Add A Little Seasoning

A14_0136No one told me that the older I was when I had my children, the more my heart and my body would be at odds with what I wanted to do.  By the time I turned 38 years old, I had an infant and a toddler.  Both of my girls were still in diapers and I was changing them around the clock. There was little sleep, especially at night, and when there was, it was always interrupted.  Ironically, in my twenties I never batted an eye at staying up until 1 or 2 a.m. partying or just watching late night movies, then getting up at 6 am the next day for work.  But now??

So I needed a strategy.  Between the lack of sleep from the newborn and trying to keep up with my toddler, I decided to put them on the same eating and sleeping schedule.  It was the best thing I could have done for myself.  When they slept I took a cat nap, and began to exercise.  Having had two children back-to-back I’d lost my girly figure.  I was motivated to get myself in good shape, but also have enough energy throughout the day.  You see, Sofia, my oldest daughter, was walking and running and had no sense of fear.  She became extremely active and got into everything!  She wanted to play all the time.  If I had any hope of keeping up with them, I had to get into shape!

Of course, there were times when the girls weren’t accommodating to my new regime, so I adapted.  The times when the girls refused to take their naps, I put them in a double stroller and walked around my neighborhood. When my husband came home from work, I would leave the girls with him and walk with my neighbor, at least twice a week.  There were a couple of nights that my husband was on child duty while I went out with friends or just took a long bath.  You know that saying, “When mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy”?  He caught on to that real quick and made sure I was taking my MTO!

Yes, though it seems obvious that the older you get the harder it is to keep up with active children, no one told me of the struggle between what I wanted to do and what I could do.  But those little Mommy Time-Outs paid off in big ways.  I used that time to get in shape – body, mind and soul.  Fitting them in where and when I could was necessary and I am so glad I did – and so is my family, because I always came back to them refreshed and ready for the next family adventure!

What are you surprised to learn about yourself when you had your children?

When Dirty Dishes Are Okay

Dirty Dishes or Stressed-Out Me?  Hmmm....

Dirty Dishes or Stressed-Out Me? Hmmm….

I really never understood why people felt the need to suggest to me, “When your baby sleeps, you should sleep.”  It was the first time I became a mother and I thought it made perfect sense.  After all, I was lacking sleep because I was nursing every 2 to 3 hours. I could barely stay awake and take care of myself now that another human was relying on me. Of course I was going to sleep!  Well, I soon realized that when the baby was sleeping I had NO TIME to sleep!  What no one told me was that when the baby was sleeping it was the only time I had to clean, do laundry and other daily household chores.  By the time I was finished and ready for that nap, guess what? Yup! The baby was up for her next feeding.

Eventually I got to the point where I could not keep up with the house because I was too exhausted from lack of sleep. I began to realize I needed to get back to taking care of me. It did not matter if my house was upside-down or the dishes were piling up. I napped for as long as my baby napped, and I did not feel guilty. When a friend or family member came over, I took advantage of their visit, and they were happy to have the time with the baby. I took longer showers and actually shaved my legs. I knew exactly what I needed to get myself back to being the woman I was prior to having children. Sometimes, if I didn’t feel like cooking that night, I asked my husband to stop and pick up dinner.

I was not ashamed of admitting that I needed the help. Anyone who offered to cook, help around the house, run errands for me, I gladly accepted and looked at it as a blessing. I made my MTO happen as much and as often as I could when the help was offered.

No, no one told me that as a mother my first instinct would be to NOT take care of myself, but that is exactly what happens.  We mothers must make a CONSCIOUS CHOICE to have a Mommy Time-Out.  Yes, make sure the children are cared for, and when they are in capable, trusted hands, take the time you need to find yourself again so you can return to your family rested, centered and more capable of caring for them.

What are some things you wish someone had told you about motherhood?

My First Mommy Time-Out

Me and my girls, Sofia (8) and Katie (6)

Me and my girls, Sofia (8) and Katie (6)

Before I became pregnant with my first child, no one told me that I was a mother the moment I found out I was pregnant. But that is exactly when all the worrying began for me.

In my 1st trimester I was told by doctors that my pregnancy was not “viable” and that I would likely miscarry.  They did not know what day exactly but they knew I would not get past my 2nd trimester. I cried more than I can remember in my life – the first three months of my pregnancy were the most stressful of my life. My heart and hopes were broken and I could barely get out of bed and get through a normal day.

The 2nd trimester came and there was no miscarriage, and the doctors could not explain why.  By that point, I had heard all the bad statistics and the worst news, including her being born having down syndrome,or a degenerative disease, if I didn’t miscarry before then.  The stress and the sadness continued to build until one day I made a conscious decision that I would ignore everything I was being told.  I decided that my baby would make it to full term and that I would love her no matter her condition. It was important to me that I not allow the stress I was feeling to affect the child growing inside of me, and that’s when I started taking my Mommy Time-Outs.

I bought myself maternity clothes, treated myself to manicures and pedicures and changed my eating habits. I pampered myself and enjoyed my baby moving in my stomach. I enjoyed every minute of my pregnancy and felt so beautiful and radiant. I had at least three Mommy Time-Outs a week. I was so good to myself and my baby.

My daughter was born healthy at 36 weeks and I was able to bring her home after two days. I am proud to write that my daughter, Sofia, is now 8 years old. She is in the top 5 students in her 2nd grade class. She makes my heart so happy when I think of what a miracle and blessing she is in my life. It has been 9 years and another little girl born, Katie (now 6), since I started my MTOs. I have had my share of challenges in being consistent, but I continue to take my Time-Outs, no matter how difficult my daily challenges are.

Even before they are born, our children are affected by how we feel, what “condition” we are in.  No one told me it started so soon, but I am here to tell you that it does.  I can’t explain why or how Sofia defied the odds any more than the doctors can, except to say it was a miracle. And I am sure that de-stressing and taking care of myself helped in some small (or big?) way. Taking care of ourselves IS taking care of our children.  And I can’t think of a better reason to have a Mommy Time-Out than that!

When did you first start taking your Mommy Time-Outs? What obstacles get in your way sometimes in trying to take one? Please comment below – we want to hear from you!

Love Yourself…Again

Loving myself at the beach

Loving myself at the beach

We wrote about this a couple weeks ago, but it’s so important, it begs being repeated!

I know how much I love my children by, among other things, how well I take care of them: bathing, packing their lunches, doing their laundry and driving them all over town. I always go the extra mile to make sure all their needs are being met.  But do I know how well I love me?  What is my evidence?

One of the benefits of getting better at taking my Mommy Time-Outs is that I have come to terms with the fact that I need to love myself as much as I love my children.  Just as they are taken care of, I must take care of myself, and I have been.  In addition to having regular Mommy Time-Outs, I have begun to eat better, exercise more and be positive all day.  When the day starts going south, I don’t allow it to go there.  I start to think about all the things I do have and start a gratitude list in my head.  Healthy children, my health, the possessions I own and the people I truly love and who love me in return.

And it is because of my Time-Outs that I am able to do these things!

I have come to realize that the best way to take care of myself is in the simplest ways, like taking a long shower and shaving my legs.  I love that I can put on a nice outfit, smell great and walk with confidence because I have taken the time to love and respect myself.  You know what I’m talking about!

So as we end this month of Love, let’s re-commit to showing love for ourselves by putting ourselves at the top of the list of important things to do by having a regular (weekly?) Time-Out.  Not only will we benefit, but so will our children, our spouses and our friends!

Have you made your Mommy Time-Out Commitment?  Please tell us about it!

Love Your Friends

My dear friend Nora and I at our latest Mommy Time-Out

Over the years, I have come to realize that my girlfriends are the people I need greatly in my life because they keep me sane and they remain a constant when not much else does. I am able to talk to them about anything, they do not judge me and are very sympathetic to my feelings and struggles. And I give back to them the same way.  True friends will stick close to you no matter how deep in despair or how high in life you are.  They will celebrate with you in times of happiness and cry with you in times of sorrow.

I recently found out that my best friend, a single mother with a nine year old daughter, was diagnosed  with breast cancer.  My heart was broken and in disbelief.  It hit me how cancer does not discriminate from ethnicity, age or financial status. What is amazing about her is that she continues to give and listen to me no matter how depressed or sick she gets from her chemo treatments.  She is an amazing woman and selfless for giving me so much love and compassion.

Without our girlfriends life would not be the same. So this month, love your friends and let them know how much you appreciate them with all your heart.  For your Mommy Time-Out, meet them for lunch, have coffee or just phone them and tell them you love them and think of them often even though you don’t call them as much as you should.

They will feel loved, and because they are a big part of keeping you mentally, spiritually and physically balanced so you can be more available to your family…  Well, needless to say, you will both benefit greatly!

What do you like to do with your friends on your MTO’s?