Category: health

Taking A Break From Being Perfect

Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not really perfect. I do spend a lot of time trying to make things perfect though. I am always in a rush to get places on time or earlier than on time. I’m in a hurry most days to check things off my list. I try to out best myself the next day to see just how many things I can actually finish in one day. As much as I feel like I’m in control of things, I’m really not. It feels like being busy is the same as being productive. But being busy, and checking things off on paper doesn’t equal a quality life.

While I’m busy and rushing I’m not really living in the moment, or enjoying the simple pleasures of life. In fact I most often don’t even notice them. That is until one of my kids stops to point them out. While I’m rushing us from one errand to the next, or trying to make better time than our last shopping trip, one or both girls want to stop to pick dandelions. It never fails as I am ushering everyone out of the door because NOW WE ARE RUNNING LATE, one or both of my girls will stop to notice the puffy clouds shaped like a puppy, or maybe they’ll stop to talk to a neighbor. I have not left any time in my agenda to participate in any of these things. I read off my list and move at a quick pace that will get us perfectly from point A to point B in the mot efficient manner.

That isn’t living.

Living is in the slow moments. It’s in the time we take to create a magical bouquet of flowers in our front yard while our groceries warm a bit in the car. Living is in the time we take to watch clouds roll into different shapes, or wait for the kids to pick the perfect stuffed lovey to bring in the car. Those are memories we carry with us. In another week I won’t remember the 20 things I was able to finish in a day. But I will remember the way my kids’ faces light up when they hand me a bunch of tiny flowers. And my kids will remember that I took the time to smell each one with them.

I think this week I’ll trim my to-do list and task myself with living a little slower. Here’s to getting one step closer to letting go of perfection.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Friday Favorites Mason JarJackets Review and Giveaway

Almost as a right of passage into parenthood, our house has become overrun with plastic toys, plastic dishes and plastic cups. Even our kid care products come wrapped in plastic packaging. It’s just too much! So, we’ve decided to downsize the amount of plastic we have in our house, and we are starting with our kids dishware. I feel like this is a perfect opportunity to get rid of the 1,000 plastic cups that spill out of the cupboard whenever my kids go in search of just the right one.

Glass is definitely the cleanest and healthiest option for drinking and eating. Not only is it sustainable and reusable, but glass is safe from leaching chemicals into our food and beverages. Making the switch to mason jars for drinking is eco-friendly and economical. Here’s why:

  • Mason Jars are composed of all-natural, sustainable raw materials and are 100% recyclable. They can be reused endlessly!
  • Because they are made of glass, mason jars won’t leach harmful chemicals like BPA/BPS and phthalates into contents.
  • Mason jars are dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe  and have endless uses in the kitchen, your home and beyond.
  • Mason jars cost approximately $1.00 per jar (when purchased by the case).

As much I love mason jars for just about everything, we found the two piece lids difficult for little hands to use and we can’t take them on the go. And once the jars get “sweaty” they become slippery. That is until we discovered JarJackets! Super mom and founder, Sacha Laustsen wasn’t thrilled by the plastic cup options for her daughter to drink out of, so she began using mason jars but made them safer by adding a silicone jar jacket to fit. The removable silicone sleeve provides enough shock absorption to withstand the rugged pace of a tiny human. After nearly two years of testing and and revising, Sacha introduced the JarJackets sippy to the world! The sippy lid is all one piece with proper air flow, and is designed to snugly fit the 12 oz mason “jelly” jar. Because mason jar mouths are universally sized, the sippy lids are interchangeable with any regular mouthed mason jar.

The JarJacket sippy is designed to help eliminate chemical exposure, reduce waste and declutter your cupboards! No need to store a bunch of tiny valve pieces and waste time matching the tops. Just store your clean jars with the food grade silicone tops already on. No clutter, and no toxins going into your child’s mouth. The most amazing feature is once your child transitions out of the sippy cup phase, they can continue to use the mason jar with the colorful sleeve on as a drinking glass. No plastic to toss when your child grows out of the sippy cup phase!

Even though my kids are older than the sippy cup crowd these bad boys really come in handy on the go! We enjoy taking our morning smoothie in the car with us. We simply add a straw through the top before leaving the house. The girls carry them back and forth with ease and I don’t worry about leaving the jars in the hot car while we run errands. We rinse them clean to reuse throughout the day for our water and iced tea. The lids come in handy while we are outside in the yard by keeping our drinks safe from insects. I am in love with the simplicity of the design, and how easy it is to take our mason jars with us wherever we go!

If you follow JarJackets on Facebook, Instagram or Youtube you’ll get access to some awesome recipes and mason jar lunch hacks. I am completely hooked on using our JarJackets for more than just sipping! Did you know you can bake a chicken pot pie in a mason jar? Seriously, go watch the video!

As always I am EXCITED to share my love of my favorite things with a giveaway!! Sacha has generously offered to send one lucky winner a 2 PACK of JarJackets + the lids in their choice of color! To enter just comment below and tell us what you put in your mason jars! Unlock extra chances to win by following all the options!



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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received complimentary JarJackets in exchange for my honest review. All opinions (and mason jar obsession) belong solely to The Whatever Mom. #Amazonaffiliate links contained above. These are safe to use and when you shop using the link I receive a very small commission. 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Taking The Night Off

 

Taking time for myself.

So I am coming at you surrounded by my favorite friends. My pillows. No one comforts me like they do, and I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with them.

I am typically in bed around midnight and up for the day by 6 am. I still cannot fit in everything I need to in a day. So as a result of never getting enough sleep, and resisting down time, the exhaustion has caught up with me. If you look closely you will see the extra baggage under each eye. You don’t get a matching set like that from sitting around the spa eating bon-bons. Those are like hard earned badges awarded after years of surviving never ending tantrums and fevers and bed wetting (the kids not me).

Normally I’d push myself hard to make the invisible blogging deadline I create for myself, but tonight, I am taking the night off. I am slathered head to toe with linaments and ointments that promise a restful night’s sleep. I have my cozy cup of tea and my over due library book I keep meaning to read. I am ready for some peace and quiet.

Until next week when I bring you something much wittier and with better spell check, I bid you adieu.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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When Your Kid Is a Perfectionist Too

True to my perfectionist character I feel like I have failed if I cannot put out a blog post every week. No one else is saying a word about it, but I put this pressure on myself to have everything outlined and finished by a certain time every week. As you can see I didn’t post anything last week. Sometimes, being in charge of so many humans with their own personalities doesn’t leave room for me to execute my projects and meet my own deadlines. It kills me to stare at a blank page the day after I was due to publish. In the grand scheme I know it doesn’t matter. But I am so hardwired to finish a task in a very specific way. I feel like I let down everyone when I don’t come through.

The last few weeks have been incredibly difficult as a mom. I’ve discovered that my daughter is taking after me with expecting perfection. She is only six years old and already has a very deep need to make things happen the way she has planned. She becomes anxious when she makes a mistake on her homework and now she feels like she just wants to impress her teacher so badly. I have a kid who used to love school suddenly protest leaving the house to attend school. This is just Kindergarten. She is already under so much pressure to perform perfectly.

Seeing her struggle to do her best and feeling crushed when she doesn’t match the expectations of her teacher, or already feels like she let everyone down, is incredibly painful. I want so badly to upload my wisdom to her little brain to help her understand that hinging your self worth on impossible standards is not going to bring her any peace, or happiness. The peace I feel when things are perfect is only fleeting because as a perfectionist nothing is ever good enough. Nothing. I can’t imagine feeling like this at six. I can barely handled it as an adult.

I am trying to focus more on helping her learn how to be OK without perfection. It’s hard to put my perfectionist out look into the head space of a six year old, but I am going to try. I am going to give myself some slack that I am not going to find the perfect solution for her. But I am going to do my best. Then I am going to cut myself some slack when I let a post or two go while I am figuring this all out. This parenting thing. Man. It’s hard! Letting go of perfection is hard too.

Thank you for reading and hanging in there with me from week to week! I appreciate all of you! If you have any advice on how to get a Kindergartner to lighten up I’d love to hear it! Anyone else ever have a kid put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect? Feel free to comment below or drop me a line at whatevmom@gmail.com.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer toHudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Stuck on the Track of Perfection

The other day I saw a video clip in my Facebook news feed of a car stuck on the snowy railroad tracks with a train coming toward it. Some good citizens abandoned their cars to assist the driver in the disabled car. I noticed the driver was determined to stay in the car, not give up and just kept driving until they moved forward. But it was with great assistance that they got off that track before the train passed where they were seconds later. I thought that is such a perfect metaphor for life. Especially for me, being a recovering perfectionist.

I can’t tell you how often I get stuck on my own track, completely focused on my own expectations, trying to force a particular outcome. I am determined to stick to that singular path before me. Whether it is pushing the kids to get ready for school on time, or finding a solution to a new parenting challenge. It can feel like life is that train barreling toward me and I am just stuck. When I am really lucky a friend, or neighbor will help steer me in a new direction before I am pummeled. Sometimes it is just a kind word, or even a blunt question that can snap me out of my one track thinking.

Life with kids moves at a quick pace and I don’t always take time to slow down and really appreciate that my hard work counts for something. Being a perfectionist I often discount my efforts, or second guess my parenting skills. It is so much easier to tear myself down than it is to build myself up. Sometimes it is easier to stay “stuck” than it is to persevere and move forward. I often think there is only way to be a good parent, but that mindset is so limiting. I am actually good at many different parts of parenting, but I am not a perfect parent.

So what do you do when you feel stuck on a one way track to perfection?

Take a break. This doesn’t always have to include a sandy beach and little umbrella drinks (though that is awesome), sometimes simple quick things can get you off the track in front of you. Read a chapter of a new book, take deep breaths, go for a walk, just get yourself away from that stressful sticking point. Sometimes I find better solutions when I hop off that one way track. I can stop worrying about my struggles for a little bit and find a new perspective.

Remember what you are good at. Maybe you can make any situation funny. Or maybe you are really good at caring for your kids, or keeping everyone wrangled. Maybe you are good at loving your kids through their really horrible moments. You may not be perfect at every part of parenting, but celebrate the parts you are really good at. I know I am really good at seeing the best in my kids even during a meltdown. That does nothing to keep my house organized, but it is one thing I am good at!

Cut yourself some slack. So you forgot to pack lunch the night before and there are dishes still in the sink before breakfast, but everyone has clean socks today! Perhaps you forgot there was soccer practice right after school today, but you remembered to grab a granola bar and bottled water for kid snacks from the store on your way! Giving yourself options keeps you from feeling like you just got pummeled by that train. I am getting much better at giving myself credit for the things I did do right in my day.

Talk to another parent. I always find the best parents to talk to are the ones who have already been down my road. They can offer practical advice that worked for them, and share a sympathetic ear. Sometimes it’s just good to know you are not the only one who struggles with parenting (and perfection). Join a group online, in person or talk to parenting friends at work. I am really lucky to be surrounded by so many people ready to guide me.

I hope this is a good time to remind you that you are a great parent just as you are! No one is winning a prize for having themselves more put together than you. No one else is putting pressure on you to give more than you can. No one else works as hard for your kid(s) as you do. So, take a deep breath and don’t let perfection keep you from moving forward.

Have a great week everyone!

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer toHudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Taking Over Christmas Like A Dad

A few weekends ago I wrote a post on Facebook that went like this:

 

It just seems like my husband has things a little easier. The weekends are less hectic which equals less demands for racing through breakfast and less drama. He often gets to sleep in because he is up early during the week (I am too, but I apparently exist in the shadows). I envy both of those things- less drama and more sleeping.

On weekend mornings my husband doesn’t get up with a to-do list on his mind and go right to work. Seconds after his feet hit the floor he b-lines it to the shower. No one stops him to ask a million questions, nor does he stop to ask anyone else questions. He needs a shower, he takes a shower. I can not figure out how to make this work for myself. As soon as my feet hit the floor I’ve been had, “MOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!! What’s for breakfast?!”

“Nothing I’m taking a shower!”

“Awe but I’m hungry!”

“Eat your sister!”

We had a bad snow storm on Saturday which left me trapped inside by snow, two kids and a stomach bug while my husband went to work. I laid in bed fuming that when hubby is sick he gets to stay in bed and make zero breakfasts. No one talks to him, looks at him or even goes near the door to his room. When I get sick, “mom can I have a snack?” “mom will you open this?” “mom can I have water” “mom are you breathing?” I decided not this day. I am too sick and exhausted to even move right now. I have been vomiting for several hours and I am in NO MOOD for demands. The kids will learn to survive this day or starve. (Thankfully they survived and there’s a future post on that).

The weekend flies by and I wake up Monday morning with a lengthy to-do list and a minor headache left from too much “sleeping in” over the weekend. I count five different stores to shop through. “I’ll never make them all in time!”

But then, something miraculous happens when I stepped into Target. I decide, today is the day I just wanna be a dad. Now if your husband, is anything like mine, he may have a broken give-a-shit-meter. My husband hasn’t given one shit about the gifting process in the last decade + we’ve been together. Today, I didn’t either. I grab a cart, crumple my list and toss it to the floor before I take the aisles by storm with a determined pace. I walk through the men’s department and grab stuff off of wracks and toss into my cart, “yep! this will do!” I swing by the wrapping department to pick up some fun Holiday Crackers to give to the kids at Christmas Eve dinner. When I flip over the box I see these things open with TNT (as in dynamite) and the grand prize is a nail clipper. “Who gives a shit? Not me! I’m dad today!! Ahahahaha!” I throw them in the cart. I throw more things in the cart that I could get at other stores for less, but why the hell make an extra trip just to save a few dollars? I can’t believe how easy this is! It is so freeing to just not care! No worries! No regrets! How have I been living my life all these  years?!

Next stop Kohl’s! Hubby hoarded a small bank roll in Kohl’s cash that I was able to guilt him into convince him to let me have. I really need a few shirts for myself and thought I should pick up an extra pair of pajamas for him to feel cozy in during his weekend sleep retreats. Normally I am so indecisive about clothes. It can get really stressful picking out the most flattering colors and fabrics. I have to be concerned with what’s in fashion, what season it is. But not today! Today I am the dad! I care nothing of colors and seasons and I grab a fist full of the same damned shirts! And yep, I still don’t give a shit!

Now I am about to slam dunk this shopping trip in just two stores! I’ve come to the section of the program where I need to select hubby’s new fashionable sleepwear. What is his favorite color? Does he like flannel, or cotton better? To hell with personal preferences you are getting those tacky Christmas pants on a hanger from over there and the Merry Christmas Darth Vader t-shirt wadded up on top of a pile from over here. I don’t care if they aren’t coordinated, or even match. Who needs fancy buttons and comfortable fabrics?

I am done!!

In record time!!

The. Crowd. Goes. Wild!

The cashier high fives me and says, “no charge today m’am! What you’ve accomplished here today is payment enough!!” Then she sheds a tear while bagging my free items.

Ah. It really does feel good to be the dad now and then. To not live so trapped inside my head with details. Not having to waste time obsessing over things like a healthy breakfast and worrying if your gifts are perfect. Those things just power the meter and wear you out. Nah, this thinking things through and making things magical is just dumb. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to grab a shower and take care of a few stray chin hairs.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Friday Favorites – Walking With Leslie GIVEAWAY

Photo courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.

 

HAPPY FRIDAY!! IT’S FINALLY FRIDAY!! WOO HOO!!

I don’t know about you, but I have just had the most craptastic week! Really, it was fantastically crappy in so many ways. Except TODAY! Today is gonna be a good day I can already tell! I am walking with my girl Leslie Sansone AND I’m giving away a little something to put us in a good mood!

I always find getting out for a walk clears my mind and gets rid of some stress. But here in the North East it is so cold and gray in the morning. It is hard to get motivated to walk when it is this cold. Back in the Spring I shared with you my love of Leslie and her quick and easy walking work outs. I just pop in a DVD, or pull up a workout on Youtube and power walk right in my living room! No crazy choreography, no weird angles to twist myself into, just walking! The best part is I really feel like I had a WORKOUT! The kind that leaves ya sweaty and with a pep in your step. You aren’t just walking front to back and marching in place. She throws in some classic aerobic moves like side steps, kick backs, even some jogging.

Yes, I could go to the gym to walk- but I feel like a drone on the treadmill plugged into the TV. Plus, I have to hope my kids aren’t tearing up the day care room. Last month I made a couple of sad attempts at joining some new classes, which only reminded me how out of shape I really am. (It’s totally normal to need the Chiropractor after a work out right?). Following along with Leslie makes me feel just as energized as any class. I really miss taking my high intensity aerobics classes! So, guess what I just got my hands on? A couple of new Leslie Sansone HIIT DVD’s! HIIT Stands for High Intensity Interval Training. You exercise in short bursts of “all out” effort and then recover. Essentially, you walk for less time, but burn as many calories as a longer walk session. Plus, the music she picks for these DVDs is so upbeat! It makes rolling out of bed before day light almost worth it!

Sweat Session 1: Walk to the Hits with All Time Favorites. This includes some 50’s hits like The Twist and songs from The Temptations, but amped up. I felt a little out of shape trying to keep up, but I could still walk without limping after and that is gold once you turn 40!

Sweat Session 2: Walk to the Hits Radio Remixes. This includes remix versions of Let’s Get Loud and Move It, Move It (my kids love this one!). Another great work out that left me feeling sweaty, yet energized! I loved the play list much better (and it was 8 minutes shorter than session 1).

If you haven’t tried walking with Leslie Sansone yet you are missing out! It’s literally like having a walk party right in your living room! Guess what?! Now you can win ALL THREE HIIT DVD’s and have Leslie to yourself! Woo hoo!! Walk party with the kids, or invite some moms over and let the kids play while you grab some miles! Winner will be announced in my next Friday Favorites Segment on 12/16/16.

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This post contains affiliate links to Amazon which means I earn a small commission if you purchase using these links. There is no difference in price if you use the links in this post. I did not receive financial compensation for this post. In exchange for my enthusiastic and honest review, I received additional DVDs promoted by Anchor Bay Entertainment. #Amazon #Affiliates #Ad 

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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How To Embrace Your Sensory Friendly Halloween

sensory-friendly-halloween

If you have never heard of sensory processing disorder you are not the only one. Most parents do not know what this is until their child is diagnosed with the disorder. The difficulty is that even with a diagnosis, you as a parent may have no clear and final definition of what makes your kid tick. Every kid is different and it can take time to identify your child’s sensory triggers.

According to the website Understood.org, children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) “may be oversensitive or undersensitive to the world around them. When the brain receives information, it gives meaning to even the smallest bits of information. Keeping all that information organized and responding appropriately is challenging for them.”

As unique as your child is, so is the way their brain processes things like smell, taste and touch. Some kids never notice the feeling of a tag on their shirt, or the seam in their socks. But there are kids who are so distracted by this sensation that they can cry or scream, or even become aggressive. If you have a kid with sensory issues you are not alone! One in twenty children live with some varying degree of sensory processing disorder. Navigating daily life can be a struggle, let alone having to wear an itchy costume in a crowded, loud setting.

Both of my children have mild sensory issues which mostly involves volume levels and large crowds. When they were little I didn’t take them very far on Halloween. The year we let them choose on their own which houses to stop at was the year they decided they liked trick or treating. Now we let them take us as far as they want to go, we carry extra snacks and we call it quits when they get overwhelmed. We begin our evening slow and head home in time to hand out treats.

I polled some of my mom friends who are in the know about sensory processing and the sensory demands of Halloween. The best piece of advice: is to not force your child beyond their limits. Halloween activities are for their enjoyment and it is OK to let them enjoy activities in their own way. If your child can only handle wearing a small piece of their costume, or no costume at all, let that be enough. My friend Erin shares that one year she let her son go as himself at his request. “Thankfully the people around us accepted that. And he had a great Halloween because he could do his own thing.”

MOM TIPS

Select a costume that is mask free, or does not require face paint. Let your kids use their own familiar clothing as part of their costume to help them enjoy dressing up. For kids with auditory sensory issues, using noise cancelling headphones works great. For kids who are sensitive to bright lights, start your trick or treat night as early as possible and take advantage of the day light. If your child tires easily map out a short route, or bring along a wagon to let them take a break. And again, it’s OK if you cut your time short and head back home early.

PRO TIPS

Being a parent of a child with sensory issues can feel overwhelming, but imagine being the child who is struggling to process so much sensory information at once. It can provoke a lot of anxiety not knowing what is happening next. Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Gina Bergdall suggests allowing your child to carry a fidget toy. This will allow them a constructive “place to focus their anxiety on.” Bergdall also shares these tips provided by the American Occupational Therapy Association. 

It may also be helpful to pick only a few places to trick or treat and review that plan with your child before hand. If they know they are only going to 5 or 6 houses nearby, they can feel a sense of control ticking the number of houses off the list. Seeing familiar faces can also make them feel more at ease.

HOW TO EMBRACE

If your child is overly sensitive to crowds or noises there is no rule that mandates they go trick or treating. You can make some really amazing traditions right at home. Bake some great treats, make a fun meal together, or if they want to, let them help with handing out candy. Invite the grandparents or family over for pizza and a movie. There is no wrong way to participate in Halloween! Staying at home where it is familiar may be just what your child needs to celebrate comfortably.

I get it moms! Having to make these kinds of accommodations often feels like our children are missing out on experiences other kids get to have, or the experiences we had as kids. But really, the holiday is about our kid’s enjoyment. If that looks different than the way other families celebrate, that’s OK. Embrace your unique traditions! If your child is comfortable at home watching Halloween specials and eating popcorn, join them! Deciding to follow their lead helps them feel capable! Plus, sharing a special night in together as your Halloween tradition is way more relaxing than walking around in the cold wearing a cookie cutter costume.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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5 Self-Care Strategies for First Time Moms

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Now that my kids are in school I am trying to focus more on self-care. I keep thinking back to those very early days as a mom and how hard it was to take care of my own needs. I remember feeling drained and empty. I put way too much pressure on myself to make everyone happy by keeping everything perfect. As a first time mom with twin newborns it was a struggle to just get a shower each day, let alone making sure everyone had clean underwear and the house was properly organized.

Eating and sleeping are crucial, but so is staying connected to friends and family and our own interests. In those early years self -care, for me, was about getting a hot shower and enjoying a meal. I was all alone with two brand new babies and I was trying to make it all work. I barely ate, I barely slept and my record for showering was spotty. I was hungry, depleted and so overwhelmed.

Five years later my self-care looks more like taking time to exercise, or drinking tea and reading a book. Now I get to eat one sit down meal a day while the kids are in school. Do you know how good food tastes when you’re not standing over the sink, shoveling it into your mouth?

Ahhh. It’s almost nirvana.

Here are 5 self-care strategies I used in those early years:

I FOUND SOME FRIENDS

I envied friends who had a sister or a friend expecting a child at the same time. I spent 5 months alone on bed rest. Once the babies were born and my husband went back to work, I felt so lonely and empty. I just wanted a friend. Honestly, finding a close relationship as a mom can be super hard. But when you do it is so wonderful! I met a lot of moms early on in play groups, at the park and at the library, but not everyone has become my friend. I realized quickly not everyone is looking for a new bestie. Sometimes just seeing the same smiling face each week at story time is enough to ease a stressful morning.

I HOSTED PLAY DATES

Bundling up two kids and getting them to the car is no easy feat when you are worn out and exhausted. Thankfully, my mom friends took mercy on me and would travel to my house. Talking with other moms makes me realize I am not alone in my struggles. We are all struggling to find balance. I did a quick tidy, put out some toys and turned on the coffee. (In those early days my house wasn’t the colossal wreck that it is today). As much work as it was to finish a sentence while chasing kids, the conversations we shared are invaluable.

I ACCEPTED OTHER PEOPLE’S GENEROSITY

I have to remind myself often that I am one person taking care of many.  It can be draining. But when I started accepting offers of help, it really alleviated some stress. When someone brought me a meal, it didn’t make me a charity case. It meant I got to eat a hot meal. When neighbors shoveled my drive it didn’t mean I was irresponsible, it meant I didn’t have to leave my babies alone. When a friend washed my dishes it didn’t mean I wasn’t capable, it meant I could hold my two sleeping babies in my arms a little longer. If you are lucky enough to find someone to volunteer to help in anyway, it is OK to accept the offer!

I ASKED FOR HELP

You can’t always rely on people offering help. You could be drowning for weeks before that happens. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help! I was afraid to ask friends for help because I didn’t want to burden them. I didn’t want to admit I couldn’t handle everything by myself. But when I found myself on bed rest and needed help getting our house ready for babies, I asked for help. Surprisingly, a lot of our friends came out to wash windows, put together furniture, organize our nursery, rake our leaves, and help finish up some household projects we knew we couldn’t get to as parents. It was humbling and eased our worry. Ask family and friends to contribute a meal to stash in your freezer. Ask for gift certificates for a cleaning service as your baby shower/newborn gift. Cute clothes are wonderful, but not having to clean your toilets is even better! But most of all, if you find yourself struggling with overwhelming sadness, or feelings of inadequacy don’t be afraid to reach out right away. Struggling alone is worse than what anyone else is thinking about you.

I DELAYED WASHING DISHES

I often think if I don’t do the dishes right now then I will be so far behind and everything will pile up. One day it hit me, “since when is there a deadline on dirty dishes?” I don’t have a dishwasher (I know it’s like roughing it in my own home) so the panic to find an empty sink is real. But when I let myself rest while the twins took a nap- even just 10 minutes- I felt ready to tackle the tower of slop. In that 10 minutes I put my feet up, focused on breathing and thought of the beach. Taking just 10 minutes was recharging. And to be honest some days I took 20 minutes. Turns out the dishes were still waiting for me even when I took a few minutes for myself.

As a new mom you have a lot on your plate already just taking care of a baby and learning how to be a mom. I think it is very rare for any mom to take to motherhood like a duck takes to water. There are learning curves we need to adjust for and that’s OK. It takes time to learn the basics of taking care of our babies, our bodies, our new financial picture and household demands. If we try to balance it all at once we can become so overwhelmed and feel like we are drowning. That’s when self care becomes critical. But we want to make sure we recharge before we get to that critical point. Mothering with depleted resources isn’t healthy for you, or your baby. Self care doesn’t mean just meeting your basic needs, it means making sure you have enough for yourself too.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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What to do with all this “Me Time?”

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For months now people have been asking me what am I going to do with all “my time” once the girls go to school. Close friends, neighbors and even family have all asked me what my plans are now that my kids are in Kindergarten.

“It will be nice for you to get some time to yourself.”

“Now you can finally have some ME TIME.”

“So, what are you going to do with all of your time now?”

I know they all mean well and some are just making conversation, but it is quite dismissive of what fills up my time already. Guess what? I have worked from home for the last two years. Guess what I’ve been doing? Writing! Yep. This blog as well as contributing to a few other blogs AND freelance articles for local publications. So that means I have deadlines. I have a fledgling career (albeit a very low paying career). I have goals and *gasp* I am productive beyond motherhood!

A friend of mine (also a mom) told me once, “you need to do more than JUST be a mom.” Why is it once you become a stay at home mom all anyone can see is the stay at home part? Just a mom. Some days I wish I could be “just a mom.” Not that being a mom is without challenges, but then I’d at least be doing one job. Writing from home while simultaneously providing my own childcare is the most stressful gig I’ve ever had. How many moms have to make sandwiches while conducting a phone interview? Or potty train while on a conference call? I’m not talking taking a phone call while kids run amok. I’m talking sounding like an intelligent and focused professional while taking care of another human being. Nothing says I am capable and trustworthy quite like, “I’m sorry can you hold for a moment?” [addressing child] “didn’t I just say to stop smacking your sister with that? No, I’m not a stupid head, you are.”

So to all the curious folks who need to know more about how I spend my day, well here ya go:

WORK TIME

The part everyone forgets that I do outside of my mom responsibilities. I work. Even though I have a home office and that is where I schedule myself for 4-5 hours each day, folks just see me at home. They think I am cooking and cleaning, not actually working. How else are you going to get top notch blog posts like this one? Hint: not while I’m folding socks! *wink*

This is how I spend the majority of my “me time.” Running my own blog is work. I am the head writer, marketer, tech support, photographer, idea creator and editor. I have meetings and conversations with advertisers. I have to design the website and promote it. I have all the behind the scenes things happening on a daily basis. I write three 800-1,000 word blog posts a week. If you think that sounds easy think back to high school English class. Remember how hard it was to just write one essay a month? Yeah, I do that three times a week for “me time.”

ALONE TIME

Once you become a parent, you are never alone. Just ask any parent who has ever tried to pee in silence. When you have to take the kids along to every appointment, errand or meeting you have to take the shit-show on the road. So the day after my kids went to school I scheduled my self for an eye exam. I sat alone with an iced coffee while I waited for the doctor. I moved freely and at near lightning speed from room to room. And I finished every single sentence I started because I didn’t need to instruct someone to sit on their bottom. It was glorious.

new-glasses

FINISH ERRANDS IN RECORD TIME

There are days I schedule myself in my office to, ya know, work. But when I need to run a quick errand it’s quick. I can get into the car alone, zip up to the corner store and zip back home faster than any Olympic track star. I don’t need to wrestle the kids into their car seats and then spend half an hour begging them to just get out of the car so I can go inside where they can interrupt me while I pee.

SELF CARE

Self care is hard for anyone taking care of other human beings. But the more responsibilities you pile into one day the less time there is for self care. I often go without lunch, or shovel in kid left overs because there isn’t enough time for me to make meals for myself. Once I get the kids lunches on their plates I spend the next half hour dealing with their complaints and arguments about the quality of their lunch. By the time I realize I didn’t eat lunch it is 3:00 p.m. and I eat whatever I can grab. Now that the kids eat lunch at school, this allows me time sit down and enjoy a full meal. If you want to know what my life has been like for the last 5 years try eating a meal in a room full of chimpanzees throwing things at you.

ate-in-the-living-room

CONNECT WITH OTHER MOMS

Before my career as a mom I worked a 9-5 job. I often scheduled lunch dates with friends during my work day. Now, I make sure to schedule some time to see a friend. Working from home alone can be isolating and lonely. I miss having co-workers to talk to. I miss eating cake three times a week to celebrate birthdays. Now my co-workers are other moms living and working miles away in their own homes. We need time to connect and commiserate about our demanding little bosses. I need to know I’m not the only one trying to balance work and mom life.

There ya have it. This is how I have spent my time the last two weeks since school started. My house is still a mess. My laundry is still in piles and I still haven’t had a good mani pedi. I have typed several thousand words into my computer and I am no longer hangry. My kids are at school and I still don’t get “me time.” But I am getting time to recoup a little sanity after years of chaos.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia and The Novice Mommy.

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