Lose your mommy buts

This post has been brewing in my head for a few days now and I finally have some time to get it onto the screen. Last week I read this post from Rachel Martin at Finding Joy. In it, she talks about why it is OK to take a mom break.

You run on empty. I run on empty. It's the nature of our society to push everything until the last drop - and then we are beyond worn out. We wait to get gas till the light warns us that the tank is empty, we save the last drops of milk, we scrape the peanut butter from the sides of the jar - and we do the same with our self. We push, and give, and push, and give, and we often ignore the warning lights telling us to refuel.

And then shortly after I posted her link on my Facebook page, I asked the following question.

"What are you biggest barriers/obstacles to actually taking a break and taking care of yourself? (tangible ones and maybe the not so tangible as well.)"

And although I shouldn't be surprised, the overwhelming theme in all of the responses was one of guilt. Mamas feeling guilty for taking time for themselves, for spending money on themselves, for asking someone else to watch their kids so they can go do something for themselves. There were other reasons as well, but this is what really stuck out for me and to be perfectly honest, made me a little bit angry!

Yes, angry.

Which is probably why it has taken me a few days to figure out how to write this. I don't want to come across all angry bitch telling you what to do, but be warned, that I do have some brutally honest things to say on this topic (after many years of being the guilty-feeling one myself).

First of all, go back up and read Rachel's full post if  you haven't all ready.

Go ahead. I'll wait.

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OK, so you get what she is saying right? Let your tank run on empty too long and you are just going to burn off those fumes and be DONE. Nothing left to give. Burned out. Finito. Kaput!

And then who is going to look after the kids? Who is going to breastfeed the baby? Who is going to clean the house? Who is going to get the other ones to school? Do the laundry? Have any kind of relationship with their partner? Have any kind of relationship with their kids for that matter? And one that doesn't involve resentment, or like Rachel says, that heavy feeling of drudgery?

Guilt is a self-inflicted feeling, Mamas. It is the feeling you get when you feel you have done something WRONG.

I am going to say that again.

GUILT is the feeling you get when you feel you have done something WRONG.

Can we, for a minute, examine exactly what is wrong in the situation where you feel guilty for looking after yourself?

NOTHING!

You are a human being and you have needs, just like your kids and anyone else you feel responsible for and to.

What you are not, is a super human. You need sleep. You need food. You need restoration. And for God's sake woman, you need a bloody haircut!

In all seriousness though, you need space (be it physical or mental) that is JUST FOR YOU.

I know that you are all agreeing with me 100% up to this point. I also know that you have a ridiculously LONG LIST of BUTS that you want to throw at me.

So, I thought I would address of few of the more common BUTS of mother guilt and give you some suggestions for how to remove them.

"But, I can't leave my baby because he is exclusively breastfed and he won't take a bottle from anyone."

Nurse the baby and get him nice and full. Give the baby to daddy (or grandma or auntie or babysitter), put on your big girl shoes and head out the door. Go to your favourite cafe and read a book for an hour. Go to the mall and just walk around and do some window or actual shopping for something JUST FOR YOU. Go for a walk. Go for a nap (with earplugs and explicit instructions to NOT OPEN THE DOOR FOR A FULL 60 MINUTES)! Set a timer. Be back in an hour. Do it after your partner gets home from work or on the weekend if you have to. Try not to worry, it is only an hour. And if that seems like too much, start smaller and build up to it.

You CAN do this. And really, you need to do this.

"But, I feel bad spending money on things for me (yoga, haircuts, massage) when that money could go towards something else for the family."

You do realize that you are a member of this family you speak of right?  That YOUR needs and yes, your wants, matter too? I know that maternity leave puts a crink in the finances for a lot of families and if you now have to budget a bit more carefully for these type of things, then by all means do that. Just don't erase them completely from your family budget. Make time for you and set aside the funds that you need to accomplish all that you want to do with that time as well.

And then STOP the guilt. Get that fabulous new cut and color and get to that class that you want to take. Try not to look at these necessities as things that you merely want to do, they are things that you NEED to do. For your peace of mind and to feel good about yourself. Never underestimate the power of a good haircut/massage/pedicure/run/ "insert your THING here", Mamas! Never.

"But, I don't have any childcare."

This is a biggie folks and one I am no stranger to as well. Leaving your kids with someone else is a very difficult thing to do. Finding the 'right' person can be very challenging, especially if you do not have family that lives close by or is able to help out. But, you have to try. Go to the babysitter mixers that are put on by various mom groups in your city, check the local babysitter registries, check the boards at your local grocery store, find a neighbourhood teenager who had taken their babysitting course, ask your neighbours or other moms in your playgroups if they know of anyone or can share their contacts.

And then give it a trial run. I always bring a new sitter over at a time when I will be home to let them get acquainted with my kids and our environment (and for me to see how they interact with my kids too). I know it will be tough, but once you do find someone, you have to bite the bullet and leave the house. Start out small, make it just an hour to get some errands done or to go to a class or again go to bed with those earplugs and instructions. You have to recognize that not everything is going to be done exactly as you would do it and that THIS IS OK.

And for any of you who say you can't leave your husband with the kids because he is afraid, or can't do it alone, or whatever... All I have to say to this is TOUGH PATOOTIES! This is what he signed up for and he has got to figure this shit out and yes, sometimes by himself. Show him how that baby carrier you bought him works, where the diapers are, the detailed instructions for how to prepare a bottle of breastmilk or formula and walk out the door. He has your number if he really needs you for anything.

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Mamas, taking time for you is not only important for your well-being and peace of mind, it is good for your kids too. You are their primary example in this world. If you never take care of yourself, how are these little people ever going to learn to do so for themselves? They need to know that you have needs to and that you too are "listening to your body" just like you tell them to listen to their's when they are tired, hungry, need to use the bathroom or just plain DONE.

My kids know how much better I feel after I go to my yoga class and they always tell me to have a good time as I walk out the door. My husband and I have regular date nights and we now make it a priority in our family schedule (this was not something we always did, but we are learning). The kids are starting to see the value in the time we spend together and have started requesting their own one-on-one "dates" with us as well.

Furthermore, kids need to know how to adapt and adjust to different situations and different people. It is a life skill and one that can not be taught in a bubble. So find that babysitter or get your crazy younger brother to come over and babysit for you and get out of the house and let them all figure a few things out by themselves. Uncle Bubbles and the babysitter from down the block are not going to read stories the same way that you do or play games the way you do and in the end, this really is a good thing.

So Mamas...

No more buts.

Take a break. Refuel. Recharge and replenish your mind, your body and your soul. Maybe you won't be able to do it all in one day, but please make it a priority and add your needs and wants to your To-Do lists and schedules and family budgets!

Do it for you, do it for your kids, and please mamas...

PLEASE.

Kick that damn guilt to the bloody curb already.

It has no business keeping you from a fabulous new haircut or that pair of leather boots or that invincible feeling you get after a really good workout!

{This is my "I just finished doing 90 minutes of Bikram yoga, don't mess with me, I am in the ZONE" face!}

Go find YOUR zone.

Love,

Natasha~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

48 hours

In less than 48 hours we will be moving into the Natural Urban Home. Yes, yes, I know, it's all I am talking about lately, but I am getting excited.

Kinda.

I am also THE BIGGEST ball of stress and anxiety, that it is not even funny!

Over the last few weeks I have managed to put myself into a full-fledged RA flare AND give myself what I think are the beginnings of a stomach ulcer. TUMS and my anti-inflammatory medications are my very good friends this week.

The last time we moved, Little C was 6 months old. He didn't care what was going on and was content to just be worn in a carrier while I packed up our little house. And it was June.

Today I woke up to this....

Mother Nature is playing a cruel, cruel, four days late, April Fool's  joke on me! I am not impressed lady!

And my poor children.

This time around, at 5 and 3.5 years old, they DO care about what is going on and are a lot more sensitive to the whole process. Now, this is not to say that they are not excited, they really are, but they are also feeling a fair amount of stress about the move too.

Our routines are all messed up. We haven't sat down at a table for dinner in over a week (it is covered in boxes and missing chairs). Naps have been very hit and miss. Three quarters of their toys and games have been packed up and well, Mama is a big stress ball!

And my kids are the sensitive kind. And also the vocal kind, especially about their feelings. (FYI- I am kind of proud of BOTH of these things!)

All of this makes for some very trying moments in our days as of late. Their needs are not getting met to the best of my ability because of all of the other tasks and to do lists and to be perfectly honest, the needs of the house(s) and this move.

I know it is a temporary situation, but it still doesn't make all those ugly guilty-mom feelings go away. And this is adding to my stress level too.

This morning started out rocky for all of us and not only because of the crappy drive in all that snow. We had to have a little three person huddle before we left the house to talk it all out and I explained to the kids how I am feeling right now and that I am nervous about moving and making sure we are all ready and packed and good to go.

My kids... They really are amazing little people. They both gave me huge "love" hugs (in our house these are the super-duper tight squeeze-y ones), told me it was all going to be OK and that they can't wait to be in the new house, gave me kisses and then we went on our way to playschool.

And then I went to my favourite cafe for a HUGE latte and some time to just be...

Ahhhhhh.....

48 hours people.

I just have to get through the next 48 hours and then it will all be OK...

Why is it that the unpacking is always so much better than the packing?

Deep breathes,

Natasha~

 

 

I am having a glass of wine DAMN IT!

Mamas, hands up if you have any kind of guilty mommy feelings throughout your days? Yup, that is what I thought. I did a little unofficial poll last week after a chat on twitter about a mama wanting to have a glass of wine and feeling guilty about it because she is also breastfeeding. The results are in, and "Mommy Guilt" is rampant and it looks like we may have an epidemic going on!

And it is about EVERYTHING!

Here are a few examples from my polling:

To much KD for dinner/lunch (this particular one was mentioned a lot??).

Not being a stay-at-home mom.

BEING a SAHM, but not wanting to play princess for the 500th time.

Too much TV (this is a big one too it seems).

Not being present in the moment with the kids all the time.

Not spending enough time with Kid 1 when Kid 2 comes along.

C0-sleeping (??).

Not finding time to clean the house.

Neglecting the fur-baby.

Spending time with friends away from the family.

Spending too much time on the computer/laptop/iPad/etc...

Yelling at the kids.

...and the list goes on and on and on.

Why do we put such pressure on ourselves? And who are we trying to impress? Last time I checked there was no Gold medal for being the perfect mother.

And even if there was, who defines the criteria for this coveted award? Who is it that is setting these ridiculous expectations?

Often it is ourselves. We think that we have to DO everything and BE everything to everyone because we are the mom. The reality is, that this is just not the case.

So the kids ate Kraft Dinner two times this week, it is still FOOD and they did eat ALL of it right? In my books, that is a win.

Do I really want to watch Toy Story 3 AGAIN or do the same puzzle for the 17th time today? Probably not and that is OK, because I am not a toddler trying to learn a new skill or a preschooler trying to figure out a storyline. I am NOT going to feel guilty about being a grown-up (and I am probably still going to do those things).

My kids watch TV. I monitor the programs and choose the ones that I think offer them the most educational value (I prefer PBS Kids to Treehouse and I will take Sid the Science Kid over a screaming Dora any day!!). The television is not a 'babysitter' for my kids anymore than it is for me. It is a form of entertainment and education and I would feel more like a hypocrite than anything else, if I told them they could not watch TV and then proceeded to plunk myself on the couch for hours at a time to watch "my shows"!

Guilt about having a glass of wine because you are also breastfeeding? Breastfeeding does not exclude FUN! And if you have had a hard day and need a glass of wine or a beer than GO FOR IT! Alcohol is metabolized in your breast milk exactly as it is in your blood and this is what Dr. Jack Newman himself has to say about it,

Reasonable alcohol intake should not be discouraged at all. As is the case with most drugs, very little alcohol comes out in the milk. The mother can take some alcohol and continue breastfeeding as she normally does. Prohibiting alcohol is another way we make life unnecessarily restrictive for nursing mothers. (Dr. Jack Newman, member of the LLLI Health Advisory Council, excerpt from his handout “More Breastfeeding Myths”)

Feeling guilty about working full-time? Why? You are providing for your family. This is an act of love and you should feel proud of what you are doing. Especially if it is a job and career that you worked hard for and really love!

Going out with your friends and taking some time for you? Really? This one should be the least of your guilty feelings.

You know the saying "Happy Wife, Happy Life"? Well, I have a new one....

Happy Mama, NO MORE Drama!!

Really. Think about it.

A Mama who knows when she needs to take time for herself, whether that is shoe shopping at the mall BY HERSELF or going to get her hair done, or sweating out all her stresses in a Bikram Yoga Class (that one is me BTW), or going for a run, or having a weekly girls night out, or doing WHATEVER it is that makes her happy, is a Mama who is likely to feel good about herself. A Mama who feels good about herself is not going to constantly focus on what she (thinks she) is doing wrong all the time and will be one who can say NO to all that guilt and drama. Hence Happy Mama, No More Drama!!

Now if you will excuse me, I have a glass of wine waiting to make me happy! ;)  I suggest you too find your proverbial 'happy place' and make regular visits to it and let go of your mommy guilt!!

Natasha~