15 June 2017

14 Ways to Bring Calm & Peace Into Your Parenting

As moms, we have a wonderful way of beating ourselves up a lot over every little thing. In reading through my social media posts daily, it seems as if this trend of self-shaming has become the rule instead of the exception.

Parenting is hard. It's a crazy combination of feeling like it's the best thing you've ever done with your life coupled with the nagging feeling of, "WTF am I doing/thinking?" While I'm clearly no pro at this parenting gig, I've come to learn a few things over the past five and a half years that help me invite calm and peace into my parenting which in turn, makes a profound difference for both myself, Maddy, and our family. If anything, take comfort in this advice and know that whatever struggle you're going through right now, some mother somewhere is right there with you. You're never, ever alone. 
  

14 Ways to Bring Calm & Peace Into Your Parenting

Not breast feeding isn't the end of the world. Don't ever let anyone make you feel bad for choosing not to do it. The important thing is that your child is fed and is thriving, regardless of the method by which it happens. 


If you have to/want to work, find a day care you, but more importantly, your child loves. It will give you peace of mind while you're away during the day and
finding the perfect center is worth its weight in gold.


Live with less. It is amazing how little "stuff" baby and kids really needs and there is no need to go into debt for things that are temporary and will be outgrown/out-used before you know it.


Follow the adage, "Sleep when the baby sleeps." I did the complete opposite as a new mom because I felt like I had to keep all the balls in the air all the time. I got very little accomplished and still wound up frustrated and exhausted. There will always be laundry and housework to do so let it be. 




Follow your gut and intuition. Many people will have an opinion of how you should be taking care of your child(ren), but only you know what is best for you and your kids. It isn't called "Mother's Intuition" for nothing. Trust your gut, that bitch knows what’s up.


Remember you. Do your best to keep up with hobbies and the things you enjoy doing outside of your child. Yes - our children are the priority but for us to be our best selves for them, we need the time and opportunity to remember who our best selves are without our kids.
It’s okay to be selfish with ourselves and our time every now and again.


Learn to let go and let your spouse/partner take over. If you're a control freak like me, this will be hard to do at first but in the end, you can't carry everything by yourself. It doesn't matter if the laundry isn't done the way you like or if the kitchen isn't cleaned to your liking. The point is - it's done. You don't have to worry about doing it. Simply be appreciative and move on.


Learn to say "No" more. You don't have to be everything to everyone. Period. 


Find a good set of mom/parent friends. As much as you like to think that your kids won't hinder your relationship with friends who aren't parents, it will. It is the truth and the reality of becoming parents that no one likes to admit or talk about. The bigger reality is that they will have no clue {to no fault of their own} on how to fit in with your new lifestyle. You don't have to lose these friends, but it helps to make new friends too; mommy and parent friends will be able to help you laugh, commiserate, and work your way through parenthood.


Stay off the Internet researching everything under the sun. It will drive you crazy and to madness!! Picture this: there was a time when people managed to raise children successfully without the help of the Internet. Hard to believe I know, but it's true. I found myself spending hours of wasted time in front of my laptop for every little thing that I felt was wrong with me or my child and you know what? In the end, reading things off the Internet only made me feel worse. 



Let the kiddos be young. This is the only time in their life that they can act free and uninhibited. Let them do it! It goes against every fiber of my "everything in its place, neat and tidy" being to let Maddy be messy, but I do it; finger paints, playing in the dirt, the messy room - all of it because bottom line, it's her happiness and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. It can all be fixed and cleaned, momma. They only get one childhood – let them be little.




Tell your child "No" every now and again. We've all encountered, or had our own kids be “that child.” Enough said.

Be the disciplinarian - not the best friend parent. Bottom line, you have a job to do. Raising a human is no joke, y'all. You will have time to cultivate a friendship with your child when they are an adult. Right now, it's time to take care of business. I didn't understand this growing up with my own parents but I do now that I have my own child and I THANK GOD every day that they understood and implemented this very fine principle for myself and my two sisters. 



And finally, when all else fails, drink a fabulous glass {or two} of wine.


What are your best tips to make it through this journey of parenthood?



12 May 2017

Dear Maddy: I Celebrate YOU on Mother's Day

Dearest Madeline,
Dear Maddy: I Celebrate YOU on Mother's Day



Here we are, our fifth Mother’s Day together. Can you believe it? We’ve come a long way, haven’t we baby?


Our start together wasn’t easy. There were many long days and nights where I found myself sitting in a slobbering mess on the floor, begging God to take you back because I had no idea what I was doing. Surely the fact that He thought I should be someone’s mother was a mistake. My resume for motherhood wasn’t so hot since caring for 3 cats clearly isn’t the same as caring for a child. I couldn’t litter box train you, pet you and then put you down or simply ignore you all together as I could with my feline babies so what was I supposed to do with you? Neither of us had any answers so we did what any new mother and daughter duo would do together in those first few weeks…


Cry.



You would cry and I would cry and together, we made one sad little orchestra of “Oh my God, what the FUCK have I done?” Having a bout with post-partum depression didn’t help matters much but somehow, we pulled through. The days turned into weeks which turned into months and amongst the long nights of no sleep, the ups and downs of not being able to breast feed, the endless mountains of laundry, the spit up, the blow-outs and so much more crap that comes along with a baby that I can’t even recall…


We found each other.


You were my new constraint on life but you were gracious and gave me the freedom to learn how to be your mommy. You waited patiently as I took forever to calculate how much formula needed to be put in your bottle through my sleep-deprived eyes. You giggled with delight when I would put your diaper on backwards (“silly mommy” has always been your favorite). You would ever so simply frown at me when I got water in your eyes at bath time as if to say, “I’m going to let that one slide since you’re new at this.” You indulged me every time I wanted to dress you up in some monstrosity of an outfit that I, grandma or Target deemed to be “cute.” Together, we became a team: you gave me the room to learn and grow as a mom and in return, I fell head over heels in love with you.




As the years have passed, our relationship has continued to grow and change as it always will. There have been times of immense happiness and there have been times of tears and pain. There have been days where I’ve wanted to run screaming from our home and never look back, but there have been many more days where I’ve wanted to hold you forever and never let go. You have made me laugh. You’ve made me cry. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made me so angry that I couldn’t even see straight. You’ve made me frustrated and overwhelmed beyond belief. You’ve made me a better person in so many ways but most importantly…


It is you who’ve made me a mother. 



This day may be called Mother’s Day but without you Maddy, it would just be another day on the calendar. In all your wonderfully amazing chaos, it is you who have made me the woman I am today and it is you who will continue to shape the woman I become years from now. In all the things you’ve given me in our almost six years together, the best thing you ever gave me was the opportunity to be your mother and for that blessing, I am eternally grateful.


On Sunday, yes, I will take time to celebrate myself but in doing so, I will celebrate you as well. I am SO PROUD to be your mother. Every day I look at you and think to myself how incredibly amazing and fabulous you are and to think that your father and I created that? Well, it blows my fucking mind. 




It’s only Mother’s Day because of you, my love. It has always been, and will always be, about you. Thank you for being my child. 



Always and forever,
Mommy














14 February 2017

Things I Truly Love: A Valentine's Day Confession

Confession: I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. More so, I feel like the word “love” and its meaning gets thrown around far too half-hazard these days and then, BOOM. In swoops Valentine’s Day to cheapen the whole damn thing. If I’m being honest, I’m embarrassed for us all that we’ve taken something so great as love and pretty much turned it into materialized, commercialized crap.


I don’t believe in setting aside one special day to celebrate love, or the people in our lives that mean the world to us. We should be doing this every day. Finding joy, love and happiness in our everyday lives should be celebrated on the regular. So, if you’re currently throwing a pity party for one because you haven’t found that “special someone” in your life, or if you’re tying your self-worth to whether you receive flowers, jewelry or a fancy steak dinner today, allow me to remind you that today isn’t about tacky ass teddy bears or God awful chocolates that you wouldn’t care about any other time of the year.


It’s about celebrating love in all its glorious shapes and forms.


Along those lines, I thought it would be fun to share a few things with you guys that I truly love (aside from my daughter, family etc. Those are givens). These are a few things that I truly love and cherish daily or in my everyday life. Let us all take time to appreciate the little things in life and how they add up to be so much. Celebrate love daily, and always find the joy in simple things.


I thought it would be fun to share a few things with you guys that I truly love (aside from my daughter, family etc. Those are givens). These are a few things that I truly love and cherish daily or in my everyday life. Let us all take time to appreciate the little things in life and how they add up to be so much. Celebrate love daily, and always find the joy in simple things.
I truly love…


… the first sip of coffee in the morning.


… reading other’s words and finding a connection within them.


… the first sleep on fresh clean sheets.


… the feeling a great song invokes.


… stimulating, inspiring and engaging conversation.


… black and white photography.


… holding my daughter and feeling her skin against mine. I carried her for nine months. Sometimes it makes me incredibly sad that one day I will pick her up to hold and carry her and it will be the last time.


… the smell of butter and garlic simmering in a pan.


… an overcast, cloudy day (not raining) with a light cool breeze.


… fall and winter.


… falling asleep on the sofa. It’s so comforting to me.


… a fresh, juicy hamburger, a great glass of wine, and good, high-quality food. Perfectly cooked scallops, foie gras, and oysters raw on the half shell.


… breweries and wineries.


… cleaning. yes, cleaning. It’s incredibly soothing and cathartic to me.


… the smell of an old book, or any book for that matter.


… fresh flowers in the home.


… traveling.


… snail mail, written letters and cards.


… the ocean and sand between my toes.




…musicals, the theatre, independent movies and documentaries.


… animals, and their unique ability to show unconditional love to anyone and everyone.


How about you? What are some things that really tug at your heartstrings and radiate love? 

07 February 2017

Why I Don't Feel Guilt as a Working Mom

As women and as mothers, we naturally carry guilt. Some more so than others, but we all do it. At one time or another, we all have something that creeps up into our lives to make us feel guilty as parents.

My biggest battle with guilt comes in the form of being a working mom. While I enjoy working and wouldn’t have it any other way, from time to time, I have this little voice in the back of my head that says, “You should be making the sacrifices necessary to stay at home with your child.” That little voice isn’t always so nice.

For a while when we lived in Colorado, I was only working part-time which you would think would be a great compromise but really, I think it was worse. If I was at home with my child, I’d be thinking about work and if I was at work, I’d be thinking about my child. It all became mentally and emotionally exhausting. It was time to conquer my mental battle once and for all. 

Why should I feel guilty for wanting to work when in all reality, being a working mom is what makes me happy and in return, makes me a happier and better mom and person for my partner? Just because we have children, it doesn’t mean that all our own happiness, wants, and wishes should be flushed down the toilet. True, we put our children’s happiness first but that doesn’t mean that we should completely set aside our own happiness.  

I found myself becoming more confident in my choice to be a working mom when my mentality of what being a working mom actually means to me began to change. Instead of thinking of my career as a burden that sucks time away from my child, I started to look at it as an opportunity to grow and culture myself personally and professionally which in return, reaped benefits for me in the home. I started thinking of day care tuition as an investment towards my career which in turn, would ultimately provide a better life for my family instead of thinking of it as money flying out the window as I earned it. I began to feel true fulfillment in my choice to be a working mother and gave myself permission to have both – work and family life. 

So, for those of you who still struggle with the guilt of working or still wrestle with your purpose in the working world, here are all the reasons I love being a working mom.


For those of you who still struggle with the guilt of working or still wrestle with your purpose in the working world, here are all the reasons I love being a working mom.
ONE. The Kids Are Alright
Really, your kids who are in day care are just fine. Don’t believe me? Then just look at the evidence. The NICHD estimates that kids who are in high-quality day care score much higher on cognitive and verbal comprehension tests. The social aspects alone are amazing. Now, this isn’t to say that day care centers are far superior than SAHM’s or in home child care providers. Every family is different and so are the families’ circumstances. There are pros and cons to everything. This is just to simply say that you don’t have to feel so bad about all those hours your child is in day care. Rest easy behind your desk, momma. The kids are just fine.


TWO. Girl Power!
The only thing that’s going to make it easier for women to get into, stay in, and advance in the workforce is by having other women in the workforce. By being a working mom, you’re adding one more fabulous female to the workforce who understands what it’s like to juggle being a working gal with being a mom. Strength in numbers, ladies! Let’s embrace and show solidarity.


THREE. All by Myself
Being a working mom also means having alone time in the bathroom, running errands alone during lunch breaks, and before day care pickup in the afternoon, and eating your lunch completely uninterrupted without having little hands all in your plate or crying because you don’t like what’s being served. Y’all, I can’t even lie. Some days, these benefits outweigh everything. #truth.


FOUR. Poppin Tags
While we have a monthly budget, have bills to pay, and try to save as much as possible, when I want to, I can buy my own things {relatively} guilt-free. It’s nice to know that I have access to my own money and when I see a reasonably priced shirt that I want to buy, I do it without guilt {For the most part} because I work hard and contribute to our family’s finances. This wouldn’t necessarily be the case if I wasn’t working. The purse strings would be much, much tighter. For me personally, there is satisfaction in knowing that I’m doing my part to help make our family run and that I’m not dependent solely on another person for everything. Because I work, we have the flexibility to purchase “wants” on top of “needs” too. 


FIVE. Monkey See Monkey Do
No, I’m not home with my daughter but I feel that in being a working mom, I’m the example that she can do it too, if she chooses. She may take another path in her life but at the very least, I’m showing her that all things are possible and that she can enjoy the best of both worlds. My choice to be a working mom doesn’t make me any less a good mom and it’s important to me that she understands this concept as well. 


What are your thoughts? If you’re a working mom or dad, how do you deal with the mental guilt?

02 February 2017

10 Ways to Practice Random Acts of Kindness With Your Children

A few years ago, after giving birth to our daughter, I found myself in the drive-thru of McDonalds ordering 3 apple turnovers, a large coke, a quarter pounder with cheese and a large fry. I had made it through one of those kinds of nights: baby crying for most of the night, little to no sleep and a severe neck cramp brought on by bending my body like a pretzel, all to get Maddy to sleep in a comfortable position so that hopefully, I could get some sleep too. After a night like that, I was in no mood to cook and felt I deserved a little refined sugar, salty, grease reward.


As I waited my turn in the drive-thru, I looked out my rearview mirror. After getting past the fact that I hadn’t showered or washed my hair in days, I happened to notice that the man behind me was crying in his car. Crying. In the McDonald’s drive-thru. My heart immediately went out to this man. I did not know him and I had never seen him before in my life. All I knew from what I could see was that this man was feeling an immense amount of pain so deep, that it forced a breakdown in a public place. At that very moment, my heart went out to him and I wanted to help.


But how? I did not know this man and I wasn’t about to get out of my car, walk through the drive-thru line and hold everyone up. Then the idea hit me – pay for his food. As I pulled up to the window, I asked the cashier how much the total was for the car behind me. It was around $10 so I asked if it could be added to my bill. I paid for both of our meals and left. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I happened to look back in my rearview mirror once more to see the same man who just minutes before was so upset, was now so overjoyed.


I pulled out of the parking lot and made my way down the road feeling the happiest I had in weeks. As I came to a stop at the intersection and waited for the light, a car pulled up beside me. As I turned to the right of me to look around, the man in the car was waving his hands for me to roll down my window. It was the same man who was behind me in the drive-thru. What he told me next left me feeling nothing short of humbled and grateful.


He told me that he had literally just left his office after finding out that he lost his job and being the only breadwinner in the family, had no idea how he was going to take care of his wife and their three children. In shock after hearing the news, he went to McDonald’s on a whim but quickly realized after ordering his meal, that he didn’t have any money on him. That’s when he broke down and lost it. He thanked me profusely and said that while he was still very scared about his family’s future, he knew everything would be okay in the end. The light turned green and we parted ways. I never saw him again but I like to think that now, a few years later, he and his family are doing well.  


I do not share this story with you to earn kudos or to gain attention. My point for telling this story is simple: we never know the struggles others are going through. When we are able, extend a helping hand. Offer a kind word. We never know how our actions will affect others, good or bad.


Along this same line, I’ve thought of this incident often, especially now that I have a child of my own to raise in a world where kindness isn’t always commonplace. We’ve all heard the catch phrase “random acts of kindness,” and while we may try to show kindness to others, how do we as parents instill those values in our children? We live in such a materialistic, greedy, self-centered world and teaching our children to step beyond that is no small task. I believe in setting the example through our actions. Our children will look to us for direction and guidance. They will also learn what they live so what do our actions say?


Finding ways to practice random acts of kindness doesn’t have to be a blown-out production. Kindness comes in many different shapes, sizes and forms and while this one act of kindness came with a price tag, most acts of kindness can be done for free. Below, I'm sharing 10 ideas of simple random acts of kindness that you can do with your children at any age to help them understand this concept so they can apply it in their own lives for a lifetime.

Finding ways to practice random acts of kindness doesn’t have to be a blown-out production. Kindness comes in many different shapes, sizes and forms and while this one act of kindness came with a price tag, most acts of kindness can be done for free. Below, I'm sharing 10 ideas of simple random acts of kindness that you can do with your children at any age to help them understand this concept so they can apply it in their own lives for a lifetime.



ONE. Leave a homemade treat with a kind note for your mailman in the mailbox. These men and women provide such a thankless service every day regardless of weather conditions, traffic and more. Let them know you appreciate what they do for you.


TWO. Buy the car behind you in the drive-thru a coffee or a meal.


THREE. Help an elderly neighbor with grocery shopping, yard maintenance or simply spend some time with them talking and being a companion. This will mean more to them then you will ever know.


FOUR. Leave 10 {or any desired amount} of $1 bills in random spots in the dollar store. If you’re feeling extra kind, leave the 0.07 cents for tax. Imagine how happy the single mother shopping for her kids will be or the child who wants a toy but mommy and daddy are hesitant to buy one because of their tight budget. It sounds like so little to us but it makes such a HUGE difference in the lives of others who really need it.


FIVE. Make small gift baskets for kids who are in the hospital and deliver them with your children.




SIX. Make treats for your co-workers or your child’s school friends. This is a fun activity to do together while teaching a very selfless action of thinking of others.


SEVEN. Be kind to someone you dislike. Our children are always watching and listening. What do you think they see and hear when they look at you?


EIGHT. Offer your time to stressed or tired parents for free babysitting.


NINE. Buy a separate piggy bank for your child. Once it’s full, have them donate the money to the charity or organization of their choice.


TEN. Collect your child’s old books that they no longer read and donate them to a children’s center, shelter or local library.


These are just a few ideas to get you started and really, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many things we can do to help spread kindness and joy to others.


This year, random acts of kindness week is February 12 – 18. I challenge and encourage each of you to find ways to spread a little kindness during that time and through the year to be a positive influence and driver for change in our world. If you need more information, ideas or inspiration, visit the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation web page.


What random acts of kindness ideas do you have to share?