Tips on Taking Time For Yourself Each Day, Even When There’s None to Spare


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As a mom it’s not always easy to find time for yourself. And often when you do it somehow feels like it’s at the expense of someone else in the family. But as research and personal experience shows, taking a little time for you is VITAL to be a good parent, a healthy person and just plain happier.

Even with my kids in school (one only in school for a couple of hours at that) I still struggle to find time for myself that doesn’t involve cleaning or working. But lately I’ve been working hard at making it happen, and I’m starting to get better at it.

Here are a few things you can find a little time to yourself even when you don’t have any to spare.

  • Garden – OK so gardening can be a bit of work in the beginning but once it’s going strong the actual “gardening’ part can be very therapeutic. Weeding, watering and harvesting have been soul-soothing activities for thousands of years. When the weather is right you can let the kids loose in the yard while you get some earthy time in the dirt.
  • Read – Most schools ask that your kids read 15 to 20 minutes a day, each day. At our school we actually have to sign a sheet that the child did read for that period of time. Instead of nagging your child from the kitchen, sit down and read a book or magazine of your own. This will help encourage your child to work on their reading and give you 15 minutes of quiet reading time.
  • Early to Bed Early to Rise – Make it a point to get up 15 to 30 minutes early than the rest of your house. Read, do some yoga or just enjoy a quiet cup of coffee before the chaos of the morning starts. And set a decent and early bedtime for your kdis and stick to it. Then use that time to unwind from the day, catch up on Facebook, go to sleep early or simply watch a little TV with your spouse.

These things may not seem like much but incorporating them into your daily routine can do wonders for your stress level, your health and even your ability to be a good mom.
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Wordless Wednesday – Fun With Fox News

The family and I had the rare odd and fun opportunity to be filmed for a story that aired on Fox News Tuesday. So I’m posting a few screen shots of the clip for Wordless Wednesday. OK, so there are a few words here but it’s my blog so I can add words to my Wordless Wednesday if I want.

If you want to see the clip you can check out here. If you want to know more about Life360 visit their website here. Oh and if you’re … ahem … NOT a big Fox News fan visit my pals here... Read more

5 Ways to De-Stress For Free

I am tired today. It’s been a stressful couple of days, which I’m not in the mood to blog about right now. Besides I always try to keep in mind that no matter how crappy your day is there is always someone out there having a crappier day. It’s important to always keep whining in perspective.

With that said, that doesn’t mean we should bottle up out stress either. But when we wear a lot of hats, as most of you reading this do, it’s hard to find the right time or place to let it all go. Not all of us can get to gym or afford yoga classes at the studio downtown or a nice relaxing massage.

So for my own sanity, as much as yours, I came up with a list of things you can do for free around the house to take the edge off.

  1. Garden – OK so gardening can be a bit of work in the beginning but once it’s going strong the actual “gardening’ part can be very therapeutic. Weeding, watering and harvesting have been soul-soothing activities for thousands of years. Take some quiet time working in your garden and enjoy.
  2. Read – This may not always be easy with kids running around and a house to keep up, but force yourself to. Not only is reading a relaxing activity, it’s also very good for the soul and for the brain. A good book will give even the most stressed person a much-needed break from whatever things in life are stressing them out. Reading before bedtime can also do wonders for insomnia.
  3. Nap – OK, OK stop laughing. It is possible to nap. Some days. Remember when your kids were newborns and everybody said “Sleep as much as you can!” or “Sleep when the baby sleeps!” Yes, great advice, but it doesn’t have to end when your kids are no longer babies. If your kids still nap, take one yourself. If they’re older put on a favorite movie and make a big bed for all of you on the floor. They can watch the movie for an hour and a half while you let your body rest. A massage is wonderful, but is nothing compared to a good nap.
  4. Television – Give yourself a chunk of time in the evening one or two days a week and enjoy your favorite sitcom or reality show. TV has been relieving stress and creating an escape for people for years now, and is as good at doing it today as it always was.
  5. Yoga – I know I said that not all of us could afford the gym or yoga classes. But most of us can afford a DVD, which we can than use when we want to. I know for me the mornings I get up before the kids and enjoy 15 minutes of yoga while the house still sleeps are amazing. Good for my sanity, my soul and my body.

What’s your way to De-Stress?

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The War on Moms

Last week on WomenCount Radio (the Blog Talk Radio show I host on Thursdays) I interviewed Sharon Lerner author of the new book, “The War on Moms: On Life in a Family-Unfriendly Nation.” I also got the chance to read the book before hand and it gave me a lot to think about it. The book basically is a look at how in the United States mothers face so many challenges when it comes to simply raising out children.

Take for instance,

  • Only 42% of working mothers stay home for the first 12 weeks of their babies’ lives.
  • The United States is one of just a handful of countries that do not offer paid maternity leave. Nations such as Germany or Australia dole out money just for having kids. And after infancy is over, there is free, high-quality childcare in France, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden.
  • The average cost of keeping one infant in a child-care center is greater than tuition at public college

And that hardly scratches the surface of issues facing moms, and doesn’t even touch on the other side of the coin, women who stay home and the challenges they face. Personally I have been a working mom and a WAHM.

I gathered a handful of links to posts about the challenges mothers face in hopes of doing the same thing the book does, which is show that we are not alone in our challenges as moms. We’re all doing the best we can.

From Mommyhood: Next Right – Between Home and St. Elsewhere

From Mother Knows Less – Working Moms v Stay At Home Moms

From Just Mommies – 6 Things Nobody Told You About Being a SAHM

From Godsy Girl – The Top Five Challenges Facing Women in 2010

From The Queenof Spain: Make Me

From My Blogalicious – Just Call Me Sisyphus

I would love to add more links to this post so if you’ve written something about the challenges you’ve face as a SAHM, Working Mom or WAHM please leave the link in the comments.

And here’s to ALL moms!

The Story of Easter

Our Backyard Tree in the Dead of Winter

I’ve written before about how I’m not big on the whole structured religion thing and as my children get older I ponder how I should go about dealing with the topic of religion. Today was Easter, which of course brought the whole religious thing into question, again. So how do I explain Easter? I mean truthfully Easter originally is a Pagan holiday (Eoster) which (like Christmas) got painted with the Christianity wand. So what do I tell them?

Well I opted for a simpler tale of rebirth. Outside we have a huge tree that shades half of our backyard in the summer. It’s one of the most gorgeous trees I’ve ever seen. During the winter the tree has been bare but in recent weeks it’s slowly began springing back to life with tons of bright green leaves. Also in our backyard are the sprouts in both our vegetable garden and flower garden. There are coming to life as well and slowly growing into the full rich colorful gardens they will be throughout the summer.

So instead of trying to explain the story of the Resurrection I took my kids outside. We looked at the beautiful tree that had been dead all winter and examined all the signs that it was indeed coming back to life. That, I told my kids, was what Easter was about. The changing of the season. When the cold harsh winter moves away and all that was asleep or dead comes back to life again.

I think by giving my kids a good spiritual base that is more about nature and just the life force that flows in and out of all of us, I’m giving them a strong foundation to help them as they grow older to seek the path that works for them.

Or maybe I just don’t feel like going to church.

So if you’re not exactly overly religious, or not religious at all, do you make any attempts at trying to explain holidays like Easter? Or do you just let them thing the whole thing is Easter Bunnies and chocolate eggs?

A Day at the Carnival

Photo-47 This past weekend was the annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin (Dublin, Ca NOT Ireland). The weather was superb and the food smelled better than anything else I can ever remember. It was everything a good local festival should be. First we listened to some good Celtic music (Tempest rocks) then we filled up on festival food. Then it was time to get some ride tickets and hit the midway. It was by no means a huge midway, but it had a decent
amount of rides on it.

First thing was first and the kids headed straight for the first bouncy house they saw. My husband and I milled around outside in the sun with the other parents and listened to the screams of laughter coming from inside while the sounds of Celtic music filled the air. When the kids were done with that we asked what ride they wanted to go on next. As we walked down the midway in the sun the kids stopped in front of the boat.

You know the one that rocks back and forth getting higher and higher with each rock. It was by no means anywhere near as large or as high as the Revolution at Great America or anything, but still my immediate instinct was to make sure they were tall enough. And for the first time ever both kids were tall enough. So we got in line. And instantly I realized that we, the adults, weighed more than the maximum. This ride was just for kids. They were going to have to go on it alone.

I guess maybe for some moms this would be a moment that just simply comes and goes. Maybe because I’m a writer, this moment felt like more than just a moment. I watched my kids get strapped in and I watched the look on their faces as the ride began to sway back and forth and pick up speed. I watched and my heart leapt from my chest.

How is it my kids are old enough to ride a carnival ride alone? How did this small but significant step come so fast? How is they can feel the joy, anxiety, fear and exhilaration of a carnival ride without me? How did time pass so quickly.

Maybe I’m just a little emotional because within the next two weeks my kids will each have birthdays where they’ll be turning seven and five. Maybe it’s because St. Patrick’s Day always stirs up so many of my own childhood memories.

Maybe it was just a ride.

But I don’t think so.

This is an original post to the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.

A Mother’s Instinct

When Patrick was little he used to get the croup. I can remember the first time he had it. We had no idea what it was, we just knew that the sound coming from his little baby chest was unlike anything we’d ever heard. It’s funny though. After a couple of times dealing with the croup we became pros. From the instant we heard that seal bark coming from his crib we would spring into action without even thinking. Even if it meant being ripped from a dead sleep in the middle of the night, we knew exactly what to do.

The advice we had been given was not the classic “steamy bathroom” advice. Research had shown that cool air did a better job of breaking up a croupy cough. There were many nights I spent under the stars with Patrick swaddled in a blanket just pacing our small little yard. There was always something oddly satisfying about those moments though.

As any mom who had to deal with the croup knows, it’s not something you deal with once or twice but an ongoing issue that you face a number of times during the first few years of your child’s life. And most moms become pros. Most moms are able to spring into action, just as I mentioned above, and relieve the symptoms. We learn what works for our croupy baby and learn how to do it fast. When the croup comes on we’re ready and don’t even have to think about it.

As moms, we don’t always get a lot of those moments. The truth is that we get very few moments where we are 100% certain we are doing the exact right thing at the exact right time to accomplish the exact right outcome.

Truthfully, most of motherhood is spent hoping we’re making the right choices. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve stared at the thermometer that says 99 degrees. Do I keep him home? Do I send him to school? Is that cough breaking up or is it getting worse? Should we cancel the trip or go anyway? Should I bring him to emergency or wait until Monday? More medicine or let the bug work itself out?

I’ve probably had enough of these moments to last a lifetime. And my kids aren’t even tweens yet. I don’t even want to think of the mountain of uncertainty I face when my kids enter junior high.

It’s weird because I think about my grandma and heck even my mom, and I wonder were those previous generations as plagued with uncertainty as we are today? It doesn’t seem like it. I think one reason is because this generation of mothers is force-fed so much advice from TV shows, books, the internet, other moms and even strangers on the street that we’ve somehow lost the most important tool a mother has.

Instinct

Many of us forget on a regular basis to simply listen to instinct. Not always, but a lot of the time I think we do forget.

Last week I read the most recent book in the Silicon Valley moms book club called, “The Possibility of Everything” by Hope Edelman. And it really got me thinking about trusting my instinct.

The book is about a lot of things, but really when it comes down to it, it’s about going with your instinct when it comes to motherhood. Letting everything that society says you should be doing go and just trusting yourself and your ability to do right by your child.

Just a little friendly reminder from me inspired by the svmoms book club book, The Possibility of Everything. I did receive a free copy of the book but have in no other way been compensated for this post.  If you want to borrow it you can, but please return it when you’re finished.

Talking to Kids About Haiti

When I think back on my third grade teacher I remember a smile always on her face and a twinkle in her eye. Even as third graders we knew that she loved being a teacher and loved being there with us. She was kind and sweet and excited about teaching. That may have been why she was over the moon when NASA announced that they’d be sending a schoolteacher into space where she would be teaching lessons live the space shuttle. It was a big deal and all of us kids were pretty excited, but no one was more excited than our teacher.

She arranged to have a TV set up in our classroom so that we could watch the launch live as it happened. So we could watch history happen. I was sitting cross-legged on the floor of my classroom right next to my teacher as the countdown begun.

A few moments later the Challenger exploded right in front of our third grade eyes. I looked at my teacher who sat starring at the TV. The color was gone from her face and she looked over at us, her class. No one knew what to say.

At that moment a piece of my childhood innocence disappeared. I would never be able to watch a shuttle launch, or even a regular plane take off, without holding my breath. The image of that shuttle exploding in front of me would forever be a picture I would always have filed away in my brain.

I wouldn’t for a minute try to compare the Challenger Explosion with the tragedy in Haiti. There really is no comparison. But at the same time how that image affected me as a child has been on my mind lately as I wrestle with how much I should let my kids know about Haiti.

My daughter is only four, which is still pretty young to be talking about tens of thousands of victims in a horrific natural disaster. But my son, he’s six. He knows what’s going on, kind of. And we have wrestled with how much we should tell him and show him?

I don’t want to scare him. I don’t want to make a piece of his innocence disappear. But at the same time, I don’t want to shield him from human suffering like this either. Why? Because how will I ever instill the need and desire to stop human suffering like this if he doesn’t know it’s there?

I remember vividly  USA for Africa being a huge presence during my childhood. Most of you will remember that signature song, We Are the World that topped the chart for months. We were inundated with pictures of starving children and families in Africa. Living in poverty with nothing. Did that steal away a piece of my innocence? Not at all. If anything my childhood innocence coupled with a strong desire to help kids across the globe gave me an almost naïve idea that I could help. That I could make a difference. And THAT idea has stayed with me my entire life. In fact, it is a part of what drives me each and every day.

So, I decided to sit with my son and watch CNN for a few minutes. It wasn’t the worst footage I’d seen of Haiti, but it was bad. I explained to him what had happened and how people were trying to help. He didn’t say anything until after a few minutes, “Mom, can we turn this off now?” I said yes. He didn’t seem very affected by it and I thought he’d simply lost interest. I shrugged and turned it off.

A few minutes later he turned on the Wii. When I walked out of the kitchen and back into the family room he was playing a game on Wii Resort sports where he flies a plane. I stood there for a moment watching him and then suddenly he said, “Mom, look there’s the island where the earthquake happened!” He pointed to one of the animated islands in the distance which he was attempting to fly his plane to. “What are you doing?” I asked, thinking he was simply turning the tragic footage I had just shown him into a game. “I’m bringing them stuff.” He answered. “Blankets, clothes and lots of food.” He said as smiled and kept his focus on the game.

My heart filled with pride. He got it. My son GOT IT. And I knew that in those few minutes of watching CNN I had planted a seed that will hopefully continue to grow and flourish as he becomes an adult. I guess deciding how much we want to explain to and show our kids about Haiti is really something that depends on the child. Sometimes, like many moments in parenting, you just have to make these decisions on the fly, like I did, and hope that somehow they get it. That sometimes life is tragic. But sometimes out those tragedies comes more heroes and sheroes and stories of strength then any of their fairy tale or superhero books ever could.

How have YOU handled talking about the situation in Haiti with your kids? Have you let them see some of the news or have you avoided it?

Text “Haiti” to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross, through an effort backed by the U.S. State Department. Funds will go to support American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti or simply contact the American Red Cross to find other ways you can help.

The Truth About Mommy

I will never be that mom who’s got it all together. I will never be the mom who remembers every little date, the gift for the teacher and the Tiger Scout meeting all on the same day. I just never will be.

I will always be the one whipping out the permission slip at the last possible moment where it is has sat crumpled and washed in the back pocket of my jeans. I am the mom who when asked for a tissue will always have one, it will just take 10 minutes of fishing through my purse to find it.

I can never go grocery shopping without forgetting at least one thing. In fact, I always count on having to go right back out again. Have I ever lied to my child that there were no more cookies, just cause I was saving the last one for myself? Sure, I’ll be honest. We’re all friends here, right?

But my kids are loved, clothed, and fed. It may have been hot dogs and macaroni & cheese, but they’re fed and they think I’m awesome…. Most of the time anyway.

It’s important to be honest about our imperfections when it comes to motherhood. Because we all have imperfections. There is no such thing as the perfect mother. All we can do is the best we can and laugh off the rest.

Any mom who appears to have it all together is just putting on a show. Somewhere beneath that cool mom exterior is a sink full of dirty dishes and a Calgon commercial waiting to happen. Just like the rest of us.

I think that’s why mom blogs and books like See Mom Run (edited by Beth Feldman, RoleMommy.com) appeal to me. I like to see the perfect mom come clean and show that she’s no better or worse than the rest of us.

So next time you’re not having one of you’re best mommy days, remember you’re not alone. And if you need reminding pick up See Mom Run and read Ciaran Blumenfeld’s “bad thai-ming” or “the secret” by Meredith Jacobs. Or any of the other hilarious essays in the book.

Just knowing that I’m not the only mom who actually has made a few mistakes on the way makes me sleep better at night. But just a little better, I mean I do have kids you know. So I don’t sleep that much…

This post was inspired by the svmoms book club book, see mom run, a collection of essays written by the world’s most harried moms and funniest women in the blogosphere.  I did receive a free copy of the book but have in no other way been compensated for this post.  If you want to borrow it you can, but please return it when you’re finished. If you want your own copy to keep join your own damn book club.