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2 In health/ intentional living/ Motherhood

10 ways I practice self care daily since becoming a mom

There is no job more exhausting than being a mom. Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely rewarding but it’s also downright exhausting. All of our energy goes into caring for our families and making sure everyone is healthy and happy. As mom’s it’s natural we’re always doing for everyone else that so often our own self care takes the back burner.  But it’s like they say when you board the plane “put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others”. What good are you to everyone else if you’re not at 100% yourself?

If you go on the internet, you’ll see the term “self-care” all over. But self-care is more than just massages and bubble baths. (I love those things as much as the next woman trust me.) Self care is anything that re-fuels or re-charges you, mentally, physically or spiritually so that you can continue to give your best self. I’m sharing some simple ways you can add self care to your day to day routine.

Here are 10 ways I practice self care daily since becoming a mom:

 

1.) Enjoy a cup of hot coffee or tea by yourself – That first morning cup of coffee, alone and in silence, it’s sacred. That’s my me-time. My husband knows that if he or my son happen to wake up early, to stay in bed and give me my time alone.

 

2.) Get dressed in the morning – I don’t get all fancy, but putting on jeans and a top, doing my hair and throwing on some concealer and mascara makes me feel like a decent human. Think of when you were on maternity leave, hadn’t showered in a week and wore that same pair of leggings for the 5th day in a row how you felt. The power of a hot shower, real clothes and a little makeup does wonders for your mental health.

 

3.) Clean or organize something – For me, having a clean home is like my xanax. Now, don’t get confused, my house is in no way spotless. I’m not on my hands and knees scrubbing or vacuuming every day (that’s why I have a Roomba). But daily I go through our common living spaces and put things away to get rid of the clutter and keep it organized. Looking at things scattered around my house makes my brain feel scattered and anxious vs when things are orderly bringing a sense of calm.

 

4.) Cook or bake something – For some people this may seem like more work so if that’s you, then don’t do it. I love being in my kitchen. On my days off I love to either bake a yummy treat to have in the house (try my version of Joanna Gaines’ lemon poppyseed bread) or try a new recipe for dinner. It’s fun for me and makes me feel like I accomplished something.

 

5.) Practice gratitude – Each morning, usually during my morning coffee, I think about the things that I am grateful for and everything I have. When things start to go a little sideways, I bring myself back to that mental list and remind myself of all I have to be thankful for.

 

6.) Read a book or listen to a podcast – Reading is one of my absolute favorite things to do. I love to lay down with a good book and flip through the pages, getting lost in the story. It doesn’t have to be a book. You can read a magazine or a few articles from a favorite blog. I love The EveryMom and Nesting With Grace. You can also listen to a favorite podcast.

 

7.) Do some goal setting or daydream – I do this during my morning coffee (see why that time is so sacred?).  Sometimes it’s just daydreaming about a nice vacation or thinking about projects I want to do around the house to make our home my dream home. Other mornings it’s literally writing down things that I want to accomplish that day.

 

8.) Laugh – whether it’s laughing at myself or something my son said or did, I try to find the humor in daily situations.

 

9.) Say No – This was something I was lucky to learn a few years ago at a time when I felt like I was being stretched too thin. I’m a natural people pleaser and I like to make people happy. But if it doesn’t make you happy or stresses you out, it’s ok to say no to things.

 

10.) Go to bed early – Nothing recharges you like a good night’s sleep which since entering motherhood is few and far between. A couple night’s a week, I go to bed early before anyone else, leaving my hubby to do bedtime duty. I’ve been doing this since I was in college. When I was home from school it was a little joke with my parents that “I was retreating for the night”.  But that’s just what it is, my retreat. Some nights I read or meditate or doing nothing at all and just let my mind veg out. It’s a nice way to end the day and quiet the mind from all the constant thinking and worrying.

 

What are some of your favorite ways to practice self care?

 

 

10 self care ideas for moms

7 In Motherhood

A letter to me before you

a letter to me before you

Do you ever look back and think how different you were before becoming a mom? If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice before entering motherhood what would you say? I’ve linked up with some other mamas and we’ve all written a letter to our pre-mama selves doing just that. When you’re finished reading mine, head to the bottom of this post and read their versions of “A letter to me before you”.

 

Dear mama,

Yes you, I’m talking to you. You’re a real ball of fire. You’ve worked so hard to reach academic success and now you’re a hard-working career woman, bringing home the bacon. But you know how to have fun too. There’s lots of nights out for drinks after work, brunches on the weekend, and boy do you shop til you drop. You take pride in yourself, putting yourself first. You enjoy living carefree and having no commitments.

You’re still not quite sure you’re cut out for the motherhood thing. Trust me, you’ll know when it’s time and it’s the best thing that will ever happen to you.  And when it is time, you’ll have to work really hard at it, but you’ve always persevered.  With a little help from science, it will happen. From that moment on, your whole life will change. And there’s no greater joy than watching as a life grows inside you.

maternity photos

The minute you see your husband holding your new baby your heart just swells. You’ll go home with that little bundle and when the sleepless nights hit and the monotony of maternity leave sinks in think to yourself “what have I done?” But you’ll get through it. You’re not used to asking for help, but that’s what family is for.

Some days, you won’t even recognize yourself. You will look in the mirror one day and see that you have morphed into a totally different person, one who’s been wearing that same pair of leggings for a week and with spit up on your shirt. But it’s the best version of you. Don’t get hung up on those stretchmarks and deflated breasts. Those are your reminder of what an incredible miracle your body grew.

Don’t worry about being perfect. Your son will remind you daily that he doesn’t want the perfect mom, he wants you. He doesn’t care if your house is clean, or that the sink is full of dirty dishes. Hold him as long as you want, everything else can wait. And when he wants you to get down on the floor and play with him, just play. He will teach you not to take life too seriously.  That smile of his and that musical laugh, there’s no better sound in the world and you will do anything to make him laugh again, just so you can hear it.

playroom

When it’s time to go back to work, your heart will feel like it’s being torn. But you’ll learn to balance career and family.  And now, your priorities have changed. There will be no greater sense of pride or accomplishment than when you see your son do something new for the first time. Or when you come home from a long day at work and he runs over to you and throws his arms around you and says “I wuv you mama”. And as you cuddle on the couch, all of the day’s stresses just melt away. Because this is all that truly matters.

And when it’s time for baby #2, you’ll think to yourself “how could I love another baby as much as the first?” and a whole nother set of worries will appear. But you’ll manage and figure it out, just like you did the first time. Because if there’s anything motherhood has taught you, it’s that you’re flexible, yet resilient.

By far, becoming a mom is the greatest gift. You will truly find yourself in motherhood. And while you may not be the same woman you once were, loving another little human more than you could possibly love yourself is your greatest success.

a letter to me before you

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0 In csection/ Motherhood/ pregnancy

Maxwell’s birth story

cesarean section

As a labor and delivery nurse, I think it’s natural that I love reading and hearing about other people’s birth stories. They are each so different and so beautiful.

I have thought for a long time about sharing Maxwell’s birth story.  At first, it wasn’t one that I was proud to share as it wasn’t the birth I had hoped for. But over time I’ve learned that every story is different and truly it doesn’t matter whether you had your baby vaginally or by csection. Two years later and as I prepare to bring baby #2 into the world, I’m finally getting to it. (#procrastinatorsunite)

So here goes…

My birth story is not at all what I had envisioned when I first got pregnant. I had hopes of going into labor naturally on my own and seeing how far my body could go and what it could do. I dreamed of a delivery where I would work my butt off but it would all be worth it in the end when they placed my baby on my chest for my husband and I to marvel at this miracle we created. But that wasn’t the birth experience I was given.

pregnant

At about 35 weeks pregnant, I started showing signs of preeclampsia. My legs were swollen, I was spilling protein in my urine and my blood pressure was elevated. I had mentioned it to one of the OB’s at my appointment and explained that my mom also had a history of preeclampsia and that I was concerned. The doctor pretty much brushed it off, told me to eat more protein and lay off the carbs. I left feeling like my concerns were not being heard, and deep down I knew to trust the voice in my head.

At my 36 week appointment I saw another OB in the group. My blood pressure was still elevated, and I still had protein in my urine so she decided to run further lab work. I went to the lab for my testing and they explained that since it was Friday, they wouldn’t have the results until Monday.

That weekend, I started having awful headaches and just felt like something was off.  Monday morning came around and I logged into my online portal where patients could check the results of their labs and have access to all of their medical records. My lab work showed that my protein-creatinine ratio was 0.3 which was borderline. I called the office and left a message with the nurse that I wanted one of the OB’s to call me back to discuss my results.

preeclampsia

The next day, Tuesday, I still hadn’t heard back from the doctor I had seen on Friday. I was working at the hospital that day and texted my favorite OB in my practice and told him I wanted to discuss some things with him. He happened to be on his way into the hospital and we agreed to talk when he got there. I explained my labs and my symptoms and he scheduled me to see him in the office the next morning. The next day at my appointment, my blood pressure was 150s/90s, my legs, arms and face were swollen. Overall, I felt like crap, and I kept getting headaches on and off. We decided that while everything looked fine with the baby on ultrasound, it would be safer to head into the hospital for induction.

I remember we were driving home to go pack my bags and get the dog to bring to my parents and I had this overwhelming sense of anxiety. I just felt like something was going to go wrong and I was upset that this was not happening the way I wanted it to.

So off to the hospital we went, it was Wednesday and I was 37 weeks and 2 days. My cervix was pretty thick and only a fingertip dilated so I spent the first night and the next day getting cervical ripening to help make my cervix favorable for pitocin.  On Friday when my OB came in, my cervix was only 1 cm dilated and about 80% effaced.  My OB wanted to break my water and start pitocin. I mentioned trying a foley balloon instead to which he said “he didn’t think that was a good idea” as I also didn’t want a prolonged induction.  So they broke my water and started pitocin. In hindsight I wish I advocated for myself more but what’s that saying? “Shoulda, coulda, woulda”.

I’m not sure how long it was after that, but it didn’t feel like a long time, I soon started kicking into labor. My contractions felt like one was coming after another and I felt like I wasn’t getting a break. I got my epidural and shortly after, Maxwell’s heart rate had one prolonged decel that felt like an eternity. My OB came in to check me and I was only 5-6cms. We tried repositioning side to side but it wasn’t coming back up to baseline. I don’t know how long it lasted, but the next thing I knew we were going right back to the OR.

Once we were in the OR, it all happened very quickly. Next thing I knew, the baby was out and I heard my OB say “it’s a boy!” and he handed him off to the baby nurse. When they brought him over to me, I felt relieved that he was here and healthy but I was still in shock of how everything had happened.

csection

cesarean section

Back in the recovery room, I started having feelings like I couldn’t breathe and just this overwhelming sense of doom. Anesthesia and my OB both came back to see me and agreed it was probably from the epidural and maybe my level was too high. Looking back now, I know that it was a panic attack.

I went home from the hospital with feelings of guilt from having a c-section and not being able to do it naturally. Should I just have kept quiet and let things happen naturally? But what if I ended up having a seizure or stroke? Did my OB jump the gun by going back to the OR? If we waited a little bit longer, would his heart rate have come back up and would I have ended up with the delivery I envisioned? My husband tried to help by saying “you have a healthy baby and you’re healthy, what more could you ask for?” But I wasn’t healthy mentally. I didn’t want to hold my baby, I would cry when I had to breastfeed him, and at night I would stare at him obsessively to make sure he was still breathing.

I was 10 months postpartum when all of my feelings came to a head.  I literally wanted to run outside of my body and run away somewhere. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I knew it wasn’t right. I decided to go on anxiety medication and made a few appointments with a therapist. After a few sessions I realized my anxiety was due to feeling like I wasn’t in control of my own birth experience and feeling guilty for not being able to have a vaginal delivery and breastfeed.

Almost 2 and a half years later and I can say I still feel like that birth experience was robbed from me but in the long run does it matter? The answer is no. My son is the healthiest, happiest, most loving soul and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

However, this time around, I’ve changed OBGYN practices where I feel 110% supported and where I can play a more active role in my experience.

 

birth story

1 In mom crush monday/ Motherhood/ parenting

Mom Crush Monday – The Freedom Kids Need from Helicopter Parenting

Happy Monday! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend with your families.  I’m here to bring you another Mom Crush Monday post.  This week I am featuring Sarah from The Halfassed Housewife.  Sarah, The Half-Assed Housewife, spends her sunny southwestern days chasing her herd of kidiots, half-assing housework and sometimes blogging. She likes her coffee as dark as her humor and as strong as her opinions.  I absolutely adore Sarah’s sarcasm and writing and I think you will too! This is one of my favorite posts of hers about helicopter parenting and why she doesn’t watch her kids play.

helicopter parenting

I don’t watch my kids play – the freedom kids need from helicopter parenting

I might be alot of things but a helicopter parent certainly isn’t one of them.  I don’t watch my kids. I don’t control my kids and their playtime or run behind them on the playground. I don’t hover. It wasn’t that long ago that I recall reading articles about free-range parenting (a term which has thankfully faded into the great unknown) and how parents were shamelessly ridiculed for not watching their kids play every moment of every day. 

Let me set the stage before someone calls Child Protection on me for “not watching my kids”. I’m currently not watching them as I type this. There is some army-style sneaking happening by the older kids and the little ones have made a giant mud-puddle after taking it upon themselves to water our newly planted Raspberry bushes and are, I am certain sitting in it.

They are playing, happily.

We have a large yard with a somewhat secure fence on all four sides. We actually have 2 acres of property. Our backfield is fenced so that, in theory, our asshole goats will stay back there. In Theory. We have sheds, wood piles, a “vintage car” parked on the guesthouse lawn, tool shed, four wheelers, trees, grass, sandboxes and mud-pits courtesy of an Idiot Australian Shepherd and a two-year old with a hose.

I can see and hear what it is going on outside almost at all times. When I can’t hear the kids, I go find them. I can spot them from the kitchen window climbing a tree, a fence or an addition they built to their Little Tykes castle using an old trash can.

They have places specifically designed for them. We have a trampoline, we have a swing set, we have a sandbox. Those kid-friendly areas are used frequently but rarely in the way they were intended. The trampoline is more like an MMA octagon, the sandbox is a buffet and the swing set has seen some crazy Ninja Warrior skills from all 3 kids. I have noticed the less I watch the kids, the more adventurous they become. Or, the less they think I am watching them, the more confident they become in themselves. I also notice some wierd things being created by them all. We adults would call them messes but in our brush-off sort of way – but they are masterpieces and feats of engineering in their own respect. They are created by my kids every single day. Had I been hovering or helicoptering my kids, these things never would have been created.

kids play

I have seen some impressive problem-solving occur from the kitchen window as I sip my coffee and don’t hover over my kids like a helicopter. I have watched the three kids form alliances and make deals and solve fights without my ever having to leave the comfort of my living room. Kids who spend the better part of an entire meal pinching, kicking, poking and fighting have spent hours upon hours working together to dig a hole for a fort or collect the perfect rocks for a castle wall. Granted, I have also seen my herd run screaming past the window with sticks. Just because I don’t helicopter does not mean I don’t parent. I took the sticks away and sent them back outside.

I will not hover, control or helicopter parent. I am what I like to think of as a Drone Parent. If I see or hear of something going down I appear from nowhere and shut-that-shit down Drone Strike style without warning. Whenever I see some real shit about to go down I appear magically in the front door, hollering in my most serious mom-voice something along the lines of “absolutely fucking not”. The kids look around as though the Voice of Reason has just called to them and then they quickly scramble to quit doing whatever it was mom caught them doing that they shouldn’t have been. The “absolutely fucking not” is reserved for moments like the time I saw two 7-year-olds transferring a pickaxe and a fire extinguisher from a shed to the backyard for reasons that I could only imagine. Nothing more needed to be said and we haven’t had that issue happen again. Sometimes a quick yell from the window about hitting, sharing, screaming like you’re dying or trying to get out of the gate will suffice.

This drone style parenting is not for the faint of heart. There is a risk that while you cook dinner, three feet from the door your kids will be covering one another head-to-frickin-toe with tile thin-set powder. There is a very good chance that you will have to hose off your child multiple times, probably millions, throughout their childhood. There is a good chance that scrapes and bruises will become commonplace, but you will see that tears and band-aids are only requested when absolutely necessary. I have seen small children tackle tasks much larger than themselves with the determination of a nation. There is a good chance you will start to believe that when a tiny voice tells you “NO! I CAN DO IT!” that they can.

Not a helicopter.

I had read an article months ago about somewhere in Europe creating what basically amounted to a Junk Yard where parents weren’t allowed beyond the gate so that kids could do what kids are supposed to do. Apparently, that is break shit and get tetanus. I wouldn’t necessarily take my kids to this pre-fab junkyard to bounce around BUT letting them explore their own surroundings, at their own will, without my constant hovering, nagging, directing and fun-stealing has really allowed everyone to grow.

I don’t miss anything because what I don’t see while peering at my children occasionally they excitedly tell me about. Tugging my shirt to come see their sand castle, mud pie, rock pile – or telling stories over dinner about their day. Sometimes they don’t tell us. Sometimes their dad and I will be out wandering the yard and find something that looks like an army fort or a ramp or who knows what. We found some Hay Hooks in the bushes once. Immediately moved those out of reach, but I bet that was a really fun game of pirates.

 Thanks so much Sarah for the laughs and a funny start to our Monday!

Are you a helicopter mom, drone parent or somewhere in the middle?