Category Archives: parenting

Holiday Donations for Your Sanity

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PARENTS!

CHRISTMAS IS COMING!

Time to grab your non-see through black garbage bags, wait until the kids are asleep, then collect your donations for The Trash Can.

Acceptable items include:

-Bins of toys that are dumped out repeatedly but not actually ever played with or cleaned up

-EVERY toy made of many, tiny pieces

-Toys with pieces that are broken off to be used for a purpose other than the original intention, often resulting in -danger and injury

-Anything with glitter

-Hard-as-a-rock Play Doh (and the carpet it has ruined)

-Any toy that makes noise and does not have an “off” switch

-Anything in the play room that makes your body angry just by looking at it

 

Think ahead and make your donations early to clear room for the next batch of Christmas presents that will inevitably fit the same criteria.

Due to high volume, there will be another chance to donate in January!

 

Remember to enjoy the season and always hide your nog in your coffee mug!  You can call it “coffee nog”!

Happy Holidays!

 

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The BeautiFULL Princess: Salvaging Life Lessons for My Little Girl

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The BeautiFULL Princess: Salvaging Life Lessons for My Little Girl

I can blame whom or whatever I decide to blame.  Typically, I rotate the guilty party daily: The little girl in day care for wearing a sparkly headband, that certain “Magical Kingdom” company for having such damn good marketing for her demographic, my mother for incessantly buying her an abundance of princess paraphernalia, and even myself for being unable to control my swooning when she wears her party dresses with matching sparkly shoes… She looks so pretty, though!

The fact is: My daughter is a girly girl with the hopes, dreams, and wishes of being a princess.  In the argument of Nature vs. Nurture, I was a Nurture advocate and believed it was very black and white.  That was B.C., when I had no f%$#ing idea what I was talking about.  Nothing about raising a child is black and white, and, much to the dismay of controlling people in a controlling society, certain things are up to Nature.

From the moment we enter motherhood, we relinquish control of so much: What we can eat, drink, and do when we’re pregnant, when we sleep, eat, and shower when we have babies, and the core personalities of our children when they grow into their own.  We fight what they are naturally drawn to do and like, believing it our parently duty to control the people they are.  We believe this because it is, in fact, our job to shape them, but instead of futilely fighting, we can use these innate interests (barring they are not harmful to their safety and the safety of others (duh!)) to control the people they grow into and become.

To begin most of our days, my wide eyed, dreamy little girl twirls into my room and sings, “Mommy, I need to wear a dress today, because I can only be a beautiful princess when I wear a dress and crown!”.  It is at this moment I realize again and again that, by allowing her to participate in this seemingly harmless play act, she may be missing some incredibly important life lessons that I must teach in order to raise her to be a confident, respectful, content, grateful, and gracious adult.  It is at this same moment I realize that, if I stifle her creative play, I will become the Wicked Witch in her fairytale world whom she does not respect, or worse, trust.  If she doesn’t trust what I say, how can my words be most effective in teaching her?

So, I have begun using the Princess Pandemic as a teaching tool for what being beautiful truly means: FULL of beauty from the inside out.  Every day, I use her undying desire to be a princess to remind her:

“Darling, being beautiful has nothing to do with what you wear.  Princesses are beautiful on the inside, for if you are not beautiful on the inside, it will not show outside.

You cannot wear a princess crown unless you have so much knowledge in your brain to hold it on.  Being smart is beautiful.

You cannot be beautiful without a positive attitude and confidence.  Being hopeful is beautiful.

You cannot be beautiful unless you help your family, friends, teachers, and those in need.  Being helpFULL is beautiFULL.

You cannot truly be beautiful unless you appreciate who is in your life and how fortunate you are.  If you always want more and are not content with what you have, your beauty will not shine through.  Being grateFULL is beautiFULL.”

 

My B.C. plans of my girls being tomboys and my boys being calm and gentle have been edited by the reality of Nature.  I am learning every day to give Nature a little more room to take its course.  I will complete my due diligence to deplete commercials from her viewing, for they feed greed.  I will preview content of media entertainment to ensure that it is educational, and perpetuate the fact that screen time is an earned privilege as opposed to a right.  I will let her wear her dresses and crowns while she creates make believe princes and castles on a stage that is set not to make, but to ALLOW her to transition from the imaginary beautiful princess to a beautiFULL person throughout the rest of her real life.

 

 

 

 

To Three or Not to Three

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To Three or Not to Three

I have been described as “scatter-brained”.  I prefer inspiring terms, such as “free spirited” and “beautifully right brained”, but typically I am a text book hot mess.  Over the years, I have made resolutions and drawn up plans to combat this personality trait.  The one that has stuck around the longest has been making lists.  Life is full of check lists, to do lists, and pros/cons lists that I scribble on post its, notecards, or the last blank piece of paper from a college notebook that is still, for some right-brained reason, hanging around in my third house since college.

to do list

It is hard to believe that I climbed the professional ladder and have kept the wife and mother gig for all of this time and have not moved on to a better system for life organization.  Unfinished Pros/Cons lists have evolved from topics such as “Where to Go On Vacation” to the more seriously permanent and life changing topic “Do We Have a Third Kid?”.  Just writing the title of the list makes me run to my Panic Wine.  I guess I can put that in the Reasons Why Not category: “The mere idea makes me panic drink”.  Alrighty, then…. Off to an interesting start.  Shall we delve deeper?

 

REASONS WHY NOT TO HAVE A THIRD KID

MONEY AND THE LACK THEREOF

Each little gene bundle we create costs a legit fortune.  Every college is packed full of mom-proclaimed geniuses and scholarships are diminishing faster than the hope that I’ll fit into my high school skinny jeans.

SANITY

Some days, wine is just not enough to get me through… and that is life with TWO.  I envision myself cleaning up the poop trail that begins at the diaper on the basement floor and trails to the upstairs bathroom while I breast feed an infant that is strapped to my chest with a towel and duct tape.  “Why duct tape?” you ask?  Because my son tried to clean up said poop trail with my Moby wrap.  Yes, these are the hypothetical situations surrounding three children that manifest in my brain.  PANIC. wine.

“NICE BODY, BABY” TURNED “NICE BABY BODY”

I am positive that there is no way my body can forgive me for asking so much of it a third time around and will definitely not do me a solid by going back to its original shape and size.  Body says, “Once? OK, you’re young and I’ll happily bounce back for you.  Twice? Girl, don’t you remember how I felt last time?  That was crazy, confusing, tedious, and gross.  Three kids?  Don’t come around here telling me you’re going to do it again.  I quit”.

ONE INHABITANT PER BODY IS ENOUGH

Having kids close together makes me feel perpetually pregnant.  If there wasn’t a baby in me, there was one attached to me for most of a three year stretch, not including the time it took to get back to a size and shape I recognized as a version of my own.  I’m now used to my body being mine again as opposed to a vessel on loan.  I can do, eat, and drink at my own risk.

MY CALENDAR IS BOOKED

The older I get, the less exciting and frequent events become on my calendar.  Weddings, parties, and vacations have dwindled to play dates, doctor appointments, and baby shower RSVP deadlines (which I frequently miss).  So, the fact that I have a wedding and school reunion on the docket this year is quite exciting.  Could I really subject myself to watching my college friends play our old drinking games and waddle my pregnant self behind them on the bar shuffle?  Could I really be the sober option to drive the wedding party through Taco Bell at 2:00 AM?  My immediate thought: “Oh, Hell no!”.  So, you see, pregnancy just doesn’t fit into my schedule this year.

 

These are just the first few reasons off the top of my head.  I’m sure I could go on as I slip deeper into my Panic Wine stupor.  In the interest of fairness and sticking to the method of the Pro/Con List, though, let us consider the Pros.

 

REASONS TO HAVE A THIRD KID

KID’S PLAY

I’m not entirely sure that I want to give up the ability to sing Laurie Berkner songs at full volume anywhere at anytime without witnesses feeling it their due diligence to refer me to a psychologist.  What other job would allow me to blow bubbles while drawing an imaginary friend with sidewalk chalk?  Under what other circumstances could I make up entirely fictional, yet totally enchanting stories and not be scorned for 1. lying or 2. not being in touch with reality?  Being a kid is so fun.  Pretending to be a kid is flippin’ awesome!

PLAIN, STUBBORN, PERSISTENCE

My body will not shut up.  Every time I see a baby, bottle, or pacifier, I start talking in baby voice.  The smell of any product made by Johnson & Johnson makes me want to cuddle the nearest small thing and bite its cheeks.  I can’t explain it nor can I stop it.

 

That’s it.  That’s all I can think of.  Body wants what it wants and I love cartoons.  I suppose that what the Pro list lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality.  Women that had taken the plunge in the mom pool before I have told me from the beginning that I’ll never be ready, there will never be enough time or money, and I’ll never be able to be sure how anything is going to turn out, nor control almost anything.  It sounds terrible and anxiety inducing to this day, yet here I am living a life I love after already going through it twice.  2016 has interesting decisions and calendar additions to consider…. right after I stock up on my reserve supply of Panic Wine.

 

 

To My Dear Friend, A First Time Mom

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When you come into my house accompanied with a car seat, I am immediately happy.
When I look at your baby’s face, I immediately see you.
When she cries, I say “Aww, baby”.  Not because I expect you to quiet her, but because I want to do anything and everything for her. Forever.
When I see you jump at her slightest sounds, I laugh. Not out of superiority or judgement, but happiness that you, too, have begun the most meaningful journey of life.
I laugh, having joyous memories of not knowing what on Earth I was doing.
I laugh because I didn’t have anyone my age to go through the experience with and I am so damn honored to be there with you while you experience through.

I will never judge you when you make mistakes or have an “I’m not ready to be a mom” day.  I’ve made them and had them and will listen empathetically.
So, when she doesn’t adhere to a sleep or behavior routine and interrupts our conversations, don’t apologize. I want nothing more than to be with her and know her.

When she cries while I hold her, its OK.  My babies will never again be as small as she is in my arms, so I will gladly listen to her cry and try to appease her.

When I bring the baby swing from the basement or sanitize the toys from the play room, please know that it is not a burden for me.  These simple actions allow me to remember the time that my babies needed what yours needs now.  And those are the best memories.

I love you and I loved her before I even met her.  You are amazing, you’re doing great, and I’m proud of you.

 

Baby Weights

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What am I doing for exercise around my house this week?  Lifting my broken computer over my head and throwing it out the window.  Baby Weights will be back in full next week, a small fortune and transfer from a terabyte hard drive later.

Until then, there are many fun fall activities we must do that keep up the  heart rate.  The season is changing, making longer pants and more articles of clothing necessary for the kids.  Take out last year’s fall and winter clothes and run after your resistant child to try them on him.  While you’re still in a good sweat from chasing him,  try to keep him from moving as you squeeze his body into the jeans you are praying will still fit so you don’t have to take him with you to Old Navy and drop $100.

Avoiding errands with toddlers in tow is your driving motivation.  Keep your eyes on the prize and you can make those pants fit him… maybe not with the button closed, but simply put a long shirt on him to cover it up and call it a win.

Baby Weights

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Baby Weights

I hate laundry.  In my college years,  I considered garments with a quick douse of Febreze to be meet-my-boyfriend’s-parents clean.  I had a closet full of underwear for the time between visits to home, when I could dump my overflowing tent of laundry on my mother and receive a lovely mountain of clean, folded clothes by the end of my visit.  Well, my friends, laundry Karma has come to collect.

I am tumbled dry by the amount of laundry my family of four produces.  I look around at the end of the day to find four of my son’s outfits completely soaked and laying on the deck… with the dog on top of them.  There are balled up socks on the couch, clean socks have found their way into the dirty laundry, and smelly socks sit on top of my clean basket.  Before I know it, my poor boy has to wear my daughter’s frilly polka dot shorts to bed and my daughter is wearing shirts with sayings like “Handsome Bubba” printed on the front.

I tend to stuff as many articles of clothing into the washer, dryer, and “to be folded” laundry basket as I possibly can for time and space efficiency purposes.  This makes the basket reasonably heavy. You can turn this never ending chore into a weight to hold during multiple exercises without taking any time away from your necessary tasks at hand!  Getting an ample amount of walking steps within a day is an important part of exercise, but if you add a weight, it challenges you a little more.   Try this week’s momlife-adapted exercises for three different body parts:

WASH, DRY, LIFT

CALVES: When you are lugging the basket of freshly cleaned (and inevitably slightly wrinkled) clothes upstairs (or across the house if you do not have stairs), pause on each stair (or step you take) to do calf raises.  Stand with your heels off of the edge of the stair and rise up on your toes, then back down. You can do one each stair, or challenge yourself to see how many per stair you can handle.

HAMSTRINGS AND GLUTES (BACK OF THE LEGS AND BUTT): Use the “standard” laundry basket hold (like you’re holding a beach ball with handles) and skip a stair (or two if you have long legs) with each step. Starting with one foot on the first stair and one on the third stair, bend your knees keeping your upper body straight (like you’re trying to pick up a onsie that fell off of the top of the overflowing basket without spilling any more clothes). Take the bottom foot and put it on the fifth step and repeat the lunge all the way up the stairs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                             ARMS: Multiple loads of laundry in a day can be daunting, but you can turn them into an excuse to workout different parts of your body. If you hold the full basket above your head while you walk it from place to place, especially the stairs, it will engage your shoulders.

There are days when I would rather take each stray article of clothing I see and reunite it with all of the stepped-on-out-of-place toys at their final resting place in the garbage can.  I stop myself by thinking of the hassle it would be to pack the kids up to go buy more clothes and by using the weight of the task to my advantage.  Wash, dry, lift… sip… sip… sip… glug.

“Skim Parenting” in the Name of Football

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“Skim Parenting” in the Name of Football

Ladies and Gentlemen, the time has come!  Football Season is upon us.  If you are a woman who does not like football and has a football man, you, all you do, and all that needs to get done will be pushed to the bottom of his priority list every Saturday and Sunday.  Prepare to be ignored.

If you are a woman who is a football fan, the exact outcome will happen.  You will get stuck with the “To Do” list, making it harder to watch your game.  If you are a parent, the “To Do” lists become more important and distractions more demanding, which makes it nearly impossible to participate in Football Season Saturdays or Sundays.  I, being a football fan and parent, have dwindled my “To Do” list to the bare minimum on game days, which leaves me with one main “must”: Ensure the children remain alive while keeping them from distracting my attention from the television.

After we became parents, my husband and I went through the five stages of grieving for our B.C. (Before Children) football days:

Anger:  We were angry that our friends without kids didn’t understand why we couldn’t just sit at a bar all day with kids in tow.

Denial: We did manage to attend a couple of bar gatherings when our first kid was still new and able to stay asleep while strapped in the car seat.  We simply slid the seat under the booth and made like we didn’t actually have a baby at a bar.

Depression: We were positive that we would never be able to go to a game or watch a game at a bar again… and I cried about it.

Bargaining:  We promised our friends beer and food if they drove all the way out to our house to hang out with our slobbery kid and distorted versions of ourselves that had been diluted from exhaustion and added responsibilities.

Acceptance:  We bought a bigger flat screen television and upgraded our cable to include NFL Ticket.

Our emotional journey to acceptance has led us to spending our fall Sundays at home working on our abilities to entertain the children without them noticing that our attention is not (for once) on them.  Over the years, we have gone through a variety of techniques: “You watch the first half, I’ll watch the second half” was nixed when my husband missed the Browns’ only touchdown of the season (I’m just kidding, I’m sure there were a few more…) because it didn’t happen during his allotted half.  “We’ll just DVR it” was short lived because friends and family insisted on texting updates.  We finally came to a decision that it is both forgiven in the Parenting Handbook to forgo Football Season Sundays as enrichment days, as well as perfectly acceptable to simply keep them busy and happy by any means necessary one day a week (We must choose between college and pro football day, but we will take what we can get!).  In honor of the skim milk Pumpkin Spice Latte that I can enjoy while watching my calories, I call our Football Sunday parenting game “Skim Parenting”, because I can enjoy my fall sport while “watching” my kids.

The hardest part of Skim Parenting is collecting enough activities for your arsenal to keep the little ones busy for the entire game.  Furthermore, it becomes more difficult if you have children of different ages and skill levels.  You must have back up ideas for when your first string activities are not holding their attention or require more of your assistance than you anticipated.  Any seasoned parent knows that anything with a WiFi connection is the easiest option for zero-work child care.  That being said, when the movie is over, you need your phone to set your Fantasy line up, or their faces surface from the Kindle looking for the next activity, here are a few from our tool belts that may give you some precious time to sit, drink, and watch:

GIVE THEM THEIR OWN CORNHOLE BOARDS

A big part of a football gathering for us is playing Cornhole.  You will find, though, that kids mess up the flow of your toss when they run in front of you and trip you.  Also, it makes it incredibly difficult to keep score when they take the bags off of the boards and hide them… in the garbage can.  The easiest solution for this is to get them a cheap set of boards that they can spend their energy ruining.  For whatever reason, carrying the bean bags from one place to another is good for about 30 minutes of entertainment, and if you teach them how to slam the bags into the holes, that buys you 15 more.

Extra tip: Act like you really don’t want them to touch the bags.  This will infallibly make them want to play with them more!

Just when you go to add up your points, you find that the two you sunk in the hole have mysteriously disappeared. #kidsruincornhole

If you are feeling particularly motivated (You’ve had too much coffee or decided to drink a Red Bull to get pumped up for the game), allow me to offer a more involved option to set your mind at ease about your parental status:

WHOLE PARENTING OPTION:  Have the kids help you make their own boards and bags on a predetermined craft day during the week.  I found some you can make with empty diaper boxes (if you’re not already using them as a recycling bin for your wine bottles) and old socks (or socks that have somehow lost their partners forever in the laundry abyss)!

 

HAVE THEM RUN ERRANDS

There is a small window of time when the kids are young when nothing pleases them more than doing favors for you.  Use this to your advantage during Game Day and send them on errands around the house.  These could be meaningless trips (“Hey, buddy! Can you do me a huge favor and run to the top of the stairs, touch the railing, walk back down, then do it again?”), or you could put them to good use (“Honey, can you please put this bottle in the recycling bin, then go get a dog towel from the laundry room for the spill on the carpet?”).

Extra tip:  If you put the beer somewhere they can reach, you can have them bring beers to your friends.

get me a beer

WHOLE PARENTING OPTION:  Plan out a scavenger hunt with clues that the kids have to follow for various prizes around the house.  This only works, of course, if they can read.  If they cannot read, you can have pictures of rooms/spots around your house where they should look next.  If you’re going to choose this more involved option: 1. Thanks for making the rest of us feel subpar and 2. Put the pictures on index cards and laminate them so you can reuse them for future Sunday Funday hunts.

PUT THEM TO WORK

As I previously mentioned, “things that need to get done” is not an item on a football fan’s priority list for Football Season weekends.  This leads to a build up and overload of those “things”.  If you are in a region where Autumn means falling leaves, a big, tedious chore on this list is raking them out of your yard.  This is the perfect opportunity to teach your children the value of hard work!

Tape off a section of the yard and tell them to pick up all of the leaves in that area and put them in a designated bag.  When the area is clear, they can have a reward (ice cream is usually the winning motivator).  If you have multiple children, tape off an area for each of them and make it a competition.

Extra tip: The bigger the section of yard, the longer it will take them.

raking leaves

WHOLE PARENTING OPTION:  Make a checklist with pictures of the different kinds of plant life in your yard and have your kids match them and check them off as they clean them up.  For added time, you can put a picture of a different leaf on each of how ever many bags you desire and have them sort by leaf type!  If the little helpers can read, put the tree or plant name on the list, too.  Science lesson.  Boom.

BEER BOTTLE BOWLING

Sometimes, you just have to work with what you have in your immediate surroundings to entertain your Mini-Mes.  Save your friends empty drink cans or bottles and set them up for a bowling game in your yard.  Grab any ball you have around (I know you have at least one of every kind around the house.  You’ve probably stepped on two already today!) to roll the bottles down.

Extra tip: If you teach them once how to set it up, they can do this activity completely independently.

beer bottle bowling

WHOLE PARENTING OPTION:  I know that you’re thinking, “With a name like ‘Beer Bottle Bowling’, how can she find any good parenting in this idea?”  Prepare to be amazed:  Have the kids count how many cans/bottles are in each row and how many total.  Addition!  When they knock some over, they can count how many are down and how many are left.  Subtraction!  When you’re teaching them to set up the game, have them notice that it is shaped like a triangle.  Geometry!  Lessons in Mathematics = Whole Parenting.  Nailed it!

We love our children and hope that one day they will grow up to be well-rounded, properly adjusted, functional members of society.  We, as parents, all work toward this goal as much as we can.  The rules of the skilled game of Skim Parenting says, “Hey, six out of seven days a week is a very healthy dose of Whole Parenting!  Call day seven ‘Independence Day’ and let the kids show what they know!”  Tomorrow is Sunday.  Kick your feet up, finish your pumpkin drink, and have your daughter grab you a beverage.  Its game time.

Baby Weights

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Baby Weights

Over the past week, you have been sucking in your belly and squeezing your butt together.  Undoubtedly it felt weird at first, but now you find yourself noticing your core more and sitting up straighter.  For this week’s exercise, keep that squeeze that you’ve been practicing (like you have to pee but the only bathroom around is outside of a country gas station in a dimly lit corner and it gives you the “uh oh” feeling) and try this:

SQUAT, PUSH UP, SIT UP, REPEAT…. OR DON’T.

Start with one (yes, only one, no matter how easy and pointless it seems) repetition of each of three moves that will target where baby aftermath usually resides: One squat for your butt and legs (Apparently, motherhood gives us the gift of cellulite!  Isn’t is magical?), one push up for “continuous wave” syndrome in your arms, and one sit up for the empty baby carrier.  Make sure you stick your butt out when you do your squat and sit back into your heels like you’re hovering over that disgusting toilet at your favorite bar in college that you know hasn’t been cleaned in months. Do this multiple times throughout the day. Since it is only one repetition of each, it will take three seconds, so you can sneak it in on your way to the bathroom or take three seconds off of your shower time.

If you want to challenge yourself more, complete two sets of the trifecta back to back.  Want to sweat?  Go back in for a third set.  Keep in mind that you decide how many sets you do within a day,  so it is customizable and schedule friendly.

Each day, add one repetition of each exercise to the routine.  Day two, you will do two squats, two pushups, and two sit ups one more time than you feel you can handle throughout the day.  By the end of the week, you will be doing seven of each in a row, which may be enough for you to begin to work up a sweat.  A life hack that I have discovered about exercise repetitions:  The faster you do them, the sooner you are finished.  It is both a mathematical certainty and extremely motivating.

As the days go on, you will find that these three exercises are becoming increasingly easier and you will feel the drive to complete more repetitions and sneak in more sets wherever you can throughout the day.  At day 33 (Just a short month away!), all you have to do is three sets in a day with one bonus repetition of each to reach 100 squats, 100 pushups, and 100 sit-ups in one day!  It is an incredible accomplishment that is absolutely reachable no matter your fitness level in the beginning, or time and energy constraints!

As an added bonus, you can do all three of these exercises in front of the television, which is great news right now if you’re a chick that likes football, or a chick that doesn’t like football who binge watches Netflix series on Sundays in the fall.  #orangeisthenewblack

Baby Weights

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Baby Weights

I spent over nine months at a time growing my babies as they made my body grow.  As I watched and felt my belly, feet, and anxiety seem to take on minds of their own, I looked forward increasingly to the days of their births when I could get my body back.  Clearly, my fellow mommies, we have learned that we do not reclaim our bodies that day.  In fact, the struggle remains for months into the future.  What our children leave us with when they make the transition from fetuses to citizens is a soft, squishy version of what we used to be.

Before children (In the era that I like to refer to as B.C.), fitness and losing weight was a different formula:  Workout, burn more calories than you consume each day, and let metabolism work it’s magic.  These still remain true, but what about all of the other factors that we have added to our lives that prevent the equation from being that simple?  Post pregnancy is ridden with hurdles that we must jump to reach our weight loss goals, or even just to feel comfortable again in our own bodies:

MORE FOOD 

There are a couple of common reasons that we eat more in “The Aftershock” (“The Aftershock”: Slang term describing an undefined period of time in a mother’s life beginning immediately after the birth of her child during which her mind and body are not her own and she must adjust every single way of life she knew previously.  See also: “Zombie Mommy”, “Postpartum WTF” ):

  1. We got used to “eating for two” and are slow to kick the chocolate-ice-cream-before-bed habit
  2. and/or
  3. We are breastfeeding and are fricking starving all of the time.

LESS SLEEP

We are so tired from late nights and early mornings that even the thought of working out actually makes us simultaneously want to cry and punch a skinny person in the face.

SHIFT IN SCHEDULE

Like your body when you’re pregnant, your schedule when you’re a mom is not your own.  The schedule of your time is allotted piece by piece to your duties for the family.  Trying to block off an hour to simply go to the gym seems unheard of when you’re adapting to the depths of added laundry, appointments, feedings, and errands. To quote Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, “…My get up and go must have got up and went…”…. And I’m willing to bet it didn’t go to the gym.

Whether or not these reasons are strong enough excuses to keep us from exercising in the eyes of others does not change the fact that this is the way life actually happens.  However, the sooner we get back on track mentally and physically, the sooner we can reclaim our bodies and get our sexy back.  So, how can we and our fellow moms in The Aftershock work with what we have to start this process?  I have lived through The Aftershock and come out on the other side.  I could not bear the thought of stuffing my doughy body into workout clothes to be seen by the people that hadn’t taken a year off from the gym, so I started doing exercises at home using body weight and other objects within my daily routine for weight.

Baby Weights will be a periodic posting to share some of the… inventive ways I began my recovery from Aftershock.  You will not have flat abs in a week.  You will not lose a pant size overnight.  I will never claim to an expert on fitness and/or weight loss… or anything, for that matter.  I will, however, attest that I started these moves with almost no motivation and it got easier.  At the very least, it helped me remember where my muscles were once located.  This week, I give you the simplest move of them all:

THE CONTINUOUS BATHING SUIT

Not one of us is fooling the other- We all suck in our guts and butts when we’re walking around in bathing suits.  Maybe this is the reason we are so tired after walking around at the pool all day, as opposed to prolonged exposure to the sun (as seems more scientifically likely).  The muscles you suck in when you are more naked than you’d like to be are the ones that get lost in the body cluster f@%& that is pregnancy and delivery.  You can strengthen those muscles all day while you are going about your crazy busy routine.

Driving your son to the doctor?  Sit up straight in your seat with your shoulders back, suck in your lower belly (it is easiest to get to this muscle by squeezing the Kegel muscle, too,  but just sucking in your stomach in general is perfectly fine), and pinch your butt cheeks together.  Hold it for as long as you can.  If you hold it for the entire ride, look forward to rewarding yourself with a drink later that night!  You can keep these muscles engaged during absolutely everything you do during the day from cooking to scrubbing pee off of the floor to folding laundry.  Hell, you can even suck in while you drink!

Easiest. Workout. Ever.

Stay tuned for more easy ways you can do what you’re doing anyway and make it feel like a workout!   #mommylifehack

Selfishly Keeping The Self

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Selfishly Keeping The Self

I first noticed it when I was group texting with a few of my college friends that live nearby:

“I’m so excited you guys can come over tonight!  We can throw something together for dinner and have a few drinky-poos!”

“That sounds great, but did you just say ‘drinky-poos’? You seriously need some adult time!” 

This message from my loveably honest friend hit me like a building block to the forehead. It had finally happened. I don’t know when it began, but my cool had been entirely overcome by (insert scary music) MOMMYDUM (GASP!).

“Holy moly, you’re right!” I admitted to my friend. “You see? I just did it again! Who says ‘holy moly’? Shit”.  I always swore I would stay cool no matter how old I got or how my life changed. I had watched as friends and relatives around me lost traits of themselves that were then replaced with obscure, unfamiliar acts. The popular drug dealer who lived across the street from me in college began posting professional portraits on Facebook of himself and his girlfriend wearing matching shirts! The people around me on a daily basis discussed the latest PTA meeting instead of where they were going out that weekend. When I tried to change the Laurie Berkner CD while riding in my friend’s car (with no children present), she made me wait until the song was over! I observed in curious panic as my surroundings and the people in them transformed.

At this moment, you are no doubt picturing an episode of The Walking Dead: Cool, fresh, hip people becoming twisted, gnarled shells of themselves when they start a family, then infecting everyone around them. This may be a good time to throw in a disclaimer. Please do not mistake the stories I tell and the pictures I paint to mean that I am not grateful for all that I have. I planned on being a wife and mother, and I knew it would be a life, game, and perception changer. I love my life dearly and find great joy in reading bedtime stories to the kids (and sometimes my husband who falls asleep first), knowing all of the words to the Frozen soundtrack (and singing them in harmony with my daughter), and sharing ordinary, everyday experiences with them in a way that makes them not so ordinary.

Are we good? Everyone settled down? OK, great- now that I’ve stated the obvious, we can get back to the reality of it all: I love my life, but where and how can I fit in the real me? The familiar “me” with whom I am comfortable, happy, and relaxed spending time?  The one who, at the very least, does not say “poo” as a suffix?

I’ve previously mentioned my theory on adult life: In short, we all have multiple pieces on a proverbial game board that we are required to play, and The Self is the piece that is most likely to get benched. All of the pieces that we play for the various motivations and excuses that we give are loud, demanding, and domineering while our “Self” pieces wait patiently until we can tend to them again. This is dangerous, for due to the necessity of the other roles we play, Mother and Wife being at the forefront, it is very easy, common, and sometimes seemingly expected of us by society to retire this piece all together.

What does it mean if I don’t want to retire this piece and forget about her? Am I selfish for keeping tabs on my Self? Many from the “Mad Men” generation (a.k.a. The Stone Age) would argue that by recognizing and taking time for our own, personal well beings, we are skewing our priorities and selfishly putting ourselves ahead of being mothers and wives. From the trenches that smell of dirty laundry and sour milk where I sit bedecked in poop, tears, crusty banana, and toilet bowl cleaner, I say to these dinosaurs, “Kindly shove that shit into the Diaper Genie.” My priorities are straight, and it is the failure to put The Self on the list of priorities that is skewed.

That being said, there is no denying that our lives are changing. It is an inevitable and not entirely terrible truth. If I still drank like I did ten years ago, my life expectancy would be much shorter. If I kept my sleep schedule from even five years ago, I would be a zombie with an ulcer from my excessive need for copious amounts of coffee and Five Hour Energy to get through the day (has that crap been banned yet? Seriously, it can’t be good for the body!). If I hadn’t decided to change, I would not have grown wiser and more experienced (and increasingly humble, clearly!) with each new phase of life. There are worse experiences than having more fun than my children at Disney on Ice, getting excited when a new Team Umi Zumi records on the DVR, or realizing that baby talk has taken over my typical jargon… I think.

However, there is no shame in finding a way to fit your Self into your present day life. My Self has done a lot for me over the years. My man and I met, fell in love, got married, and lived in our first house together over the course of eight years of just our Selves. If being a good wife is a priority, it helps immensely to have a good marriage. To keep a good marriage (even to sustain one, for that matter), it is just as important to foster who the two of you were as a couple in the easy years by putting time and effort into your Selves as it is to complete typical “wifely” duties (There is that dinosaur talking again!) like laundry and keeping the house and everyone’s schedules in order.

The actions I take as a wife and mother are to ensure the safety, well being, and happiness of my family and those around me. I’m happy when I see that I have made the ones I love happy. This does not change the fact that I must tend to my other roles. All of my pieces must have time on the board for the game to run smoothly. There is a balance that must be decided in order to prevent fatigue and to ensure that all pieces remain relevant and “in shape” for their tasks.

Never forget that you are the glue that holds your life together. Take pride in your “mommydum” and all of the pieces on your board, but do what you must to make sure your Self gets some playing time. “Happy wife, happy life,” “When mommy is happy, life isn’t crappy”. No matter what you portray on Facebook, your life can’t be picture perfect until your best self is in the picture.  Now, go rinse out last night’s wine glass in the sink and pour a nice-sized drinky-poo.  All of your pieces will thank you.