Categories
Parenting Stress Management

Thoughts on the Holiday Season

Getting Real with Dynisha Smith

Guess what’s coming up? The best and worst part of the year – the holiday season. For ANY parent this can be a time of mixed emotions. I won’t speak on yours, but mine include joy, warmth, envy, guilt, embarrassment, and alcohol. Yes I am aware that alcohol is not an emotion but it could be if we had time for semantics. 

Navigating Family

There are so many different family systems out there. Pre-Kayree, I always wondered and worried about what it would be like to merge two families together for the holidays. Each family unit has their own traditions, their own way of doing things, and their own expectations on the holidays. Fortunately I got lucky(ish) about that – I still only have to worry about one family. The catch is, Kayree and I are our own family unit as well. So as much as I love spending time with my parents and siblings and cousins etc., I also want to start some traditions of our own. Cue guilt. It’s okay to decide that some of the specialness that happens over the holidays is JUST for your family unit, however that is configured. 

Navigating Envy  – I Mean, Gifts

So this might just be me, but I don’t think I knew what other parents were talking about when they talked about present envy during the holiday season. I thought they meant like that next week when all the kids when back to school and were comparing notes, but they really mean this unspoken competition between parents on what kids get. Yo, I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but I bet there are some of you reading right now that can think ‘have I ever felt even a little envious when my friend told me they were getting XYZ for their child?’. I have. There are so many things that I want my daughter to experience that honestly, I just can’t afford, or we don’t have space for, or that don’t make sense for her developmentally. I would love for her to have the full Barbie Dreamhouse complete with pool, water slide, and closet. I mean who wouldn’t? Add in the Easy Bake Oven, a full library of books, and a sweet play structure in the backyard. Sometimes our own hopes and dreams can lead to just a little bit of – you guessed it, envy. That’s fine and normal to feel. I feel it every year. But I also feel joy and love, and happy to see everyone’s positive experiences over the holidays; those feelings far outweigh a little envy.

Navigating Self Care

Alright, so sometimes the holiday season brings its own flavor of stress. We can all think of different ways that this happens, from tense family relationships, to expensive family outings, to pure exhaustion from the last couple of months. Self-care is important. I have three pieces of advice for ya that I live by:

  1. Boundaries. Set some financial and emotional boundaries on your time and interactions for the holidays. Maybe that means suggesting the first couple of days are sleep days. Don’t leave your house and don’t put on pants. And stick to that. For me I always tell people you are welcome to hang out but I’m not hosting. We can watch TV and eat snacks on my couch.
  2. Stick to your budget. I learned this the hard way last year. I always want to do the most, and provide the most, and make a big fuss out of the holidays. But the emotions are there regardless of what we are doing! I don’t have to drop $100 on an activity when we could go on a free adventure and have just as much fun.
  3. Be intentional. You know what recharges your batteries, so set an intention that you get some of that recharging time and juice. Maybe you need a couple hours of time outside. Or alone. Or a trip to the bookstore. Whatever it is – intend to do it, and intend to be refreshed.

We are gonna make it out alive people, and we are gonna make it out renewed! 

Categories
Health Stress Management

Stress is Helpful Up Until You Need to Let it Go

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

As a mother of a toddler and a newborn, I’ve been stressed. That’s putting it lightly. I’ve struggled a little with postpartum anxiety and it’s been an adventure adjusting to two children. Everyone tells you it’s a hard transition, which I expected, but I didn’t account for life. Everything else in our world continues to keep rolling, and I’m having a hell of a time keeping up.

I function very well on stress. I say that with the “everything is on fire but it’s fine” sort of perspective. Regardless of what is happening, I can turn off the emotions and roll with the punches. Is this a healthy coping mechanism? Nope, but it’s handy. However, with the encouragement of my therapist, I’ve attempted to not engage in such unhealthy habits. I try to be all “in touch” with my emotions and acknowledge my feelings and get to the root of my problems. While helpful in the long-term, I’ve been a glass case of emotions in the short-term. Do I need more self-care? Yes. Do I have time for daily showers? No.

The stress has been like a tidal wave. Every other day I feel like I’m drowning in all the emotions. My brain starts going haywire, insisting that it’s too much and gosh wasn’t it great when we were ignorant and numb and free? Emotionless looks so good right about now.

Except it’s not helpful. I may not have the greatest insight into my own mental health struggles, but as a psychology graduate, my rational self knows it’s not helpful at all. Small amounts of stress can offer focus and motivation, but if let run wild, stress can be devastating.

After a few weeks of two children, work, immigration lawyers, and holiday and post-baby credit card bills, I was in tears every day. Multiple times a day. My toddler would stroke my arm and tell me that it was all going to be ok. I was no longer functioning. And then I had a light-bulb moment; I needed to let it go.

I will admit I’ve been watching an excessive amount of Frozen, but I’m serious. I really needed to just let it go. No amount of stress would change my situation. I couldn’t possibly be more motivated, and, I was losing focus. Stress was making my situation worse, and it was impacting everyone around me. I could cry all I wanted but my toddler still needed her teeth brushed and the baby had still shit his pants. Everything that was waiting for me would still be there, regardless of how many curse words I hurled at my work computer.

Let me tell you, I instantly felt better. Sure, it sucked. Objectively, my situation hadn’t improved at all. Subjectively, I was recognizing that it is what it is, and it won’t always be like this. There is an end-goal, a light at the end of the tunnel, and I will cling to that light for dear life. Stress keeps me on my toes, but when it becomes too much, I’ve learned to just fling a few curse words and move on.

Categories
Let's Talk Stress Management

Sometimes Moms Need to be Selfish

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

I’m the worst at self-care. I have always been the person that gives to others, and I try to be thankful that I’m not as much of a “people-pleaser” anymore. Not that I don’t like being a nice person, because I don’t aim to be an asshole. It just gets complicated, because I love other’s happiness more than my own. But honestly, it’s exhausting. Moms are told that you can’t pour out of a glass that’s empty, but I’ve gotten really good at extending those last few drops before refilling.

My daughter comes first.

Because, duh. I had a child. I was well-aware that I would be sacrificing, although do you really know what that looks like until you’re a parent? It’s a rough transition! But I wouldn’t change a single thing. Despite long days and long nights and a toddler that bites when she’s mad at me, I freaking love this child. I love being a mom.

My husband comes second.

We could enter the argument of whether spouse or children should come first blah blah blah. This is not where we are at right now. I love and cherish my husband, and honestly, he’s told me that he would feed me to alligators to save our daughter. I think we are on the same page. Anyhoo.

The only thing I love more than seeing my daughter happy is seeing my husband happy. I am always his cheerleader for anything he wants to pursue, and I am right there next to him. I mean, I begged the man to move to America from England with promises that my pregnant self would support us and make it work. I promised that I would work hard so that he could build a life here, too. Mission accomplished, my friends. A woman knows how to get stuff done.

I come third… Last?

Through no one’s fault but my own, I come last. My husband begs me to go somewhere, anywhere. To take time with friends. To do some self-care something. He’s volunteered to quit everything he’s doing so I can have a chance to be involved with something but I can’t even think of anything I would do. So I nod my head and say of course, I will think about it. But I don’t make plans. And other times I decline any self-care, insisting I’m fine. I don’t need a break from the toddler that’s been wrapped around my leg for three straight weeks. And the craziest part is that I believe myself.

My inner voice is a liar.

I was never great at prioritizing my own needs, but a lengthy abusive relationship squashed any possibility of me actually giving a crap about taking care of myself. Taking care of myself consisted of survival then, so based on today’s standards of a loving family, I’m doing awesome! Who needs self-care when someone loves you and treats you like an equal partner? Shouldn’t that be enough?

It’s not.

You are the only one that can truly take care of yourself. The love of others around you is so important, but only you can address your passions and your desires. No one can love you enough to live your life for you. So, I’m trying really hard. I’m trying to live beyond my daughter and husband. I’m trying to enjoy their passions and still feel free to enjoy mine. And somehow not feel guilty in all that. I have to remind myself that I’m not taking away from anyone else by taking care of myself.

It’s ok for moms to be selfish. It’s necessary for moms to be selfish sometimes. You were a person before you were a mom. You were a person before you met your significant other. Continue to be someone. And I’ll be there trying so hard every day, right with you.

Categories
Creating Balance Self-Improvement Stress Management

Put Stress to Work for You

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Stress gets a bad rap. Stress makes you fat, ruins your skin, is bad for your heart. We all just need to relax.

I admit, there are moments when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry (a great stress reliever) or yell at anyone who dares to cross my path (a not-so-nice outlet for stress). Stress can be bad.

But…stress can be good for you if you just learn to use it properly.

Stress is a biological reaction in the body left over from our caveman (and cave woman) days. When the saber tooth tigers were headed right for us, that stress kicked in and helped us put our bodies and minds in high gear to escape danger. Given that the level of speech function we had back then precluded a lot of couch time, fight or flight stress reactions saved lives.

In modern society, stress is ignored or internalized. Our stresses don’t come in the form of saber tooth tigers that cannot be missed but in the form of a list of to-dos that never seem to quit. Instead of reacting with a fight (knocking some things off the list) or flight (learning to say no) reaction, we smoke more, drink more, and pile more stuff to eat – and to do – on our plates.

But stress can still work for us. It is still a dump of adrenaline into our bodies that gives extra energy and sharpens our minds for rapid decision making and processing. We just have to learn how to put stress to work for us in the modern world, and that takes learning how to recognize the modern saber tooth tiger when he’s about to pounce and putting that spurt of energy to good use.

It requires two things: using the stress to motivate you, and then burning off the adrenaline dump with some exercise.

I credit stress with helping me achieve my goals: finishing my undergrad degree in economics at a prestigious university while raising five kids; finishing my master’s degree in English literature while building a business (while raising five kids); five cross-country moves with toddlers and teens in tow each time and still having kids who think I’m an ok mom.

Sure, there are moments when stress feels overwhelming. I mean, I’m on my fifth trip through the teenage years, have a three-generation household, a kid leaving for college, and a toddler in my house who thinks screaming at the top of her lungs is great entertainment. That alone makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry drink a bottle of wine every once in a while. But I have found that by paying better attention to my body, I can funnel the energy that comes from stress into motivation. It’s not easy; in fact, it takes a lot of practice. You still have to be smart and realize that you have to have balance (which means getting up, walking away from the stress, and exercising).

Image via Gratisography, the very best free images on the web, by Ryan McGuire, my favorite photographer on the planet.

Categories
On Motherhood Stress Management

9 Mom Hacks for Moms Who Teach

Getting Real with Brittany Tiedeman

I recently had to return to work after having my baby. I’ve developed these hacks to help me survive.

1. So you’re at work and notice there is spit-up on your shirt. Normally it doesn’t bother you, but let’s say you have a big meeting or are being observed that day. A wonderful, pretty sticker will do the trick. Is the spit up too big for one sticker? Jazz it up and use three, or ten. My personal favorites are the Disney stickers.

2. Accidentally forgot to leave your daughter’s headband in the car because daycare says it’s a danger? Can you say, fashionable new bracelet for the day? No one will even notice it’s a headband and the students will enjoy your new fashion statement because, let’s be honest, they notice everything.

3. How many times have you been in your classroom dying to pee but can’t find someone to watch your students for a few minutes? Wear a pad or panty liner just in case you leak. Please note, don’t actually pee fully or you will wet your pants.

4. So many times throughout the day, I seem to find myself missing my daughter. Now, I keep something small of hers in my pocket to hold onto when I start to miss her. It can be something small, like a hair bow or pacifier clip. Just something you can keep in your pocket.

5. Did you just give birth a few months ago and your body is transforming back into its beautiful self and a student tells you that you are fat? Well, just laugh it off. Those laughing calories will help you lose all that “fat.”

6. Have you ever been in the situation where daycare is calling you to update you on your child? Walk over to the dramatic play area and answer the call. If anyone comes into your room, they’ll just think you’re playing with the kids. Little do they know you’re making sure everything is ok. Don’t do this too often or people will take notice.

7. I don’t know how many times I have forgotten my lunch, even before having kids. Well, at my school we have snack time with the kids. Eat snack with them. Everyone will compliment you on being a good role model for them, but they don’t know that it was your lunch and boy were you hungry.

8. I hate it when some parents pick up late so now you’re late to pick up your kid and you have to rush out without cleaning up your classroom. I have a TOMORROW bucket for just that purpose. I quickly throw everything into the bucket so that when the last kid is picked up and I get out the door more quickly and my room looks like it is still put together. The next day, if I don’t have time to put the things away before class, I have my students help me.

9. Some mornings are just rough. Maybe the dog ate your breakfast and your child was acting like a sloth getting out the door. Hugs from your students are the best! They do understand that some days are just sad. Plus, if you work with young kids like I do, I just tell them the baby was crabby and they will run up and hug me.

What hacks help you survive those early days of easing back into it after having a baby?

Categories
Let's Talk Stress Management

Mom Guilt Happens whether you Work or Stay Home

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

My grandmother worked full time. She had to, as a single mom with four kids ten and under. It wasn’t a choice. My mom hated that her mom always worked, so when she had kids, she stayed home full time. While it was nice having our mom at home, we could sometimes feel her sacrifice, and before she died, it was clear that she had perhaps wanted more from her life than to be a stay-at-home mom. Neither my mom nor my grandma were ever without mom guilt. Whatever choice you make as a mom – whatever choice you need to make or have to make, the one thing you need to know is that your kids are going to love you anyway, and they’re going to be just fine.

If you want to stay home full time with your kids and you can afford to do so, your kids will benefit from you being there with them all the time. But they may also make you feel guilty when you’re trapped at home with them every day and it becomes boring and routine. If you have to or want to work full time and have to leave your kids every day, your kids will benefit from the experience of daycare and they will also miss you and you will feel guilty for not being with them.

Mom guilt is just a thing we have to deal with, through every decision to work or stay home, let them go to the party or keep them from a drug-infested dangerous place, let them graduate early or hold them back. Mom guilt is part of everything we do.

So here’s the thing. Whether you have to work, want to work, or need to work for your own sanity, it’s ok. It’s the right choice for you. I’ve done both the working mom thing and the stay at home thing, and now I’m the work full time from home business owner. They all made me feel guilty at times, and they all were what kept me sane at times.

No matter where you’re at with it all, these 4 ideas may help:

 1.      Talk To Your Boss About A Flexible Work Schedule

Did you just have a baby and it changed the way you feel about work, at least in the short term? Talk to your company about a flexible work schedule. Can you work from the office a few days a week and work from a home for the other days? Having a flexible work schedule can enable you to be there with your child when it matters most, say during family emergencies, first smiles, and still maintain your professional connections and career path.

 2.      Don’t Bring Your Office To Home

If you do work full time, leave it at the office as much as possible so that you can truly be there engaged with your kids when you are home. Spend quality time with your kids, and try to have dinner with them each night. Put your phone away. Listen to them.

 3.      Use the Middle Finger in Your Mind

When someone judges you for your decision to work or stay home, mentally flip them off, because it’s none of their business what choices you make for your family. You know what you need and want and must do to care for your kids – and no one else should have the ability to judge you or make you feel guilty for your choices.

4.      Take A Break

If you work, use your vacation time. Take your paid medical leave. Go on vacation with your family. If you stay home but need extra money, work part-time from home or babysit for someone else who has to work and hates to leave their child.

Mom guilt invades our every decision…but in the end, your kids will survive, thrive, and love you no matter what path you take.

Categories
Home and Hearth Stress Management

5 Tips for Planning Your Next Move

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Do you live your life planning your next move? I do.

We move often enough that my friends check to make sure where we are before sending Christmas cards each year. They only pencil in our mailing address because they know it’s bound to change.

You can imagine their surprise when we actually managed to be in the same place for the third Christmas in a row. (To be fair, we’ve only been here for a little over two years – we just happened to arrive right before Christmas 2015).

But yeah, I’m ready to move again.

Last year, I satisfied the urge by moving all the kids. Parker and Anika moved upstairs, and Kira, Louis, and Hallie moved downstairs. But unless I’m willing to give up my room (I’m not – it’s closest to the downstairs bathroom and the only room with a closet – our house is 200 years old), there’s nothing left to rearrange.

If I can’t move, I can at least help someone else get through their move more easily – since for some reason, no one seems to enjoy it as much as I do. These 5 tips can make planning your next move easier:

Simplify

Most of us live in the midst of clutter and accumulated items that we may no longer need, want or use on a daily or even a yearly basis. By getting rid of some of these unused items, you can free up valuable space inside your current home. The process of reducing clutter can streamline cleaning and organizing to a considerable degree; additionally, discarding or donating unwanted items now can help to reduce the work necessary when it is time to move to a new home. When we were moving back to New York from Utah, we spent a great deal of time getting rid of stuff and simplifying our lives. When we finally rented our ABF trailer, we only needed 10 feet of space, compared to the 18 feet we needed when moving there two years prior.

Pack Sooner than Later

Pack what you can live without as soon as you can live without it. We packed:

  • Seasonal clothing as soon as we didn’t need it
  • Books, movies, and music we had to keep but could live with being in boxes for a few months
  • Collectibles and home decor

In many cases, as we started packing, we were able to ask ourselves one last time if we really needed the thing we were planning to haul with us again, and often got rid of even more stuff.

Recognize that Some Things Are Easier to Repurchase than to Move

Especially if you are paying for a moving truck and trying to minimize the space you must pay for, consider what takes up a lot of room that might be easier to just repurchase when you arrive at your destination. Dining room tables and chairs take up a lot of room on moving trucks, but typically can be replaced at a reasonable price compared to the space they use on the truck. We almost always ditch dining room sets and worn out or well-used furniture pieces. This last time we moved, we even ditched our shelving units and bought new ones from IKEA that we left in the box until we arrived.

Inventory and Photos

If you’re paying someone else to do the moving for you, it’s a good idea to snap some photos of items before they’re loaded just in case they are damaged. And for sure make an inventory of everything being loaded onto the truck. We always do our own loading and use ABF trailers. They drop the trailer, we load it and lock it, they pick it up and drive it across the country for us. It’s cheaper than a full-service move (because it’s a hell of a lot more work) but it’s a good way to not have to drive the moving truck yourself (been there, done that, too).

Pay for Muscle

Four times we moved cross-country and did all the work ourselves, packing and loading. I don’t mind packing, but the older I get, the less I like doing the loading. This last move, we hired local loaders to come pack up most of the house and load up the truck for us. They made fast work of it, getting most of the stuff out of the house that would have taken us days to do in only a few hours.

By taking a few simple steps to prepare for your next move now, you can streamline the process and ensure that your relocation efforts are successful and less stressful whenever your big day occurs.

As for me, the next time I move, it will likely be with not much more than I can carry in a backpack and suitcase. That’s the goal anyway.

Categories
Stress Management Travel Work at Home

Staycation: Like a Vacation, only a lot Cheaper

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

This time of year, we’re grounded. Not only are the roads often treacherous enough that we just don’t chance traveling, but this year in particular, we have to send off our passports to be renewed. This means we cannot even make a quick trip across the border to Niagara Falls for the next 8-10 weeks. Our travel season [sob] is over.

Rather than become incredibly sad at being stuck at home without being able to feed my travel bug, this is a great time for a “staycation” – like a vacation, only a lot cheaper and closer to home.

What can you do on a staycation? 

It’s more important to note what you cannot do: work.

For me, this means scheduling ahead all of my clients’ social media posts, putting away my laptop to avoid temptation, and forcing myself not to check email for the duration.

It’s harder than it seems…but I’ve worked very hard to enjoy a staycation the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s a great time to do it, because most of our clients will be off anyway, so the need for me to be immediately available is fairly low. Even so, it’s very difficult for me to do.

But there are so many fun ways to spend the time – and yes, we could make another list all about what your kids could do – but this is about YOU. What do you want out of a staycation?

10 Things to Do on a Staycation

  1. Sleep in – When you get up at 5am every morning, this is truly the luxury of a staycation.
  2. Don’t do ANYTHING – I mean, don’t even make the bed!
  3. Read a book – I’d love to know what you’re reading! Let me know in the comments.
  4. Explore your local town or city – It’s amazing what you can discover about the place you live when you look at it through the eyes of a tourist!
  5. Go to a museum – Just down the street we have both the Corning Glass Museum and the Rockwell Museum both of which are worth multiple visits.
  6. Get together with friends – We have friends who live here in town but who also travel. We got together for dinner last week for the first time in almost a year.
  7. Shop after-holiday sales  – While I’m not much of a shopper anymore, I do like to replenish my Christmas decorations and there is no better time to get them than right after the holiday.
  8. Catch up on favorite TV shows – Gray’s Anatomy binge watching sounds amazing.
  9. Play board games with family – Much to my kids’ chagrin, I don’t often play board games, but during vacation, this can be a really fun way to spend time together.
  10. Go to Movies – There are some great movies hitting the theater, from The Last Jedi (amazing) to the new Jumanji movie to The Greatest Showman on Earth. Pick on. Go. And indulge in some popcorn or a favorite treat.

There are plenty of other things you can do on a staycation. For some people, it’s a great time to be crafty and creative. While I might get the chance to sneak in some painting time, I’m not very crafty, so it doesn’t make my list. But when vacations can run a few thousand dollars, having some required time off is a nice change of pace and pressure on the pocketbook. A staycation can be a lot cheaper and still offer tons of fun.

Categories
On Motherhood Self-Improvement Stress Management

When You Don’t Feel Like a Good Mother, You Are Enough

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Today has been one of those days. I had a therapy session this morning that was particularly brutal, and although I came home to a smiling toddler, an hour later things unraveled. Hallie and I shared her very first public in-store tantrum, and I really didn’t have the mental energy to handle it. But what choice did I have? We were so close to checkout, and she’s still too young to understand a consequence of just ditching the cart and its contents. The screaming child on the floor was my responsibility, whether I liked it or not.

Then we got home, and since Hallie had been scolded outside of the store already, she was in heart-break mode. This is when she knows that she has done wrong and is feeling sorry for herself. So, she clings to me, and cries if I even dare put her down. I appreciated the apology, but my goodness. We struggled through lunch, she fell asleep in her high-chair, and I was able to nurse her until she was settled enough to leave my arms. That did take about 30 minutes, but we got there eventually.

Now, I’ve still got most of the day ahead of me. I still have some work that I should do, and soon enough I’ll have to wake Hallie up so we can get my husband from work. I’m already dreading the after-nap monster that emerges, because she just doesn’t enjoy life after nap. It’s more clinging, more crying, and this is on a normal day without the tantrums. I. Can’t. Deal.

These are the days when I just want to sit and cry. When I don’t feel like a good mother, because what mom lets her child cry at the top of their lungs in the store? I felt that awful embarrassment for the first time, worried someone was wondering why I would let my child do such a thing. And then I felt even worse for my drained energy. Hallie doesn’t know any better, not yet, and I should be more understanding, right? I’m second-guessing every move I make, and wondering how I’ll get through the rest of the day.

I already feel guilt for parts of the day that haven’t even come yet, like when my husband and daughter both want my attention. Will there be anything to give? Now, not only am I a bad mother, I’m a bad wife. The negative thoughts spiral quickly, and before I have a chance to stop them, I’m suddenly not enough for anyone, myself included.

But this is my message to myself, and to all those mothers who have bad moments and doubts. I am enough, and so are you. Despite my tiredness, when Hallie wakes up from her nap I will snuggle her so tight. I will be kinder to those around me, because I am feeling the effects of a bad day and I have no idea what kind of day they’ve had either. I will take a few minutes for myself to relax, and I will remember that not every day is going to be perfect. We are not perfect.

Hallie isn’t going to wake up mad because I told her she needed to behave herself at the store. She is going to wake up wanting her mommy, and I’m going to be right here. I am a good mother, and more importantly, I am a good person. All I can do is try my best, and ask forgiveness when I’ve made mistakes. I’m already planning a fun time this afternoon to shake away the morning blues, because every moment is a new opportunity for both you and your child to do better.

Motherhood is hard, and we are only human. You are enough. This is a message that you need to know yourself, so that your children will know they are enough too.

Categories
Creating Balance Self-Improvement Stress Management

I Suck at Self-Care

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Self-care is important, especially as a mom. You can’t possibly devote all the necessary energies to your kids if your own tank is measuring empty. As much as I try to repeat this mantra to myself, I must admit that I suck at self-care. I feel guilty leaving for only the briefest of moments, and I can’t even tell you why. Other family members are completely capable of caring for her, and even if she cries as I leave, her eyes are dry as soon as I’m out of sight. So why do I have such a hard time doing something for myself as an individual, and not as a mom?

We all have our struggles.

I struggle daily with PTSD, a souvenir from my time in an abusive relationship. For a couple years I convinced myself that I was doing “well enough” and that things would get better with time. In my circumstances it didn’t, and I now attend therapy weekly to address the trauma I experienced. This is not only critical to myself as a person, but it is vital to my role as a good mother to my daughter and partner to my husband. The levels of stress I was experiencing were wearing on my marriage, and having a newborn did not make things easier. I noticed that on the days that I was tired (which was almost every day), I didn’t have the strength to keep my demons at bay. Addressing my mental health is one of the best things that have done for myself, and I’ll continue to work on recovery.

Unfortunately, as valuable as my therapy sessions are, I wouldn’t count them as a mini-vacation. I know that I still need a hobby of sorts to give myself a break from all my obligations and worries. As much as I would love to be on a beach, sipping cocktails handed to me by beautiful servers, that is not in my near future.

I’m a city girl in a farm world. 

I live in an area where I simply don’t like to do what is available. It is rural farm and wine country, and to some that is haven. To me, rural is so incredibly effing boring. I don’t like to camp, or fish, or hike. No thanks. Of course, there are “fun” wine-and-paint opportunities but no one wants that mess. I’m sure I would be removed from the festivities, since one glass of wine would cause distraction, and anything more would cause disruption. One drink knocks me over, and tequila also may or may not make me bite? But that’s a story for another day.

My realistic idea of self-care would involve exploring parts of a bustling city, new exhibits in a museum, or even a night out downtown when the mood strikes me once or twice a year. Access to adult dance classes that aren’t mediocre, or a gym with childcare that wasn’t a 30-minute drive would be nice. However, I live in the middle of nowhere, so good luck to me and my pickiness of hobbies.

Making the best of it.

So right now, my self-care involves home workouts, most with my daughter present. The gym was a great stress reliever when I was younger, and still is. I love the feeling of a good workout, and although it isn’t a perfect fix, I have already noticed an improvement in how I feel in general. Yes, my daughter is still rolling around, which sort of invalidates what should be “me time”, but that’s ok. I’ve also been reading more, which is a good escape. The point is, I’m trying, and I will continue to try to find an activity that amuses me.

Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes all you need is a hot shower or a long soak in the tub to feel refreshed. I’m tapping into guided meditation to see what that does for me. Other times I put Hallie to sleep and eat a pint of ice cream in one sitting. All I’m saying, is that you find something that soothes the stress of day-to-day motherhood.

Mom-guilt is too real.

As guilty as time for ourselves can feel, it’s better for both you and your family in the long run. Your kids will survive for the short moments you have stepped away, and you’ll be more present in the moments that count. It may not be a perfect situation, or anything close to a beach get-away, but even a few minutes is exactly what you need to keep that mom train going. What do you like to do in your quiet or kid-free moments?