I Once Was The Woman Waiting To Be A Mother

I love this quote.
I once was her, the “one,” waiting, wishing, hoping to be a Mother.

Finding out I was finally going to be a Mom was one most incredible feelings. It didn’t matter whether I was going to give birth naturally or have a cesarean (we are all rockstars btw). And it didn’t matter that my body was going to change drastically. I was finally going to be a Mom, a Mom to triplets!

And although I never imagined my body would look the way it does now, it represents so much more. There is a lot of extra skin, stretch marks, sag and wrinkles. And while my new Mom body may be hard to love sometimes, it is a new me that represents the power of the female body and the miracle of carrying three babies.

I call my postpartum marks my “Hope wounds” and they have taught me a greater meaning of self-love and appreciation for my body. There is empowerment for yourself in loving yourself.

Our postpartum marks are stories of hope, stories of love, and sometimes stories of loss. There is so much beauty in our Mom bodies because above all they represent life, our children, and the undeniable love we have for them.

For the “one”somewhere wishing, hoping, praying for her miracle, this is for you. May you have hope in your journey and be reminded that you are never alone. And to all the Mama’s struggling to love themselves: you’re beautiful, and strong. It is okay to take the time to grieve your pre-baby body. Your feelings for how you may feel about your body are valid and heard, but I hope, today, you are empowered to love yourself a little more today!!

 

dear anxietyAbout the Author

Desiree Fortin is a Mom to almost 2 year old triplets. Her journey to become a Mom was not easy, but it is one of hope and beauty. Desiree is a blogger and photographer. You can read Desiree’s blog, visit her on Instagram, or visit her Facebook page to learn more.

 

See More on TodaysMama.com!

This Is What My Postpartum Depression Looked Like

To My 12 Remaining Embryos

6 Things Depressed Parents Need To Know

 

Life After Birth: 5 Ways to Take Care Of Yourself

Check out part one and part two of our series of frequently asked questions on postpartum mood disorders. We are offering an exclusive discount to Today’s Mama’s readers. Enter code HMHBLOVESTM to take $40 off a lifetime membership to our program. In our two-part series on postpartum mental health, we mentioned the idea of upping your self-care game if you have the baby blues. (Please note: the baby blues is not a postpartum mood disorder. Read our previous posts for a clear explanation and check out this post about baby blues vs. postpartum depression.) Self-care is often neglected during the blur of new motherhood, so we hope these fun ideas will tempt you to treat yourself and indulge in some much deserved YOU time.

Enjoy Some Water Therapy

Budget: Ask your partner, a friend, family member or sitter to take your little(s) for an hour of uninterrupted time. Fill up your tub and add your favorite bubbles, oils, or salts (we love these Ancient Minerals bath salts). Light a candle, and turn on your favorite Pandora station loud enough to cancel out any potential baby/toddler noises. Make sure to lock the door, so your zen isn’t interrupted.

Splurge: Consider checking out a float tank (get approval from your provider first!) in your area. Float tanks (sometimes called sensory deprivation tanks) are large, light- and sound-free chambers concentrated with Epsom salt so your body floats to the surface. It can be used as a tool for stress and pain management. If you don’t have any float tank companies in your area, consider getting a day pass to a local spa that has a hot tub. Either way, you’ll still get some deep relaxation and restorative time alone.

Find A Supportive Community

We were designed to mother in communities. Reaching out for help is life skill that you can start practicing today! Sometimes a good laugh or venting session with a friend can help do the trick. Other times, you may need a more experienced professional to step in.

Budget:  Set up a babysitting swap with another mama friend. You watch her kid(s) while she enjoys some alone time, and next time she’ll watch yours. Don’t have any close mama friends? Ask anyone you trust to watch your little(s) and you can “repay” them with a coffee or have them over for dinner once you’re feeling up to it. Don’t want to be alone? Strap the baby in the stroller, grab a friend, go for a walk, and allow yourself an hour to just vent on how freaking hard motherhood is. Once you’re done releasing, discuss ways you can troubleshoot the difficult situations. Need professional support? Check out Postpartum Support International’s free, live “Chats With an Expert” which are facilitated by licensed mental health professionals. You can also see if your insurance covers visits to health professionals, such as a behavioral health and marriage and family therapists.

Splurge: Hire a personal trainer, registered dietitian (this may be covered by your insurance), life coach, or business coach who can offer you personalized strategies to reach your unique goals, whatever they may be.

Streamline Your Beauty Routine

I mean, you’re absolutely stunning without makeup, but sometimes it just feels nice to spend a few minutes brushing your hair and taking care of your skin. Take some time to figure out a quick beauty routine that works for you. If you know you can breeze through your beauty routine in under 10 minutes with products you love to use, you’ll probably make regular time to do so.

Budget: We all have that one friend who has fantastic hair and makeup. Ask her if she’d come over to take a look at your makeup drawer and help you figure out which products to keep; which products to toss; which products to invest in; and how to organize everything. She’ll be honored to share her tips with you, and you’ll get some girlfriend time in!

Splurge: Consider going to a local Ulta or department store make-up counter and have them give you a quick make-over. You’ll likely have to purchase a product and/or pay a small fee for the service, but it can be a fun, new way to recreate your style. Ask for a simple routine to keep it reasonable! Or, you can try Beautycounter’s 5-Minute Face Kit. You could also go to a nice salon and get a great new haircut. Ask the stylist for some tips for fabulous, low-maintenance style!

Channel Your Inner Bookworm

I’m talking fiction — dramatic, juicy, “I can’t put it down” books. I’m NOT talking sleep training books and the other millions of baby books that make you doubt your mama instincts. Pick a new favorite tome and find some time to read each week.

Budget: Head to your library and find something that will take your mind off of mom-ing for awhile. You may be able to time it just right to join the library’s mommy and me group while you’re there! Or, you could also borrow a book from a friend, family member, or neighbor who has similar interests. Consider joining a book club. You might be able to find a local one on Meetup, or you can join an online book club on Instagram, like Belletrist, Book Bento, or RWBookClub.

Splurge: Consider getting a Kindle or Audible membership to keep your personal library fresh with new options.

Get Help with Grocery Shopping and Food Prep

Budget:  Consider a time-saving grocery service, like Instacart. Some popular local grocery stores also offer this service, and Amazon Prime Now delivers groceries in specific areas. You could also host a  weekly meal swap with your neighbors/community, where you each make a few batches of your favorite meal. Then you can “trade” batches of your meal for other meals so you get a variety of meals throughout the week, with less work and prep time.

Splurge: Let meal-delivery companies do the cooking for you! There are plenty of Whole30 Approved options out there. If cooking relaxes you, but you’d like help with some of the prep work, consider a service like SunBasket. Maybe meal planning gets you down. In that case, a subscription to RealPlans might be the ticket. It will save you tons of time planning and you’ll find delicious, new recipes to keep your meals exciting.

Bonus ideas from our HMHB Community:

“Tiara time” Dedicate at least 5-minutes to yourself.  You can designate this time by literally putting on a toy tiara, or by sitting in a certain spot in your house. When your partner or (older) kids see that, they’ll know that you need a minute to recharge and that they can’t interrupt you until it’s over.

Purchase a new coffee mug with a fun slogan Choose something to make you smile every morning. I like mugs from Brim Papery and The Love Bomb Company.

Start a new hobby or rekindle an old passion. Strap on your dusty rollerblades, learn how to kickbox, decorate cakes, play piano, color, or dance. The options are endless!

Walk around Target without a child or a time limit What else is there to say?

Recognize Yourself

The simplest way to take care of yourself? Remind yourself that you’re still you! It’s important to “put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” In order to be the best version of yourself, you need to have your own needs met, and this includes taking time for self-care. When you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re more likely to pick arguments with your partner, yell at your kids, and emotionally eat. Simply taking a few minutes for yourself each day can make all the difference. Give it a shot, mama! What do you have to lose? What’s your favorite way to take care of yourself? Join the conversation on Instagram or send us an email.


Steph(hi)-6Stephanie Greunke is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition who specializes in women’s health. She is a certified personal trainer and prenatal and postnatal corrective exercise specialist. Stephanie guides and supports women locally and globally through her web-based private practice, RockYourHormones.com.

 

 

Note: Some of the links contained in this website are affiliate links. This means that we may receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase from the affiliate. We only recommend products and services that we know or trust to be of high quality, whether an affiliate relationship is in place or not.

 

Here’s What Your Food Cravings Are REALLY Trying To Tell You

Your cravings have wisdom. 

If you are human, you’ve likely experienced cravings before.  Maybe you even feel like you are someone who experiences them to a greater degree than what may be considered normal.  Our current nutrition culture is such that you likely have felt a lot of judgment about having them, particularly if they are for “unhealthy” foods.  Alternately, you would likely feel pride or relief about craving something “healthy” like a salad or oatmeal.

Judging our cravings, however, gets us nowhere.  The process of making peace with food, embracing Intuitive Eating and giving up the diet mentality absolutely requires curiosity.  A critical, judgmental mind holds you back whereas curiosity is probably your biggest asset. If you can lean into WHY, you can uncover so much about yourself, about food and about what you need.

As you lead with curiosity, you’re likely to find your cravings have wisdom.  It’s so true.  They can teach you a lot actually, if you’ll let them.  I’m gonna help you out here with a list of possibilities when it comes to cravings.  I would love to hear what you’ve found to be true for you as well.  Leave me a comment below!

It just sounds good to eat.  Really don’t need to overthink that too much.

Inadequate nutrition.  A very common cause of cravings is inadequate fuel and nutrition, particularly if those cravings (or resulting behaviors) feel compulsive.  Often we blame this on willpower, self-control or lack of discipline when really it’s because you’ve felt unsatisfied and undernourished.  If you’ve skipped meals, gone too long without eating or been restricting foods or food groups (which has left meals or snacks unbalanced or too small), it could easily lead to cravings later.  It’s common practice to skimp on carbohydrates or fats, and isn’t it often high fat carbohydrates that we are craving?  It’s definitely worth checking to see if you have an even distribution of carbohydrates and fats all throughout the day.  Of course, protein is worth looking at too.

Food insecurity.  We typically associate food insecurity with kids who don’t have access to food.  While that’s true, it could also be self-inflicted through dieting or restrictive mindsets.  When you feel like food isn’t going to be there tomorrow, it will absolutely effect your thoughts and behaviors today.  Giving yourself unconditional permission to eat will decrease the power food has over you.  Being in control by having food rules is an illusion; they are actually controlling you.

Emotional hunger.  We certainly are complex human beings with many different kinds of hunger.  Eating outside of physical hunger is totally normal and happens to us all.  However, consistently using food as the only way to meet your needs is likely leaving you confused and lacking confidence in your ability to take care of yourself.  We need food.  We also need rest, connection, movement, love and variety.  We need to feel relevant and like we are making contributions in positive ways.  We want to feel like we belong and are a part of something meaningful and valuable.  I’m sure we could list more.  If you feel like something is lacking, it could be easier to distract or numb with food instead of leaning into what it is or how you’re feeling.  In this case, working to become more emotionally aware would be worthwhile to you.  This could be done through journaling, therapy (nutrition therapy with an RD included) or some other form of self-reflection.

You’re craving variety.  Have you been eating the same thing over and over and over?  Our bodies want and need a wide variety of foods to function optimally.  It’s physically and psychologically unsatisfying to eat the same foods day in and day out.  Building more flexibility into your meals and snacks will likely help you feel less preoccupied with food.

You’re not at your natural weight.  If you are trying to maintain a weight that is below your natural healthy weight, you will experience strong cravings for food.  It’s a really smart biological adaptation that supports survival.  The idea that we can look however we want if we just work hard enough is a really irresponsible cultural narrative which can easily lead to extreme, dangerous and unhealthy behaviors.  The truth is that we all have a genetically determined set-point, or a weight at which we function optimally.  If you are restricting food and/or overexercising to maintain a weight lower than ideal for you, food will feel really compelling and preoccupying and you will likely have frequent, intense cravings.

food craving wisdom scale

You aren’t respecting your body’s intuitive signals of hunger and fullness.  When you get hungry, do you honor it?  When you get full, do you respect that?  We are all going to have days where we end up overly hungry and/or overly full.  But consistently ignoring what your body is communicating to you leads to lack of self-trust.  What you might be interpreting as cravings may just be your body communicating it’s needs.  Interoceptive awareness, or the signaling and perception of internal bodily sensations, is a skill often lacking in those with disordered eating.  Perhaps assigning a number to your hunger and a number to your fullness for a few days will help you connect, fostering more trust for your body and it’s ability to communicate with you.  HERE is a hunger scale you could use.

Lots of judgment about “good” food and “bad” food.  This is related to #2.  In our current nutrition culture, it’s easy to equate healthy eating with restrictive eating.  However, healthy eating is actually very flexible and inclusive of a wide variety of foods.  By labeling foods good and bad, you are encouraging an all-or-nothing mentality where you are either being good or bad.  This can lead to inconsistent, irregular and inadequate food patterns (think restriction/chaos diet cycle) when in reality our bodies function best with consistent, regular and adequate nutrition.  When we are swinging between extremes in eating, our blood sugar can swing, our mood can swing and our hunger/fullness signals can swing, leading to more intense cravings than you may be comfortable with.

Some cravings – like salty foods for example – may indicate a medical issue.  If you find these cravings to be very intense and very frequent, it may be necessary to seek medical advice.

Lastly, be sure you aren’t thinking of hunger like it’s a character flaw.  We are human.  We get hungry and when we get hungry we want to eat and feel satisfied.  It’s an innate need which diet culture would have us feel ashamed of.  I’ve definitely learned that if I’m craving chocolate, fruit will not cut it.  If I’m craving pizza, a salad will not do.  How often do we eat around the craving and then have it anyway?  Don’t waste too much of your time overthinking cravings.  Honestly, most of the time it’s best just to honor it.

See More on TodaysMama.com!

What You Need to Know About Diet and Weight Loss

Three Foods You Should Stop Eating Immediately

“Fitness” Made Me Infertile

 

10 Ways I Battled My New Mom Anxiety

Anxiety is no joke.  The amount of times per week that I have to talk myself back down from a panic cannot be counted on one hand, let alone two.  Everything about motherhood is extra.  Extra stressful.  Extra tiring. Extra overwhelming. Extra scary.  You get it.  Super e-x-t-r-a.  All. The. Time.

I am an extra positive person as well.  The extras extend to the “cup-half-full” side of me, but it takes work. So in preparing for my role as a new mom, I knew it was going to take some full-fledged mental gymnastics to keep my head in the game.  Here are the top 10 ways that I coped with my anxieties as a new mom and kept the extra in check.

Prep for 6-8 weeks of the most exciting exhausting time of your life! I remember when my milk came in I was all of a sudden filled with so much anxiety that was a mix of all things positive and scary at the same time: overwhelming love; hate for the world in its current state; worry that I was doing everything wrong; and the big one…sorrow so deep over the loss of my independence. Yep.  That was a big, fat, guilt-inducing emotion!  I asked for hugs from my husband often during that time, and they actually worked.  Brace yourself for the initial 6-8 weeks, knowing that this is going to be a huge transition hormonally, emotionally, physically, and psychologically.

Don’t even try to do all the things. I mean it.  Just STAHP.  Seriously, that is why people offer to help.  If you are blessed enough to have a support system, utilize them!  I had to remind myself often that as long as the baby is comfortable and cared for with love, she will survive!  And most importantly, you will too.  I would only allow myself to have one to two items on my to-do list each day.  And most of the time, those two things were to shower and drink all the waters.  Allow yourself the time and space to heal and take in every moment.  And don’t let the anxiety of unanswered text messages and missed phone calls get to you.  Everyone can wait.  No text response is worth stressing yourself out about.  I had to fight this urge every time I received communication via text or social media.  Everyone can wait for pictures.  They are just going to keep asking for more anyway.

10 ways defeated new anxiety

Babies were born, and survived, without technology for centuries! There are so many great gadgets for new parents these days.  I cannot tell you how many times I heard, “They never had this when I had my kids!” from those who went before me on the parenthood journey.  There are also WAY too many choices of all things technology out there.  Enough to, you guessed it, cause a panic attack.  I made a point to set aside my constant fear of something happening to my daughter in her sleep, and opted for no monitor.  “Gasp!  What?  No monitor?  But what about all of the things?”  Well you know what? It’s miraculous.  She is plenty loud when she needs us.  So I will sleep soundly (when I do sleep) until she lets me know she needs me, from down the hall.

Maybe don’t read every baby related article on Facebook. Unless it’s this one.  Then you are in the right place.  This is everything right now.  Just kidding.  You know the articles I’m talking about.  The ones that warn you of every potential evil that has ever existed in the entire world.  If you must read them (to set your anxiety about knowing you haven’t read them at ease) then do the following:  make a list of one take away from the article that will help you be a more aware and attentive parent.  Then be done with it.  Don’t worry about needing to warn all other moms of this potential danger you had never heard of.  I guarantee you they are already stressing themselves out over the same article. Move on.

 

SEE MORE: Science Shows How A Trip to Beach Changes Your Brain

 

Allow space for your mother’s intuition. There are so many opinions out there on what to do. Basically all the ways you can either set your baby up for the most emotionally fulfilling success, or on the flip side, all the ways you can traumatically injure them and destroy any hope for a bright future.  But don’t worry…you ultimately get to decide.  #nojudgementzone  Yeah right!  It’s a trap!  BIG FAT JUDGEMENT ZONE!!  Run!  For real though, you are the one who is responsible for your child.  In spite of all the well-intentioned advice, you have to go with your gut at the end of the day.  You will be the one who learns your baby’s cues, and ultimately…you will figure it out one day at a time. Cut yourself some slack.  This was one of the biggest threats to my new mom anxiety levels, and I had to monitor myself carefully.  You of course may need to seek advice, a lot.  But you will learn who your trusted sources are.  Cling to them for dear life.

I reminded myself that the gas pains will subside, eventually. She won’t remember this gas- this too shall pass.  This was the mantra I repeated to myself when she was crying non-stop each evening as she worked through the gas pains.  Remember, their little systems are booting up.  Everything has to work itself out and so you’ll go through some rough phases.  But just as quick as the gas came, it went.  It was an issue for maybe 2 weeks tops.  Although it did feel like forever, and I felt myself spiraling down a few times.  She won’t remember this gas- this too shall pass. Rinse and repeat.

Self-care really did give me a boost. Even running on empty, if I could at least take a nice hot shower I felt like I could take on the world!  (But remember, only two to-do items per day!)  For each person, self-care may look a bit different.  For me it was shower, get dressed, put on a tad bit of makeup, enjoy a cup of delicious coffee and take my supplements.  That was my power combo.  And I’m talking about wearing a capsule wardrobe with a 5-minute makeup routine.  Nothing fancy.  And I wear the same red lipstick and hat every day.  Because who has time to deal with all that post-partum alopecia?  Not this chick.  Find what packs a punch for you in the most efficient way possible, and this will go far in boosting your outlook when facing all these new anxieties.

10 ways overcome new mom anxiety

Do not cave to the vain imaginations! What’s a vain imagination you ask?  It’s all of the things you imagine are potentially going to happen.  And then all of the responses you come up with, because now you are convinced they are going to happen.  And now you are crying and dry heaving, because how are you going to deal with these things that just happened for crying out loud?!  But wait, they haven’t happened yet.  And I actually just made that all up in my mind.  So really, it isn’t even truth because it hasn’t even occurred and may not occur.  See where I’m going with this?

Give yourself and others around you and extra measure of grace. Especially if this is your first time caring for a little one.  Remember that you have to get to know this sweet babe and/or babes.  (Dear Lord, give them an extra measure of grace if it’s babies plural!) When it comes to all the small ways your anxiety wants to take over when you see someone else trying to change the diaper- slowly back away.  Even if it is taking your husband a bajillion hours to change her, and he isn’t even putting the new diaper under the old one in case she starts peeing before he can get the new one on!  ARGHHHH!  But you know what he is doing?  He’s bonding with the baby.  Remember that.  And she’s safe, even if there is an extra mess to clean up.  He’s learning what it means to care for a baby too.  Give your loved ones the space to grow alongside you.  None of you have it all figured out, so just do your best.

 

SEE MORE: The Day I Stopped Saying “Hurry Up”

 

Slow down, and be in the moment. This is easier said than done.  Because if you are like me, your anxiety will pull you under as the laundry piles up.  And the dishes aren’t done.  And the house takes on a particularly dusty hue.  I finally got to the point where I started asking people to clean when they asked how they could help.  Because I was too flipping tired to do anything other than care for my little one and occasionally venture out into the world from time to time.  When the anxious thoughts would creep up, I would battle them back by thinking of all the precious time I was soaking up watching this little human being develop and change.  It was all too important, and I had to protect that time at all cost.

Try out different ways to fight the anxiety that threatens to take you down.  Try new things, don’t be afraid to fail, and keep going until you find little ways to relieve the overwhelm.  No one expects you to be perfect, so don’t even put that on yourself.   Most of all, make sure you talk about how you’re feeling with those whom you trust.  It’s always best to speak out about your anxieties, so they don’t become the monsters in your head.  And remember – you are not alone mama!

Disclaimer:  This is a disclaimer about all the disclaimers, because anxiety.  I in no way claim to know what I’m doing.  I do not have a cure for anxiety.  I’m just a girl with ideas.  I found what worked for me and hope it helps you and yours.  Please like me.

Misty Winesberry has been married for going on 9 years to her husband Jajuan Winesberry. They recently welcomed a baby girl making them a cozy family of three.  As a multi-passionate career woman, Misty enjoys advocacy work in her spare time.  While Misty and Jajuan photograph weddings primarily, they also share their story of hope and recovery while living with mental illness.  Their desire is to fight stigma at every turn, making it easier for others who are struggling to find their voice.  You can find them at their website, Facebook or their Instagram account.


See more on TodaysMama.com!

9 Signs You Might Have An Anxiety Disorder

5 Ways to Stop Stress

Why You Need a Mom Squad

If Mom Gets a Nap for Mother’s Day I’m Going to SCREAM

*climbs onto soapbox”

I’ve noticed something over the last few years. Every Mother’s Day I see moms posting messages on Facebook or Instagram sharing messages of gratitude and heartfelt appreciation for the fact that they….

Wait for it…

Got to take a nap.

A nap.

Now, let me back up and tell you that each Mother’s Day since my children were born, I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the fact that I get to parent two wonderful kiddos. Before I became a mother, I enjoyed the opportunity to high-five my own mom for being literally the most amazing person that I know. (Sorry. I got the best one.)

Let me also clarify that I’m not looking for a substantial cash investment. I’ll take a handprint on a piece of paper or a pasta necklace any day. Or a big dog pile of hugs and a chorus of “Mother’s Day!”

But DO NOT gift me a nap.

DO. NOT.

Sleep in a necessity like food. Let’s not consider it a luxury or a treat. Let’s commit to taking care of ourselves and our sleep ON THE DAILY. Not just Mother’s Day. 

You aren’t doing anyone any good running around ragged and sleep deprived. So do me a favor and don’t sit around dreaming of your annual Mother’s Day nap. GET SOME REST. Here’s why:

Sleep plays a critical role in your physical, mental, and emotional health.

via GIPHY

“If you don’t get it, your body operates under stress.  Sleep deprivation has been linked to increases in depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, as well as memory and cognitive problems.” (Via Psychology Today

Um. I’m no doctor, but even I can grasp that correlation. 

How about this: NAPS MAY IMPROVE FRUSTRATION TOLERANCE. (Via The New York Times

If ever there was a thing that literally ANY parent could use, it sure as hell is “improved frustration tolerance”

via GIPHY

Oh and if that wasn’t enough, it turns out that we reach for less healthy food when we are sleep deprived. 

“The research showed that when the subjects were bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived, they strongly preferred the food choices that were highest in calories, like desserts, chocolate and potato chips.” (Via The New York Times)

I don’t need a study to tell me that. I could set my watch to my 3 PM potato chip craving.

via GIPHY

The irony here is that ANY parent will tell you that sleep is important. What’s the question we all ask first-time parents?

“Is the baby sleeping through the night yet?”

Because we remember those foggy days in newborn land when we wondered how on earth we were going to make it through a day on such little sleep.

So when I hear people say “I got to take a nap!” what I hear is something along the lines of “I was permitted to eat!”

Setting the bar a bit low, aren’t we?

Because the barrier to that afternoon nap? It’s you.

You are entitled to take care of your needs.

Let me say it again:

YOU ARE ENTITLED TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR NEEDS.

The people in your life that love you? They want you to be happy and healthy. They want the best version of you. They would probably leap at the chance to give you what you most desire. And if taking a nap has become an annual luxury then you’re doing it wrong.

As mothers we need to do a better job of raising our hand and asking for the help we need. We need to be thoughtful and honest about what makes us tick, and be willing to prioritize that for ourselves.

I would wager that most moms have heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

That’s a completely true statement. You can’t.

So let’s agree that we’re going to do a better job of asking for what we need to feel rested and restored—WEEKLY NOT ANNUALLY.

*climbs off soapbox”

 

via GIPHY

Trust Me, You Need This Sweary Coloring Book In Your Life

Let’s face it: Women are badass.

From juggling challenging careers to managing kid schedules like bosses to standing up for social issues that are important to us, women are fucking awesome. We give our hearts and souls to those around us, never wavering in our devotion to our families. In short, we are superheroes without capes.

But being a superhero is tiring. And filled with tension. Basically, we are stressed AF superheroes. Because kids and jobs and life are exhausting. Wonder Woman made it look easy, amiright?

Sometimes, we need to lose the cape, pull on our favorite leggings, and slow the hell down. What better way to relax is there than to break out the colored pencils, pour a glass of wine, and color our stresses away?

I’m totally serious.

When adult coloring books hit the markets a few years ago, I jumped on that bandwagon with gusto. I love the relaxation that comes with mindlessly coloring in the lines of a beautifully illustrated coloring book. Throw in a glass of wine and some soothing music, and this mama is on the train to Happy Town.

So you can imagine that when I saw Jen Meyers’s book, “You’re the Shit: A Totally Inappropriate Self-Affirming Adult Coloring Book,” I nearly lost my shit in excitement.

Her sweary adult coloring book is filled with empowering phrases and designs geared to help women remember that they are awesome. Phrases like, “You’ve got this,” and a whale telling you that “you are a metric ton of awesome” are gorgeously illustrated and just waiting for your freshly sharpened colored pencils.

You might need to frame these masterpieces for your office, or bathroom — wherever you need the most inspiration.

This coloring book is totally the shit. And so are you. For $10, I might have to have another one.

This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a small portion of the sale if you make a purchase using this link.

Literally All I Want Is A Vacation (Without My Kids Or Husband)

Once in a while when I should be asleep but my mind doesn’t agree, I’ll pull up Pinterest. Looking for new pins for my “Getaways” board, I browse exotic destinations for luxurious vacations. The locales are usually reserved for presidents who have left office at the end of their term and want to spend a month relaxing and not getting blamed for everyone’s problems — so not exactly in my budget. But once I come back down to Earth, I don’t even mind.

A gorgeous beach would be pretty nice, with crystal blue water and a decadent cabana. I wouldn’t mind drinking rum and a splash of juice from a coconut. I would mind having to shave my legs and wax in areas that are not wax-friendly. I would mind trying on swimsuits and spending even more time trying on kaftans and cover-ups. I would mind getting sand in those not wax-friendly places.

When so many aspects of your vacation are inconvenient or lead to ingrown hairs, is it even a vacation anymore? So many people yap about needing a vacation after their vacation, and it’s because vacations are a pain in the ass. There is the planning and the packing and the actual act of traveling, which is its own public hell that you have to take part in twice, and appointments beforehand for your nails and your hair because god forbid your roots are showing in front of a bunch of people you don’t know and will never see again for the rest of your life.

Throw in your kids and/or your spouse? Vacation becomes a far more complicated version of your everyday life. But with planned activities and without all the stuff in your house you forgot you need to survive.

My dream vacation, my real dream vacation, doesn’t include any of that bullshit. It includes me and only me. Exceptions may occur if it becomes necessary to interact with another human being for things like room service. I wouldn’t need to go far or spend much money. Give me a mid-tier hotel in a local business park with no confirmed cases of bed bugs, and I’m more than satisfied.

I can even skip having a room with a view if there are blackout curtains I can keep closed for 24 hours. They’re perfect for both long-range napping and not worrying about anyone in the parking lot seeing me walk around without pants.

This may all seem low maintenance, but I do have some standards. I require a clean bathroom. If the last person who stayed in this room was murdered in the shower, I would prefer not to see the evidence. My preference for the smell of bleach is strong — as much as a human can tolerate without needing to crack a window.

And even though there is only one of me, I will need a king-size bed. I want to know what it feels like to sleep in one without a toddler’s foot nestled between my nose and upper-lip. Equally important, I will need free hotel breakfast, and not the shitty kind with stale Danishes and green bananas. At a minimum, there needs to be a waffle maker. I would also like a fridge and microwave in my room so that I can bring second-breakfast up to my room and heat it up when I awake from my post-first-breakfast nap.

Aside from venturing into the lobby for said waffles, I will not be leaving my room. Even though I will leave my family with the name and number for a fake hotel to ensure I won’t be disturbed, I will still unhook the phone so the front desk can’t call me about noise complaints when I watch TV at full volume. I’m finally in complete control of the remote with no little eyes or precious ears to think about. You bet your ass I’m only watching shows with excessive violence, swearing, and gratuitous sex.

Along with that fake hotel information, I will leave my family a note telling them I won’t be returning until the dishwasher works, the bathrooms aren’t coated in a fine mist of urine, and the bedrooms don’t smell like toe cheese. This is Mommy’s vacation, not everyone else’s. I will not make the rookie mistake of letting my family assume that while the cat is away, the mice can slack off and greet me with a cesspool when I walk in the front door. There may be a postscript with suggestions for what they can have baking in the oven when I come home.

As I relax diagonally across my giant bed, completely naked except for the bags of snacks lying around and sometimes on me, I will take a brief moment to mentally thank my family for this glorious respite. For without them driving me absolutely fucking crazy at times, I wouldn’t have taken the initiative to pack a small bag, high five my husband when he walked in the door from work, grab my keys, and run full-speed out of my house with both middle fingers in the air. Then I’ll go back to eating Oreos I don’t have to share with anyone and watching HBO.

Balance Is A Damn Myth. Don’t Be Afraid To Pursue Your Passion, Moms.

Discovering and pursuing one’s deepest passion and purpose is a topic very near and dear to my heart. It is my belief that mothers, in particular, are super susceptible to living passionless lives, and settling for less than our deepest souls desire. We learn to live with constant feelings of burnout, stress, and general emptiness; it becomes our new normal.

We make lots of tiny choices that slowly surrender pieces of our identity, and leave little room for the things that define us outside of motherhood. Our dedication to the task is admirable, but what do we lose in the process?

You’re meant to live passionately, to be fully alive, especially during motherhood. How else will your kids learn what it looks like to live such a full, wondrous life? But so many of us kill our passions, talk ourselves out of big dreams, and give up searching for purpose when we become mothers. Our purpose is to be a mother. That’s enough, right? So naturally, over a length of time, we give up this hobby, or that. We spend less time thinking about our dreams, and more time nurturing others. It’s what we think the job demands.

At first, it feels uncomfortable and stressful, but soon, it becomes second nature for us to live with this empty, dissatisfied feeling. We make friends with it, believing it won’t ever go away. After all, motherhood keeps you busy, that’s just how it is. There simply isn’t time to deal with big questions of purpose or to figure out what we really need in order to feel whole. That stuff is complicated, and messy. Better just to keep your eyes down, and keep moving forward. We’ve got jobs, partners, and friendships. Doctor’s appointments and day care, playdates and meal prep. How selfish to pursue anything for ourselves when it might make us less present for our kids or less dedicated to our work.

But, inevitably, we miss the things we once valued, like alone time, exercise, an uninterrupted cup of coffee. We feel resentful of the things we’ve given up, and so we try to squeeze them back in. We look for “work-life balance” to bring order to the chaos. We find ourselves feeling empty, overworked, rundown. We feel like failures because we can’t accomplish everything we want to, and we believe this feeling will go away if we can just find the perfect medium, some secret key to unlock our full potential and magically bring order to everything in our lives, so that we can truly do everything and come through for everyone, including ourselves.

Trust me, trying to squeeze everything into your schedule and give your absolute best to all of it is an exercise in futility. The more you strive to do it all, the more your efforts will fail, your results will be meager, and you will beat yourself up for every single mistake. It’s what we do. We punish ourselves because we can’t get everything completed up to our impossibly high standards, and instead of taking a good long look at our approach, we assume we’re the problem. And so, we keep searching for ever-elusive balance.

I’m not knocking work-life balance products  — I believe that learning new strategies and thought patterns can be incredibly helpful. I just think that our obsession with creating balance is more about our need to shed these feelings of failure, inadequacy, and disappointment that plague us, and sometimes we go about it the wrong way.

Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, gives a powerful TED Talk entreating us to teach girls bravery rather than perfection. In her presentation, she points to the fact that girls learn early on in our culture not to try anything unless they can do it flawlessly, not to make mistakes or take risks.

At a young age, we start to receive messages that our behavior, appearance, and performance need to be perfect, or we open ourselves up to ridicule, judgment, and worse, rejection. We strive for perfection in our jobs and personal lives. We learn to judge ourselves and other women according to impossibly high standards to which we can never measure up, and then we blame ourselves. We assume everyone else is making all of it work. I mean, they look so happy on Facebook, so what the hell is wrong with me?

I seem to be the only one who can’t achieve a work-life balance that actually works, because I’m not really looking for balance . I’m looking for superhuman powers that increase my day from 24 hours to 48, that enable me to never sleep or eat, so I can get everything done and finally just feel good about myself. The main problem is, I took myself out of the equation.

With so much on my plate, there simply isn’t time for my ridiculous needs. But that, my friends, is how we lose sight of balance in the first place . We remove the foundation of our life pyramid, our connection to our own inner world, to the joy and purpose that fuel us — and then we stand stupefied when the whole pyramid comes toppling down.

That is why you will never truly achieve “balance” or shed those painful feelings of disappointment, until you get back to pursuing your passions — the things in which you find delight, that bring your soul to life — and allowing yourself to find purpose outside of your role as mom. It’s the grand paradox of motherhood: You become better, not worse, by feeding your soul. It isn’t selfishness. It’s an incredibly brave act of love. Let’s face it: While the motherhood role is yours until you die, its responsibilities change over time. Your kids will need you less often, or in different ways, and if your entire purpose is wrapped up in them, everyone will suffer. You must identify interests outside of raising your children, for their sake and your own.

This is no simple task for moms. We’re so in tune with the needs of our families, so accustomed to silencing our inner voice when it cries out for passion and delight, and it’s incredibly difficult to turn the volume up again. It takes practice, and time, and a certain focused dedication to listening for that voice, once again learning how it feels to surrender to it and trust it.

I’m still working on hearing mine again. It began with a weekly yoga class, which felt incredibly frivolous. I almost backed out of it a hundred times. But I went, and to my shock and amazement, the world kept turning. My family survived without me for an hour, and I felt more energized and alive than I had in months.

As it turns out, I came a lot closer to finding my passion and discovering my purpose by “selfishly” taking a yoga class, than by going back to school or obsessing over my lack of direction. I needed to prove to myself that joy and delight were worth my time and energy before God or the universe could even begin to reach me about what my passion and purpose might be. I needed to prove to my inner voice that I’m still here, that I’m still listening.

And I urge you, dear friend, to do the same. Learn to recognize the part of you that fiercely desires delight, and listen to it when it says, “Aha, you’re onto something here.” Give into it even when it feels weird or like a waste of time. Trust it, because it will lead you somewhere amazing.

Can’t Make It To The Spa For A Facial? We’ve Got You Covered

Making time for self-care isn’t always at the top of our priority list, but it feels damn good when we finally fit it in our schedules. An at-home facial in a fluffy robe with a nice candle burning may be just the thing you need to jumpstart a routine with a little more me time. Queue up a little Netflix with swears and gratuitous nudity to make it a truly child-free and mom-centered experience.

1. Remove your makeup and the day’s dirt and oil with a gentle cleanser.

Instead of splashing water on your face to rinse everything off, wring out a warm washcloth and lay it over your face, then use it to gently wipe everything off. The warm cloth will open your pores and get them ready for all the good ish coming their way. Try the Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Foam.

2. Give your skin some gentle exfoliation.

You don’t want to go too hardcore before using a mask, so avoid anything that feels like it’s sandblasting your face. Rub your gentle exfoliant (St. Ives Even & Bright Face Scrub, Pink Lemon and Mandarin Orange) in small circles, then use a warm washcloth again to remove. 

3. Now the fun part. Use a deep-cleaning mask to get all the junk out of your pores.

This clay mask is a favorite of mine and has a huge cult following. You can mix it with water, but I prefer apple cider vinegar to kick it up to 11. Mix 3 tablespoons of each and smooth the mixture over your face and neck, avoiding your eyes. You may feel anything from tingling to a slight burning like you would with an in-office peel. It will tighten and harden as it dries. Get out that warm washcloth again and lay it over your face to soften the mask for easier removal. You know how when you’re pregnant everyone tells you you’re glowing, but they’re just trying to be nice about how sweaty you are? This mask leaves your skin actually glowing, clearing up your skin and smoothing its texture.

4. Follow up the first mask with a second.

I like to alternate between one that hydrates (VIA Sea Whip Cucumber Soothing & Hydrating Gel) and one that brightens (Andalou Naturals Glycolic Brightening Mask, Pumpkin Honey), so pick your poison or address any other issue your skin may be having. Apply the mask as directed, then sit back and relax. Think of drinking your coffee without reheating it in the microwave or the sound of everyone in your house napping. Remove with a warm cloth. (I’m really into warm washcloths, guys.)

5. After putting your skin through the ringer, you need to neutralize and calm it down.

Pour some toner into a small spray bottle and spritz over your face, giving it a minute to settle soak in.

6. Finish off your facial with a rich moisturizer.

Your skimpy daily isn’t quite up to snuff for this step, so look for something thick and creamy, like Era Organics 10-in-1 Facial Moisturizer. Rub into your face and neck, stroking up instead of down to help retain elasticity.

Sit back with some tea and a book and relax for a little while. Or flop right to sleep because you’re probably up past your bedtime to do all this, anyways. But wake up tomorrow with clean, smooth, hydrated skin, and a newfound love of warm towels. You know you loved them.

Go Away For That Girls’ Weekend, And Don’t Feel Guilty For A Second

I finally flew the coop this weekend. One of my very best friends is getting married in a few weeks, and as a bridesmaid, I was ecstatic to participate in the bachelorette party weekend. We stayed in an adorable, fully stocked house, and our only plans were wine tasting, wine tasting, dancing, and more wine tasting. Seriously. The type of weekend dreams are made of.

In between sips of wine and hilarious conversation, I was asked a few times if it was hard for me to pack my stuff and leave my kids for a weekend.

Long answer? I had not yet left the little guy anywhere overnight. Not because I hadn’t wanted to (someone take him, pleeeaaase) but because he’s a total mama’s boy who was attached to me, literally and figuratively, nursing until he was almost a year old and standing at the door and crying when I leave to go get groceries (aka wine). He is now 16 months old, so including his incubation period in my uterus, I had not been alone in over two years — two years since I had been alone longer than a few hours spent at the grocery store or out to dinner with girlfriends.

Two. Freaking. Years.

And let me tell you, it was such an amazing, unforgettable weekend that I didn’t even realize how badly I needed. I drank hot coffee. I laughed so hard I cried. I spent time with girls who knew me before I became a mom and met some amazing ladies who got to know me as more than just a mom. I got to get ready without mentally planning out what outfit to put each kid in while trying not to give someone a third-degree burn as they all pile into my tiny-ass bathroom to watch me straighten my hair (seriously, whyyy?).

I got dressed up to go to a dinner that didn’t involve cutting up chicken tenders and asking for more ranch dressing and playing tic-tac-toe and worrying if our food would arrive before someone had a breakdown. I danced to music that wasn’t Taylor Swift and surprised myself by remembering all the lyrics to the NSYNC and Backstreet Boys songs that were a staple in my teenage years.

I sat and had actual conversations with adults without being interrupted a million times or having to put my phone on mute to threaten someone with a time-out if they didn’t knock that shit off right now. I got to breathe. I got to sit in silence. I got to think. And when the fun was over and it was time to pack up and go, I could not wait to get home to my kids and my amazing husband (who’s the real MVP for taking care of our kids all weekend so I could go) because I actually got a chance to miss them.

Listen, mamas: There is no award for being the most tired, the most stressed, the most busy, or the most likely to lose her shit (if there was I would’ve gotten that one by now). Take the vacation. Go on the girls’ weekend. Plan the weekend or evening getaway with your husband or partner. If the opportunity arises for you to get out for a day or a night or an hour, run, don’t walk, your amazing ass out the door. Screw the mommy guilt that tries to bubble up in your brain as you pull out of the driveway. Your kids will be fine, you will all survive, and everyone will be better for it.

And just know that if your kids are anything like mine, they will run to greet you when you get home, smother you in hugs and kisses, word vomit all the things they did while you were away in under three minutes, and be back to whining, arguing, and driving you nuts within an hour, giving you all the more reason to start planning and fantasizing about your next great escape.