Savoring the small moments

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As parents, at the end of a long day we want nothing more than for our kids to just go to sleep easily. We may sometimes hit a breaking point and it isn’t pretty. Well, last night thankfully wasn’t one of those times. But I was definitely ready for my daughter to go to bed. My son has been waking really early for a couple weeks and I’m just not a morning person. I had let my daughter stay up later than her brother and she and I were watching a show on my iPad together before her bedtime. Continue reading “Savoring the small moments”

The natural order of things

My dad tells me I am the youngest child of the youngest child of the youngest child of the youngest child. So that makes my little boy the fifth youngest child of the youngest child (I’m sure there’s a more proper way to say that). Being the baby of four kids, I definitely took my fair share of being picked on. So I guess I resonate with my youngest when I see him snubbed by his sister or bossed around.

And of course there are those fun picture opps that she can’t resist the urge to ruin while he flashes a cute, unknowing smile.

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30 Ways to Stop Spoiling Your Kids

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Today’s post is a re-post from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. I have always been conflicted on the subject of giving kids an allowance. When I did chores as a kid, I did them because it was expected of me. Not because I was going to get paid for them. But then the author has a point, too, when kids start wanting to buy new things, it is a good way to earn some money. Maybe it would work to have them be paid for other chores that are not their normal ones. What are your thoughts on allowances? Continue reading “30 Ways to Stop Spoiling Your Kids”

The dreaded task of making a phone call with children present

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For the life of me, I’ll never understand why it is so difficult to make a phone call with children around.

All of us mothers have been there. That dreaded moment when you have to actually dial a number and talk to a human or deal with an automated voice prompt. I will go to any extreme to avoid making a phone call to a service provider. Can I do it online? Let me try that first. But sometimes they make you jump through hoops to set an account up, so it isn’t worth it. I don’t want to get emails from them and then there is that whole pick a user ID and password and try and remember it that I don’t want to deal with. Because I have so many stored in my brain as it is. Continue reading “The dreaded task of making a phone call with children present”

Clingy kiddos

I love to joke that my daughter was clingy from the time she was in my belly. She had to have an eviction notice and came out 12 days late after a 3-day labor. She didn’t want to separate from her mama then, and to this day, she is by my side a lot of the time. Little girl definitely branched out a bit and spread her wings when her baby brother was born. She went to school and became actually quite extroverted. I knew that the secure attachment we formed over time was going to propel her into feeling safe with others soon enough. I also know some children are just the types who want to remain by their mother’s side for longer periods and some may be more introverted by nature. My daughter is definitely extroverted, and now on playdates, she is the one who comes to check in once in a blue moon. She has definitely come into her own.

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Our Fall “girl date”

As a follow-up to my post on ‘being all in’ with my daughter, I wanted to share our recent “girl date” as we like to call it to the beautiful Irvine Park Railroad and Zoo. As luck would have it, the weather was gorgeous and Fall-like, which is unheard of lately in Southern California. We set off around 10am and had about five hours to explore the scenic grounds, eat lunch, see the animals at the zoo, visit the pumpkin patch, have some snow cones, and take a train ride. I know she needed to have her mama all to herself, and I needed the connection time with her too. She recently transitioned to elementary school and it’s hard to be away from each other for longer periods during the day.

We started out just exploring the park and looking at the pretty Fall colors.

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My motherhood journey

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Five years ago, this beautiful little girl officially made me a mother. I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic lately that she could possibly be turning five already – and also in awe that I’ve successfully raised a child at home to being in school full-time.

As I’ve reflected on where the time has gone, I’ve also been thinking about what motherhood truly means to me. Becoming a mother is so much more than being responsible, nurturing and loving to someone else. It isn’t just about the child, I’ve realized. I have learned so much about myself in the parenting process. I feel like the deepest parts of my soul have been uncovered and light has shone on them for the first time. The joy and amazement I feel when my little ones say or do new things is so hard to even put into words. My heart swells bigger and sometimes I feel like it may burst. My pre-kid self used to think parents were a little too sappy – but now that I am a mother, I totally get it. Continue reading “My motherhood journey”

Be all in

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My daughter recently started elementary school and I expected her to love it – because she’s absolutely adored going to preschool the past two years. In fact, she begged at age 2 1/2 for me to put her in school. She’s a little social butterfly and thrives on learning and structure and routine. So I didn’t really think much of it that this Fall she would be attending regular, ‘all day’ school.

Let’s just say it hasn’t been the easiest transition in the world for her. Continue reading “Be all in”

A community divided

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I’ve noticed something about motherhood – the ‘hot button’ issues – they heat up quickly and seemingly divide what could be such a wonderful, “whole” community of women.  My first glimpses of this happened when my firstborn was just a baby. I was literally just trying to survive each day when all of a sudden I found myself wondering if I should be baby wearing, questioning vaccines, using alternative medicine, buying organic cotton clothes – you name it. I didn’t know any of this was a “thing” until I was right in the thick of it. When I was pregnant, I guess I focused only on what I needed to know about pregnancy and childbirth – which was so much already. I think I just figured my instincts would kick in once my daughter was born? Continue reading “A community divided”

Finding rest

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Rest.  What’s that, you say?  If you’re a mother of small children, chances are, you are exhausted and anything but rested.  My kids are on the go non-stop and keep me on my toes continuously.  And come to find out, my tiredness may not be from child-rearing alone.  There’s a chance it could be caused from post-natal depletion – meaning, it may be much more physical than you think.  Carrying a baby is hard work on the body and the effects can actually last for years.

When I came across this article detailing the physical and mental effects that can linger for up to a decade after giving birth, I almost felt a sense of relief.  I sent it to many of my mom friends saying, “Look – it’s not just mental, there’s a reason we feel this way!”

Dr. Oscar Serrallach, a family practitioner in rural Australia, describes postnatal depletion as “…the common phenomenon of fatigue and exhaustion combined with a feeling of ‘baby brain.’ Baby Brain is a term that encompasses the symptoms of poor concentration, poor memory, and emotional lability. Emotional lability is where one’s emotions change up and down much more easily than they would have in the past, e.g. ‘crying for no reason.’ There is often a feeling of isolation, vulnerability, and of not feeling ‘good enough.’ It is experienced by many mothers, and is an understandable and at times predictable outcome associated with the extremely demanding task of being a mother from the perspective of both childbearing and child raising.”

The article goes on to say:

  1. We live in a society of continual ongoing stress and we literally don’t know how to relax or switch off. This has profound effects on hormones, immune function, brain structure, and gut health.
  2. Woman are having babies later in life. In Australia the average age for a mother having her first baby is 30.9 years.
  3. Women tend to be in a depleted state going into motherhood with careers, demanding social schedules, and the chronic sleep deprivation as the norm in our society.
  4. As a society we tend not to allow mothers to fully recover after childbirth before getting pregnant again. It is not uncommon to see the phenomenon of a mother giving birth to two children from separate pregnancies in the same calendar year. Also with assisted reproduction we are seeing higher rates of twins which will obviously exacerbate any depletion.
  5. Sleep deprivation of having a newborn with some research suggesting that in the first year the average sleep debt is 700 hours! Reduced family and societal support is very common.
  6. Our food is becoming increasingly nutrient poor. We are in many cases having “2 mouthfuls of food for 1 mouthful of nutrition.”
There are more bullet-points in the full article, but for this post, I wanted to focus on the above-mentioned factors.  Many women I know don’t have help from family (either they don’t live local, or they just don’t help, sadly).  Add to it a sleep deficit of 700 hours in the first year of a newborn’s life and crazy work schedules plus the pressure to do it all.  No wonder so many mothers are experiencing burnout.

This, friends, is why self-care is an essential part of motherhood.  And to be honest with you, some days I feel like even the greatest amount of self-care there is couldn’t help me feel rested or ready to tackle what each day brings.  Having small kids is exhausting no matter how you spin it.

And so, I have to merge self-care into my daily routine and try my hardest to schedule out breaks in order to rest and rejuvenate.  Rest is good for the body, and maybe even better for the soul.

I’ve posted numerous times on how I incorporate self-care into my routine – click here for my Self-care 101 post.  I’ve also written on ways to incorporate self-care into your daily life, if a break is not always possible – click here for that post.

And finally, below are some not-so-obvious ways to avoid burnout as a mom:

  • Take a break from social media and focus on your personal relationships
  • Try your best to keep a positive mindset – trust me, this one makes a world of difference
  • Make it a practice to not compare yourself to others.  Motherhood is tough enough as it is
  • In your “quiet” time, try to have some true silence where you can be alone with your thoughts
  • Incorporate contemplative practices like meditation or prayer into your days
  • Eat whole, unrefined foods and fit some exercise into your routine
All of these are ways to pour back into yourself so that you can pour into your children.  It isn’t easy, but the investment is well worth it.