Have Fun All Summer With BJ’s Wholesale Club + A Giveaway!

This past weekend, we went to BJ’s Wholesale Club for a big shopping haul. As part of my “contain the grocery budget by any means possible” strategy, I go to wholesale clubs to stock up on certain staples like protein, pasta, frozen food and snacks. As I stated before, BJ’s surprised me with its organic selection and I was excited to fill up our cart with some delicious organic food.  IMG_2120(1)

Since it’s summer, I decided to surprise the kids with one special, non-food purchase. My kids have talked about getting a slip ‘n’ slide for the past two summers, but I kept forgetting to get it! This time, I made their whole day by finally getting one (which we’ll use as soon as it stops raining — sometime in July at this rate!).

BJ’s had a great selection of summer toys — squirt guns, lawn sprinklers, pool gear and more — that had my kids begging me to get all the way to check out. (Did they not see that I got them the slip ‘n’ slide? Ugh, so spoiled! LOL)

Summer fun at BJ's Wholesale

BJ’s carries a range of value packs on sun care products from Neutrogena, Coppertone, and Banana Boat, so you can just buy it once for the summer and be done with it. My biggest problem is I never apply enough sunscreen, so it takes forever to go through a bottle. But as I’m working on being more diligent about sun safety (someone hold me accountable!), savings like this add up and help keep my family covered during these warm summer months.

IMG_2119

BJ’s was generous enough to provide me with a $50 giftcard to give away to one lucky winner (you can also get a FREE 60-Day Membership if you are not already a member). Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below before July 7 to get your entry in!

Disclosure: I partnered with BJ’s Wholesale Club for this review and as always, my opinions are 100% my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

UMIGO.com Is A Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved Website For Your Little Math Lovers


Over the past year, my 6-year-old son has really blossomed in math. I was talking on the phone to my husband about a delivery with my son present. “It’s going to be an additional $50 with a $59 delivery charge,” I told him.

“They’re charging you $109 dollars?!” my son Thomas asked, his eyes wide.

My husband and I looked at each other. When did he learn to do math like that in his head?

We want to make sure his math skills don’t deteriorate this summer, and while completing worksheets and flash cards used to be my go-to tools for helping the kids with their math, now there’s UMIGO.

Group Shot Colorful

UMIGO.com (pronounced “you-me-go,” short for “You Make It Go”) is a FREE vibrant world of adventure that uses the building blocks of math to engage early elementary age kids in short, narrative-driven “appisodes.”

We played the “Who Woke The Mummy?” appisode (well, Thomas played it by himself while I watched) and I watched as Thomas helped the three explorers use their geometry knowledge to escape from the newly awakened mummy.

“I like it better than doing worksheets,” Thomas told me. “And I like the characters too.”

UMIGO is free to use thanks to a US Department of Education Ready to Learn grant. Its content aligns with Common Core Standards for mathematics for first and second grades and as a rising second-grader, my son was easily able to keep up and advance to higher levels.

But in case you’re worried about your kid having too much screen time (I hear that!) UMIGO also offers some at-home activities that correlate with each of the appisodes, so you can take the lessons offline if you choose.

On June 19, National Summer Learning Day, UMIGO kicked off the Summer of UMIGO in an effort to help combat the “summer slide.” In partnership with the National Summer Learning Association, UMIGO will bring its narrative-based appisodes, interactive games, activities, and educational resources to more than 70 communities around the country. You can find a location close to you by looking on the NSLA’s interactive map at SummerLearningDayMap.org.

I’m happy to find out about this new site and look forward to integrating it into our Mommy Camp lessons this summer. No summer slide over here!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of The Mission List and all opinions of course are my own. :)

Four Reasons Pixar’s “Inside Out” Hit Me Right In The Feels #SummerWatchathon

 

Four Reasons Pixar's Inside Out Hit Me Right In The Feels #SummerWatchathon

Out of my top 10 movies of all time, any genre or any time period, three of them are animated movies. Currently “The Princess & The Frog” (for fulfilling my childhood dream of having a Disney princess who looked like me and then ALSO giving me a Disney princess who had my work ethic), “The Lion King,” and “The Incredibles” all are on the top of my list.

I never miss a Disney/Pixar movie and so I was as excited as my kids to go see “Inside Out” when it hit theaters. (Fun fact: I went to go see “Toy Story 3″ by myself because the kids didn’t want to go. Hmph.)

I think it goes without saying that I cried before (thanks to the short film, “Lava”), during and after the movie. “Inside Out,” a movie about an 11-year-old girl’s emotional struggles over her family’s recent cross-country move, got me right in the feels. Here’s four things that made me bow to the powers that be at Pixar:

#1 There’s no villain and that somehow made the movie….better.

I kept waiting for some character named Puberty to jump in the fray and just cause the plot to go haywire. But a villain never appeared. I think it’s a credit to Pixar that Anger wasn’t a “bad” emotion. He was there to serve a purpose just like the others. “Inside Out” is on par with Wall-E and Up, movies that wouldn’t seem to work (a trash robot? an old man floats his house away?) but are so emotionally rich that you’re changed by the time the credits roll. I’m willing to bet that the original version of “Inside Out” DID have a villain, but the writers smartly recognized that they didn’t need one.

#2 Everything you thought you forgot about childhood comes back in focus.

The imaginary friends, the panic of the first day of school, excelling at something you love for the first time—”Inside Out” had me in tears remembering moments from my past that I had long forgotten. I think it hit my daughter, who  is only a few years younger than the main character, in the same way. As I wrote on Facebook, it was the first time she cried at a movie and I wasn’t surprised that this is the one that sparked those tears.

#3 The animation was so rich.

As a whole, this movie is based on an abstract idea. How do you make audiences feel like they’re inside someone’s brain? The animators at Pixar managed to create a world that was simultaneously new and inspiring but comfortable and realistic. “Headquarters,” where a good chunk of the movie takes place, seems like a perfect fit.

#4 It’s a great springboard for teaching kids emotional literacy.

I’ve noticed that ever since we left the theater, I’ve been able to call upon the characters of “Inside Out” when my children are having difficulty with their emotions. When my son was pissed at his sister, I said, “So you feel like Anger right now, don’t you?” And he knew what I was talking about and we were able to talk about what comes next.

 If you saw it and loved it too, do share with me in the comments what you loved most:

Acorn Disclosure

[Travel] Visiting Cedar Point’s Newly Renovated Hotel Breakers #BloggingAtCP

Exploring Cedar Point's Hotel Breakers resort

For as many years that I have been journeying to Cedar Point with my family, I have never stayed overnight. We usually drive up in the morning, spend a fun day at the amusement park, and then make the 90-minute drive home.

We would have a great time, of course, but I never considered making it a point to stay at one of Cedar Point’s hotels until I was invited to a #BloggingAtCP event to celebrate the re-opening of Cedar Point’s Hotel Breakers. My family was invited to spend a free night at the newly renovated hotel, only steps from the amusement park. Unfortunately, my husband wasn’t able to make it, but my dad volunteered to come in his place (my daughter needed someone to ride the rollercoasters with her because her mother is a big ol’ scaredy cat).

When we arrived, it was storming and raining too hard for us to venture into the park just yet, so we took the opportunity to explore the hotel. It took us a minute to get our bearings because Hotel Breakers is huge. There are three restaurants right on the property: TGI Friday’s, Perkin’s and TOMO Hibachi Grill. We opted for Friday’s and quickly got a table.

Cedar Point's Hotel Breakers has three restaurants: TGIFriday's, Perkins and TOMO Hibachi GrillI do have to note that Friday’s was more expensive than I was anticipating, but they were very accommodating with my daughter’s food allergies, so I didn’t mind as much. As soon as we finished, the sun was out, so we headed right to the park.

The pathway to the Cedar Point beach and boardwalk

The boardwalk takes you right into the (less crowded) entry to the park and boom, you’re in one of the three kids’ areas.The Jefferson kids at Planet Snoopy, one of three designated kids areas at Cedar Point

A few thoughts on Hotel Breakers:

  • It might be home to one of the nicest beaches on the Lake Erie shore. I’m from Northeast Ohio, so I’ve been to Lake Erie beaches my whole life. I don’t know if my perception of cleanliness has changed from when I was a child or if the condition of the beaches have gotten worse, but I don’t enjoy it as much as I used to. There’s always rocks and random debris all around and the lake is too murky to trust you won’t run into some walleye. But at the Hotel Breakers, the beach was clean, there were beach chairs available for use and they had some of the newer amenities that you like to see at a beach (foot washing stations, fire pits, etc.). We might have stayed on the beach longer than we were at the park!
  • You won’t go hungry. As a self-proclaimed “Greedy Girl,” I absolutely loved that you couldn’t walk more than 30 feet without hitting some place to eat or grab a drink. Besides the aforementioned restaurants, they had a full service Starbucks, a Surf Lounge bar, and a Pool Side Parlor for ice cream and treats. I was in heaven!
  • The renovation was top-notch. I wasn’t expecting to be impressed because I had never been to Hotel Breakers so I couldn’t do an accurate comparison of the renovations, but the place looked like it should have smelled like fresh paint. Our room was clean, modern and had more than enough space for the four of us.

Bonuses with a Hotel Breakers stay include early entry to the park (get on the rollercoasters before the general public, which I think means the hotel stay pays for itself), discounted tickets and convenience of having some place to sleep only steps from the park. Plus, you have in and out privileges at the resort so you can see other sights in the area if you so choose.

It was our first time at Hotel Breakers, but it won’t be the last!

To learn more about Hotel Breakers, visit its website here.

18 Messages Of Love And Support For Pregnant Teens

 

17(1)

This post is dedicated to all the pregnant teens who are moving forward in their pregnancy, and a little nervous about the shape their lives are about to take. Let these encouraging messages from TheYoungMommyLife community (mostly from women who are teen mothers themselves) remind them that there is still a lot of life ahead of them. The best is yet to come. :)

Look toward the future

“A baby is not a death sentence to your future. You can still pursue your dreams, but it may take longer and be harder. Early pregnancy is not an excuse to give up, but a motivation to push forward.” 

“You can do it and when you don’t think that you can, you can look to us as examples. Just have to get your priorities in order and take things a day at a time.”

Get a great support system

“Find support and use it wherever it comes from. Parents, family, teachers, mentors or elsewhere. It is scary. Motherhood is always scary. But know you will get through it. Many of us have walked the same road. You are not alone and your situation is not impossible. Pray for patience and a nurturing spirit. Know that you have to take care of yourself in order to care for the baby. That means, be physically healthy starting now and continue after baby. You are his/her first example. Find spiritual health in whatever faith background you have. Educate yourself. There are so many options to assure you graduate from high school and even go to college. Ask your teachers and guidance counselors at school. Remember that your decisions have to be made based on the child’s best interest, not your personal ego or desires. So make sure you develop loving relationships and is in a environment that you can flourish even if you make have to make some sacrifices or it’s not the popular decision.”

I’m praying for you, honey. This is not the end. It is just a detour. You *can* do this, and there are people who will help you. God bless you and your baby!

“You’re not alone and with help you can do this. This is not the end.”

You are not alone

“I was 15 when I had my first child graduated from high school and then went on to college. My best advice is to have a plan for you and your little one and surround yourself with people who love you and can relate to your life. Join teen parent groups and seek out a mentor. This is NOT easy, but you and I aren’t the first or the last young ladies to do it and you know what…it’s not any easier when you’re 24 LOL. Keep a journal and write in it all the time. You’ll be just fine!”

“You are not alone and that there are many young ladies out there who were once in that position and have managed to rise above and beyond their circumstances. I am one of those women. My daughter is now 23 and I couldn’t be more proud of my accomplishments.”

You are more than capable

Being pregnant at young age is scary and a lot to deal with. Nope I refuse to believe it will be harder for me. Continue to go to school; that’s the only thing that’s really gonna help you in the future. The better education, the more money you’ll have. You have to really be focus on your grind nonstop. Forget what other people have to say about you, things happen. No one is perfect. No need to live in the past because you can’t change it so just really focus on making a better future for you and your child because that’s all that matters. Just don’t give up and be a role model to your child. And if anyone tells you you can’t do it, take that as motivation and prove them all wrong.”

It’s okay. You will realize you have a strength you didn’t even know existed. And when that bundle of joy arrives you will know and see it was all worth it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and take it when offered. You’re stronger and smarter than you may realize and you will get through it. Plus we’re all here for you.”

“Just stay strong. It’s gonna be hard but it can only get better. Just don’t give up. It’s a lot of people out there that say when you have a child at a young age you have ruined your life but that’s not true. You can still focus on your dreams, only this time you will have to work a little harder for them now, because you have a child that you have to take care of. It’s a lot of people that have told me I wouldn’t be where I am today because of my son. Just don’t listen to them; do what’s best for you and your child. That’s what’s kept me motivated. Keep moving forward.”

Pray and hold on during the tough times.”

Nothing to fear, but ‘fear’ itself. This is a test you can ace. Everything you need is inside you. Ask for help when you need it, trust yourself. You got this. Piece of cake.”

“Trust yourself…and its okay to not have all the answers.”

Don’t forget to focus on yourself too

“Be mindful of your mental health. When you graduate, you will be part of a badass club of teen mom high school graduates.”

No matter what you choose to do, you should embrace where you are in life right now. You are giving life which is beautiful and something not everyone can do. It is okay to feel, so allow yourself to in healthy ways.” 

Eff everybody else, get on your grind, and do you, boo. If they wasn’t shooting with you in the gym, then they cant judge your game. Don’t let the people who haven’t read your life story tell you what’s on the next page.”

Pray. Stay encouraged. Be around positive and uplifting people. Know that all things are possible.

retreat button

She Inspires | Amanda Rodriquez, Creator of DudeMom.com

She Inspires - Amanda Rodriguez, creator of DudeMom.com

I had the recent privilege of joining an amazing group of bloggers (seriously, I’ve stalked followed their sites for years) in L.A. for a fun event. I met Amanda Rodriquez, creator of DudeMom.com, after becoming a fan a few years ago. She was kind and funny and I was envious of her shoe game the whole trip. I had to feature her on the site because I need you to get to know her too if you don’t already follow her (and you totally should).

Amanda Rodriguez, creator of DudeMom.com

How many kids?:

Three boys, ages 13, 10, 7

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child I felt:

SCARED. I did NOT want to tell my parents. I was living on my own and graduated college, but still the whole “Mom, Dad, I’m pregnant” talk was freaking me out. I wasn’t married and I was just so afraid they’d be disappointed. They weren’t and they SO love my boys. I call my mom when she has them and she pretends she no habla ingles because she doesn’t want me to come get them.

I blog at DudeMom.com because:

I am not a dude (so many people think I am a guy who is also a mom). I am the only woman (aside from the dog who totally counts) in a house filled with boys. I have three sons who I have affectionately called The Dudes for years. Even the community we live in calls them that now.

Whenever I have a moment of free time I look forward to:

Stalking my exes on Facebook? No, kidding. I did that like one time. I have very little free time. I run two businesses and manage the Dudes so, like many other moms, free time means I am actually doing something I need to do instead of something I want to do. One of the only things I make time for is my workouts. I do Bang and Zumba and I love it.

On really tough days I cope by:

Eating chocolate in my bathroom. It solves likes 98% of my problems or calms the worry wart part of my brain enough that I don’t care.

If my kids can only remember one thing I taught them, I hope it’s:

Be kind. Love your brother. And when you get rich remember your mama made you.

Amanda Rodriguez, creator of DudeMom.com with her three "Dudes"

My mommy superpower is:

Mind reading. Although I think it’s the whole being a woman thing, I can smell a lying dude from across the room. Also, my kids are convinced I have spies at their schools who tell them every single thing they do. No, sir, you’re just not THAT original and figuring you out is not even hard.

The most surprising thing about motherhood is:

How few regrets I have. I didn’t start my mothering journey the way I wanted and I make mistakes many times literally everyday with my kids. So much of it is hard and I spend a lot of time doubting myself and rethinking my choices and flying by the seat of my pants. And, every now and then I think oh, maybe I should’ve done this or that differently, but over all there are few things I would change about this life of ours. Small note: watermelon in a Ziploc bag for lunch is rarely a good idea, and by rarely I mean never. Sticky backpack, ruined homework, ants. Just set the backpack on fire and kiss it goodbye.

My piece of advice to a mother who might be struggling right now is:

Cry. Lock yourself in the bathroom and scream. And then ask for help. You don’t have to put on a brave face and pretend that you’re doing it all and loving it. That is the reality for so few of us and we have all been somewhere struggling at some point. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong and smart and people who judge you for doing so are just mad because they didn’t think of it. Or mean. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

SHE INSPIRES - Amanda Rodriguez' advice for stressed mothers

I know for sure I’m passionate about:

Beyond my kids? Equal educational opportunities and youth sports safety.

If I could have/invent one item to make motherhood easier it would be:

A time machine. Then I could zip to the future and see if my joining a dance off in front of the movie theater a couple weeks ago was as detrimental and life altering as my 7th grader makes it seem. Not that I would care—it was “Thriller,” y’all. I’m never passing that up.

My personal motto is:

Choose joy.

retreat button

#StateFarmGroove Giveaway: Win Tickets To 2015 Essence Music Festival OR Visa Gift Card!

 state farm grad

When I decided to go get my master’s degree in 2010, most people probably thought I was crazy. I had two small children (ages 4 and 2), a full-time job with a two-hour daily commute and a husband who, while supportive, had a very demanding job of his own.

But I went ahead and applied to my alma mater for its graduate program in Family Studies. In a nutshell, I would be studying how to help families grow stronger, together. (Seems like a fit for what I do here, right?)

What originally was a two-year program stretched into three. My life became a blur of working all day and then kissing my children goodbye as I raced to campus to study and learn all evening. I was grateful to be learning so much, but I was exhausted, mentally and physically. I wanted to quit so many days!

But I didn’t give up. I didn’t quit.

And on May 10, 2013, I got my master’s degree, and am now a two-time graduate of Kent State University. There is nothing like that feeling of accomplishment! My favorite photo from that day was this candid shot my sister took of my kids searching for my name in the commencement booklet:

kids at graduation

I’ve partnered with State Farm to help YOU celebrate your accomplishments. You can enter to win a VIP trip to the 2015 Essence Music Festival (THE music event of the year) and the entry could not be simpler: Instagram a photo or video of you dancing or celebrating a triumphant moment with the hashtag #StateFarmGroove and #ContestEntry, and then upload it here, using the “Connect to Enter” Instagram button!

One Lucky Winner Will Receive:

  • Round-trip coach airfare for winner and one (1) guest to New Orleans
  • Four (4) nights, five (5) days hotel accommodations in New Orleans
  • Two (2) tickets per night to the ESSENCE Festival® concerts in New Orleans
  • Two (2) VIP Experience tickets (tickets to various VIP events provided by the ESSENCE Festival®)
  • Transportation to and from the New Orleans, LA, airport
  • The winner will appear in an ESSENCE and State Farm® video on ESSENCE.com

I’m also giving away a $50 Visa gift card for you to spend any way you’d like. Follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As a member of The bLink Marketing Network, I received compensation for this sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of State Farm. The opinions and text are all mine.

What Happens When The Same Man Loves You For All Of Your Twenties

Our wedding day | What It's Like To Be Loved By The Same Man Through All Of Your Twenties

Wedding day bliss

I’ve been composing this post in my head for the past year now, ever since I realized that yup, I’ll be 30 soon and the guy that I sleep next to every night has been (and will be) here for every single day of my twenties.

The twenties is a hard decade. Most people tell you that, but most people who say it weren’t parenting every single day of their twenties either.

It’s a decade where you have to figure shit out. How you support yourself, how you nourish yourself, how you like to spend time, who you’d like to be. How many friends you need, what types of sights do you need to see, what type of living environment you can tolerate.

There is a lot going on.

In the span of one year (my 20th), I went from a broke, pregnant unwed college student to a newly married, newly graduated, newly hired mommy of one. Life was stressful and moving at warp speed.

TJ and I after our baby shower

TJ and I after our baby shower – I was 20, he was 25.

For me, this has been a decade of trying to quickly figure shit out because I had a kid and there was no time to waste. There’s diapers to change, breastfeeding to do, potty training to complete, preschool applications to fill out, homework to check. These kids are growing and did I really think I had time to grow alongside them?

Of course I did. And my husband, bless his heart, has been there for every meltdown, every “Sweet Jesus I have no idea what I’m doing,” every “please don’t touch me; little people have been touching me all day.”

I can’t imagine loving a woman through her entire twenties. Oh my God, no. If I had my pick, I’d marry a woman settled nicely into her 30s. Maybe 36, 37. Perfect time to settle down.

I know I have been a hot mess at times, because I’ve put more pressure on myself than anyone else ever could. I wanted to make it to 30 and be able to say, “There. I did it. I’m fully formed. I’m a grown woman. I have all the answers now.”

That’s not the way it works, of course. But I’m better than I was before. I’m stronger now. I’m wiser now. I’m a better mother. I have more hustle. I’m more romantic. I’m much more appreciative. I’m more patient. Kinder.

And my husband stuck with me through the growing pains. He let me have my moments where I was afraid of what was coming next and he assured me that things would be okay. He let me know I didn’t have to shield the uncertain, insecure parts of myself. I could be vulnerable with him and it was okay.

I’ve been in love with him since I was 18 years old and 11 years later, I’m thankful that I’m growing into womanhood with him by my side.

I love you, honey, and thank you for everything you’ve taught me over these past eight years as your wife. Happy anniversary.

How Can I Help You Soar Higher In 2015? Plus, A Giveaway!

ay 2015 marked SEVEN years of blogging at TheYoungMommyLife.com. SEVEN! Can you believe it? (For fun, take a look at the very first YML post. I’ve grown a lot as a blogger since then, huh?)

It is because of this community, because of women like YOU, that I have had the courage to do things to move my life forward. I’ve gone to graduate school (and graduated!), I’ve written books and I’ve hosted events (do you have your ticket to the self-care retreat yet?).

At the beginning of the year, I promised myself that THIS would be the year I put all my knowledge, talents and passions to use to elevate the young moms in my circle (every single one of you).

I branded my new biz, The Renaissance Suite, officially launching this fall, which is dedicated to helping you shine and step out of the shadows.

First up, I need to hear from YOU.

This quick survey (it’s only three questions) will help me focus my efforts on getting you what you need. Answer it here and one lucky respondent will win a $25 gift card!

retreat button

Three Truths Stepmoms Wish You Knew

Three Things Stepmoms Wish You Knew

by Katie Parsons

I’ve been a stepparent to two gorgeous kids for just over four years and it’s a pretty sweet gig overall. I get to be part of these wonderful kids’ lives and I didn’t even have to suffer months of pregnancy morning sickness or newborn up-all-nights for it to happen. Their mother and I have a good relationship built on the foundation that if the kids see us happy, they will be happy too.

Many times other moms ask me about the difficulty involved in having “another woman” who I have to deal with. In truth, the hardest parts of stepparenting have nothing to do with the kids or their mother; the most hurtful things I’ve heard came from flippant friends, family members and strangers that don’t understand the complexities of a combined family and more specifically, my role in it.

Some of the things I wish people understood about being a stepmom include:

We miss them too

Sometimes when I explain our custody schedule to friends or family I hear this: “Oh, that must be so hard for her. I would miss my kids so much.”

Here’s the thing though: I miss my stepkids too when they aren’t with us. Yet I doubt anyone will ever think to ask me how I’m doing on a day when they are gone, or how I’m “holding up” when they go on a vacation with their mom. Some Friday afternoons when they pull out of my driveway for the weekend I choke up because it’s so hard to see them go. I don’t need a pity party, of course, but implying that missing the kids is an act reserved just for the other mother is offensive and hurtful. We aren’t always happy to see them go – and sometimes the very opposite is true.

The pressure is real

Even the best birth-mom/stepmom relationships come with an inherent looking-over-the-shoulder setup. When you make a mistake, she knows it. If it isn’t obvious, one of the kids will tell her. Every. Time. Imagine if your parenting was being judged at every turn – every decision, every action, every mistake.

The first year of our marriage my stepson contracted pneumonia after an unusual Florida cold spell during the few days he was with us (the guilt!). This past summer I sent them back to their mom after a long vacation and received a text a few hours later from her informing me that they had lice (turns out we all did). Dirty fingernails, tangled hair, expensive stained clothing, missing prized toys, skinned knees – when you’re a stepmom there is always someone there to witness the bulk of your mistakes.

You end up apologizing for not having time to trim the fingernails, or not brushing hair thoroughly enough, or not forcing your stepson to wear a hat, or feeding your stepdaughter blackberries, or not cleaning under the bed that week to find the most interesting toy in the world, or for allowing the kids to all share pillows and hairbrushes on the two-week summer vacation. You have higher accountability. You have to do more to prove that you care. If you’re lucky like me, the kids’ mom assures you that these mistakes happen to every parent. It’s still a pretty big weight to carry and stepparents try really, really hard just to get half the credit real parents get for the same results.

We make life better, not worse, for our kids

The addition of a stepparent can be a difficult transition for kids but with some work, it can lead to some pretty great things. Because of me, my kids have an extra committed adult who is there for the good and bad days. Because of me, my kids have a 33% higher chance that a parent can go on a class field trip, or drop off a forgotten lunch at school, or take them to grab ice cream for a good report card. Because of me, my kids see their dad in a happy, healthy relationship that brings out the best in his parenting, too. I’m not an obstacle in their lives that they need to overcome. They are lucky to have me, just as they are blessed with two dedicated biological parents.

So the next time you see a stepmom, ask her how her kids are doing – all of them. Chances are it will make her day.

Katie Parsons is the creator of Mumbling Mommy, a blog with contributions from parents all over the country. She can also be read on the HypeOrlando blog network, GalTime, ChamberofCommerce.com, and other national sites.