Love Yourself

A photo by Azrul Aziz. unsplash.com/photos/_14v_Fbk4SQ

I notice moms everywhere…passing by me at Target and at gymnastics – 2 kids in tow, 1 on the way. The stressed look on her face. Trying to juggle it all. Feeling all alone. Life wasn’t supposed to be like this, was it? Isn’t this what she looked forward to her whole life? Getting married and having babies? Why did no one tell her how hard it would be? Why did no one tell her to stay young just a little while longer. Little did she know how many sleepless nights were ahead of her. How many fevers she would tend to. How many days the laundry would pile up around her while she felt anything but joy. Continue reading “Love Yourself”

Taking Back Monday

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{image c/o Honeybee Boutique}

I remember it like it was yesterday. My daughter was roughly 2 months old and my husband had come home from work to have lunch with us. As we sat there talking, I kept thinking of something interesting I could add to the conversation…but, I literally had nothing. My morning had consisted of changing diapers, nursing countless times, and I was still in the same clothes I had slept in the night before. So I listened to my husband tell me about his busy morning while I wondered what was happening deep down inside of me.

This was such a pivotal moment in my new journey of motherhood. For the first time in my life, I was experiencing an identity crisis. I didn’t know who I was anymore. It felt so confusing…I had wanted to be a mother all of my life. So why wasn’t it fulfilling like I had envisioned?

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Why I’m Starting to Ignore My Kids

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I’ve decided I’m much too attentive to my kids. It’s amazing the different responses they get when they ask their mom vs. their dad for something. My husband pauses (a really long time), and usually finishes up whatever it is he’s doing (or watching) and they usually end up asking him about 3 times for whatever it is they needed. When they ask me, on the other hand, I tend to grant their request right away. I’m usually in the middle of something, so it seems easiest to get their snack/water and go back to what I’m doing. In this process, I think I’ve created demanding little monsters in some ways! They seem to have no patience for anything! Continue reading “Why I’m Starting to Ignore My Kids”

The Hard Days

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You know those days where you are so utterly exhausted as a parent because everything seemed to work against you from the moment you woke up? I had one of those not too long ago (chances are good it was a Monday). I don’t even remember the details of the day except it’s likely the morning began in the 4 or 5’oclock hour, which happens oftentimes with my youngest. I’m sure the rest of the day involved an argumentative 5-year-old, siblings fighting over every little thing, errands that needed run, and maybe a sickness or two. I honestly can’t even recall. But I do know it was one of those nights where my husband had an event that would go past bedtime. So I was on my own with the kids and the day seemed to last an eternity. Continue reading “The Hard Days”

15 Reasons I am thankful

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I started a small journal this year to keep track of what each one of us is thankful for in the month of November. Granted, this shouldn’t be limited to November – I would love to keep it going throughout the year because I really do feel gratitude is what changes our perspective in life. When I think of all my blessings, there isn’t room to think about the negative anymore. With that said, I wanted to do a list of 15 Reasons I am grateful this holiday season. Continue reading “15 Reasons I am thankful”

How did I get here?

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Every so often I find myself pondering certain words or phrases that have become the norm in my vocabulary. Like the use of the word “choo-choo” rather than the common term train- which suited me just fine for 30 plus years of my life. Or the fact that I refer to myself in the third person. “Please go get your shoes for Mommy.” Why and how did that ever happen? Continue reading “How did I get here?”

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”

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.

Hope Floats

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{image c/o elleizahbeth.com}

As parents, it is sometimes hard to connect with our spouse when we have small children.  My husband and I are pretty good about going out on dates regularly, but it’s definitely hard to get away for days at a time.  So when the chance came up to go to New York City on an organized trip with friends/colleagues, we knew we couldn’t pass it up.  We hadn’t left our kiddos for more than two nights before this, so we knew it would be an adjustment for them.  But kids are resilient and usually do better than the parents in situations like these. Continue reading “Hope Floats”