Season of Rest

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This Winter has been such a period of rest for me – but more like forced rest. I am admittedly a homebody but I do like going out with my hubby or girlfriends, of course. My littlest one has decided to wake at the ungodly hours of 4:30 to 5:30 every morning since October. It doesn’t matter how I adjust his bedtime, he still wakes up well before the sun. This kid has been my good sleeper over the years, so I guess I was due for something to shake things up? Our days have felt so long, and I basically go to bed at 8:30 or 9 each night in order to get a good amount of sleep. I have passed up many a social occasion this season in order to make sure I get rest. Continue reading “Season of Rest”

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?”

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.

Mom Misconceptions Part 2

Another round of those moments I assumed would be different once I had children….

I recently saw this post and completely related to it – when did having kids get dropped off to birthday parties become a thing of the past?  Is this a generational thing?  When I made a list last year to have a party for my daughter’s 3rd birthday, the total was around 75 people and that did not include anyone under the age of 2.  There is no way to have all of those people in our house and where would they all park?

In the end, I had her pick 3 little girl friends to invite and I provided food, cupcakes, goody bags (and wine for the moms, who happened to be my friends).  The girls went outside, played dress-up together, colored and ate.  It was the perfect little party and in no way overwhelming for my child.  When I read the above-mentioned article, I was in complete agreement.  I am so down with the drop-off party!  I hope people start doing it as my daughter gets older.  Birthday parties seem to be every single weekend…does anyone else feel they’re a bit overrated??

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I’ve touched on this before, but I never realized the incessant talking – and more specifically, the talking in circles – that would take place with toddlers.  For example, this conversation happened on Saturday with my 3-year-old:

Her:  “Mom, why am I taking a break from Sunday school?”

Me:   “You’re not.  You went the past 3 weekends.”

Her:  “No, it was the past 5 weekends.”  (5 is her go-to number)

Me:  “Oh, ok.”

Her:  “Well, can I take a break from Sunday school?”

Me:  “I guess, if you want to.”

Her:  “No, I really don’t want to take a break.”

Well, that really solved a lot.  Sometimes I have no idea where anything is going in conversations with her…these seem to happen quite a bit lately!  They leave me very, very puzzled.

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The idea that two of your own littles ones close in age will play (or play well) together.  When, if ever, does this happen?  I know mine are still pretty small, but I am constantly intervening.  It’s almost worse than if it was just one of them playing independently.  Inevitably, one will hurt the other on accident (or on purpose, let’s be honest) and I must stop what I’m doing for the hundredth time.  I guess I thought they would be happy to have each other.  There are glimpses of this at times, so I’ll keep hoping it gets better in the future.

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Back to the sleep issue (mentioned in my other Mom Misconceptions post) – my baby, bless him, has been sleeping like a dream for 5 straight months now.  No wake-ups that whole stretch except one, ironically, on Saturday night (darn eye teeth, I think).  My nearly 4-year-old who has dropped her nap will now crash out before 7, but going to sleep that early means a wake-up may possibly happen in the night.  To inform me she has to potty (just do it – no need to wake me!) or like the other night, to say, “Aubrey told me today that I can’t do a cartwheel.  But I can.”  Is she really wanting to discuss gymnastics and friends at midnight?  When do they ever continuously sleep – or when is it that us parents get to sleep, I should say.  I hear we will worry when they’re teens and out at night, so really, I guess once you’re a parent, sleep is for the birds.

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I never knew driving would feel so tumultuous at times.  Tantrums and meltdowns in the car are no fun.  I feel like I may lose my mind.  When I’m trying to navigate to a new place, that makes it even worse.  I’m attempting to hear Siri, but the cries or screams make it near-impossible.  Luckily, these episodes don’t happen too often, but when they do – Lord have mercy on  us all.  Sometimes, all you can do is laugh and that is what I often find myself doing!

 

 

Mom Misconceptions

MISCONCEPTIONS I HAD BEFORE KIDS

I read this a few months ago, and it had me laughing so hard!  I sent it to my expectant brother and sister-in-law, and my brother responded he was having heart palpitations after reading it.  It is, of course, an exaggeration but pretty funny nonetheless and much of it does ring true.  Since then, I’ve been thinking of my own misconceptions I had about parenthood.  I honestly had no idea it would be so difficult but I also thought I knew so much when I clearly didn’t!

  • Snotty kids – why can’t their mother just wipe.that.nose.  Before children, I looked at kids’ snotty noses and thought, “Really – can’t you just clean that?  How hard can it be?”  Now, I’m on the other side of it.  When mine have a cold, I think, ‘for those noses to be perfectly clean at all times, it would require me wiping it every five seconds.’  It would literally be all I did all day long!  Sorry, moms, for judging you before I knew better.
  • You stay out late one night – no big deal, right?  Why would you work around your child’s schedule instead of your own?  Oh – because there is only hell to pay if you don’t.  All day long the next day.  They don’t just ‘sleep in’ because you stayed out late.  In fact, they often wake super early on those days!  And they’re generally not happy campers following nights like that.  So, we stay in a lot.
  • Hard for moms to find time for a shower?  No way would a day go by where I would miss one.  Ha!  I had absolutely no idea of the constant demands kids place on a mother.  I’ve had many a shower-less day.  Too many to count actually.
  • I always felt like little kids were in my way.  Now I’m on the other side – probably being a nuisance to everyone else.  Telling them, “Don’t touch that!” and apologizing to random people in the grocery store.  I wish I had been more understanding to those mothers before I had my own children.  It requires so much multi-tasking to keep them happy and manage your list while shopping for what you need.
  • Babies and sleep – can’t be that bad, right?  There’s the phrase “sleep like a baby” – but then I heard later that it should really be “sleep like a husband” which totally makes more sense.  Enough said on this one.
  • On the sleep subject, I always envisioned rising before my little ones, brewing some coffee, maybe reading a bit or making some breakfast for us all.  Nope.  They’re my daily alarm clock.
  • There would be payback someday for all I did as a child to my parents.  I was a pretty well-behaved kid (or so I’ve been told) but I was quite a chatterbox.  And so, numbers 12 and 13 on the above-mentioned blog certainly ring true for me these days!  Wow, can my daughter talk!
  • I had no idea the days would be incredibly long as a stay-at-home mom.  I find myself thinking of things to do to pass the time.  Yet the days are long and the months are short, as the saying goes.  I really can’t believe how quickly they’re growing.

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Clearly, I’m still learning in each new stage we enter – and I’m sure many more surprises are coming my way!