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Do you ever wonder what life could be like without comparing yourself to anyone else?
Well, I think it’s time for us moms to stop trying to live up to everyone else and just be ourselves!
Yup! You heard that right, my friend, just be ourselves. Not our neighbor, not our co-worker, not our mom, sister or best friend and just be ourselves.
Friends, your authentic self is the only one I want to be around.
Your authentic stories are the only stories I want to hear. I want to experience the downright ugly parts of your soul as well as all of your triumphs.
I want to cheer for all of your children’s amazing adventures and goals being reached but also gasp at how awful they have been behaving on a daily basis.
So can we make a deal as moms?
Can we stop comparing and rather live our lives as our true selves? Can we stop attempting to live up to all of the online parenting tips, that are often way too hard to attain and allow ourselves to make up our own parenting rules… the rules that work for our family? And rules that take into careful consideration each child living within our unique household.
And please, for our own sanity, can we please stop attempting to live life as a generic woman?
We are all molded, as our own unique selves, but somewhere along the way I think many of us forgot that truth. Or maybe society started to tell us how to behave, how to dress, what our homes should look like and how our children should behave.
But we need to stop this nonsense and just be…
So how do we do this?
It’s not an easy task, let me tell you.
But one thing I know is this…if we all support one another it will be much easier to live as our authentic selves.
Upon a lot of reflection, and there has been a great deal the past year, I have come up with three ways to start living life as our authentic selves.
Take time for reflection:
Set aside a quiet moment or maybe twenty minutes alone, no distractions, just time with good old fashioned silence.
It’s powerful! Within this time, think about you… not the burnt waffles this morning, the four loads of laundry waiting to be folded, a conference call at noon and how you are in desperate need of a haircut. This is a moment for you to delve deep and remember who you are. What are your dreams? Your goals? Desires? What makes you happy? Truly happy? Have you been hiding anything lately? Pushing it away or numbing the pain? And most importantly how do you love yourself best?
I found it helpful to listen to my inner soul quietly and reflect, then write out my thoughts on paper.
My paper was a mess. There were words all over and not organized at all but it was a start.
The simple act of writing out these thoughts was bringing me back to my true self.
If I couldn’t recall who I truly was, how was I going to be able to live a life of authenticity?
2. Putting into action a part once lost.
Remember the reflection time where you made a list? Well, now it’s time to choose one or how many you are comfortable with and begin to bring them to light again.
For me, I knew my true self was a writer. It was my passion and the only way I could express myself as the honest woman I wanted to live. So, day by day I started to write more.
At first I began writing down some thoughts, which then lead to poetry… I forgot how much I loved poetry. I eventually realized it was time to take the next step and really let my true self out of the dark and start to share my authentic self, the writer in me. So for me, as scary as it was it meant starting a blog. My friends, for each of us the experience will be different, the time frame will not be the same but one piece will be constant for all of us and that is becoming the women we are meant to be… our true authentic selves.
So I urge you to take action with your list. Don’t let it sit there in a drawer or in the notes on your phone. Take the leap and call into action one or more of the amazing parts of yourself and let it take hold. You may be amazed at how far you will go.
3. Make peace:
Finding one’s self is not always an easy task. For some of us the thoughts of who we truly are may be easy to find, but for others, muddling through the murky waters of our own self can be daunting. I’m confident though, we can do this as long as we make peace with who we truly are as ourselves and love ourselves more than we expect any other person to love us.
It’s time, my friends, to live our lives fully and to the capacity which works for us… not for the comparison of what we see on HGTV or Pinterest, not for the comparison of ourselves and the other mom at the playground and how she parents. It doesn’t mean we are selfish. It doesn’t mean we should feel any mom guilt. It simply means we should be proud to finally show off our true authentic selves and the phenomenal women we are.
So friends, I pinky promise you this… our authentic selves will bring about more light than we ever imagined and what a blessing for our loved ones to experience. They will be blessed beyond measure with a woman who loves herself and radiates it out for the world to see.
Ali Flynn lives in New York with her four teenage daughters and husband. She is excited to share with you the joys and hardships of motherhood with an open heart, laughter and some tears. Ali is a monthly guest contributor for Westchester County Moms and has been seen on Filter Free Parents, Grown and Flown, Today Parents, The Mighty, Her View From Home and His View From Home, where she shares inspirational stories about motherhood while keeping it real.
Being a mom feels like a full time job in itself, but last November I had to take the leap back into the working world. I work only three days a week but so far it’s been a good way to get out of the house, especially with the lockdowns going on, and I definitely think it’s helped this time around to be a little bit less difficult that the first one. It did take me a while though to try and strike the perfect balance with being a working mom. Here’s a few things that I’ve found helpful.
1. Leave work at work. I’ll give an example of this. I had an exceptionally stressful day on Friday, I was so stressed all day about something that I felt sick to my stomach and was tempted to ask to go home, but we all know with Covid going on that’s not something that’s taken lightly anymore. When I left work, I put on some loud upbeat music for my drive home, gave my husband and Baby T big hugs and grabbed a glass of wine. It took me a while to wind down, but eventually I managed to put the whole day behind me and enjoy the time with my family. Also, I don’t have a work phone that I bring home with me, but another thing I always thought was a good idea was something my mom did when she was working. She would turn off her work phone at 6pm when she clocked out and put it on a charger in her home office where she couldn’t check it again until 8am the next day when she started. It really helped her to keep her work separate even though she worked from home.
2. Cooking and eating dinner with my family. When I say I cook, I mean I am the sous chef for my husband who is a way better cook that I am. We spend the time after work in the kitchen together with Baby T in her high chair watching us and upbeat music playing. I give her some of the non sharp kitchen utensils to play with to keep her entertained, then we all sit down together at the table to eat. It’s a routine we started since I’ve been back to work and it’s probably one of my favourites because it’s a time for us to talk about our days and watch Baby T play with her food which is funnier than you would think. We have been trying lately to make sure we don’t look at our phones, a bad habit we have both unfortunately started, but it has definitely helped the conversation to be more free flowing.
3. Making the most of the weekends. The weekends are such a fun time to plan an activity together as a family and just enjoy each others company. I get to spend a few days with Baby T by myself during the week but having my husband home for two whole days has become my favourite part. Obviously right now we can’t really go out and do much, but if the weather is nice enough we’ll bundle up for the cold Ontario winter and go for a walk to the park, or a drive to pick up our online-ordered groceries. Baby T also loves mixing things in the kitchen so we’ve starting baking together, especially things that are easy for her to help us with (like three ingredient Peanut Butter Banana Cookies that I will definitely share the recipe for). Even after Baby T goes to bed, my husband and I make the most of our evenings together by ordering a late take out dinner for two, watching our favourite TV shows or playing card games.
4. Lowering my standards. Did I really just write that? I guess I did. This one was a tough pill to swallow for me, I am a very OCD person with keeping my house neat and tidy all the time. One thing I learned since becoming a mom is that it’s not possible to keep it that clean when you have baby, especially when they start walking and running around the house, pulling things out of drawers and throwing toys that you just put away all over the place. I really had to lower my standards because I started burning out very easily trying to get everything done in a day. One thing I found really helpful, was making a list of my main chores that need to be done weekly and assigning one, maybe two, to a day, so that I knew what was already done by the weekend and wasn’t running around like a crazy person trying to do it all. I still have standards that might be a little higher than a normal person’s but I’ve learned to not stress as much if I don’t meet them all the time. Even as I write this I’m staring at a basket of unfolded laundry, and a while ago I would fold laundry until I fell asleep to get it all done, but now I’m just gonna save it for tomorrow and I’m okay with that.
5. Giving myself time to rest. Like I said above, I found I was burning out pretty quickly after working, taking care of Baby T and getting her off to bed, and doing the housework. I would be disappointed and frustrated if I didn’t get everything done. I started to force myself to sit down and relax in the evenings, which looks a little bit different for everyone, but for me it means watching tv, reading a book, writing some blogs, playing video games (yes, my husband calls me a big nerd for that one) and of course, pouring a nice glass of wine.
These are all things that have really helped me to find the balance with working part time and being a mom to the point where I really feel like I have the best of both worlds. Even in a difficult time like a lockdown I still find myself enjoying both my time at work and my time with my family. If you have more tips to share I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
Thank you so much to Evangelyn Tavares for guest posting!
Fun little tid bit about me, I am a total book worm. Before having my son, any free time I had usually consisted of writing and reading. My favorite hobbies by far and every chance I get, my nose is in a book.
Tell me if you can relate but I feel like whenever you finish a really good book, sometimes you are just at a loss. You connect so well with the characters, you go through their journey with them and then just like that, it’s all over and you feel like you just lost a friend.
Books to me are so powerful, I love all the emotions you can get just from reading one book. You can laugh with the characters, you can cry with them and feel their pain and their heartbreak. There’s nothing better to me than an emotional book, I am a sucker for them. Books to me are like my safe haven. Ever since I was little if I just wanted to get away or just clear my mind from whatever was going on, my first instinct was to grab my favorite book and curl up and get lost in it. I love the connection it gives you, it takes your mind right to where the author decided you should be.
“When reading, we don’t fall in love with the characters appearance. We fall in love with their words, their thoughts, and their hearts. We fall in love with their souls.”
Another confession, I’ve always wished I had the talent and creativity to create a story that the reading world would love, to connect your readers to the characters you have fallen so in love with as you’ve created them and come to know them. That has to be the best reward as an author, to listen to your readers feedback. To find out who their favorite characters were, or what book boyfriend they love the most (we all have one!) I love when I find a book and find out the author actually cried while writing it, just the emotional bond we all find with books is amazing to me.
“We lose ourselves in books, we find ourselves there too.”
We book lovers feel emotions like no other, in the way we interpret words, in the way that our hearts and mind follow whatever story we are into. I love finding characters who relate to what i’m feeling, just like when you hear a song that just tells your story, some characters just tell our own stories so well in their own words. Let’s keep connecting and keep feeling every chance we get, I will always find my safe haven in a good ol’ book.
I really hope my son finds a love for books. Right now he really loves them and learning new things from each book he has which as a mom and as a bookworm, makes me so happy!
Throw a mortgage, kids, pets, so many responsibilities into the mix and it’s even harder.
You see these fairytale pictures and you think, I want that!
I want the smiling faces 24/7. The cuddles. The date nights, the attention. The fun.
Of course you want it all.
The thing is though, it’s all about comprise. A little give and a little take. A LOT of communication.
All that fancy stuff up there, that’s not even the most important parts. It’s the foundation that’s important and that’s what is built on all the things said above.
So I came home the other day already annoyed from working all day. (I hate when that happens)
So any little thing my husband said I already was prepared to make it into a “thing”.
And if you know me at all, you would know I really don’t like being negative. I don’t like conflict, I don’t like getting worked up. It’s just not my personality. Sometimes I do though because I am human, and who do I take it out on most?
You got it, my husband.
I think all of our spouses get the blunt of our moods, unfortunately.
So I was waiting, and just like I thought, he said something that irritated me and so it began.
We went to bed that night both stewing instead of a good night kiss.
And you know what? When I was laying there replaying it all, I thought it doesn’t even matter who’s right and who’s wrong.
Isn’t that what it’s usually about anyway? Which one was in the wrong.
I wasted a whole night being irritated and sassy and what for?
So a few lessons I’ve learned since then.
1. Never go to bed angry
It’s obviously going to happen a time or two but it’s the worst! You don’t sleep good, you wake up feeling sad or mad still or mostly just regretful. Take the time to talk it out calmly before your eyes close for the night. Give that good night kiss or hug. It’s not worth it not to.
2. Realize your partner will do things differently than you.
Even if it’s folding the laundry or doing the dishes or putting things away or doing bath night with the kiddos. Everyone does things differently and that’s ok. Don’t get frustrated, just be grateful for the help. For the support and that you have someone with you to tackle this life with.
3. Don’t talk negative about your partner to others.
This is such a huge thing. I get it, you just get into a fight and the first thing you want to do is call your best friend and just complain. Stop for a second and take a breather. Go do something to keep your mind busy. Write your feelings down. The worst thing you could do is talk down about your partner in this life.
4. Have fun.
Everything doesn’t have to be serious and grown up talk all the time. I know it’s hard to get out and about in this time in our lives but make sure you still have fun together. Laugh together. Love together. That’s what it’s all about!
So next time I come home irritated and just drained from the day or week I’ll remember all these lessons I’ve learned and tell myself that no matter what it doesn’t matter who’s right or who’s wrong.
What are some tips you use to keep your marriage healthy?
I am celebrating 10 years of being a mom this week! I still remember the moment that I first looked into our little girls big eyes. It’s crazy how fast that time flies!
This week I wanted to tell you my top 5 beauty must haves. If there is one thing that I’ve learned in the past decade of “momming”, it’s that some time self-care isn’t a long luxurious bubble bath, or a day trip to the spa. Sometimes it’s simply getting your self presentable within the 10 minutes you have before bolting out the door in the morning.
This little device has changed my life SIGNIFICANTLY! It has literally knocked a half an hour of time off my routine. I had asked my husband to get it for me for my birthday, and he did, and I have used it every day since. The best thing about it was I could dry and style my hair at one time, and for being a busy lady, it drastically improved my life!
Nuetrogena Hydro-Boost Line
I cannot recommend this product line more! I started using the moisturizer the moment it came out. I have dry skin, but in the winter it turns extremely dry! This line has literally saved my skin. It gives me that nice dewy glow without looking oily and greasy. It is perfect under makeup, but quite honestly it’s made me comfortable in my own skin too. That’s a lot of pressure for a product!
I think Vaseline is a very under rated product. I use it for literally everything! Lips, eyebrows, even on my cheek bones to give an extra glow. My hands have been dry and cracking for the past year now (thanks COVID), and at night time I will coat the top of my hands. So soothing!
I don’t use foundation anymore. Even before masks over took our faces. I started buying a good concealer. I started with Tarte Shape Tape, and then Elf came out with a dupe. It’s the 16h Camo Concealer. I honestly can’t tell a difference, but I’m no expert. I just apply under my eyes, depending on how dark the circles are, blend it out, and go!
Wow, I’m not going to lie. I totally inteded doing my top 5, but it’s “mid winter break” and they are still responsible for school work “virtually”.
A Positive, Empowering Approach to sibling Conflict
by Isobel Mary Champion, Parenting Coach (aka The Mummy and Toddler Calmer!)
It is important to try to forge a positive relationship between siblings early on. The relationship between siblings will probably be the longest relationship of their lifetime, and they need to know that they are playing for the same team (not batting for opposite sides!).
Be the team coach!
Having spent over a decade working as a top London nanny (yes, I am a real-life Mary Poppins, and yes, I do have a magical bag full of everything everybody could possibly need!), caring for groups of siblings numbering up to six, I can tell you for a fact that looking after siblings is hardly ever easy! But it is such an important job, and such an important role to play, because siblings are their own little team, and more than anything they need a good team coach. They need tolearn to protect each other, defend each other, and care for each other. They need to know that family comes first! But they also need individual space, individual possessions, individual interests, and room to develop individual personalities. They need to learn that It is ok to be different. Learning to grow as a team outside and inside the home will be a bumpy ride, but as long as you have your positive coaching hat on, you should be able to lead them in the right direction, and empower them to be their best as individuals, and as a team!
Let them play rough sometimes!
Your home environment is your kids’ rehearsal space for the outside world, and this is often where much of the conflict between siblings arises. The home is their safe space for practicing the situations and conflicts that they may come across in the real world – therefore you will often find them honing their skills in arguing, fighting, name-calling and roughhousing! This does not mean you are failing as a parent, or that your team leadership skills are not working! This is natural, your offspring are practising for survival in the outside world- think lion cubs play-fighting in the safety of the family unit. As long as this play-fighting is supervised andtakes place in a controlled environment, and is gentle enough that nobody gets any real scars, try not to worry too much! Gentleness and empathy can be taught go hand in hand with a little rough-play and arguing.
Things will change over time!
The numbers and ages of siblings can raise or lower the conflict stakes (this will be fluid and will naturally change over time), and individual personalities will come into play. One group of siblings is totally unlike any other, and your little gang will require a different team management strategy from that of your friends and neighbours! The grass may be greener on the other side, but no doubt your neighbours are peering over thinking just the same thing! As a parent there is only so much you can do – the personality, temperament and developmental stage of each child will play a big part. Think back to your own childhood, and your own siblings. What was the power balance like? Who was the leader? Who had the strongest personality? Where were the alliances? And did things change over the decades? How about now? Are those relationships the same, or have they transformed or blossomed into something new?
Just try to remember – you are not the referee (keeping score and issuing penalties), you are the team coach! Think of your little crew as a sports team, or a boyband on tour. Your goal is to make them perform as best as possible as a group, to teach them strategies for good sportsmanship, personal growth, group ambition, and resilience in the face of disappointment – and to share your own wisdom and experience with them. But you have to acknowledge that it’s not always going to be perfect. There may be injuries, time-outs, one membermay leave the group and go off and start a solo career or join a rival team, but in the end the bonds between the team members will be strong enough to hold them together in the long run. Give yourself a pat on the back, and shout “Go Team!”!
Here are my 5 top tips for a positive, empowering approach to conflict resolution between siblings:
Your first job is to de-escalate the situation as quickly as possible. Charging in as a “peacemaker” with a loud voice and your finger pointing will only raise the conflict stakes, and give your children the wrong kind of attention (a shared desire for your attention might be the hidden cause of the conflict!). If you get angry and raise your voice, you will only provoke the “fight-or-flight” response, and risk making things worse. While it may feel like you are avoiding dealing with the issue, de-escalating is actually the most effective way to deal with the immediate problem. Don’t worry, you will address the conflict later when everybody has calmed down (see tip 5!).
Use Reason – a calm, firm, matter of fact explanation or resolution to the issue.o Use Humour – joke about it (encourage sense of humour!).
Use Distraction – turn their attention elsewhere (let’s Skype Grandma!).
Use Alternatives – offer a high value alternative (time for a movie?).
Use Food – if this has happened just before a mealtime, hunger might be the cause. Try giving them a breadstick!
2. Encourage apologies, empathy and affection
Encourage both siblings to apologise nicely (eye contact, kind voice, kind face) to each-other for their part in the conflict. Encourage them to give each-other a hug and a kiss on the cheek (nice for little ones), and make sure that the other is ok. Highlight any scratches or bruises that need extra care! Enlist their help in first aid if necessary! This will teach empathy skills and strengthen the bond between siblings.
3. Share the blame (and the punishment!)
Don’t always blame one sibling, especially if he or she has been exhibiting more challenging behaviour lately(sometimes the “good” or smaller (more innocent!) sibling is to blame! If you are dishing out a punishmentor consequence, share it between siblings (e.g. no TV for all, or they all have to pick up the toys on the floor!). This will not only encourage all siblings to behave better, but your children may even bond unexpectedly over a shared punishment! PLEASE NOTE: it takes two to have an argument! Even your most innocent little angel may not have been as innocent as you assume – even a cheeky pout can set off a battle given the right (or wrong!) circumstances!
4. Have a “Team Talk” later
Discuss what happened later when everybody is calm, quiet, and have full tummies! It can be nice to do this when you are all cosy together in your pyjamas (near bedtime?), or sharing a special treat together. Make sure to give all siblings affection and physical contact. Kindly and quietly bring up their dispute, and acknowledge that it wasn’t very nice for anybody, that you love them all very much, that they all love each-other, and that they need to look after each-other. Try asking them if they have any suggestions for how they could have managed their own behaviour better.
5. Anticipate conflict situations
If a situation is coming up where you can anticipate a conflict, try having a “Team Talk” beforehand (I always do this before playdates with a visiting guest of one sibling, or a multiple guest playdate!). This may sound a little corny, but imagine your family are a baseball team about to go out to bat, or a boyband about to go on stage. Take a quiet moment to have a team huddle, say some positive words, acknowledge that this might be tricky, give them some encouragement, tell them that you love them, and that you want them to do their best. Outline a strategy of what you would like them to do if tempers start to fray (e.g. come straight to you and speak quietly about the issue, rather than starting a fight). Add in a high-five and a group hug if you can manage it! This will start the situation off on a high for everybody, and is a good way to teach them leadership skills!
Good ground rules to set (for adults as well as children!):
1. No shouting
2. No interrupting
3. No hitting
4. No hurtful name-calling
5. Always take turns and share
Visit my Parenting Coaching website for more positive, holistic, empowering parenting solutions and guidance:www.isobelmarychampion.com
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @isobelmaryc
Isobel Mary Champion, Parenting Coachwww.isobelmarychampion.com
So I’m a pretty big optimist. It’s definitely one of my weaknesses but also strengths.
I had this perfect picture in my mind when thinking of getting a puppy. Anyone who knows my sweet bub knows how much he loves dogs.
Every time he sees a dog he points to them and yells dog! Excitement in his eyes. So my hubby and I were so excited at the opportunity to bring a pup home shortly after Christmas.
Well…..my son still loves dogs but a new puppy in his home getting the same attention he does?
Uhhh yeah…didn’t go as planned
I was so worried about if Boomer would bite Easton and all of that but I didn’t realize I would have to worry about bub being nice more!
I think I yell NO or STOP and there’s definitely some GET OUT OF THERE’s about 20 times a day.
But soon it eventually turned into one of those TikTok videos (if I knew how to make one I would) when they say “what I thought having a toddler and puppy would be like” then it rolls into “what I got” and you suddenly hear the bad sh*t song come on.
Not even joking, these two are partners in crime and when I say they get into everything I mean EVERYTHING.
I don’t even know what’s hidden under my couches with the little hands pushing things be the little tail wagging around.
Bub is sweet but has learned how to get into the dog food container and secretly feeds Boomer extra food even if it’s just a few pieces at a time.
I now never ever go to the bathroom alone. There is a toddler getting into the vanity and there’s a puppy getting into the bathroom trash.
When I leave the room and it’s quiet, you better bet mischief is happening.
But we are a little over a month into this new toddler and puppy life and they are slowly getting used to each other.
Yes there’s some puppy bites.
Yes there are accidents.
Yes there is some tail pulling.
But we are navigating and embracing this new adventure (told you embracing was my 2021 motto!)
And it’s been fun and exhausting and super cute and the cuddles are the best ever because I get cuddles from both and sometimes at the same time! I missed my feet being warmed by soft fur❤️
Moral of the story is, I love my little family so much! I can’t wait to share more adventures of Bub and Boomer with you all!
When we women first discover that we are pregnant, we begin a journey in which we expect our lives to change – in the most wonderful of ways. We watch in awe as our bellies grow into these sweet bumps that hold our growing mircles, our wonderful little babes. We excitedly prepare a nursery in our home and we begin shopping for the smallest, sweetest pieces of clothing. We stock up on necessities like diapers, booties and the softest blankets you can imagine. It’s such a thrilling time for expecting parents and we allow our maternal instincts to go into overdrive as we prepare for the arrival of our first born babies.
We love counting down the nine months of pregnancy week by week, celebrating each milestone – we take monthly bump pictures, updating our social media followers, friends and family members on the size of fruit or vegetable our growing baby currently is. We wait for the tiny flutters of kicks and we enjoy the feeling of our babies rolling around inside our bumps until the grand finale of pregnancy is upon us and we are ready to deliver our baby. We are more than excited to meet the tiny person inside of us that we have created.
Then, suddenly….. it happens. Labour. Delivery. Birth. And, ahhhhh, the sweet arrival of our newborn.
It’s a whilrlwind of excitement and hormones and the biggest love you’ve ever known; and then – if all goes according to plan – you find yourself bringing this tiny bundle home, ready to begin your adventure as a new parent to this precious gift.
Up until this point, chances are that not too many things have caught you off guard. You were probably well read on and prepared for the pregnancy and birth of your baby. You likely had everything in place, planned and arranged. And – if you are anything like me – you kind of thought that caring for a newborn would follow in that suit. You did your homework, you were knowledgeable and prepared. You were ready.
And – if your experience was anything like mine – you quickly realized that, despite your best paid plans, you were in for a surprise.
Having a newborn is hard. Every single second of every single day is suddenly consumed by your brand new baby and any notion you previously had of being in control quickly goes O-U-T the window. Nothing is as you expected it to be. Your body is a strange place you now inhabit. Sleep is just not happening. Personal hygeine is nothing like it was before and you kind of feel alone in this, despite having a partner there with you. After all, YOUR body is the one recovering. YOUR body is the one feeding the baby. YOUR heartbeat is the one that’s familiar and comforting to your infant. It all feels as though it is 100%, completely, solely on YOU.
And, sweet new mama, if you truly are anything like me – you’re not going to ask for help. You are going to do it all yourself. You are going to fight to stay in control and you’re not going to open up about your struggles as a brand new momma. I get it. I didn’t want to, either.
Well, it’s been two babies and five years now since the first time I was a brand new mama and I am here to tell you that if you don’t reach out, speak up and validate the way you are feeling; if you truly do take the weight of the world on your own shoulders – you are going to crack. Life, parenting, and raising children is not a one woman show. And it certainly is not a show you can put on when you are not maintaining your own health – mental, spiritual, physical and emotional. It is imperative, new mama, that you are prioritizing your own wellbeing, even though your life has drastically changed and chances are you’ve probably put everyone else at the top of your priority list.
It turns out that is is not just a slogan we have all joked about, heard or on a t-shirt; the old adage ‘if mommy’s not happy, nobody’s happy’ – it’s the actual truth. You NEED to take care of yourself, for your baby. For your family. For yourself. This is a lesson that I personally learned the hard way and, even when it isn’t comfortable or doesn’t come naturally, I am learning to ask for help and to lessen the amount of pressure and expectations I have put on myself.
There are a lot of ways to practice self-care and everybody’s practice looks different. But, what I am going to share with you today, are seven really awesome ways that most momma’s will enjoy that are designed to cultivate mindfulness as a way to help restore sanity and promote self-love and self-care – even when you have a newborn and a circus of a household around you.
* If I had written this article prior to being a mom myself, I probably would have suggested waking up before your children in order to secure yourself some quiet time in the mornings -which actually is a beautiful way to begin your day – but if your children wake up before the crack of dawn like mine do, that might not be a realistic option. Therefore, it is crucial that you intentionally take time during the day to practice mindfulness.
1) Something I like to do in my home is to set up little ‘stations’ that serve as little reminders for me to take a quick moment to decompress. For me, my ‘stations’ each have a diffuser, some essential oils premixed and ready to drop in as well as a roller to apply, a book with a short reading and some flowers, just because I love them. I can quickly pause what I am doing, read something inspirational, get some oils going and take a few deep breaths before I continue along my day. I have several of these throughout my home and not only are they beautiful, but they serve as a physical reminder for me to pause and reconnect to the present moment.
2) If space allows it, having an alter or area to lay your yoga mat, meditation pillow and some relaxing essential oils readily available is the perfect way to offer a gentle reminder for you to practice a short flow during your day. Stretching our bodies, getting the blood moving in our system and allowing ourselves to breathe is a beautiful practice to employ when you have a minute or two to spare. My space like this now has two mats because I have a little blonde three year old yogi who likes to stretch alongside her momma, but that’s just fine by me. Whether she and I stop for five minutes or thirty, having my mat ready reminds me to stop, stretch and breathe and I hope it models that same practice for her, too.
3) A mindful practice you can employ on the go, whether you are out dropping your children off at day care, in like at the grocery store, watching their sports practice or on the phone is a breathing exercise. One of my favourite ones is a learned practice from Gabrielle Bernstein – my personal guru, picutres below – called ‘Nodi Shodhana’ or Opposite Nostril Breathing. It is designed to calm your mind, relax your nerves and help you focus as you balance the left and right hemispheres of your brain. There are many ways to practice this, but what I like to do is simply doing a full exhale, then covering your right nostril with your right thumb and doing a full, deep inhale. Hold for 3-5 seconds and then remove your thumb and exhale. Repeat on the opposite side with your left thumb and nostril. A few minutes of breathing this way helps settle our bodies and minds, as well as our emotions. Often times we find ourselves feeling frazzled, anxious and ‘out of sorts’ because we are unbalanced. We can find ourselves doing too many things at once, having ‘too many tabs open’ in our minds or are simply overwhelmed by our surroundings. This practice helps restore this balance and is a wonderful way to reconnect to the present moment.
4) Something I love to do at least once a day is a quick, 5 minute Journalling + Gratitide practice. To make this quick and easy, I literally use The 5 Minute Journal because it’s a simple way to jot down my thoughts for the day and it’s a guided writing practice. Meaning, I fill in the blanks and carry on. It’s designed to be written in in the morning and again in the evening, but you can create your own ritual with it. It’s a proven fact that being grateful for what we have helps adjust our mindset and can help us attract even more things to be grateful for. Especially for new moms, when the days truly blur into one another, having a keepsake like this will be a beautiful thing to look back on for years to come.
5) EnVISION your future. OK, this is kind of a cheat one because it can sometimes turn into a little bit of a ‘mindless’ mindfulness practice – if that makes sense. This form of mindful practice is a Pinterest Vision board. Done on your tablet or cell phone, use the Pinterest app or website to design a Vision Board. I like to do one for each year. I save pins that have inspiring quotes, trips I want to take, moments I want to create with my family, big ticket items I would like to puchase, renovations I would like to do to our home, goals I have for myself, etc. This is something I can come back to when I need motivation or inspiration and something I like to add to all through the year. It’s fun to look back on year after year to see how my dreams and vision change. The reason I say it can be mindless is because I do often tend to get lost in the endless scrolling that’s available on Pinterest, but it can be a useful tool to take a mindful minute, grab a coffee, relax a bit and save some dreams – big or small – to your board.
6) If you need some guidance in getting into a more positive frame of mind, or you simply need some assistance in being mindful, I suggest giving a walking medititation a try or testing out an app like ‘HeadSpace’. A walking meditation allows your mind to wander as your senses take in your surroundings, allowing thoughts and feelings to come and then be released as they pass. An app like ‘Head Space’ helps guide you through a meditation, so whether you are practiced in meditating or are brand new, you can spend a few minutes getting zen with the guidance from a pro. When practicing either (or really any form of meditation) I apply + diffuse oils, tell my husband that I need some time alone, and truly cherish some time to be alone with my thoughts. I am slowly learning through meditation that it is safe for all my feelings to come, to validate them, and then to allow them to pass – knowing that both good and bad emotions serve a purpose and that they are tools I can use to help learn more about what is really going on inside of me.
7) Of course, my mini-list here of ways to be mindful would be incomplete without incuding a truly mindful practice – albeit one many new moms truly may not have time for – and it is reading. Reading for joy or to further your learning and self-development, something all new moms can do for their own mental well being is to rest, relax and read. My favourite author, Gabrielle Bernstein, is a wonderful source of inspiration for me and I use her works as guides for my own spiritual journey and to improve my mental wellbeing. I also like to read romance novels, books about spirituality, home design inspiration and cookbooks – the options are endless for topics to discover and read about. If you’re not a reader, but still want to tune in, Audible or PodCasts are great, too. Anything that you can read or listen to that directs your thinking and gives you the sense that you are doing something solely to benefit you momma, is great.
Like I said, there really are so many wonderful ways to practice self-care and sometimes it takes testing several out before you find the one that works for you. Sometimes even just loading the kids into the stroller and getting out of the house to go for a walk is enough to get you – and them – out of your environment and into some fresh air. Maybe you’ll find that a creative hobby is what moves you and makes you feel mindful, maybe it’s cleaning your home, talking to a friend, writing or journalling, cooking or building something – whatever it is that works for you, it is important that all moms – whether you’re in the newborn days or are a mom to teens now – find ways to take some mindful moments, to create space and to intentionally focus on mental health and wellbeing in whatever way suits you best.
Please remember; if you are truly struggling with being mindful, if life seems unmanageable, if your emotions truly are not in check and you feel your anxiety/depression heightening – seek professional help. Whether its an online counsellor, a therapist, a service you can call into or something else. Connect with your family doctor and discuss what’s going on, making sure to consider your environmental, sleeping, eating and substance use habits. Speak to someone you trust, someone who is educated in the field of maternal mental health and who can direct your best on the path to healing.
We moms spend our entire lives giving our love to our families – it is imperative that we practice self-love first. Taking mindful moments in our day is a beautiful way to show our own selves that love, to honour our needs and to create space in our day to care for ourselves.
Parenting, mothering, nurturing and raising babies is a beautiful, messy, unpredictable and hard season. It is one to be honoured and celebrated and enjoyed, too. Our hard moments help us grow and our joyful moments help us cherish our days. Wherever you are in your journey, know that your worth is important and that self-care is not selfish.
Take some mindful moments, momma, love on yourself and then share that love with your babies.
Thank you so much to Marlys Morden for guest blogging for us!
To connect with her be sure to visit her blog and website for a healthier lifestyle!