Posts Tagged ‘self care’

Mom New-Year Resolutions

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

New Year resolutionsIt’s that time of year. Ready or not here 2017 comes.

Before we go setting ourselves up with unrealistic goals we’ll forget by month’s (week’s?) end, let’s set up something that will create a lifetime of treasures. A few themes I tend to revisit annually include:

I will set aside my smart-whatever. Maybe it’s during dinner, perhaps your phone is there at stop-lights, or after a long day you just want to chill to some Bejeweled (or whatever game is hot these days…). Commit to putting your phone, laptop, or tablet down. Use the time to connect with whoever is present, even if that just means some quiet time alone with you.

I will use kind words. We all have different parenting styles, and even within the “whatever is the trendy style” kind of parent there are many nuances. Maybe you never raise your voice and rarely use the word “no.” Perhaps you’re parenting has gotten a little intense lately. Wherever you are in your parenting style or journey, however assertive or passive, and no matter your discipline perspective, we can all use a little kind in our lives. I mean this not only in how we speak to our children, but also how we speak about them whether they are present or not, and how we speak to our own self or partner or mother about parenting decisions. Let kindness reign supreme in two thousand seventeen.

I will keep perspective. It’s not that those grandmas in the store are wrong when they say “cherish every moment” nor is the mama wrong when she says she struggles to find any joy some days. I bet there is truth to both. Instead of shutting the other one down completely, I will, nod, give a half-smile, and learn about myself or them through the comments they make. Perhaps a little more connection is what we all need, and I have an opportunity to ask a follow up question that can either shut them down or open them up.

I will take care of myself. Maybe it’s eating one less sweet (or one more!) per day or week. Similarly, more water and/or less other liquid drug of choice (caffeine, alcohol, sugar, etc.). Perhaps it’s starting to work out or finding quiet time to relax. Some of us need to focus a little more on our budget. It could be stepping up your yoga pants to real-deal jeans. I’m sure we all could do something along the lines of all the above. Pick something. Put a reason to it. Set reasonable expectations, and find accountability in friends, your partner, or even an online group.

I will do something that is not for specifically for the kids. Inventory your time and interests. What has fallen away since you first had children? What were your passions? Where did your time, money, and effort go? Reinvest yourself or invest yourself in something new.

I will dole out more grace. I know it’s fun sometimes to thrive on snarky. It is one of my mind’s instant reflexes sometimes. I think grace can build more relationships and understanding though. I don’t want to tear down someone or something else to justify myself. I can be me without pulling down on them. Grace and more grace. To myself, to others… grace.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 10 months to age five. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

I’m Not Going to Stress-Eat the Holidays This Year

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

holiday health

I make a mean chocolate chip pumpkin bread. Totally tooting my own horn, I know, but it’s fine. It’s worth it. Because that bread is amazing. And because I grind the flour myself, and it has pumpkin in it, I convince myself that it’s practically a vitamin.

Vitamins are good for you, right? So it’s okay to eat it for every meal of the day.

It’s a lot easier to convince myself of this misguided truth when I am feeling the stress of the holidays. It seems that the shortened days filled with grayness and bitter cold are never ending, and yet there is no time to do all the things that need to happen between Halloween and Christmas. So while I’m engaging into the fourth hour of a 30-minute craft that we both know won’t turn out, desperately trying to give the perfect neighbor/teacher present, those baked goods scream that they will offer validation and comfort in my distress. So I eat, and I numb, and I eat, and I numb, and then I wonder why I don’t have any energy to get the things done that I need to.

This holiday season, it will be different. We will be different! Because we are going to health-up the crap out of this season. Here is my plan.

  1. Drink all the water. If part of your winter routine means putting on a Costco sized bottle of lotion each day, chances are pretty good that you aren’t drinking enough water. Shoot for half an ounce for every pound of body weight. You may pee every three seconds, but eventually, your body becomes accustomed to the increased water volume, and you return to your normal peeing patterns.
  2. Do an emotional inventory to identify what you feel like when you’re stressed. Sometimes during the holidays, we go into panic autopilot, where we just do things to get them done because we know we have to, and then we end up crashing and burning once our checklist is complete (or even when it isn’t). If you aren’t sure what your stress cues are, ask someone who knows you well what they notice about you when you’re stressed. Figure out what those are, and take a time-out when those cues pop up.
  3. Give yourself the gift of physical activity before the holidays start. Been eyeballing that Zumba class that meets at the rec down the street? Sign yourself up. Perhaps yoga is more your speed, or you’ve been wanting to try weightlifting. Find out what’s available in your area, and do what you can to treat yourself to this. Getting out and seeing other people who are taking care of themselves can be therapeutic in itself, and it will also give you the endorphins to make the stress more manageable. If nothing is available nearby, get a new DVD to work out with.
  4. Give yourself permission to say “no.” If someone asks you to do something and you don’t immediately want to respond with a resounding “yes!”, opt to take a beat to think it over. Practice saying no in the mirror until it feels comfortable. Decide that pleasing yourself is at least as important as pleasing others.
  5. Go ahead. Eat the pumpkin bread. Ask yourself first, though, if you’re eating to feel the joy inherent in delicious pumpkin bread, or if you’re eating to numb the stress and despair that can come with the season. Because when we eat treats to enjoy the treat, we are more likely to enjoy them, and we are satisfied a lot sooner. But if we eat them to stop feeling the difficult feelings, we tend to keep eating, and eating some more, and our poor emotional health starts to impact our physical health.

Enjoy the good things about this holiday season, because you deserve to experience joy. Seek out those things in your every day. And when it starts to feel like it’s getting difficult to find the joy, take a break. Watch some garbage television. Go to a spin class. Put the “me” back into “merry.”

Treat yo’self.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

Oh Yeah, I’m a Mombie

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

mombieI do math every night. It’s a word problem that starts something like this: How many hours of sleep will I get if I go to sleep at X time? I’m tired, so tired. The little ones have colds this week with a cough that keeps them up. And there’s that whole infant, toddler, and preschooler thing happening. Right now, at 9pm on a Wednesday night I should go to sleep. Just one more hour, I say. And then another. The house is quiet. Oh, glorious silence, how this introvert misses you. I know my 5 month old will wake at 5am to eat. And then the other children will be up by the time I could fall back asleep. So 5am is the latest time when my day life kicks off.

But my nightlife is all mine. It’s a rockin’ good time with dim house lights and a roarin’ good show on the stage of my TV stand. Sometimes a documentary, other times a Netflix rerun because at the end of a day with a zombie mind the highest I can process is some Parks and Recreation. Sometimes I’m actually getting “things” done, like bills, blogs, diapers and other laundry, or the little stuff that makes up life. Often I’m getting very necessary things done like “me time,” and that’s why it’s hard to give up.

There’s even a term floating around the Internet: I’m a mombie, part zombie and part mom. I lurk in the night because for 16 or more hours of the day I am drained of my life energy. Like many parents I don’t get many moments to myself. It is amplified by the stay-at-home-with-young-ones aspects of life.  I do not mean to say others who work and have kids of varying ages don’t also suffer from mombie (or dadbie?) inclinations, but the whole “mom, mom, mom, hold me mom, let me sit on top of you, mom, mom, mom, lunch mom, snack mom, I had an accident, mom, mom, mom” all day long wears on this introverted mama. I also recognize there are those who would love to stay home if they could. I’m not complaining about my life so much as just claiming what I need— time to myself.

So every night I start the math problem. How many hours of sleep will I get if I stay up until X? I feel disheartened when I realize if I want 8 hours of sleep I must go to sleep shortly after the kids, immediately after my husband. And that equation only works if I don’t factor in the likelihood of my children waking in the night. So I stay up instead. I crave alone time all of the time. It isn’t a slight against all the wonderful people and things in my life. It’s that I want some one-on-one time with myself just as much as I want that time together with my family.

Great joy exists in uninterrupted silence, or uninterrupted anything for that matter. It’s also critical as so much of my day is filled with meeting everyone else’s needs. It is entirely possible to “lose myself” in being mom, daughter, spouse, neighbor, friend, etc. So it’s at night those parts of me that I’ve put on hold—the book lover, academic, fashionista, theologian, sociologist, animal-lover, health conscious, organizer, game player, baker, and more—come to life again. I’m not so keen on calling myself a mombie but I fit the bill. I like to think of it more as I tend to my roots after dark so in the day I can flourish.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 5 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Newborn Coping Strategies

Friday, August 26th, 2016

IMG_1141The newborn days pass by in a blur. Often, parents of a newborn are so tired they could cry, frazzled from learning their new baby’s cues and trying to get into a routine, possibly stressed or sore from breastfeeding, plus working through the postpartum hormonal roller coaster. It’s hard to stop and smell the roses (or in this case, smell that new baby scent).

One thing that helped our family get through the early days was having made up meals and packing them in the freezer before hand. If you’re lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a meal train, even better! You’ll need nutritious and hearty food to keep up and help your body heal from birth, and sometimes (most of the time), you’ll be too tired to want to mess with much.

If you can, getting help with older children from other adults is a real blessing. Just picking up your older kids and taking them to the park or a movie can give you a chance to catch a nap or even possibly have a couple moments of silence. Likewise, don’t be afraid to accept offers of help cleaning up or with the laundry. If you don’t have help, letting the laundry sit a couple days won’t hurt (though if you’re cloth diapering, this probably isn’t an option).

Try and get out and get some fresh air and stretch your legs. When my first son was born deep into the Alaskan winter, it was difficult because of snow and ice to walk outdoors, so I would walk on the track at the gym. This isn’t a fitness or weight loss activity, but a mental health activity. My younger son was born in the summer, so I could walk outdoors with him right away.

Lean on your partner (and your partner likewise) to get a little self-care time in. Shoot for every day. Before you have a newborn, you will never fully appreciate having ten minutes to shower, brush your teeth, and put on some lotion. This may not happen everyday, but it makes a huge difference in your outlook when you are able to get those few moments to yourself.

Finally, keep close watch on yourself. Baby blues are normal. If you continue to feel depressed or anxious, please reach out to your partner, family or friends, and to your doctor. It’s important to you and your baby to watch out for your mental health.

And remember to take time to enjoy that new-baby smell, it will be gone before you know it.

Meaghan Howard is a busy stay-at-home mom to two little boys and a houseful of animals. She and her family are enjoying living overseas for the time being.

Taking Time for Self Care

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Taking Time for Self CareSelf care–such a basic concept but something so many of us moms stop once we become moms. We tend to shift our focus away from ourselves and instead focus on everyone else. That’s part of being a mom right? The fact of the matter is that if we don’t take care of ourselves then we probably won’t feel well enough to take care of the people we love in the best possible way. I was totally guilty of this!

Since it did happen to me I can be the first to admit that carving time for primary care can be really hard. Especially if you’re a working mom that is riddled with guilt about being away and then wants to do nothing more than spend time with their kids. Been there, done that.

So how exactly do you do that when your daily schedule is full? It can look very different for everyone depending on your interests. It doesn’t really matter what it is you’re doing as long as whatever it is makes YOU feel good and nurtured.

It took me a little time to figure out what I really wanted to spend time on that would make me feel like me again. We don’t want to spend time doing things we don’t really want to be doing in the name of “self care” because if you’re not really enjoying it you’re not really taking care of yourself.

A great thing to do is to make a “Primary Care Menu.” A whole list of things you can do, or want to try to nourish your soul and get you that special glow that you can only get from doing something you love. Some will probably require some alone time, some are things you can do once the kids are in bed. Find what works for you so you can stick with it.

Here are some of the things on my menu to give you some examples. Some are already a part of my life, some are things I want to bring back into my life and some are things I’ve always wanted to try but haven’t gotten around to yet.

Take an essential oil bath

Meditate

Journal

Do some yoga

Have a dance party

Take a knitting class

Play tennis

Read an uplifting book

Take a Jazzercise Class

Color in a coloring book

Scrapbook

Now that you’ve got some ideas, come up with a list that works for you and put it up somewhere you’ll see it every single day. Make it a priority to do something on your list every single day–even if that just means a 5-minute bath (without a small child!) or reading a couple of pages of an uplifting book.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor and online fitness coach. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception to those trying to get their grove back after pregnancy to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mom and baby.