Raising A Baby In The Age Of Tech

This is a conversation I have a lot with moms. They wonder how much of things like the iPad and other gadgets are good for their babies, and if it’s even possible to keep your little one away from technology altogether. There are those that fear exposing their baby’s still growing mind to tech early, could in some way hinder their growth, while other’s worry that keeping their baby away from technology will have their child dropping behind.

I mean, I personally know two-year-olds that can turn phone’s from ringing to silent, know how to unlock iPads and navigate the apps with little effort, and for some parents who see how much technological skills it takes to progress in the world nowadays, it is a glowing talking point for them.

My view on this is, anything in moderation is okay. I think those who push too much, either way, don’t realize how hard it is for some moms. We don’t know everyone’s situation, and for a lot of moms, they are battling more than just motherhood. There are those working and struggling to deal with all the stress that goes along with that, there are those that are battling emotional and mental hurdles. For a lot of parents, the idea of just ten undisturbed minutes is a dream, and one worth faltering when it comes to those ideals.

Apple products seem to be taking over. There isn’t an infant of a grandma who isn’t carrying around an iPad to check The Facebook or watch YouTube videos. Naturally, when I got pregnant I looked at my husband and had the audacity to tell him that there was absolutely no way our child would be one of those kids addicted to the iPad.

Alright, guys, I am going to admit something big to you here. My daughter (gasps audibly, touches the back of her hand to her forehead and throws herself back dramatically) has iPad time. Now, what does that mean? She is 8 months old. How could she possibly be using the iPad?

Well, in the mornings when I am wishing I had more sleep, wondering how my boob fell out of my bra during the night, wiping crusts out of the corner of my eye, and zombie-walking towards the coffee maker, I open up the Amazon Prime app on my iPad and put on a Super Simple Song episode for her. What is that? I’ll tell you what it is. It’s about 45 minutes of Nursery Rhymes, Shapes, Colours, Alphabet, and Number songs that keep her busy long enough for me to at least attempt at getting my shit together in the morning.

For all those people gasping and pointing a for shame finger in my direction, I have a finger I can point at you as well, so let’s not get nasty.

I have said this once, and I will probably say this a million more times in my life; Parenting is hard! Sometimes we need just a little bit of time to ourselves, and for those people out there who think it’s simple to put a baby in front of a toy or activity and have them stay put without wailing, then they obviously aren’t parents.

My daughter and I have constant play time. We spend hours on the floor together with her toys and her books, we do lots of things to try and keep her engaged and work her mind. However, parenting constantly with no breaks to be a human being is extremely taxing on your mind and if you do that every single day without any time for yourself, you are barrelling towards a mental breakdown.

So, despite all I said when I was pregnant, my daughter watched the iPad when I need a moment to myself at home, or in the car (I have prayed to deities I don’t even believe in for a moment’s peace in the car while I am stuck in traffic and my daughter is screaming at the top of her lungs because apparently, the car seat is her nemesis).

Now, I do think that if you constantly hand your child the iPad during the day instead of attempting other ways to engage them and that time on devices is steadily piling up, that you should consider unplugging. I think an hour or two a day on any device is plenty and you shouldn’t constantly co-parent with technology. That being said, moderation is key.

I would also look into certain products or put devices out of reach if you have a little one that isn’t old enough to operate the technology on their own. I learned this the hard way when I was stuck in traffic, put the iPad in the back seat so she could watch The Greatest Showman and calm down a bit, only to get home and check my email. It was then I realized that, while touching the iPad the way she always does, she purchased over $50 in iBooks.

I am currently reading a bunch of them because the helpline is not as helpful as you would have hoped and I am now stuck with all these books.

Personally I would start taking devices away when you can see it’s becoming a problem for your child, and try to keep them off of YouTube as it seems like every kid that goes on there becomes a zombie unable to function while their videos are playing. Put some games on there that can help with their problem solving and development, reading or colouring apps are great for helping their focus.

If your child doesn’t give you clear responses when you are speaking to them and they are on the iPad, don’t just laugh it off. It’s not cute and you are allowing them to develop bad habits that will only get worse over time. Make sure their attention whenever you are speaking to them is completely on you, whether they are watching TV, on the iPad or even just playing.

Limit the amount of time they use devices and use other activities as a first priority before any electronics.

It’s good for your child to unplug several hours before bedtime to give them an opportunity to wind down. I’ve read several articles about the blue light in device screens disrupting their sleep patterns if they are used too close to bedtime.

So yes, it’s completely possible to raise your kids with technology, just so long as you keep in mind that all technology connects to the internet these days, and anything that connects to the internet, in regards to your child, should always be closely monitored and used in moderation.

Like anything in parenting, find your balance and do what’s best for your family. There is no cookie-cutter solution.

 

 

Mother’s Day Bliss

I woke up today with this joy that I hadn’t taken the time to feel recently. With my 7-month-old daughter’s foot in my mouth as she screeched like a banshee the way she does to entertain herself, I thought back to the same day last year, when I could feel her little feet kicking my ribs. Now, a whole year later that same little foot was prodding my face, the little toys squeezing my skin almost painfully.

I am a mother.

Yesterday, I went out for an early Mother’s Day celebration with my own mother and my sister. Three mothers celebrating one of our biggest accomplishments. We went to a trendy bar, with confusing but delicious food and an atmosphere that can best be described as loud and the kind of place you would go to drink colourful drinks with your gal pals at the end of a tiresome work week. What made the dinner special was the company. My mother, my sister, my nephew and my daughter.

So much of this day is lost in greeting cards, gifts, and flowers. I think a lot of mothers forget that it should be a day you spend with your kids, just enjoying your little creations and the people they are, and hoping for the people they will someday become.

Not so long ago, someone I know asked me what I would give my daughter that I didn’t necessarily get when I was a kid. It was a group discussion and a lot of people said they would give their kids a better education, a more stable environment to grow up in, siblings, the list went on and on. There is something all of us craved when we were kids, something a lot of us didn’t realize until we were grown and looking back. The thing I said I was going to give my daughter was simple and may have seemed a little silly to most, but it was time. I just want to give my daughter as much of my time as I possibly could.

My mother was a single mother of five. She worked tirelessly to be sure we didn’t go without, but that also meant that although we had all the necessities, there was a lot of time where we just didn’t have her there. The most important piece to the puzzle.

So today, on my first mother’s day I spent it alone with my daughter. We woke up together, we napped together, we played together, we danced together. As much as this day is to celebrate mother’s it’s also a day I think we should take the time to celebrate our children. These amazing little beings that cause us stress, exhaustion, joy, wonder, and who without which, we would have nothing to celebrate today.

Today, I gave my daughter all of my time.

I know, I know. At this point, you are probably wondering how this differs from any other day. She is a 7-month-old who requires almost constant attention and interaction. Well, today I didn’t dare even try to steal moments for myself. I wanted us to be together. Even now, as she is sitting on my lap while I type this, banging the keys every now and again and causing me to erase whole sentences as I lose my thoughts, we are together.

Some women wait their whole lives for a chance to be celebrated on this day, some mourn the fact that they can’t. Other’s look at it as a tearful day where their trying still hasn’t paid off, and I think a lot of us mothers sometimes forget that. We forget to take a moment and celebrate the gift we have been given.

Today, I hope I have started a tradition with my daughter where I gave her all of my time on Mother’s Day.

I hope all you moms, ones that have been moms for what feels like an eternity and ones who may just be starting, take this special day and start some long lasting traditions of your own that you will look back on with a smile and nothing but joy.

Happy Mother’s Day, mamas!

Crawling: Is It A Milestone To Push?

When you are a new mom, it is so easy to get so wrapped up on what everyone says your baby should be doing. “By 3 months, your baby should be trying to hold up their head.” “Babies love tummy time!” “Baby should be starting to babble and talk to you by 4 months.”

There is all this information out there. As a new parent, you use these charts and these milestones to let you know your baby is normal and on the right track. I think along the way, we forget that our babies are little people and they will progress at a speed that feels right to them.

Think about how you learn. Chances are, your baby will learn similarly to them. Are you the kind of person that will get something if someone maneuvers you into the position? If someone repeats something over and over? If you see someone else do it?

Not everything just comes. We all learn in different ways, and not all brains are wired to take on new tasks and skills the same way, yet we expect our babies to all fall under these cookie cutter milestone charts. I can’t tell you how many times I hear from a worried mom, comparing her baby to the charts and to other babies their age.

I always ask the same questions. “Does your baby get to interact with other babies?” Do you have pets that they watch and may try to mimic?” How much time a day do you spend with your baby trying to teach them something new? How do you try and teach them?”

There are so many things that come into play. My daughter didn’t really start to thrive until I put her in a situation with other babies. I noticed how she would watch them, how fascinated she was and how when we got home, she would suddenly be trying all these new things, saying new words, suddenly grasping what I had been trying to teach her.

I should have noticed this a while ago.

She mimics a lot of our dog, Toby’s behaviour. She licks the play mat, she growls and grunts, she goes after a ball and will follow it with her eyes and excitement if you move it in front of her.

Why?

Because they are relatively the same size and are always on the floor together, so to her, they are similar. That and the fact that the interaction with him is so different from the interaction with mom and dad, just like interacting with a new baby is different. Putting your baby in situations where they can see someone else doing the things you want them to do, is definitely beneficial.

However, bear in mind, some babies just bypass certain milestones altogether. There have been a number of mommies that I have spoken to that have told me their babies didn’t crawl until after they were already walking. This seems most common in babies that walk earlier. Which makes sense because if your baby is spending all this time learning to walk, they jump over crawling and erase that safety net that brings with it some of the hesitations they have towards walking.

My daughter hates the idea of being on her knees, yet she tries to pull herself up to her feet every opportunity she gets. She loved to grab onto things, support her weight and just stand there. When she is not standing on her own, she likes to have either my husband or me standing with her, supporting her while she takes those wobbly steps forward.

Every time I speak to my In-Laws, they ask me if she is crawling yet. It seems to be a common question being asked because of my daughter’s age. I am coming to realize that just because the milestones are common, doesn’t mean your baby will ever meet them. And not meeting those milestones, doesn’t necessarily mean anything in regards to your baby’s overall development.

My nephew never crawled. He went straight from sitting to walking. The being said, I can pull up videos of him having perfectly clear conversations with me when he was two. I have videos of him reciting from memory about twenty different species of sharks (as this was his obsession when he was younger). Although in those months when he was making no attempt to crawl, some doctors would have pushed more tummy time or given tips on how to get him moving.

Milestones are the guidelines we use to measure our baby’s development. They tell us whether or not our baby is ‘on track’. That being said, I know a handful of babies that met all these milestones but are still behind are certain things, whose words are still muffled and they are struggling with potty training. I know babies that didn’t meet milestones and leapt over all the other difficult things with ease. And I also know babies who met every milestone exactly when the guidelines said they should have and they are exactly where they are supposed to be.

So what does that mean?

It means that babies are people, and they will grow and learn at their own pace when they are ready. Not meeting milestones doesn’t mean your baby isn’t developing. Meeting every milestone doesn’t mean you have the next Albert Einstein, and being all over the milestone map doesn’t mean your baby won’t be the next Einstein.

My advice is just to sit back, do your best to stimulate your baby’s mind without pushing them to meet the milestones. If they meet them, that’s wonderful, if they don’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t just enjoy these moments with your baby.

Babies grow so fast, and before you know it, you will be looking at a teenager and you won’t have a single thought about whether they crawled when they were supposed to, whether they babbled enough, or what milestones they met when.

Throw away the map, forget where you are supposed to be, and just enjoy the ride of being a parent!

7 Months A Mommy

This blog post is a little late. The 21st Of last month came and went while I was in an exhaustion fuelled trance and I found myself slacking on the usual rituals we do to commemorate her milestones.

What has happened in the last month?

Teething has become less of a nuisance and more of a war zone. Her bottom two teeth are pushing their way through her gums, they are inflamed and about ready to burst and my usually somewhat fussy baby girl has become… well… I’d rather not say.

She has gone from sitting up with constant supervision as assistance to sitting completely on her own. She has begun pulling herself up into a standing position, and likes to stand. She seems more willing to start to walk than crawl. Every time we try to get her to crawl she refuses to get on her knees and ends up attempting to move around like Mowgli from Jungle Book.

Honestly, at this point seven months after giving birth, I was kind of hoping to have more of a handle on things than I do. It just goes to show that the term New Mom shouldn’t have the limitations it does. Hell, I may still be using the term new mom when my daughter is going off to High School because there is always something new.

We had settled into schedules and routines and growth spurts happened. Settled back again only to be disrupted by sleep regression. Finally went over that hump to be assaulted by a developmental leap and the separation anxiety that went along with that. We are still at the tail end of that and the universe decided to show me just how foolish I had been, thinking what we were going through already was the worst teething had to offer. Boy, was I wrong.

With sitting alone, comes a little bit of independence. Independence I foolishly use for lazing about and just sitting to myself and closing my eyes for a quick five or ten minutes instead of actually accomplishing something. Sadly, that means my blog and other social media outlets have gone unchecked for quite some time.

I am hoping to fall back into more of a routine. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can do this. Every day is a new adventure.

Welcome to parenting!

Better Safe Than Sorry

As many parents must know by now, there has been a safety recall for Fisher Price’s Rock and Play Sleeper.

This is a sleeper I have personal experience with, as my daughter slept in this very same sleeper for a week while we were staying with my In-Laws just three weeks after my daughter’s birth.

This comes on the brink of yet another infant death, a beautiful baby boy from a Virginia family passed away tragically, after rolling over in the sleeper. Naturally, after such a loss, mom’s everywhere were outraged and called for the product to be recalled.

Millions of the product are being recalled as over 30 infant deaths have been reported. This is an alarming number and my heart goes out to every single one of these families. The loss of a child is something no parent should ever have to experience, and I personally don’t think I would be able to live through it.

As parents with a new baby, every moment is overwhelming and we look for rare moments to ourselves. Exhausted, we long for a safe place we can lay our babies for even just twenty minutes so we can close our eyes. No matter how prepared we are, the constant duties of a new parent sweep us up and leave us feeling like we are caught in a wave, unable to swim to the surface.

I know this feeling all too well. When my daughter, now six months, finds something that piques her interest, I experience a joy that I can’t even explain. Because that means I may be able to get enough time to myself to use the bathroom alone or eat. Every parent has been there.

That being said, when we purchase a product of any kind, whether it is a product geared towards babies or towards ourselves, as a consumer, we take the responsibility to use that product as instructed in the manual. Every product has a manual that will tell us how to safely operate it. The manuals for most baby gear is oversimplified with pages and pages of warnings. Most of these products even have warning tags stitched to the product itself that can’t be removed. The perfect example of this would be our infant car seats where the tags are attached near the headrest and along the sides, not mere stickers that can be removed, but permanently attached to the fabrics.

When I had my daughter, I was over-cautious and extremely paranoid when using products. The baby swing we chose, I chose because it had more of a bucket seat, and it had a five-point harness. I walked the aisles of the store for hours, my husband trying to hide how annoyed he was as he pointed out swing after swing and I would wave it off. The full harness was important to me, because I knew there would be moments when I would walk away from that swing leaving my daughter unattended as I did chores or tried to do little things for myself. She was never left for more than ten minutes at a time, but so much can happen in a moment, and I wanted to take every safety precaution. Having that harness meant she was fully secured, and I knew, there was little chance of her being able to move out of that seated position she was strapped into.

My husband has read an article about a baby suffocating in the infant car seat, the cause, in that case, was the straps being fastened incorrectly, and because of this, my husband would not want to go out for long durations of time while she was in the car seat (best in mind the car seat was the seat in the stroller for almost four months). He even went so far as taking her out of the seat and carrying her when we were in the mall or out for the day, because he was so nervous.

As new parents, we are given this precious little thing and sent out into the world with it with almost no instruction. We try to remember every little thing we have ever been told about babies and what to do, while getting constant guidance (sometimes unwanted) as we go along.

I am part of a mom community on a social app, and on the day this story hit the news, there were several heartbroken moms sending out their thoughts and prayers and condolences out into the universe for this poor baby boy. Then, amidst it all, someone wrote a hard truth; This is extremely sad, but 100% preventable.

So close to a loss, it is hard to hear. We definitely don’t want to point fingers because at one moment or another, every parent will do something for the sake of their sanity and wellbeing. We will steal a moment, we will forget or forgo the safety straps on a swing or seat, we will look away while they are sitting on the couch, or in the tub. We are human, and there is always a voice in our head reassuring us that it’s only for a moment, only for a second, what could happen?

Sadly, the consequences could be higher than we would have ever dared to think.

I can’t stress enough how important the safety of our little ones are. Please, try to take absolutely every precaution when using products. Use all the necessary safety straps, read all the warnings, and follow the guidelines to using the products to ensure there is no risk when it comes to your babies.

For those who want products where you don’t have to fully supervise your baby, no judgment here, I absolutely get it, try to find something with a full harness that keeps your baby safely secured and limits their movements as to completely eliminate the risks while you are moving about out of sight.

 

*What’s written here is not to take place of the actual manuals for any products. Please use every product with care and read the supplied literature for the safety guidelines.*

A New, Emotional Me

Since I was a child, I was not the kind of person to cry freely. I shrug a lot off, bottle up more than I should, and thought suppressing tears that threatened to bubble over was an accomplishment.

Strength was beauty to me. Vulnerability was weakness and there was something so shameful in weakness. Weakness was like a wilting flower, sad and depressing.

Pregnancy changed that frame of mind for me. When I was pregnant, I was at my most vulnerable. Every waking moment was a struggle, a challenge I had to overcome. There were days when I was so uncomfortable, I didn’t even feel like I was myself anymore. I felt as though I were staring down at the water, watching the ripples completely change what I looked like.

Discomfort seemed never-ending.

Then suddenly, everything became still. I would get a day with minimal discomfort and feel like I could finally see myself again. Here I was, I was me, and I could get through this pregnancy.

Those were the days, the days when the waters were still when something lurked there underneath the surface.

It would happen suddenly, without prompting or warning. I would get a tightness in my throat, my eyes would cloud over and my chest would sink.

I found myself asking why a lot back then. I didn’t understand it, this wasn’t the person I was. Alone in my apartment, suddenly I was crying. Not just a sniffle and a lone tear. I was full out bawling, hysterically like my whole world was ending, for absolutely no reason.

It was ugly, it was so foreign to me, and it was this unprovoked weakness. One I thought was brought on by a new blend of emotions my body and my mind weren’t used to processing.

I thought of these emotions as a storm, thinking that along with my pregnancy, this would all pass.

My daughter is 6 months old now, and those emotions are still there. I get teary-eyed watching cartoon movies, I have a full on break down where I watch any movie where a parent receives bad news about their child over the phone like Soul Surfer or Walk. Ride. Rodeo.

Ads turn me into mush and even movies and shows that never affected me before can completely buckle me into an emotional rollercoaster.

That stoic person I once seemed like a distant memory. Now, I am this emotional ball of fatigue.

I definitely have realized that being a parent transforms you. It pulls you out of who you were and opens your eyes up to everything and everyone in a way you may not have considered before. And in that transformation, hopefully, comes a better understanding.

Our idea of women as a society is and has always been that our emotions are unreasonable and irrational. There are so many negative stereotypes that go along with women and our emotions that I personally feel like any public display of my emotion is downplayed or seen more as comical than for what it really is, which is genuine. Not all women are crazy or dramatic, but if someone sees you vulnerable just once, they will act as though that is the only way they’ve ever seen you.

Being a woman who is going through emotional changes is difficult. It’s hard to know who we can reach out to, we don’t know if there is anyone who will validate how we feel and not just make it seem like we are being hormonal. Even other women have fallen into asking us if we are on our periods when we tell them how we are feeling and about changes to our mental and emotional state.

Women are strong. We are given so much to constantly juggle, it’s understandable that at times our emotions get the best of us.

It’s okay. We are human, and our emotions are a huge part of that.

For any of your women out there who have been called over emotional, or crazy, or irrational. For those women who find themselves sobbing hysterically when they are on their own or just crying silently when the loneliness or sadness becomes a little too much.

There is beauty in your heartbreak, there is beauty in your vulnerability and your sadness.

You are beautiful! You are strong!

You can do this!

Day 13: Wellness Challenge

I was speaking with a friend of mine who follows my blog and reads all my post (if only I had about a thousand more friends, I would be rolling in followers). In the midst of our conversation, she casually asked; “So, what did you work out today?” I told her that because of my busy schedule that day, I hadn’t worked out. I had done my stretches and then went on with my day of running around with a 6-month-old in tow. She let out a long sigh and frowned. “That sucks. Looks like it’s back to day one of your fitness challenge.”

My brows furrowed. What was she talking about? What fitness challenge? It was then that she brought up my blog post almost two weeks ago where I basically announced I was going to ‘Carpe Diem’ my life.

That blog was not about the start of a fitness challenge, but more of a wellbeing challenge.

I did not merely want to be fit. I wasn’t signing a contract with myself that stated I would work out around the clock, become extremely fit and all that goes along with it. I want to be healthy, yes, but that is more than just fitness. When I told her it was a Wellbeing Challenge, not a fitness one, she looked at me completely baffled.

What does it mean?

It means that I have stopped putting off things I can control until tomorrow.

There was a lot I was shrugging off, telling myself I would get done tomorrow. Errands, goals, even just basic hygiene. Gross, right? Well… when you are a parent, especially to one of a child under the age of three, some things, especially when they are things for yourself, get put on the back burner. Sometimes they get forgotten altogether. This was one of the biggest and most important things I wanted to change. It is absolutely okay for me to do things for myself, putting myself first in small instances before being a mom or being a wife.

I am brushing my teeth, I am showering daily, I am stretching in the mornings and getting in a workout if my schedule allows it, I am making meals for myself and actually sitting down to eat them while they are still warm. These are things I can easily control, things that work towards my overall health both mentally and physically, and they have been things I have been neglecting since becoming a mom.

Keeping a Journal.

This was something I did a lot when I was younger. I had fallen in love with my cursive writing when I was about ten and thought to myself that I was going to write down absolutely everything I could, all the time. Poems, skits, short stories, every detail of my life written down and kept.

I haven’t kept a journal in almost ten years, but I remember how refreshing it was. To write all your feelings down on a page, to list your goals and your wildest dreams, bringing them to life in some small way, even if just at that moment, they were only words on a page.

There is a lot we keep to ourselves. As we become adults, we grow and adapt. One of the things we learn is that we can’t just say whatever we want all the time. There are repercussions attached to our words, consequences that may not be worth the weight that is temporarily lifted from your shoulders.

One of the things I wanted to start with my Wellbeing Challenge, was journaling again. It is so great to just pour your heart out onto a page. No judgements, no fear. I have to say, anyone that is feeling overwhelmed or unhappy, start journaling. Sometimes when you just let your words flow, you write down things you may not even know you were thinking in the first place.

More meals, just for me.

This may almost seem silly, but when my husband goes to work there are days I forget to do more than snack. I am playing with my daughter, we are going for walks, I am constantly on for her that somehow I forget that I need to eat too. And actually, eat.

I was getting into the bad habit of ‘Man, I am hungry. Maybe I will just snack on these crackers.’ and not actually making a full meal for myself. Aside from the obvious hunger, this was really bad for my energy levels and that affected everything throughout the day. My mood, my procrastination, my whole schedule was determined by my lack of energy would all have been helped by better meals.

Water.

Water, water, and more water.

It honestly helps with so much. Have a slight headache, drink more water. Feeling overly tired, drink more water. Not hungry, drink some water.

I got into the bad habit of having a coffee as soon as I woke up (decaf :(), that coffee would often be cold before I could finish off the half pot I had brewed so I would just reheat and drink that through the day. Which means there were literally days when I would go without a glass of water. It sounds crazy, but it’s how a lot of us are living. We drink coffee, teas, juices, and all the while we are forgetting that we should still be having water on top of all this other stuff.

I start my mornings off with two tall glasses of water before my stretches, and a third when I am through.

Blog out negative people, and their negative energy.

A lot of people live their lives with a social circle that may have a few bad eggs in it. They’ve lived in their circle for so long, that they shrug off the anxiety and judgement that goes along with being a part of it because they tell themselves that is just the way it is. They don’t want to make changes, they don’t want to be honest with themselves and say that maybe this person isn’t the kind of person I want in my life.

If it isn’t your personal social circle of friends, it could be family, or it could be people that have come into your life riding on the back of your partner. When you welcome a new person into your life and dive into a new relationship, sometimes you are so wrapped up in that person and how they are changing your life that you don’t stop and ask yourself if the people that walked through the door with him are adding anything positive to your life, or whether or not they may be harming you.

A lot of the mommies in my group talk about how their In-Laws add so much stress to their lives, how they belittle their abilities as parents, and spouses and how so much anxiety is built up with each visit and conversation. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine. I was lucky enough to marry into a great family, but I know that isn’t everyone’s story.

I am going to say something completely crazy here; you are not obligated to have a relationship with your in-laws if they don’t treat you well. WHOA! Insert explosion sounds here.

Mind blown!

Your mental health and wellbeing are more important than keeping face with people who could care less about your opinion or worth. It’s up to your partner to step in and be the barrier you need from them if they treat you poorly. They should put their foot down, and lay down the law. However, that isn’t always something everyone is capable of, and if they aren’t setting strict rules for how their family treats you, then you have every right to back away and tell him that you refuse to interact with people who treat you that way.

I may not have had to do this with my In-Laws but I have done it with other people. Even those who may not necessarily be abusive, but there are other types of taxing relationships that aren’t good for you. Like people who depend on you too much but don’t offer any type or comfort to you when you are distressed, or people who cheer on procrastination and act more like speed bumps or road bumps in your life.

You can dictate who gets to be in your life, and you should.

Asking for more help.

Being a new mom and parent is hard, and for some reason, it seems like a lot of people are afraid to admit that it is hard. They don’t want to talk about the struggle, they just want to highlight the good times and hide behind the fact that it’s a blessing. Well, things can be more than one thing.

Being a mom can be hard as hell, and it can also be a blessing. You can be a dishevelled mess on the brink of a mental breakdown and still acknowledge that your baby is glorious and everything you ever wanted.

Asking for help is healthy, and everyone should do it more in every aspect of their life.

Whether it is parenting, whether it is at work, or just improving yourself.

Ask for help if you need it.

Another important thing is accepting help when you may not have asked for it. There are so many proud people out there afraid to have someone help prop them up when they are falling? Why?

We all need help, and we shouldn’t be shamed out of asking for it.

Getting more sleep. 

This has to be the hardest thing thus far.

I co-sleep with my daughter. We share a Queen sized bed which a lot of people would think is plenty of room. However, those people must not have ever slept with an infant before because let me tell you, it is not.

More often than not, I wake up with hands tangled in my hair, feet smooshed against my face, the daunting stare of a little girl who is pooping and wants eye contact while she does it. I sleep on the edge of the bed while she is sprawled out, babbling in her sleep, inching somehow closer and closer to me.

Since my daughter has betrayed me and said ‘Da-Da’ first, she calls out for him in the mornings. He comes and gets her and they spend the morning together while I get an hour or two of uninterrupted sleep.

It’s glorious.

Outside of that, I have learned to nap. I will set her in her swing or playpen, or even her crib to play at times during the day when I am extremely exhausted and could benefit for half an hour of shut-eye.

Sleep is so important and a lot of parents learn to function without it, but over time it weighs on you and can affect your mood, your energy level, your thought process, and even your emotions. Sure, we can all function on coffee with a high level of illogical rage, but should we?

Having tough conversations.

So many people hold in a lot of their thoughts. They think more about other people’s feelings than they do their own, which most of the time is okay.
Sometimes we do it way too often. We are afraid to have the difficult conversations because we know it will be awkward and we will feel naked and bare.

Have those conversations.

It’s so important to unload, to not have this fictitious relationship with people because you never say what you are thinking and never tell them when you disagree.

It’s liberating to be your true self with someone, within reason. Don’t be spiteful and mean, just be honest.

I am sure there are other little things on my list of self-care that I am forgetting, but I have drafted this blog entry a half a dozen times, constantly being interrupted by my tiny dictator, so there is a lot that is getting forgotten, I am sure.

Challenge yourself to care more about your wellbeing, and do things that are specific to you. Not everyone neglects themselves in the same way.

6 Months A Mommy

It’s crazy to sit back and think that all of these changes to my life have happened in a mere 6 months. 6 months is nothing, it can fly past in the blink of an eye. It is hard to fathom that I transformed, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly (a very messy, usually un-shower and under-rested butterfly, but a butterfly none the less) in 6 months.

For anyone who has been a part of my blogging journey from the very beginning, you all know that pregnancy was rough for me. I would turn my nose up at any woman who talks about being pregnant as a joy, and I would throw fists and anyone who dare mention the pregnancy glow. There was no glow, there was no joy. There was survival. I was trying to survive while my body grew and stretched, while the things I used to take joy in slipped away from me because I was either unable to do them due to lack of energy or just unable to do them with my growing belly in the way. Nausea was a ghost that constantly haunted me, taunting me with a heightened sense of smells.

Not that I want to get into the whole pregnancy thing in this blog post, although I could write a book on my experience that is sure to contradict a lot of the other books out there.

Maybe one day.

This blog entry is to celebrate my beautiful 6-month-old daughter.

Gosh, 6 months.

In that time there have been sleepless nights, sore muscles, days I forgot to eat, days I forgot myself. There has been laughter, tears, frustration, anxiety. Coaching and cheering, negotiating, tossing and turning. There have been hundreds of cute outfits. There have been doctors appointments, vaccinations, ears being pierced, more tears, more tears and more tears. Milestones I thought she would meet but didn’t, and milestones I thought she wasn’t even close to reaching but have been met.

Being a parent is this crazy thing. It’s like being tossed in a tornado and you are reaching out for anything and everything trying to steady yourself. When you’re finally back on the ground you are exhausted, you are worn and you don’t even remember how you got there most of the time. But you are face to face with this adorable little person, who looks up at you with eyes that hold your whole universe in them. That one look, that one little grin or giggle, makes everything else in your hectic world worthwhile.

Being a parent is an adventure, and sometimes instead of trying to control it, you just have to surrender to it. Let yourself be taken, float along with the stream.

As I type this out, my daughter is screaming Da-Da from the other room while she watches Paw Patrol (yes, I let my 6-month-old watch TV when I feel like I want a few minutes to myself). The clothes I am wearing are the same ones I have been wearing all week aside from my underwear, my hair is a grease trap, my face still hasn’t been washed since last night and as I run my tongue along my teeth, I let out a small sigh of relief once I realized I remembered to brush them this morning.

It’s been 6 months of this, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

(I would tweak it a bit to include more showers, more overall grace and style and being able to pee by myself… but I try not to hope for the unattainable :P) 

 

 

Day 3: New Me

Last entry, I talked about the toxic lifestyle of pushing things off until tomorrow. This is something I have been extremely guilty of lately. After months and months of living like this, Sunday was the day I looked at myself and said; “No more!”

After a bit of research, it seems like it takes 66 days for something to become a habit. That means I will need to overcome my recently weak willpower for 66 consecutive days if I am hoping to make this new lifestyle I have in mind a reality.

I am going to be honest with you, this seems like a really tall order. With a fussy baby in tow, sometimes it seems like I will not get the 30 minutes I will need a day to do my stretches and my small workout. Especially lately, when co-sleeping with my 5-month-old is threatening to be the death of me. I wake up with less energy than I had going to bed and the idea of dedicating 30, undisturbed minutes of my day to working out instead of logging off and just vegging, seems like a major task.

I am stronger than my procrastination… at least that is what I am telling myself.

A lot of women, especially after becoming a mother, forget about their strength. They fall into survival mode, forgetting to take a moment to think “Holy crap! I made an entire human being in a mere 9 months. When all of that was done with, I summoned the strength needed to push that baby out. Exhausted, worn, and feeling a little bit like I have been in a car accident. I had a meagre 24 hours to heal with help before being handed this tiny amazing thing I had just created, and being sent home to weather the rest of the storm of parenting on my own. Nervous, and still healing myself, I am suddenly in charge of this little being. I have to be their everything, 24 hours a day. That is amazing. I am amazing.’

Really, to all the parent out there, I am there with you. I appreciate your sacrifice, I see your worth, your beauty, your strength. It really is amazing.

We are amazing.

Pregnancy is hard. Childbirth is hard. Parenting is hard.

Admitting that to other people seems to be one of the most difficult things any of us have to do. Something so many of us refuses to do.

Why?

Nothing worthwhile comes easy. It only makes sense that one of the most important things you will ever do be a struggle. Boy, is it a struggle. Some days I feel like I don’t have the strength in me to roll out of bed. Exhausted and worn, emotionally broken, I find a way. For my daughter.

So, this is day 3 of 66.

I cheated a little bit yesterday and only did stretches because I wasn’t prepared for how sore my body would be after just a small workout. Sure, it has been months, but I was feeling like I had been caught in a wave, unable to get out of it and back to the surface. My body was aching, I was so weak, it was definitely not something I thought would be as difficult as it was. Yet, I would still count it as a win because before Sunday I would have used my soreness and fatigue as an excuse to do nothing that day.

66 days.

I can do this!

Don’t Sink Into the Quicksand of ‘Tomorrow’.

I can tell you the moment it all began. It was the 17th of August, my last official day of working before the year I would have off for maternity leave. I told myself I was going to stay active. Working as I did as a nanny to twin toddlers, meant that I was always on the go, even when I didn’t want to be.

It was great, being on the move so much as my beautiful daughter was growing in my belly. It meant that I was healthy, I was fit, I was the best possible vessel to carry the budding baby girl in my belly. As tired as my job made me most days, I was happy that this was the job I had, this was the active lifestyle that made most of the weight targeted to just my belly, that kept me bending down to tie my shoes (most days), that just made me feel a little more ready than I would have sitting at a desk all day.

The first official day I had off, I slept in obnoxiously late. I ate more than I should have and if I am being completely honest, I am not sure I even moved from the couch that day. I had unknowingly planted the seed of laziness in myself.

My goal was to have at least one long walk a day. I would get Toblerone all ready, put on a little backpack with water for him and myself in there and I would go for a long walk, that would last at least an hour a day so that I could stay in the best shape I could until my baby arrived.

Well, summer was not kind.

Here in Toronto, there was heatwave after heatwave. I would get ready in the morning to walk my dog, and once I stepped into that wall of heat, my mind would change completely.

Screw that. Was usually my thought as I hobbled back inside, shed every piece of clothing I could without being completely naked and resumed my post on the couch. I binge-watched more Netflix than I care to admit, snacked constantly and kept telling myself ‘I will do it tomorrow.’

The problem with that mentality is it is quicksand. Every day, the reminder that something could always be accomplished tomorrow prevented me from accomplishing anything today. If I could go back to August, I would push myself and prevent that seed from ever being planted.

Why? Well, because back then when I was still plump with child, all I had was time. I had time to go for long walks, I had time to enjoy the sunshine, I had time to get things done. I could have written more, I could have read more, I could have edited a lot of my written work that is now sitting around in hardcopy collecting dust. I could have reminded myself that, although there is a lot I can accomplish tomorrow, there is more still I can accomplish today.

Start something today, and finish it tomorrow, only if you run out of time.

Now, time is something I just don’t have.

Sleepless nights drag into sluggish days. A baby takes up a lot more time than you would have thought and those hours you thought you would have when your baby is rested, aren’t long enough if you even get them.

It’s hard on you mentally, especially as a mother. You forget that outside of a mother, you are also a person. You put off self-care. You put off showers, and hair cuts, and brushing your teeth, you put off workouts, and lunches, and socializing. Everything gets put off as you are sinking in the quicksand of ‘Well, maybe tomorrow.’

Time changes when you are a parent, your mind becomes mush, and if you are a mother, your body is this new thing you aren’t used to anymore. I was this thin little person before. After giving birth, I lost the bulk of my weight. I really shouldn’t complain, I know there are those who are having a lot more trouble than I am losing weight or feeling like themselves again, but each of our journeys is our own, and we are allowed to feel sad, to feel helpless. We are allowed to experience whatever we do because our struggles are not comparable, and the sooner we realize that the sooner we can be happy with ourselves and with our fellow mommies and daddies.

The biggest thing I am having trouble coping with is the fact that suddenly, after 28 years, I can feel my stomach moving when I walk. It’s such a small thing, but it’s something I am so aware of. It’s new and a little unnerving.

So one of my biggest goals since becoming a mommy was to get more into fitness. To workout and stretch and feel good. This has been the biggest thing I have been putting off for tomorrow. I have been putting it off for tomorrow for 5 months now.

It’s hard. I co-sleep, so most mornings I wake up more tired than I was when I went to bed. My husband works most days and usually, he works until late. Which means the plan to get to the gym as often as I wanted is another thing I have been putting off. Mostly because when he is off, that is time I would rather spend together as a family than at the gym. Most days I feel like I am sleepwalking through the day, more exhausted than alert, a plaything for my daughter, until he gets home. He spends a mere hour with her before her bedtime and then the cycle continues.

Did I mention being a parent is hard?

This morning I woke up completely worn. I zombie-walked out to the living room, put my daughter in her jumper while I went back down the hall to brush my teeth. There was nothing I wanted more than some decaf and to just sit by myself for thirty or so minutes until she became bored and it was time to kick my day into gear.

Brushing my teeth, I looked at myself. My hair hasn’t been washed, my skin is oily, and I look like this blurred vision of who I was before. I decided right then than there that tomorrow wouldn’t be the day. Today would.

Today would be the day where I stopped sinking in that quicksand and started living a little bit more for myself.

Today.

Teeth brushed, face washed, I opened my workout app on my iPad and pushed everything out of the way. I put on The Greatest Showman (yes, she is still obsessed with this movie) knowing it would give me the 30 minutes I needed to get started.

Today.

I completed my workout, downed two large glasses of water and then sat down to write this blog. Writing has always been my passion, and it is something I have almost given up on lately. There isn’t enough time in the day, or so that was what I was telling myself. I thought I would never get the consistent time I needed to write something worth reading. I would never get to re-read the novel I am editing and hoping to have published sooner rather than later.

If you want something badly enough, there is enough time. You just have to use those little moments whenever you get them. Sure, it’s not the way you thought you could do it, but you can push through and accomplish those goals so long as you claw your way out of the quicksand of ‘tomorrow’ because once you start to sink, it can be so hard to find your way back.

This is just day one for me. I still have sand all over me and can still feel that seed of laziness fighting to bloom inside me.

I just hope that I can keep this up until it becomes a routine, and then until it becomes a lifestyle.

Here’s to that hope.