Charlize Theron Parenting is All Of Us

My favorite kind of parent are those who don’t pretend life is glitter and butterflies all the time. Let’s be honest: if your kid has never been in timeout or had that mean-fast-parent-walk head towards them, you should get some sort of medal.

I’m pretty real when it comes to my kids, their attitudes, my attitude and why sometimes the kids aren’t my favorite little people in the world. I know I may have taken it too far when family members start reminding me, “They’re good kids.” This is true. But today they need to be “good kids” in their room. With the door closed.

It’s this kind of real talk that made me fall in love with Charlize Theron just a little bit more.  Let’s all take a moment and relish in her parenting honesty:

Yeeessss!!! Kids will be kids. Sometimes their insanity and endless giggling makes me laugh and smile, but after the 15th time out of bed when “I just want to watch my grown-up show!!” things get real.

Parenting is hard. Being a kid is hard, too. When your kid acts up, he’s not the devil or the worst kid in the world. He’s normal! When you get mad because said kid acts up, you’re normal!  If we can’t laugh at our reality, then what on earth are we doing? I’ll tell you what we’re doing–slowly dying inside because of the guilt, stress and anxiety we’re causing ourselves.

So the next time you want to post on social media about what a blessing and joy your kids are–go for it. Just don’t forget to add in those posts where you’re over it. Trust me when I tell you the parental troops will rally because you. are. not. alone.

And just in case you don’t believe me, here are some my favorite Instagram parents you should be following.
 

@SimonCHolland

 

A post shared by Simon Holland (@simoncholland) on

 

@mommycusses

 

@kidsaretheworst

 

@howtobeadad

 

Kids, man. Dang.

A post shared by HowToBeADad.com (@howtobeadad) on

 

@fatherofdaughters

 

Monday’s are always difficult, and not just because it’s the start of the working week. @mother_of_daughters heads offbat 4.45am to have a break from us to work, leaving me in charge of coordinating both the am & pm routines which can be more challenging than starting a fire with a tray of ice cubes. As the sun rose, everything was fine, but I can only assume that Ottie urinated in delilah’s imaginary tea in the home corner at nursery, as upon arriving at home this evening, world war 3. Delilah silently decided to use Ottie as a budget floor mop & dragged her by the hair through her own dinner like a plough, forcing me to reluctantly dust off my invisible referees outfit once again & quite literally keep them at arm’s length from eachother until bedtime. Who else out there just loves Mondays? #thatgirlcanholdagrudge #dadreferee #catfight #twins #comehomeclemmie #toddlerhairtransplantrequired #fatherofdaughters #dadlofe #fod #instadad

A post shared by Simon, also known as FOD (@father_of_daughters) on


 So when you feel like you are sucking it up at this parenting gig, I suggest you find yourself a nice, dark closet. Bring your favorite treat and/or drink and hide away for 10 minutes. Maybe 20. Or at least until it gets eerily quiet and you have no choice but to find out what depths of hell have quietly awoken. Best of luck. Just know I fully support you and whatever choices you make today. I especially support you if it means you ignoring the laundry to giggle with someone who needed extra love (even if that someone is you).

 

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Dear Kids, Think Of Me. Love Mom.

Rules For My Son

The Important Thing About Yelling

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.

 

Moms, Get the Big Stuff Right

Every mom worries about failing her kids. We wonder what we will do if our kids turn against us, grow up to hate us or end up disliking their lives. These are natural worries, but these fears can drive us crazy. 

They can also drive us to focus on minor details, hoping that if we can control the small things, the big stuff will fall into place. But, posting the perfect “first day of school” picture on Instagram or making sure that our son gets the right football coach won’t improve our parenting. It will just give us a false sense of control.

So, I have a suggestion. Why don’t we forget the multitude of small parenting details and start focusing on getting the big things right. I believe that when we do this, life goes a whole lot better for moms and their kids. Here’s where we can start.

Be Kind. I’ve pulled the car over a few times in my life with a backseat full of fighting kids. I know firsthand how hard being nice can be. So I think that it’s important to train ourselves to be nice.

moms get big stuff right parenting

Personally, I need some alone time in order to keep myself calm and less irritable. Some moms need to work a little, exercise, pray more or go out with friends periodically. These aren’t selfish things. They are important because they help us be kind, and being patient with our kids is crucial to good parenting.

Speak Well. We often spend more time with our kids than anyone else, so they hear everything we say. They hear us talk to friends, our husbands, parents, and neighbors. And of course, they take to heart what we say to them.

Words are powerful. They can heal relationships or crush them, shape the identity of your children or deeply injure it. Pay attention to your words and the tone that you use.

Love Unconditionally. As much as we’d like to believe that we are good at loving our children unconditionally, the truth is, we’re not always very good at it. We always want more from our kids. We want to show them that we love them, but we also want them to succeed and love us back. 

Loving them when they’re flunking fifth grade, not liked by any of their friends or doing things to embarrass us is tough. But loving them when no one else will is what being a good mom is all about. That’s where we shine. 

Be Tough. The kids who I see in my practice who get in trouble aren’t the ones with strong mothers. They are the ones whose mothers have no spine.

parenting moms get big stuff right be tough

Forgoing discipline, failing to stick to rules and blurring boundaries makes kids crazy. Kids need to look at their moms and see stoicism. They won’t listen to a mother who is a pushover, who can’t make up her mind or who has no convictions. But they will listen to a mother who knows who she is and makes no apologies. 

Assert who you are, and your kids will stay close by your side.

Moms, you’re doing a great job! Hang in there, focus on love, kindness and discipline and most of all, don’t sweat the small stuff.

 

About The Author

Pediatrician, mother and best-selling author of six books, Dr. Meg Meeker is the country’s leading authority on parenting, teens and children’s health. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, certified by The American Board of Pediatrics and serves on the Advisory Board of The Medical Institute. She lives and works in northern Michigan where she shares a medical practice with her husband, Walter. They have four grown children and one beautiful granddaughter. To read more from Dr. Meeker, visit her website here.

 

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Rules For My Son

Dear Kids, Think Of Me. Love Mom

The 28 ‘Golden Rules’ Of Divorced Parenting

Dear Anxiety, You Are Paralyzing.

Dear Anxiety,

 

I see you.

 

In the last two years I have gotten to know on a pretty close level. You have come in and out of my life. We are not friends. To be honest, I kind of loathe you, actually. More recently, you have become a daily battle for me. You can take any moment, any situation, and use it to bring some of the greatest panic and fear I have ever experienced. It’s been a tough season for me as a Mother. I am trying hard to be strong, to be brave; to find my value in who I am as Mom. There are times I feel lost in raising tiny humans, but I know I am doing a good job. I know that Motherhood is not having the right answers. It is sometimes simply winging it and not having a clue what you are doing.

However, if I am being entirely honest, the days you sneak up on me I have a pretty hard time seeing just how good of a job I am actually doing, especially when I feel like I should have the right answers. I should know how to handle tantrums. I should have a well behaved children. You are a master at speaking lies to me. You are crippling. You instill fear. You cause me to worry about things that may never even happen. There have been days when I can’t even take my kids to the park because I am afraid they will be kidnapped.

You are paralyzing.

dear anxiety hate you

I first encountered you after the triplets were born. You used sleep deprivation to suffocate me. I had no amount of energy and could never catch up on my sleep. The panic attacks kicked in and swallowed me whole. At the time, it was hard for me to even recognize and admit how difficult things were for me as a new Mom. I wasn’t enjoying the season. I waited for so long to become a Mother and you hijacked my heart with guilt and told me lies about who I was as a Mom. You stole moments I could have shared with my babies. I felt so lonely, so misunderstood.

I hated you then like I hate you know.

Eventually, I saw what was happening to me. My husband, friends and family-they saw it too. And I got the help I needed to learn how to manage you.

And yet, here we are, two years later, and I see you trying to poor the physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion over me once again. You are using the terrible twos to make me question myself as a Mom and if I can even handle this tiring and often thankless job. You use tantrums to suck every piece of patience right out of me. You constantly steal the grace I should have for myself as a Mother and exchange it with panic and guilt. You use Mom-shamers to steal my confidence. You know all the tricks to make me believe untruths about who I am as a Mom.

However, the difference between two years ago and now is, now, I know how to face you a little better than I did before. I know the importance of being vulnerable even when it is hard, even when I don’t want to. I know that I have to talk about the fact that right now, I am having a hard time enjoying this season of Motherhood; and that it is okay. I have to cling to the people I trust most in my life; the ones who don’t judge me when my kids are throwing yogurt across the room during breakfast and enjoying a lollipop before 9am. The ones who still love me even when I lose my temper. The ones who know I am just as mortified when my kid bites theirs. The ones I can share my secrets with and know they are safe there.

dear anxiety

I know when my husband says, “Go to target. Buy a new dress. I will get the kids to bed tonight,” I need to let him because he means it. I see you and so does he. I have been incredibly impressed by the actions he took to ensure we could walk through this season together and find solutions to help me through some pretty tough days. He made the big moves. He was willing to be there for me however I needed, to help me through this strangling season.

I know that I have to be willing to face you even when I am ashamed of the events of the day and how I responded to the whining, biting, fighting, crying, and hitting (And yes, sometimes all of that happens within minutes of each other). Those are the days when my Mom anger kicks in, guilt takes over, and I am entirely ashamed of who I have become and how I have responded. Any kind of grace I could have had for myself is gone. Those are the hardest days. I have learned how important grace is. I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t have all the right answers. I fail every day. And that is okay. That is grace. I have to pray. I have to pray hard and know that God chose me to a be a Mom to my babies because He knew I could handle it.

dear anxiety parenting

I know when it is time to make a Doctor’s appointment and talk about medication to help. To be honest, this step was probably the hardest for me. It is hard to walk into the Doctor’s office and admit that you don’t have it all together. However, I know that sometimes going on medication is just the best way to manage you. There is no shame in that. And this time around, I knew I needed to take those steps to get the help that I needed in order to get through my days a little better.

I am in the trenches of Motherhood trying to hold onto every bit of patience I could possibly have for my kids. My days spent with three pretty active testing your limits two year olds are filled with all kinds of challenges. The days are getting better and you and I aren’t as close as we used to be, but it is still hard. However, the beautiful thing is, is that God always makes beauty out of our ashes. It is seasons like this that change you. They allow to grow and become a stronger, wiser version of yourself. They give you hope and remind you just how great of a Mother you actually are. And that is what I will choose to take away from this incredibly exhausting, yet entirely empowering season of Motherhood.

Sincerely,

The I still don’t always have it together Mom

 

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.

 

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This Is What My Postpartum Depression Looked Like

To My 12 Remaining Embryos

6 Things Depressed Parents Need To Know

This Is What My Postpartum Depression Looked Like

I am not a medical professional. I wasn’t even diagnosed with postpartum depression by a medical professional after any of my 4 pregnancies and deliveries. I am, however, a mother who has spent a few years in her body and has recently been enlightened; all it took was paying a little attention to my before and after self.

Once you become pregnant, or even start reading up on pregnancy and delivery, postpartum depression gets thrown in to nearly every conversation. I read about and lots of conversations about it. I even read Brooke Shield’s book “Down Came the Rain”. I felt for her and every other story I heard regarding postpartum depression.  Problem was: I couldn’t relate to any of them. I was having a hard time, but that’s called running on two hours of sleep and being a new mom, right? My entire life had changed–I wasn’t depressed like the stories I had heard or read. I pushed through.

When my first son was a just over a year old we moved to a new city, my husband had a new job, and I had left the workforce as a full-time employee and was simply “Mom” 24 hours a day. I had an infinitely busy child and life wasn’t my favorite. Things were hard. I was angry all the time. I was inexplicably sad just as often. I excused my anger and sadness because life had turned upside down. Of course I was unhappy and struggling to adjust.  The first notion that something may be more serious than just “change” was the afternoon my husband called from work stating he had looked in to our insurance plan and psychologists were covered. Um… thanks, babe? You can go jump off a cliff now. (I guess he had noticed something was off.)

A short time later I became pregnant with my second baby and moved back to the city we were previously in. Life had settled down. I completely forgot about my anger, I cried less and simply laughed about my husband’s well-meaning, but absurd phone call.

This routine continued every 2 years for the next 3 babies.  Waves of emotions, moving, new jobs, change of plans, less sleep, more babies and one hundred more reasons to explain why I was having a hard time–I became an expert at justifying my emotions. If only I had realized what was truly going on.

(From RenoVatio)

My last baby is now seven; if I could go back to the new-mom version of myself, I would shake her and tell her to go to the doctor. Incessant anger and crying is not normal and, more importantly, is not normal for me.  My unknowing fault was chalking up these new emotions (that seem to be sticking around) to the new version of me. Kids change you, they say. Your hormones will be crazy, they say.  So I dealt with it. This had to be the new me.

I’m here to tell you that you should not accept a sad, angry, stressed out version of yourself as the new you. Babies change you, but they don’t (and shouldn’t) ruin your emotional stability (at least in the long term <wink>).

According to the World Health Organization, postpartum depression affects roughly 10 to 15 percent of women in industrialized countries and 20 to 40 percent in developing countries. The American Psychological Association puts that number at 1 in 7 women in the U.S. But hear me out–if I had taken this survey I would have marked that I did not have postpartum depression because I had no idea that is what I was dealing with! Makes you wonder what the real numbers are.

I can tell you now that my postpartum depression came in waves and usually displayed itself as anger and sadness.  Anger at everything. Anger at myself. Anger at my kids. Anger at life. But it was never out of control–I never felt like I was going to hurt myself or my children. Mine was a consistent grouchiness (which I could turn on and off depending on my social interactions).  When the anger fled it usually was replaced with sadness. The most frustrating part was trying to explain it to my husband. He would ask what was wrong and I truly could not explain it to him. Not even a little bit. I’d assure him that I really was happy (because I was), but sometimes I just felt off and didn’t know how to climb out of it.

 

SEE MORE: 10 WAYS TO SURVIVE POSTPARTUM {THE FOURTH TRIMESTER}

 

Let me describe my sadness–it isn’t what you think. Fine, it isn’t what I thought.  I read about depression and saw all the commercials.  I wasn’t withdrawing from what I loved. I still went out with my friends. I still laughed with my husband. I still got out of bed without having to pry my legs off the mattress. However, I was sad about everything. I cried when I dropped my spatula on the floor.  I cried when I didn’t have time to stop and grab a diet coke.  I cried when my son stopped abruptly and spilled his crackers. I cried when someone told a random story that had nothing to do with me or my children or my life–like at all (I hid these tears real good).  I cried when I read about a mouse named Chrysanthemum.  I cried when I forgot to change the laundry to the dryer.  The most interesting part to me now?? I didn’t question this behavior at all. None of this raised red flags to me, even though I had NEVER been like this before. This angry-sad-crying-thing is just what “having kids has made me”.  Right?! No. Guys…this is not normal. A dropped spatula should not make you cry.

As my youngest hit year 2-5, things had evened out. I cried less. I was angry less. I was happy!  Again, our life situation had adjusted, calming down a bit, and I chalked it all up to that.

And then the tears started again. Everything was hard, and sad, and so sad and then sometimes I didn’t want to get out of bed because my whole life would start over again and I just couldn’t.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Lightbulb!

Oh… so this feels more like the depression I read about.

Then one morning I looked at my clock and said “I don’t need to get up. I don’t want to. I won’t. Kids are better without a grumpy, crying mom.” And then the word depressed washed over me. Every. Single. Thing. Clicked. So this is what depression looks like… for me. Anger and tears. In the last 12 years I only had this one inkling of what depression looked like on paper, but that was enough to tie it all together for me. Wow.  What a long 12 years. Hindsight, amiright?

Bless our dear, sweet, patient (hopefully) spouses. This is hard on them, too. PsychologyToday.com published a wonderful article for dads (or any spouse) on how to help and what is not helpful when your loved one is dealing with postpartum depression. Share this with someone you love.

(Source)

My dear friend who works as a doula and has spent many, many hours with postpartum moms made an off-the-cuff comment that postpartum often times mimics PMS.  Imagine your bad PMS week — then extend it for weeks and months and sometimes years. This is what I had! This was me! This was so very much me!  And It is Not. Normal.  Check yourself, Mamas! I plead with you. Assess your emotional state. Ask your spouse if need be. What is different about me? Your postpartum depression may not look like Brooke Shields or the pamphlet from the hospital. That doesn’t mean you don’t have it and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek help.  Don’t compare your struggles to someone else. And the kicker–just because you are completely functional doesn’t mean you are living your best possible life. If something feels off, get it checked out. It can’t hurt anything to have a conversation.

 

See More on TodaysMama.com!

3 Ways I’m Working on my Postpartum Fitness

6 Things Depressed Parents Need to Know

My Postnatal Depression Made Me a BETTER Mom

 

 

 

Mama Law, It’s REAL

Here’s one solid truth about being a mama: No matter how you envision your life with children, crazy unpredictable things will happen, and most things never go as planned. It’s called “Mama Law” and you’ll have to get used to it if you want to keep your sanity.

For example, the most vomit your kid will ever produce will only happen in her bed at 2 AM, the school hallway, or at church. It will only happen in your car, where you might actually try to “catch” it in your hands. Vomit won’t happen when your kid is relatively close to a bucket or a toilet. Same goes for an “accident” of volcanic proportions in her pants. That little gem of an experience will only occur when you are on a boat, or at the grocery store.

 

mama law motherhood

 

“The call” from school will come in when you are in the middle of your very first and only “spa day.”  Your head will be in foils, and your nails will be wet. You’ll finally be using that spa gift card (the expired one) your husband gave you two years ago, but you’ll need to leave early. Make no mistake, the call from the school will not come in when you are in the middle of getting your long overdue root canal.

Your son Joey’s friend, the one who has a “cool mom” who doesn’t contribute to the snack schedule or come to his games, will be the best and most popular player on the team. Side note: your son will score his only goal of the season at the only game of the season you can’t attend. 

Mama Law states that you will, at some point, spend a few hours of your time baking homemade cupcakes with frosting and candy decorations made from scratch, only to watch at least 3 kids in your daughter’s class lick the tops, examine them further with crinkled noses, and exclaim that they are gross. In front of you, they will smash them into napkins and throw them away. They might even spit out the mushy contents into the trash bin for dramatic effect. Your daughter’s friend, whose mom sent in 2 boxes of Donut holes, will be hoisted atop her class mate’s shoulders, amid squeals of excitement.

Here’s one that’s fairly embarrassing to talk about: You will finally get your period 6 or 7 months after giving birth, but it will be during the train ride you’re taking to visit your mother in the city. You will not have a pad or a tampon handy, and you will be alone holding your baby and a giant, heavy bag of supplies on your lap. So you will use a diaper. Mama Law states that you will, at some point, stuff a diaper down your pants on a train.

No sooner will you get done judging and shaking your head with a “tisk-tisk” at another mom for something shitty her kid did at school, when your little cherub does something equally or even more heinous, thus landing you front row, center in that special venue most of us visit at some point. I’ll call it the “Mom Shame Karma Club” and you will become a member whether you want to be or not. 

 

mama law

 

There are two Mama Laws that never change from one generation to the next: Your first grader will lose his front tooth (or both!) the night before school photos, and it will take you five whole years to read one whole book. Any book.

Here’s one to ponder: The more you talk about how much you hate tattoos and piercings, the more your teenage child will want one or the other, or both. But if YOU get a tattoo, your child might not think it’s cool anymore. This works in much the same way a Facebook account works. Once you have one, they no longer want it. 

You’ll be on time for pick up 99.9% of the time, but the one time you are late (or you forget to get them all together) will be the only time they ever talk about. And they will bring it up at Christmas 20 years later, after you have lovingly placed a steaming lasagna with fresh mozzarella and homemade gravy down on the table in front of their fat, little faces. They never forget.

The creme de la creme of Mama Law? You will inevitably say something your mother always said. It will fly out of your mouth during an argument with your kids, and you won’t be able to stop it. You’ll go wide-eyed in disbelief and disgust at your words before realizing how very true they are, thus crossing that bridge to the side of life where you must begrudgingly admit that your mother was right all along. When this happens, and it indeed will, you may require a quiet moment alone, because your mother will of course be present when those words fly out of your mouth. And she will smile her quiet little smile of triumph, and you will see her smile and steam will come out of your ears.  

motherhood mishaps funny

 

And lastly, here’s a Mama Law that never fails to surface at some point during the wondrous journey through child rearing: It only snows when you do not have milk, or hot chocolate, or food of any kind in the house, except for some old-ass eggs, and a few stale granola bars. 

Our Mama ancestors actually wrote all these down in a book many moons ago. Don’t shoot the messenger. 

 

kimberly-valzania-bio-pictureKimberly Valzania practices mindful gratefulness. She is creatively driven to write about and share her personal experience and opinions on weight loss, fitness, life changes, adventures in parenting, day-to-day triumphs (and failures), and the truth-seeking struggle of simply being human. As words tumble out, they are sorted into cohesive piles and delivered via poetry and short essays. Her articles are featured on Scary Mommy, Rebelle Society, The Elephant Journal, BonBon Break, The Minds Journal, The Manifest-Station, and Imperfect Parent.  Read more at her website eatpraypost.com.

 

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The Frazzled Moms Guide to Staying Sane This School Year

For some less than perfect, unorganized moms, the return to school brings more than the average level of stress and yes, even dread. I don’t know when the descent took place, but somewhere between Generation X and millennial movement, school has become so much more involved for parents, and so much more complex than it used to be. Any mother searching for three pairs of matching socks for multiple children each morning while couch-diving for lunch change at 7 a.m. knows this is where it gets real. I can hardly keep track of the school calendar alone, admittedly standing at the bus stop not once, but twice last year before realizing it’s a professional development day, therefore, no school. Sigh.

With more homework signature requirements than a congressional bill, checks needed for book fairs and candy-o-grams and parental involvement in a hundred different little projects, school can feel more bureaucratic than the IRS. In one month I’ve had to create a foot-long boat, decorate a turkey in ways that symbolize our family culture (who makes this stuff up?!), and write two handwritten notes as my children’s “pen pal,” thanks to another program initiated by an over- zealous PTO president. And who on the green earth do they think makes these projects for first graders? My youngest can hardly wipe his butt, let alone construct a watercraft with raw materials.

stay organized back to school

And let’s not forget the most overlooked, underappreciated school task that is the making of the lunches, lovingly prepared by executive chef mama at 9:30 p.m. with one eye open each night. No amount of blasting my favorite Jesus Culture Pandora station makes this assembly line of joy a rewarding experience. Although there are exceptions. I have a friend with six kids who makes a regular practice of posting a photo of her homemade, aesthetically pleasing lunch lineup on Instagram. And Facebook. Each day a different ensemble, but always with a fresh side of arugula-mandarin salad. I’m happy her children are experiencing culinary magic at lunchtime, but stuff like this drives me into deep dejection, comparing this to the squished Ziploc bags of pepperoni wraps and PB&J my kids pull out every day. I’m always tempted to upload a photo of three Lunchables with the caption: “Lunches are done—time for a bath!” I know I’d get more likes.

Managing school activities and requirements can be exhausting, but I’ve found some helpful tips and tactics to help maintain sanity, especially with school-aged kids:

  • Always. And I mean always, plan outfits (socks are the key!), pack lunches, hunt down school library books, sign homework, complete permission slips, and find any necessary money, the night before. There is nothing worse than dumpster diving in the couch for hot lunch quarters at 7:30 a.m. “Who took the singles out of my purse?!” or cringing as your first grader boards the bus with flagrantly mismatched socks. “Navy and turquoise are both in the blue family, honey—now run!”
  • Resist the overwhelming temptation to ignore school and teacher newsletters. If you can fight your way past the clip art, emojis, and superfluous details about which life cycles, seasons, sight words, and number charts your child is learning at that exact moment in time, you’ll find some informational treasures. I deleted all e-newsletters until standing at the bus stop not once, until sending my kids to school in their pj’s after missing the “slumber party Friday has been rescheduled” email. Sigh.
  • Turn homework time into quality time, especially if you have more than one child, where it can be difficult giving them undivided attention. Even when they don’t necessarily need help, I think kids like knowing you’re there and their work matters to us. Sometimes it can be the only twenty minutes of alone time you really spend together.
  • Try to bang out the homework before dinner, or right after dinner, if the kids have afterschool activities. There are few weeknight surprises as frustrating as your child announcing he has an extra homework page, reading assignment, or heaven help us, some kind of project he “forgot” about at 8:00 p.m. Any mother cutting up library-loaned magazines (Jesus forgives) in search of warm climate amphibians need only learn this lesson once.

Here’s to a new year of fresh starts, pre-packed lunches, readily available ice cream money, endlessly matching socks, and scoring the good bus driver who smiles at the kids no matter what. Amen.

Jessica Kastner is the author of “Hiding from the Kids in My Prayer Closet,” and a contributor for Beliefnet.com, Huffington Post’s Christianity blog, and CBN.com.  When she’s not on the trampoline with her three boys in Connecticut, she offers her “fluff free” commentary at www.JessicaKastner.com.  

 

 

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorJessicakastner/
Facebook Community: #UnMom

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessKastner

 

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On the Ugly Business of Comparison: A Letter to Us Moms

Can I say something to all us mommas, something God has been speaking to my heart?

I have been reading in Galatians 5 for a study I am doing. I read it, and it’s like I can hear it written just for us moms on this very real struggle of comparison and the weight of expectation we live under.

Would it be okay if I take my liberties with this passage that was written to the church of Galatia in the first century and write it to us, in our time and just for us moms?

For in Christ Jesus neither is homeschooling nor public schooling nor private Christian schooling anything…

Neither is Walmart nor Target nor Whole Foods. Neither are cloth diapers nor disposables. Neither gluten free, paleo, whole food, nor McDonald’s drive thru. Neither breastfeeding nor bottle-feeding. Neither all-natural home birth, planned c-section, nor begging for the epidural the very second you enter the hospital.

Neither is minivan, jalopy sedan, nor hybrid SUV. Neither is a streamlined chore system nor a pile of laundry sitting on the couch for 3 days. Neither is birthing a child every eighteen months nor stopping after one.

But the only thing that is anything is faith working through love.

mom comparison

Sisters, you were called to FREEDOM. Freedom to prepare bento boxes for school lunches or not. Freedom to adhere to baby-wise or to just wing it. But, sisters, do not turn your freedom into an opportunity to think yourself better than anyone else. THROUGH LOVE SERVE ONE ANOTHER. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you compare, judge, gossip, and try to find yourself a morally superior high ground that is better than one of your sisters, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

But I say, walk in the Spirit…

Motherhood is this vulnerable place. No matter whether you chose to ride into motherhood on the premise that it couldn’t be too hard or whether you read no less than twenty-three books on parenting before you pushed that first baby into the world at some point you will feel clueless.

Even if book-learning and the sage advice of experienced moms could give us a leg-up on this parenting gig, there are things like colic, illnesses in a babe who can’t tell us where it hurts, terrific two’s, even more terrific three’s, mean kids at school, and preteen hormone surges that all level the playing field. And if none of the aforementioned scenarios leave you stumped, there are always those awkward moments, like when your daughter calmly and matter-of-factly announces to company that mom and dad shower together. (?!)

Friends, we all find ourselves feeling clueless, our shortcomings laid bare, and so very vulnerable in this thing called motherhood.

{And don’t we hate that?}

I think in all the beyond-our-control variables of parenting, in all the mistakes we just know we are making, in all the guilt we feel for all things we never get around to…

Our lives shout at us: “You aren’t enough! You need to do better! You need to try harder!” We miss the grace we have been freely given and the invitation to walk arm in arm with the Savior.

Our finite minds seriously miss the eternal view God has of our lives, our kids’ lives, and the way He is beyond able to use it ALL and work it ALL out for His Glory.

We struggle to accept God’s love for us.

We try to do motherhood by law, instead of grace.

We compare ourselves. We play judge. We treat the intelligence and talents of our kids as a competition and as a measure of our worth as parents. We think we have some kind of place to look at another mom’s life and determine whether she’s right or wrong, better or worse. Sometimes in our zeal for whatever passion we have stumbled into, we assume it must be best for everyone.

We look at a mom glowing in her talents, walking in her call, and read her personal excitement as a personal attack on the way we are living life.

We feel like we are somehow less of a mother for bottle feeding when we get up in the middle of the night AND make a bottle. We feel like we are somehow missing our badge of honor because narrow hips required a c-section AND a month of recovery with a newborn. We look at our mess of a home and feel like a failure AFTER a day of errands, wiping bottoms, picking up toys, and feeding… and feeding… and feeding again.

{Could we stop that?}

mom love yourself

I have a feeling the heart of all this originates in the same reason Paul penned Galatians and addressed the Jewish Christians who were preaching circumcision and the Gentiles who were choking on the hard demand.

It’s fear. And it’s pride.

It’s Grace-negating. And it’s freedom-squelching.

Momma, outside of love, there is no law to motherhood. There are only callings and talents and tools.

Follow God’s call for you and your family wherever He leads. Shine in the God-given talents you were given (cooking, organizing, music, teaching, exploring, crafting…) And use the tools that are best for the making of your home and the raising of the precious kids God placed in your care–whether that’s baby-wise, homeopathic remedies, or chore charts.

The only thing that is anything is faith working through love.

So, rather than compare and judge and think we know a sister’s life from the fleeting glimpses of her Instagram account, let’s hold each other up. Let’s pray for each other. Let’s serve one another.

Even in our differences.

ESPECIALLY in our differences.

We are all moms. We all love so big. We are all tilling the fallow ground of a child’s heart: both soft and rocky and full of strong-willed defiance. We are carrying the gospel to an unreached people group—our kids. It’s important work. And, oh sisters, how we need each other’s encouragement. And truly we need a little less zeal for methods and fads and a whole lot more room for grace.

THROUGH LOVE SERVE ONE ANOTHER. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

From one momma to another, I am standing here encouraging you, sister, to let His Grace wash over all your failings, to follow Christ where He leads, to shine in your talents, and to be a YOU kind of momma.

Maybe we could talk about this here? What is the one thing that is hardest to you about motherhood? What is one of the most hurtful comments you have ever heard from another mom? What is one of the most life-giving statements you have ever heard from a fellow mom?

By Grace,

Amanda Conquers

 

Amanda Conquers is a cop’s wife, mom to 3 kids, and a cheerleader for weary women. Most days, she wants to hide in her closet with her secret stash of chocolate because she feels like she’s not quite enough. But Amanda lives holding on to the hope that in spite of all her failings, she shall be called an overcomer yet. You can find her writing her broken stories on her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

Have Kids That Struggle With Anxiety? These 4 Strategies Will Help

It’s hard being an anxious kid. You already have to worry about making friends and doing well in school, and then you add anxiety? It doesn’t seem fair. Kids spend all day in school being judged on their intelligence, but when you are stressed, you can literally lose IQ points. You start overthinking and overanalyzing why Jack was mean to you at recess or in the hallway and you can’t pay attention to your teacher. Or your mind goes blank and you can’t think about anything.

Sometimes it’s obvious your child is anxious – she’s nervous because it’s the first day of school or she has a big test. Sometimes, anxiety looks like other things, like a headache, upset stomach, perfectionism, or even anger, disruptive behavior, ADHD, or a learning disorder. If your child’s anxiety is affecting their grades, hindering them from going to school, or otherwise seriously hurting them, do seek professional help.

There are also some things you can do to help your anxious child:

 

Validate Feelings

Kids need to know that what they are feeling is real and valid. Once you validate their feelings and convince them you understand, you can then help them figure out how to calm down. To validate your child’s feelings, you can say:

  • I’m so sorry you are feeling so stressed.
  • What can I do to help?
  • Tell me about how you are feeling.
  • What do you need from me?

Avoid saying “Calm down.” Even though the situation would be made better if your child would calm down and you have your child’s best interests at heart when you say, “Calm down”, the phrase naturally invalidates your child’s feelings and typically results in an even less calm child.

 

Talk about Anxiety

Talk to your child about the science behind the anxiety. Even very young children can understand the basics of stress and kids love learning about their own brains. Talk to your child about the tension that builds up and how it can affect them. Help them notice the signs that they are becoming anxious – heart pounding, getting sweaty, feeling flushed. Then give them the strategies they can use to calm down, namely: BREATHE!

For a good video on anxiety and the brain, check out: Why Do We Lose Control of Our Emotions? By Kids Want to Know, on YouTube.

parenting anxious kids anxiety

 

Practice Being Calm

We need to practice calming down so that when we get anxious, we can effectively calm down in that stressful moment. So make working on self-calming techniques a daily habit, so that when your child is anxious, she can self-soothe.

Here are a few ways to practice being calm:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation (use an app like Calm or Headspace) or Belly Breathing for younger kids. Use a stuffed animal and have them place it on their stomach. Watch it go up and down as you breathe.
  • Exercise. While meditation and yoga calm our racing bodies, exercise uses up that energy to calm us down.
  • Create a Relaxation Corner. When your child comes home after school, before starting homework, have a relaxation session. Read a book. Do a sudoku. Snuggle with a parent or a stuffed animal. Drink some hot chocolate or tea. Use the relaxation corner to reset after your long day.
  • Release Emotions: Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg suggests releasing emotions by “Blanking it out”: dance it out, cry it out, laugh it out, draw it out, rap it out, write it out, sing it out, drum it out – the possibilities go on. Use that abundance of energy to do something productive. Once you are able to release your emotions, you can move on because you start to deal with your feelings.

 

Provide Predictability and Reduce Uncertainty

Anxious children are often scared of uncertainty or change. They need predictability to feel safe and calm.

For instance, if your child gets anxious about school work, she may be worried about not being smart enough to complete the homework, so she goes blank and can’t answer any of the questions, even though you know she knows the answer. Help her avoid this stress by previewing the homework together first, then taking a break, giving her mind time to think about how to answer the questions without any pressure, and then going back to the homework. This technique takes away the scary, uncertainty of what the homework will entail and reduces the pressure.

The number one way that kids learn is by watching their parents and mimicking their behavior. So start practicing those daily self-calming rituals yourself. Be the calm person you want your child to be to help show them how they can overcome obstacles and stress more easily when they are calm and collected.

 

About Katherine Firestone 

Katherine had a hard time in school because she suffered from undiagnosed ADHD till her junior year of high school. What made her successful during this time was the support system she had around her. After college, she worked as a teacher, and saw that parents wanted to help their kids at home, but didn’t know what to do. She started the Fireborn Institute to give parents ideas on how to help because success at school is enhanced at home.  

 

About Fireborn Institute 

Fireborn Institute is a non-profit that provides parents with practical and easy-to-remember strategies to help their children in school. Through our lectures, podcasts & handouts, we coach parents on topics such as helping with homework or conquering a messy backpack. Our ultimate goal is to help parents help their kids thrive at school.

 

Resources:

Borba, M. (2016). UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Ehmke, R. (n.d.) Anxiety in the Classroom. Child Mind Institute.

Ginsburg, K. (2015). Building resilience: Preparing children and adolescents to THRIVE. The Learning and the Brain Conference: Boston.

Minahan, J. (2015). Between a Rock and a Calm Place. The Learning and the Brain Conference: Boston.

10 Things Mom Really Wants for Mother’s Day

I polled our writers and came up with an awesome list of what your wife or mother really wants for Mother’s Day.  This list is easy-it’s doesn’t require knowing any sizes, doing any cooking or picking out any scents.  And to you Moms out there-just share this article with your significant other for easy hint-dropping!

1. A Nap

This was polled at number one.  All Moms would like a nap, uninterrupted.  The best way to achieve giving a mother a nap is to take the children and leave.  This removes any possibility of Mom feeling guilt for not being with her children and also prevents her from being woken up.

Ideas for mothers day gifts for husbands and sons

2. Dwell + Slumber

The softest, most comfortable caftan you can buy is a Dwell + Slumber.  They are one-size-fits-most and fantastic for lounging.  This means they’re an easy gift (no sizing needed) and guaranteed favorite for your wife or mother.

3. A Clean House

Did you know you can hire maids on Amazon now?  Oh yes.  I’m pretty sure having my entire house clean all at the same time is the greatest gift I could be given as a Mother.  If you’re not into hiring maids, you can always enlist the children and get to work!

 

SEE MORE: Printable Mother’s Day Gift Card Template

 

4. Blanket

This cozy footsac blanket is the perfect addition to that Sunday nap you’re planning for you Mom or wife.  It’s small enough to take as a carry-on and big enough to share with a buddy.  My favorite feature is the foot pocket at the bottom-no more cold feet!

Ideas for mothers day gifts for husbands and sons

5. Personalized Jewelry

I am a sucker for sweet things like this jewelry by Isabella Grace.  Seeing my kids names on anything really is my favorite and something that is especially meaningful on a day when we celebrate motherhood.  This thick gauge cuff is hand formed and can be stamped with you kids names, birth dates or other special information.

6. Chocolates

How cute are these chocolate mice??!  Mother’s Day is the perfect holiday for chocolate, especially fancy chocolate.  Lot’s of companies offer specials and darling gifts for Mother’s…but let’s be honest-ANY CHOCOLATE WILL DO!

 

SEE MORE:  Build-a-Bouquet Printable for Mother’s Day

 

7. Audio Book Credits

Audio Book Credits are somehow more personal than a gift card, but not as difficult as picking out a specific book.  A perfect pairing with this is a set of new headphones.  What better way for a Mom to relax during the day than listening to a new book?

Ideas for mothers day gifts for husbands and sons

8. Gourmet Treats

These Georgia Peaches are THE BEST.  Since 2012, The Peach Truck has provided the freshest Georgia Peaches you’ve ever tasted.  For their Mother’s Day Special they’ve used those same delicious, hand-picked peaches to create a Signature Peach Jam to go along with a box of their beautiful peaches.  Right now The Peach Truck is offering 10% off to our readers using the code: todaysmama.

9. A New Hand Bag

Amazon makes it really easy to find the perfect bag with their list of favorites.  We also love this gorgeous tote by Free People.  And for any new mama’s out there check out Fawn Design!

10. Flowers

Not all Mom’s love flowers because they are cliche, but I do.  I’m terrible with potted plants so for me it needs to be cut flowers, a cactus or a succulent.  Trying to choose a bouquet can be a challenge and that’s why I LOVE Farm Girl Flowers.  You simply choose a size and they do the rest!  It’s so lovely having a fresh bouquet on my kitchen table.

We’re looking forward to Mother’s Day this year!  Have anything you’d add to this list?  What was your favorite Mother’s Day Gift?

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