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So, now that the security system has been successfully “tested”, I can rest easier tonight and in the future.   And I think I’ll talk to the kids about it too, if I can figure out a way to do so that does not tempt them to “call” the police officers over to our house again on their own.

Hope you are having a great weekend everyone –

– Mama K

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Random Thoughts: Helping a child feel at home in a different house


I am going to draw on my brother for inspiration for this post.  As my own family has been coming apart at its seams, his family is coming together.  He will soon be welcoming his son and the mother of this child into is home. I won’t go into details, but this reunion has been in the works for quite some time.  So long, that many, probably himself included, thought that this day would not happen.  But it is.   Their Visas are in-hand, and they will be traveling this upcoming weekend to join him in his home, for the very first time, and hopefully for good.

So of course my brother is now freaking out.  He is used to living on his own.  But now there will be a woman there as well, and a 4-year old son.   Imagine this situation from this child’s perspective.  Leaving a country that he has known all of his life, and coming to a new environment and having a new home thrust upon him.

My children actually experienced something similar to this, albeit much less severe.   But there were things I did to help them through the change.  Help them accept a new place as a new home.  Things to make them feel like they had their own space.  And some sense of control in a situation where they actually had no control.

So of course, when I heard this news, I started spewing out all of these ideas for my brother to think about.   Just ideas.  Thinking from his son’s perspective.  And helping my brother through his “deer in the headlights” look.

And these types of suggestions can actually relate to so many of our own audience… think about moving to a new house.  Or the arrival of a new sibling.   Or a new routine as a mother goes back to work.   Change can be scary for a child.  And there are things that we do as mothers to help children manage through these feelings of change and help them gain their sense of space and some control in their little lives.

Here are some of my suggestions to my brother, based upon my recent experiences with my own kids.  I’m sure that you can think of other ideas as well:

  • Have one of the lower kitchen pull-out drawers cleared out, so he can put his cups, plates, bowls, utensils in there and organized in a way that he likes.

  • Develop a “small” / “manageable” shopping list, and go to a place like Target to have him pick out: toothbrush holder, toothbrush and paste, bedsheets, bathtowel, bathmat
  • Have a set of bookshelves/stackable bins/ baskets set up for him to organize and put his “stuff” (e.g., cars, Legos, play animals, etc.)

  • Have a plastic container or backpack or something for his art supplies – crayons, markers, some notebooks, paper, stencils, etc.
  • Have him decorate his room with wall stickers

  • Get a fun night-light in a character that he loves (e.g., Cars, etc.)
  • Have a step stool ready that way he can easily reach lights, the toilet, etc.

  • Have supplies ready for a jacket hook and shoe bin for the closet.  Ask him where he would like to put the hook (left side? right side?  how high?)

And some of the things my brother can do in advance – get the gear ahead of time, and then have his son place the things in the home — things like step stools, plates, cups, etc.   Things where the “choice” is not in the look of the item, but really the placement of the item.   And again, I’m a big fan of Amazon.com so a lot of these things could be purchased in advance and simply delivered to his doorstep.  His son could open up the packages and have fun organizing his new things around the home.

There are probably lots more to add.  I think the key here is to give him as much control and choice as is possible; and also show him that he has his own dedicated space in the new home.   That they are working together with him to help him set up his space, to the extent that he lets them.  They are together in this, he is not alone, he has his things, and he has choices.

What are some other ideas that you can think of to help this child in his transition to his new home????  Please share…

Thanks for listening –

– Mama K

Staying Sane: How well do you meet your “Hierarchy of Needs”?


I had a post already written to send out this evening, but something inside me felt that I needed to talk about the “Hierarchy of Needs” that was developed by Abraham Maslow.   I’m feeling particularly out of balance this evening – after having a VERY hard weekend where I was probably doing a bit too much self reflection.

First, let’s refresh ourselves on the hierarchy of needs:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Source: Nursing Crib

“A need is something that is essential to the emotional and psychological health and survival of humans. All people strive to meet basic needs at any given time and individual’s need may be met, partially met, or unmet. A person whose needs may be considered to be healthy and a person with one or more unmet needs is at increased risk of illness or health alterations in one or more of the human dimensions.

Maslow’s framework of basic needs is based on the theory that something is a basic need if:  its absence results in illness, its presence prevents or signals health, meeting an unmet need restores health.”

Source: Nursing Crib

Let’s talk about each level and the potential implications to working mothers.

I.    PHYSIOLOGICAL NEEDS

These needs are physical and essentially without them the continuation of human existence ceases.   Physiological needs such as food, water, oxygen, sleep, and bodily functions must be met for life to continue.

Implications to Working Mothers:

I know from personal experience that sleep becomes a challenge.  Hours get stretched so you may not have a choice but to cut into your sleeping hours to keep all the balls in the air.   Some working mothers are NEW moms – returning from maternity leave.   In many cases, these women are still being woken up by their babies in the middle of the night.  However, this likely gets better over time.

Sex is an interesting topic.   And one that is so written about that I probably don’t need to spend much time on this.   An exhausted mommy who is also working simply is exhausted.   And yes, this impacts sex with their partners.  Full stop.  Enough said.

II.   SAFETY NEEDS

Safety is both physiological and psychological.  How safe is your physical environment?   How safe do you feel psychologically?   Do you have people you can rely upon?  People that you trust?   People that you feel close to?

 Implications to Working Mothers:

I think that this is an area that can become very problematic for working mothers.   You may not be on your “A” game at work (which may be very new to them) and may feel that your job is less secure than it was in the past.    Being responsible for not only yourself but also for the new little beings that you’ve helped to enter into the world can also be a VERY powerful feeling and weight on your shoulders.   You may also be faced with the struggle over working for money to keep the family safe — and may feel like you are working now because you HAVE to for the economic interests of the family — even if this is not what you would choose to do if you had unlimited resources.

III.    LOVE & BELONGING NEEDS

The security gained from love and belonging enhances the feeling of safety. Our feeling of structure and security is reinforced when we know where we stand in relation to others, and who we are to them. We all need mutually meaningful relationships with other people.

 Implications to Working Mothers:

This could be another area in flux with working mothers.   The time that you devoted to cultivating friendships may become less frequent.   Some working mothers have the benefit of family close-by that they can rely on, but I know A LOT of families (like ourselves for instance) where extended family is far, far away — if this is you, you may feel like you are cheating yourself, your children, and your extended family the experiences of growing with your growing family.   Extended periods of time between visits can be painful.   The extra effort required may feel too un-natural.

And then there’s the topic of sex again.   Yes, the relationship you had with your husband will forever be different with the entrance of children.   However I think this is an evolution.   In the near term things are very strained but I think eventually couples can begin to accept their new relationships with each other — change, and evolve with it.    At least I hope this is the case.

IV.     SELF – ESTEEM NEEDS

This boils down to the feeling that you are valued by others.  People who are important to you tell you that you are important and valued.   However this feeling comes from within… “it is related to the assessments of our own adequacy, our performance and our capacity in the various arenas of lives, both personal and professional and that others hold one in high regard.”  Source: Nursing Crib

 Implications to Working Mothers:

This is an area where working mothers may have the “leg-up” on other women.   But I do think that it takes time to get there.   The smile on your child’s face, the squeal of your baby when he/she sees you and so on you can probably feel immediately.   But when re-entering the workforce (after maternity leave, after being a SAHM) you may not feel like you are on your “A” game, or may feel like you have two left feet.   It may take time to honestly FEEL that approval and support from your co-workers and superiors.   But when you get it, you feel on top of the world.   Yes, the feeling like you can have it all — the children, the family, and a feeling of purpose at work where you are doing well — leads to feeling of euphoria.   You become un-stoppable.

I have found in personal experience that these feelings do come, but they often do not stay.   It’s more of a roller-coaster for me, I have my up days, and also my down days when I feel like I can’t do anything right.    But I do think that this is an area where the Working Mother can derive a tremendous amount of fulfillment.

V.  SELF – ACTUALIZATION NEEDS

I’m finding it difficult to write about this one because it is still evasive to me.    Sometimes I feel like I lost the “me” to everyone else.   And I desperately want to find the “me” again – although I know deep in my heart that woman I was before marriage and kids is far, far away – I see glimpses of her every now and then, but they are fleeting.

“The need to reach one’s potential through development of one’s unique capabilities.  The process of self – actualization is on that continues throughout life. The following are qualities that indicate achievement of one’s potential:

• Acceptance of self and others as they are

• Focus of interest on problems outside of self

• Ability to be objective

• Feelings of happiness and affection for others

• Respect for all persons

• Ability to discriminate between good and evil

• Creativity as a guideline for solving problems and carrying out interests”

 Implications to Working Mothers:

I think you need to have the time to focus on self-caring of yourself for this need to be met.    And for working mothers this is difficult.   Again, time is a valuable resource that seems to be stretched in all directions except for yourself.   It is encouraging to at least know that this need is viewed as one that continues over time – gets cultivated, changes, is in motion.    So, maybe recognize that you will be able to get there once the dust settles.   Or try to devote pieces of your week for self-reflection and objectivity.

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So why did I feel the need to post on this subject?   I feel like many of the above needs are in flux for working mothers.   But I do hope that it gets easier over time.   It also helps to explain the feelings of inadequacy, fear, and tension that you may be feeling when trying to juggle the needs of your children, the needs of your work, the needs of your partner, and the needs of yourself.
So tips for staying sane?   Maybe the first part is just recognizing that these needs are normal and apply to everyone.   They are fundamental to happiness and health.    So if you feel out of balance, extremely unhappy, or just feeling lost — try to isolate the basic need that may be unmet or partially met, and then try to take control and take action to make that situation better for yourself.    This is easier said than done, I know.
In my case, I have seriously unmet needs in terms of safety as well as love and belonging.   I also think this is true with self-actualization, but I do not expect those needs to be met at this particular point in my life.   I’ve recognized these imbalances and am trying to drive change but it has been a LONG process that has NOT been easy — and I still have a LONG way to go; but enough about me.
Hopefully this post will resonate with someone and help in some small way.   YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for listening –
– Mama K

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