It's okay to make mistakes. We all make mistakes. (Even the sanctimommies.)
In life (and ESPECIALLY in parenting), it's easy to be hard on ourselves for mistakes... to obsess over them. After all, those little people that we are responsible for? Our mistakes affect them. Our mistakes can hurt them.
But don't forget that you are human too.
You are ever learning and ever growing.
The human heart is resilient
The next time you make a mistake, don't dwell on it.
Remember, you are not alone
Look for an accountability partner: a spouse, an mom friend on the internet, a sibling or other relative. Sometimes just talking about mistakes and shortcomings helps make overcoming them easier.
What do you do when you make a mistake? How do you keep your mistakes from dampening the joy in your life?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
The age old question, plaguing everyone from decades. It's a big deal to try and think about your future self when you're only 5. Yet, children do not hesitate. They share their lofty goals with great enthusiasm. When I was in Kindergarten, my teacher asked us this question. While my best friend wrote veterinarian (she's now a nurse practitioner), I wrote down "Mommy." Even in college, I had a hard time deciding on a major because what I really wanted to was to be at home raising a brood of babies. But life went on. and I graduated with an English degree.
In 2012, I finally earned my title of Mama - a job that I cherish with my whole heart and soul. Yet.... yet... as much as I have thrown my all into motherhood, I know the importance of "Me Time" and how burnout is a real threat. It's a lot of work to be needed 24/7, and as the saying goes, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
Recharging yourself makes you better able to parent with patience, compassion, love, and empathy. When I'm short on me time, I'm crankier and way less patient. Even if I steal a quick 10 minutes, I'm already in a mentally better place. Self-care is critical to a healthy mind, body, and soul.
5 ways to recharge
Eat breakfast first
We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it can also be the most neglected. When I'm busy getting breakfasts ready for my boys, it's easy for me to put my own breakfast last. By the time, I've fed and cleaned up the boys, I find myself already running low. I've started to prioritize my breakfast and eat first, which helps me to me more calm during the breakfast rush. Even a quick mug of coffee and a cup of yogurt takes me a long way and helps me feel ready to tackle the day.
Reading is a great way to recharge. Before I had kids, I could devour a novel in a weekend, but my personal reading time has decreased dramatically. I know I feel mentally stimulated after reading, so I try my best to fit it into my schedule. I have the Kindle app on my phone as well as a Kindle Fire. I like reading on the Kindle Fire because it has an orange light which does not interfere with sleep, so I can read in bed at night. Exercising your brain is a great form of self-care.
Finding time to cultivate your hobby is one of the hardest ways to recharge because there is frequently a larger time commitment involved. One way my husband and I keep our hobbies is to schedule it in. Some days, he'll take the kids and I can have my time to read, paint, or my favorite, take a bubble bath. Other days, I'll take the kiddos and he has the whole house to blast music and create art. Whatever your hobby is, finding ways to keep it will help you feel "like you" which of course, will recharge you.
Wash your face
This might seem like a no-brainer but a quick face wash can rejuvenate you. As I transition from an afternoon of chasing and wrangling the boys, I often change my clothes and wash my face before beginning the evening routine. It's a quick thing but really helps to recharge me a little. For parents working outside of the home, this is a great time to shift from "work mode" to "home mode." Changing into comfy clothes automatically relaxes you.
Music is mood food! When I need a boost, I frequently turn to music to help. If I'm feeling stressed, I am quick to turn on the Celtic Spa Radio. If I'm feeling a bit down, I turn on the upbeat music. If I'm feeling artistic, I let the Indie folk music flow through the house. This is the easiest way to recharge because I just have to turn on the radio and let the music do the work.
What is your favorite way to recharge? Comment below!
You could say that tidying orders the mind while cleaning purifies it. - Marie Kondo
I am no stranger to mess; in fact, it is par for the course that as I vacuum the house, the crumbs revolt and bring in the reinforcements. Apparently, it is also an unspoken rule that if I clean the windows, they must be smudged, licked, or otherwise made dirty before the day is done. Also, the laundry. Enough said. Like I said, I am no stranger to mess, but I do not like it. Getting rid of messes is a two step process: first, clean then tidy.
It's easy to stay organized and on top of chores when I stick to my schedule, but it is ever so easy to get off track. I notice that when I get off track, I also start to feel disorganized mentally too. Staying organized contributes to an overall more relaxing and inviting home.
Organization leads to less stress
Who hasn't done the crazy "guests-are-coming-over-so-clean-all-the-things" shuffle? I, for one, have. And you know what? I don't like it because then I'm all sweaty after rushing to get a day's worth of cleaning done in 10 minutes. Staying on top of cleaning chores definitely leads to lowered stress levels because there is no "last minute rush."
Organization also leads to less stress in terms of paperwork and bills. In between all of our seven moves, it was a struggle to get track of all of our important documents. So when we were finally done with storage units and temporary apartments, it was so exciting (.... yep, exciting) to set up a filing cabinet with all of our papers. No more digging around for important papers. Way less stresss!
Organization leads to healthier homes
When was the last time you washed your curtains? Or deep cleaned your carpets? Keeping track of less-regular chores can help make sure that you do remember to do them when it's time... which leads to a cleaner (and therefore healthier) home.
Organizing saves you time
Even if you put in extra time at the start of an organizational project, staying organized saves you time in the long run.
Staying organized means more time to play
If you're not wasting time looking for stuff, that leaves more time ... to play.
Tips to staying organized
Once you get into a organizational routine, stick with it. There's a lot of debate on the exact number, but a lot of experts agree that it takes around 90-100 days to really establish a habit. Do your best to stay consistent.
Use a planner
This is my favorite favorite way to stay organized. I have used a paper planner since high school, and it's the only way for me to stay organized in terms of errands, appointments, and bills. I've tried countless apps but I'll always be a paper and pen girl.
Have you ever tried a paper planner? The Organized Marie planner, which has monthly and weekly layouts, has sections for personal and work goals, appointments, and errands. Right now, you can grab this planner for 30% when you use my PROMO code: Katie30.
Label the days of the week
I started organizing and planning a week at glance. Starting on Sunday, I go through the week and write what needs to be done on a dry erase board. Some people might like to do it all digital with an app but I like seeing the board hanging up so I can see it when I pass by it. In addition to this, I also put my meal planning on that board too. (Meal planning is another recent organizational tool that I have come to love!)
If a chore or task is not specifically labeled as Susan's task or Fred's then let's face it, it's not going to get done. Sit down with your family and divide each task or chore, then this task won't end up being neglected.
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Love is not an emotion. (Joy is an emotion and many people do experience joy as a result of love.)
Love is an action - a decision to "will the good of another." Because love is an action, that also means that love (and consequently any and all relationships) require work. But... family life is busy. Between the constant needs of children, the demands of work, the unending household chores... how can you maintain the relationships you cherish? Of course, you show love to you family when do you things like feed them nourishing food or clean their clothes, but sometimes you need a little bit more than that to really keep those connections strong. Here are four tips to strengthen any relationship - spouse, child, or even a friend.
Always tell the truth
This one might seem obvious, but there's no quicker relationship damper than a lie. It's not always easy nor pleasant but having an open line of communication with your spouse is a guaranteed way to strengthen the relationship. Working through difficult situations can actually become a source of renewal in a relationship but only if the journey is not dotted with lies.
For children, reassuring them of your love can help keep lying at bay. Telling lies can become a self-preservation mechanism if s/he thinks love will be withdrawn. A few weeks ago, I noticed my son had an accident but hid the evidence. I found the evidence and questioned him. He looked into my eyes and denied it - despite the fact that it was obvious. I told him I knew the truth and he looked flustered. "I didn't want to get in trouble," he explained. Of course, who would want to get in trouble? No one. I reminded him that no matter what, I always love him. Even if he does something wrong, I do not love him less. He immediately relaxed and confessed. The next day, he spilled some milk and came running to me. "Mama, I made a mess. I'm telling you the truth." At least for now, he no longer feels the need to lie about messes because he knows my love is unconditional.
Wait for the right moment to give correction
I recently read an article about a father who defines his parenting style as "Mary Poppins" - for every medicine (correction or discipline) he gives, he first makes sure to lay on the sugar (love). I found this to be such a brilliant way to look at parenting and how true it is!
How often have you been corrected and, instead of allowing the advice to better yourself, felt only bitterness at having been corrected? Have you ever done 10 things right and received criticism on the one thing you did wrong? It doesn't feel good, does it? In any relationship, there will be a time where one person offers constructive (hopefully, it's constructive) criticism. The key to offering the advice without damaging the relationship or crushing the spirit is to be careful attention to when you offer the criticism. Whether it's a spouse or child, how you to choose to give criticism or correction can really affect your relationship. No one wants to be corrected in front of a whole group of people; if you can, pull aside your partner or child and speak privately. Don't add embarrassment to the issue at hand.
Set them up to win
Setting up your spouse/friend/child to win is a great way to strengthen your relationship. Why does this work? When you support someone, they feel encouraged, motivated, and loved by you which in turn creates a stronger bond between the two of you. This doesn't have to be anything extravagant; support can be something as simple as making their day easier.
Learn their love language (and yours too while you're at it)
One of my favorite family-oriented books is the Love Language series by Gary Chapman. The premise of these books is that every experiences love in difference "languages." Learning the love language of your son, daughter, or spouse can dramatically affect your relationship.
My older son's love language is quality time, and I see instantly how he is transformed by some good ol' one-on-one time. It doesn't matter if I buy him a boatload of new toys or spend 5 hours in the kitchen making him his favorite food or praising him for an hour, nothing says "I love you" (to him) like getting on the floor and playing trains or puzzles or building with Lincoln Logs.
What are ways that you implement these four tips? Comment below!
Family dinners linked to improved diet and improved emotional health
Study after study reveals what our grandparents knew: the importance of family dinners. In fact, many studies reference family dinner attendance as a key factor in how happy a family is. A study from the University of Florida illustrated just exactly how a family dinner affects a family:
But... it's not always so easy
The research clearly shows just how beneficial family dinners are, but it's not always easy to gather around the table. Between hectic schedules, extracurricular activities, and the end-of-the-day meltdowns, dinner is often one of the loudest, craziest, exhausting, and emotionally draining times of the day. It seems that as soon as I declare that I am headed to the kitchen to make dinner, someone poops his diaper, someone else begins to whine that he's hungry, there's a small human clinging to my leg and begging to be held, and I just remembered that I didn't thaw the chicken yet. It's seems counterproductive to go through all the hassle only to end up grumpy and sweaty at the dinner table.
Tips for making it to the family dinner (more often and with less stress)
Use these tips and you'll be sure to make it to the family table more often and with less stress.
If you know that you'll be getting home late, try a crock pot recipe. Set it up in the morning and you'll have dinner ready the minute you get home.
Use meal planning
Not only does meal planning make your grocery shopping more efficient, but you'll save money too because if you have a plan, you're less likely to just throw stuff in the cart. When you know what you're making, dinner is less stressful. No more last minute wondering what to throw together.
Give small tasks to your littlest children
Little ones can fetch milk from the fridge or beans from the pantry, stir a batter, open a new package of butter, or even set the table. All of these are easy for small children and helps them feel involved.
Give age-appropriate tasks to older children
Once you've taught your child to properly use a knife, let them chop veggies. Not only will this help you get dinner on the table faster, but it gives you ample time to chat with your son or daughter about his/her day.
Choose recipes carefully
A common dinner battle centers on the dish itself. If you know your children truly do not like Thai food, skip it. If you're not short on time, whip up an alternative for kids who don't like the spiciness. For instance, keep the sauce of a stir-fry and let each family member have the choice to ladle on the sauce or forgo it.
Clean up time
Assign everyone one task for cleanup and the after-dinner cleaning will go by much quicker. You're more likely to eat together if the clean-up isn't a time-consuming task for one parent every night.
Prepare for picky eaters
Fighting a picky eater is just a recipe for disaster. According to a study in the scientific journal Appetite, researchers continue to point out that picky eating is normal. In fact, up to 39% of kids are labled as "picky eaters" at some point in their childhood, although most pickiness starts to decline by age 6. So what to do until then? Try never to yell or fight about food; check out these tips for handing picky eating with respect.
What is one way you make family dinners a priority? How do you get to the table without feeling stressed? Comment below!
If you read my previous post, then you already know that regular family dinners contribute to a family's overall happiness, physical health, and emotional health. But if you have small children, you probably are thinking "How can dinnertime be happy with a picky eater in the picture?"
Picky eating is normal!
Childhood picky eating is very normal! A study entitled "Food Rejections in Children: Cognitive and Social/Environmalen Factors Involved in Food Neophobia and Picky/Fussy Eating Behavior" illustrated justh ow common it is: nearly 39% of children aged 2-6 are picky or fussy eaters. The behavior usually starts around toddlerhood and begins to taper off by age 6. Even though this is a silver lining, 4+ years of picky eating can be draining.
7 Tips for handling picky eating
Since food is obviously necessary for ... um... living, it makes sense that a food battle would ensure. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your child is well-nourished, but picky-eating definitely puts a wrench in that plan. Follow this tips for handling fussy eating with peace and respect:
Avoid yelling or forcing a child to finish his plate
Because much of fussy eating stems from panic and fear (picky eating is sometimes referred to as "Food Neophobia" in the science world), yelling or forcing a child to sit until the plate is clean only increases feelings of panic and fear. The more panic a child feels, the more negative feelings s/he will associate with dinnertime.
Include the nutrients where you can
My son definitely falls under the picky-eater category. My main goal is make sure he gets the proper nutrients. He loves fruits, vegetables, and grains. He does not like any form of meat so protein is where I struggle. I rely a lot of eggs and peanut butter. I make shakes for him occasionally to make sure he has enough protein. The simplest recipe I use is this:
Stick to what works
My son definitely can get into a rut with food, but as long as he is getting enough nutrients, I don't mind at all. Sticking to what I know he loves makes meals less of a battle. I know one day he'll be more adventurous, but for now, I'm just focusing on what he does enjoy.
Rewards can be a very slippery slope. If you reward a child for doing X behavior, it can (but not always) escalate to the point where s/he won't do anything without a reward. However, for short-term use, rewards can be very effective. If you are thinking of using rewards for eating, be sure to never use food as a reward. Consider a sticker chart for just trying.
Even though it gets tiring, always ask your child if they want to try a bite of X food. You will probably get a lot of "No thank you's" (I know I do!) but the key is to continue to expose your child to the new food. Eventually s/he will try it. Child experience food through social learning, which means that the more they see it, the more familiar it becomes, and the more likely it will be accepted. I love to add berries or bananas to my cereal and oatmeal but for years that has been a big fat No for my son. Instead of putting berries in his cereal, I slice them on a ramekin and let him eat them separate. One morning, much to my surprise, he dumped his berries in the cereal and happily ate it all. That may seem like small potatoes but for this Mama, that was a huge WIN! I was so proud of him; he did it all on his own without a battle. Now he loves his berries in his cereal, and he came to that conclusion all on his own.
Presentation for new foods is key for my son. The way I present it both verbally and physically plays a big part in whether or not he'll try it. I bought him fun plates and silverware that look like construction vehicles to help make meals more fun. The way I describe food also helps. We call broccoli "baby trees". He loves broccoli but the very first time I introduced it, he was wary. A simple name change was all he needed to give it a try.
The key to keeping the peace at the table is to remain pressure-free. Ask your child to try a food, but don't hound him. Remember that research shows that a child may need 10-15 tries of a food before he actually eats a serving.
Dealing with a picky eater can be tiring and exhausting and can be a major source of dinnertime drama. Following these tips can definitely help bring more peace to your table. What have you done to help a picky eater in your family? Comment below!
Meditation is one of the oldest ways to center yourself, regulate your emotions, and de-stress. However, it's hard to squeeze in a yoga and/or meditation session in between diaper changes, work commitments, errands, driving here and there, cooking dinner, washing laundry, rewashing laundry, folding laundry, sweeping, and... the list goes on. What's a mama (or papa) to do?
Meditation doesn't have to take place in a studio led by a yogi master. Meditation is a lot simpler. At its simplest, meditation refers to peace that comes from calming the mind. Here are three ways to meditate even when you are short on time.
Use meditation to de-stress, calm the mind, and experience peace
Fix your gaze
If you went to a traditional meditation class, you would learn about Drishti, which is a term for focusing your eyes on one spot. Sometimes, as we feel the stresses of life intensify, our roving eyes can add to the sensory overload. Want to try it? Pick an object (a spot on the wall, a picture frame, the corner of a rug) and fix your gaze on the object for at least 30 seconds. This dramatically reduces the "overload" sensations in your brain, allowing the motion to give way to stillness.
As any laboring mother can tell you, deep breathing is a helpful meditation tool - not because it relieves pain, but because it helps calm the body. Shallow breathing can contribute to panic, while deeper breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system controls the actions of a body at rest. Deep breathing is easy to do no matter how busy you are. You have to breath anyway, so make it count. :)
Share the moment
While we're on the topic of brain activity, when you make yourself vulnerable and share with another human, oxytocin is released. Oxytocin is nicknamed the "feel-good hormone." When you share your stresses and feelings with another, you make yourself vulnerable and can experience a boost in mood thanks to oxytocin. Try deep breathing with a friend, spouse, or even your child. It's never too early to teach the healing powers of meditation to your little ones.
What is your favorite way to meditate? Comment below!
As the clock strikes midnight and the new year is ushered in, the focus shifts from the memories of the past year to the resolutions of the new year. While the energetic motivation behind some resolutions fizzles out before Valentine's Day, some resolutions really are worth pursuing.
Do you want more happiness in your life? Here are 14 resolutions that, if you follow, can bring much happiness to your family during this year.
14 resolutions that will make you happier
There's a reason why being yourself feels so good. It's liberating, it's effortless, and it's empowering. Hiding who you are is a lot of work and is very limiting. Embrace who you are and shine.
Be intentional with your inner circle
Jim Rohn puts it the best: "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." Surround yourself with positive, encouraging, loving, and supportive people. This is especially true for kids and their friends; children are so impressionable. Choose your friends wisely.
Stand up for family and friends
Honesty is more than just telling the truth. Honesty also means speaking up when a lie is spoken. If a coworker makes fun of another coworker, say something. Teach your children to do the same in the school cafeteria. Living a life untethered from gossip will make you much happier.
Research tells us that volunteering has a direct impact on our happiness levels. A study from the London School of Economics demonstrated that the more people volunteer, the happier they are.
Sleep is essential for the human body to function properly. While many people get away with a slightly less-than-optimal amount of sleep, it is important to note that proper sleep affects your happiness level. Why? Matthew Berkeley, a scientist from UC Berkeley, reported that poor sleep quantity and quality causes the emotional systems in the brain to "run amok." Doesn't sound like an optimal environment for happy thoughts!
As more awareness is being spread about the dangers of processed foods, more and more studies are revealing how food can contribute to happiness. Dr. Joe Hibbeln conducted a study and found a link between fat in the diet and emotional health. When diets are based on processed foods, the brain is denied healthy fats like Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which are essential for brain health. Eating a diet rich in organic produce, lean meats, whole grains, and health fats ensures that the body can work to the best of its ability, and that includes the brain health too!
Cultivate your unique gifts
This is similar to the first resolution (be yourself), but this resolution requires you to act on it. Why will this make you happier? By fostering hobbies, you will feel satisfied (and thus happier) by witnessing you grow in your own gifts.
Use respectful language
While this seems like just plain old manners, it's easy to lose track of respectful language. A driver cuts you off and you yell at him. Sound familiar? We then get angry at this driver and spend the next 10 minutes fuming. 10 minute of our life fuming at a total stranger. Use respectful language in all you do. Don't waste your precious moments on degrading or disrespectful language - even if the offender cannot hear you.
Choose your battles wisely
When I was younger, my dad would say "I'm not gonna die on that battlefield." I didn't get it at first, but he meant that he knew when to pick his battles. In doing so, we saved himself the stress (annoyance, energy) by not arguing with me. Whether you are 10 or 90, this is good advice. If you battle all the time, you will have no energy left to be happy.
Never stop learning
Read! Attend seminars. Watch a documentary. Keep your brain challenged.
Participate in hard work
Why does hard work make you happier? BBC published an article on the effects of hard work on happiness. Swedish researchers from Gothenburg University demonstrated that hard work is good for emotional health because it is the actual process of working towards a goal that makes people more satisified than the actual reaching of the goal. Emotional highs (without working) dissipated much quicker than emotional highs that followed a period of hard work.
Control your emotions
With emotions running unchecked, it can be hard to experience the joy in your life. Emotions are part of life; we all experience an incredible range of emotions, but that doesn't mean that we are defined by those emotions nor does it mean that those emotions control us. The first step to controlling your emotions is acknowledging them. Once you are aware of your emotions, it is much easier to work through them.
What better way to be happier than to practice positivity! Every day, make it a point to practice positivity. This could be something as simple as thinking about the highlights of your day as you snuggle into bed. Or, it could be something like keeping a daily journal of all of your positive moments.
The best way to be happier is love. Spread love everywhere you go. This doesn't mean just rainbows and butterflies. Love isn't a feeling; it is a decision; it is to willingly act for the good of another. Love is holding a door open. Love is giving the last piece of cake to your husband. Love is reading the extra bedtime story when you just want to go to bed. Love is making your spouse's morning routine easier by making his/her lunch. Love is going the extra mile to make sure your child is comforted. There are infinite ways to show love. Love. Love alone is the key to happiness. Let everything you do be rooted in love.
Are you committing to any of these resolutions? Let us know!
When I was a new mother, just learning the hang of breastfeeding and mothering in general, a well-intentioned stranger told me that I should just use formula to make sure that "Dad shares some of the duties." I let it slide, not knowing what to say, but later that night, I couldn't shake the comment. Her comment implied two things: that I had to do it all and that my husband was a lazy participant in our child's life. But those implications were far from true.
During those early weeks of my son's life, I rarely had to change a diaper in the middle of the night. Before a middle-of-the-night feeding, my dutiful husband would wake up and change the diaper. Eventually as we adjusted to this life, the middle of the night diaper changes slowed down, but the point remains. Moms don't have to do it all, and Dads don't have to stick to the sidelines.
Regardless of what parenting style you choose and how you implement those teachings, parenting is no more for the mamas than the daddies. It is a team effort. Sure, there are some things that a dad cannot do (hello, breastfeeding!), but a dad can lovingly feed a bottle (breast milk or formula) to his own baby.
End gender stereotypes
My husband continues to demonstrate his dedication to being an AP (Attachment Parenting) Dad.
Don't let anyone tell you that Attachment Parenting is for the weak or the mamas. It's more than just "parenting tips" - it has transformed our life.
Wife & Mama with a passion for peaceful parenting, natural living, homeschooling... and my daily café au lait.