Tackeling Mommy Guilt

We’ve all had it at one time or another.  It can come in all shapes and sizes.  Maybe it’s something that eats at you every day.  Maybe it’s something that creeps up here and there.  Regardless of how or when you have it, the reality is that you aren’t alone.

When I was in the midst of my post-partum anxiety, I felt it all the time.  It would eat me alive.  I was sure I was doing everything wrong.  I would lose my temper with my oldest.  I would despise getting up in the middle of the night with my youngest.  I couldn’t keep the house spotless.  I wasn’t spending enough time with my first born.

These thoughts ran through my head constantly.  They had me convinced that everything I heard or saw regarding parenting was about me.  I was a bad mom because I didn’t breastfeed, I was a bad mom because I bed shared, I was a bad mom because I had an epidural, etc.

Luckily, I got myself some help, and these ridiculous thoughts stopped.  I realized that I was doing the very best I could, and that it was all okay.  I wasn’t a bad mom.  I’m not a bad mom.  And neither are you.

Last night I had a flash of mommy guilt.  I get them every now and then, as I’m sure you do too.

It has been a long week with my littles.  The youngest is teething, and has a cold.  He has also 100% entered toddler-hood.  He is into everything he shouldn’t be.  He is testing his limits, and testing my patience.  His big sister is on the verge of becoming a threenager.  She is sassy, and strong minded.  The two of them have started fighting like brother’s and sister’s will.  Neither of them have been sleeping well.  I’m sure many of you can relate.  I know I am not the only momma going through this right now, but that doesn’t make it easier to go through it.

It was getting late, both kids were tired, but both kids were refusing bedtime.  I hadn’t been able to exercise earlier in the day, which has become a refuge for me.  My husband took number two upstairs to put him to bed, so I told number one that mommy was going to do her workout, and that she could get cozy in her spot (she has a designated couch spot that she has referred to “her spot” since she could say those words) while I did it, and then we would go to bed.

This did not end well.  It took me forever to get through my half hour work out.  She wanted to build a fort, she wanted to make a tent, she wanted me to read her a book.  I kept saying “hold on, mommy just has to finish this”, and each time mommy guilt would rear it’s ugly head.  I felt guilty that I was saying no to her requests.  I felt guilty that I was taking time to myself and not giving her my 100%.  I considered turning off my DVD and building a fort and a tent and reading a book.  But in the end, I got my work out done.  I took a shower.  We went upstairs and snuggled until she fell asleep.  And she was completely fine.

You see, there are all of these voices telling us and reminding us that our children are only little once.  That a time will come when they will no longer ask us to do things with them.  That their needs should always come first.  That taking time for ourselves will somehow turn them into serial killers.

So here is my question, momma’s, where do we draw the line?  When is it okay for us to say, “You know what? Momma needs some time.”?

I’ll tell you what I am slowly figuring out.  It is okay to take some time for yourself.  In fact, it is completely necessary!

Don’t get me wrong, my children do, and always will come before myself.  However, if I don’t take care of myself, of my needs, I can’t be the kind of mother they deserve.  If 9 times out of 10 I do make the fort, or read the book, but there is one time that I need MY time, that doesn’t make me a bad mom.

If I have the week that I’ve been having with my little’s, and I am excited to be able to run out the door to work at my brother’s store, that doesn’t make me a bad mom.

It doesn’t make you one either.

Next time mommy guilt tries to get the best of you, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can.  Tell yourself that you matter too.  Look in the mirror and remember that you are still a person beyond being a mommy.  Don’t let it get the best of you.  And always remember, you are not alone.

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Monday Motivation – You’ve Got This

To the momma who barely made it through last week.  Your kids were fighting.  Your baby was teething.  You ran on fumes.  Today is a new day, you’ve got this.

To the momma who feels like she can’t keep up.  You’re dishes and laundry are endless.  Your kids are like tiny tornadoes who leave distruction in their path.  Take a deep breath, you’ve got this.

To the momma who is making a change.  You are starting a new job.  You are heading out on a new journey.  You are moving to a new town.  Keep your head up, you’ve got this.

To the momma who is questioning her sanity.  You can’t remember what you were supposed to be doing, but you know it was something.  You called your child by the wrong name, twice.  You left your coffee in the microwave for 24 hours.  Smile, you’ve got this.

Remember, we are all in this together.  You are not alone.

This week I challenge you to reach out to someone.  A new mom.  A friend you haven’t talked to in a while.  Someone you know needs some kind words.  Let them know you are there.  Give them some words of encouragement.  Take them a coffee.  Just be there.

What’s In A Name

Since I’m still extremely new to this blogging thing, I thought I would take a second to talk about where “Momma Seeks Balance” came from.  Sometimes knowing the origin of a name helps to understand where the blogger is coming from.

As I shared here and here, I suffered from post-partum anxiety, OCD, and depression after the birth of my second child.  At the time, I was a new stay-at-home mom.  I had no idea what was going on with my brain.  I had no idea what I was doing with a toddler and a newborn.  I felt lost.  I needed to find a balance.

I didn’t want to lose myself in my children.  I no longer had a job outside of the house.  I no longer had an actual reason to have to get up and take a shower in the morning.  I could stay in my pajamas all day, and nobody would say anything.

I was seeking a balance between still being my own person, and being a mom.  I still am seeking this balance.

I constantly feel like I can do one thing or the other, but never both.  I can make time to exercise, but not clean.  I can make time to play with the kids, but end up not getting a shower until before bed.  I can make time to clean, but don’t get any one-on-one time with the kids.

Slowly, very, very slowly, I am starting to find a balance in some aspects, and as I figure some of it out, I will share it, just in case there are other momma’s out there looking for the same thing.

So there it is, Momma Seeks Balance.  If I ever find it, I’ll let you know 😉

Monday Motivation – You Are Enough

Sometimes in motherhood it is hard to feel like we are enough.  We get spread so thin between trying to be a good mom, good wife, good friend, good employee, good sister, daughter, neice.  It feels impossible to give everyone the attention we feel they deserve.  No matter what you do, there is always something left undone.  It can become overwhelming.  It can cause you to question your sanity.  It can cause you to question your worth.

Well momma’s, you ARE enough.  You’re hard work does not go unnoticed, even if it feels like it does.

I had a moment last week.  I took the little’s to two different playgrounds.  We had a picnic lunch, and went for a long walk.  When we got home I needed a second to sit down, only to be met with “mom I need you!” “mom I need a drink!” “mom!”  I thought to myself, “oh my goodness, nothing I do will ever be enough, these little people are always going to want more.”

Not to sound like a broken record, but it is hard!  It is so hard to be needed so much.  To feel like you just can’t give anymore.

In these moments, just remind yourself that you are enough.  That you are doing the best you possibly can.  That it is okay to take a second and rest.

Today’s challenge:  If you see an overwhelmed momma, lend her a helping hand, or a friendly smile, tell her she is enough. This simple gesture could make a huge difference in her day.  Remember, it takes a village.

Finding a Financial Balance

As I mentioned before, one of the scariest parts of becoming a stay-at-home mom was switching to one income.  It didn’t matter that day care would have taken a majority of my income anyway, it was still a big change.  We were going to have to adjust our budget, and re-evaluate what we really needed as opposed to what we just thought we needed.

We already didn’t have cable or the internet, but there were other things we were going to have to learn to do without.

One major change was eating out and ordering food.  This was a luxury.  One that came in very handy when we were both working, and many times didn’t feel like making dinner when we got home.  This change was not only good for our wallets, but also good for our overall health.

Most of the time when we would order food or go out to eat, it wasn’t exactly something healthy that we would get.  It was usually pizza, wings, subs, french fries.

There are a couple things that have helped with this change:

  • Menu planning.  Every Friday I plan out all of our dinners for the following week, along with breakfast and lunch ideas for the kids and I.  I look to see what items we already have, and then make a list of what I will need to shop for.
  • Meal prep.  After grocery shopping I take time to wash and cut up any produce that needs it.  We’ll make extra chicken or other meat to put on salads later in the week.  I’ll hard boil eggs.  This makes it easier to grab things, and not stray from the plan because I don’t have the energy to prepare something.
  • Leftovers.  Like I said above, we always make extra meat to use on salads later in the week.  We also utilize leftovers on the nights when we don’t feel like cooking.  There is always something in the freezer we just have to warm up, or something in the fridge we can use for something quick.

We now save going out to eat for special occassions such as anniversaries and birthdays.  We order food maybe once per month, give or take, as opposed to the couple times per week that we used to.

Another change I made was being more open to second hand clothes and toys for the kids.  For some reason, when Madeline was born, I wanted nothing to do with second hand anything.  I was a snob about it.  I’m not sure what the issue was exactly, but I wanted new everything for her.  Looking back that was absolutely ridiculous.  We now happily take hand-me-downs, shop consignment and garage sales, and then when my kids grow out of stuff we hand them down to the next person, or take them to consigment shops.

I have also cut back drastically on spending money on clothes for myself as well.  First of all, I no longer need two separate wardrobes – one for work and one for home.  I also started experimenting with capsule closets, which cuts back on unneeded items that never get worn, and helps with thinking I need to buy every maxi dress I come across.

Lastly, we utilize free fun.  Kids are generally happy with the simplest things.  My kids love going to the playground.  They could play for hours in the water table on our front porch.  They like to color and read and take walks.  They like to jump in mud puddles and dig in dirt.  I take full advantage of this.  We save things that cost money for special times, play dates with cousins, or celebrating being good at the doctors.

We are most definitely a work in progress here.  We have credit card debt that we are working on paying off.  We sometimes spend too much money at Target.  There are still things we don’t really need that we think we do, but compared to a year ago?  We have made big steps in the right direction.

Here’s to finding happiness with a simpler, smaller, lifestyle, and a continued journey to financial balance.

Monday Motivation – You Are Beautiful

Hey momma’s!  Guess what?  You are beautiful!

I know you don’t always feel it.  I know sometimes it’s hard to feel it.  But, even in those moments, you are.

I know there are times you look in the mirror and try to remember when you combed your hair last.

I know there are times you have bags under your eyes, and stains on your clothes.

I know there are times you pinch at the extra skin your baby’s left behind, and run your finger’s along another stretch mark.

I know that it is so easy to look in the mirror, or at a picture, and pick yourself apart.

I know that when you are out in public your kids get complimented, and you tend to get overlooked.

Well, I am here to tell you that you are beautiful.

You are beautiful with that messy bun, and your freshly styled hair.

You are beautiful in your yoga pants and old t-shirt, and in your new maxi dress.

Today, I challenge you to look in the mirror, and instead of finding something you want to change, look for something you love.  Tell yourself you are beautiful.  And while you’re at it, tell someone else they are beautiful too 🙂

Monday Motivation – You’re Right.

Hey mommas, have you been feeling defeated?  Have you been feeling like everything is working against you?  Have you been questioning decisions you have made?  Has somebody said or done something to make you feel like you’re doing it all wrong?

I’m going to tell you something – you’re right.  Not about all of your worries.  Not about feeling like you’re doing it all wrong.  But, those decisions you are making for your children, your family, yourself?  You.  Are.  Right.

If you chose to be a working mom because you love your career, or because you need your income, or because you just really need that time to yourself, you’re right.

If you chose to formula feed becaause you knew the stress of breast feeding would send you over the edge, or because you tried your hardest, but breast feeding just didn’t work, or because you just really missed your body belonging to only you, you’re right.

If you chose to homeschool because you didn’t want your children to be subjected to bullies, or peer pressure, or because you wanted to be in charge of the schedule, you’re right.

If you chose to co-sleep because it was easier for middle of the night feedings, or because you didn’t feel comfortable having the baby away from you, or because you live in a one bedroom apartment, you’re right.

I think one thing we, as mom’s, need to have is confidence in our decisions.  I also think that sometimes that can be a very difficult thing to have.

One reason for that is that we are not only making a decision that solely affects us.  Whatever decision we make essentially affects these little people that we are responsible for, for the next 18 years or so.  Every.  Single.  Decision.  we make, in one way or another, affects the way they will grow up.  It will mold them into the adults they become.  Pressure much?

Another reason is that we get told we’re wrong a lot.  People are very good, and very quick to point out things that they believe you are doing all wrong.  Either because you aren’t doing it the way they did, or because they just don’t understand where you are coming from.  But very rarely does someone take the time to tell you that you are doing it all right.

So, here I am.  I am telling you that you are right.  Only you know what will work best for you and your family, and as long as you are happy and healthy, and your family is happy and healthy, you are doing it all right.

Here’s a little challenge for you – go out there and tell someone they are doing a good job, we all need to hear it, and maybe you’ll be responsible for turning their whole day around.

Why We Chose to Co-sleep (and how it turned into bed-sharing)

I am always interested in hearing why people chose to do whatever it was that they chose.  I like hearing other people’s experiences, and their stories.  Sometimes it helps me make a choice.  Sometimes it helps me understand the other side of things. Sometimes it is just interesting.

Because of this, and because I don’t think I’m the only one, I am going to share why we chose to co-sleep, and now bed share.  Before I start I want to point out that this is just what worked best for us.  I am in no way judging any other sleeping arrangments.  You do you momma’s!

I never, ever thought we would be the parents with an almost three year old in our bed every night.  I had zero intention of keeping our first born in our room for more than six months.  There goes that silly pre-parent brain thinking it knows anything about parenting again.

Quite frankly, there were an awful lot of things I didn’t know about being a parent, until I actually became a parent.  And even now, I have no idea what I’m doing, but I just go with my gut, and pray a lot.

What I didn’t know was that I was going to have undiagnosed post partum anxiety, which caused me to have actual panic attacks at the thought of M being in a separate room than us.  How would I know she was still breathing?  What if she cried and I couldn’t hear her? Nope, she was better off right next to the bed, where I could reach in and feel her back, hear every time she moved, stare at her little face until I fell asleep.

She also had acid reflux, which made lying flat out of the question.  She slept best while being held, or in a car seat.  Unfortunately, we weren’t aware that rock and plays existed at this point.  I am convinced it would have been a life changing experience.

Once M reached six months, you know, when I thought she would be going into her crib in her own room, she started sleeping in bed with us.  Yes, I realize bed sharing is frowned upon.  I know it is considered to be a cause of SIDS.  I also know that if done correctly, it can be safe.  I honestly don’t think I was ever fully asleep for the first year of her life.

Now, at almost three years old, she still sleeps in mommy and daddy’s bed.  For a while, right after her brother was born, we were able to move her into her own bed after she fell asleep, and she would stay there all night.

Then post partum anxiety and OCD reared their ugly head again, this time ten fold, and again, I couldn’t have her in a different room than me.  This back peddled us, and now, even if we put her in her bed, she is running back to ours within a couple hours.  I sometimes question if my anxiety caused her to have anxieties of her own.  We’ll save that for another day though.

B, on the other hand, started sleeping in his crib at 6 months.  After I got help for my post partum anxiety, of course.  He has happily slept in his crib, in his room, ever since.  That’s not to say that when he wakes up before the sun we don’t bring him into bed and snuggle up like four peas in a queen size bed.

So, that’s my story.  Not terribly exciting, but it just shows that everyone has their reasons for what they do, and unless you know those reasons, have grace.  Always have grace.

Life Lately

Besides spreading awareness of post partum mental health issues, and encouraging other momma’s, another purpose of starting this blog was to keep track of life.  To share stories, and hardships.  To invite people into our every day lives.  I haven’t quite gotten around to that yet.  One reason for that is, I don’t have the internet at home right now, so at the moment my posts have to be planned ahead of time.  Another is that I’m thinking people don’t really care a whole lot.  But, hey, I’m doing this for me too.

So, here’s to the beginning of the “Life Lately” segment of this blog 🙂

We’ve been pretty busy, as most people are this time of year.  Around here we don’t get much time, and have to squeeze everything imaginable in to four months.

Something that had me going crazy, in the midst of my post partum issues, was that we barely got out of the house this winter.  It was cold.  So, so cold.  And it just felt like it was never ending.  In February I had finally had it, and reached out to good old Facebook to see if there were any groups I could take the kids to around here.  To my surprise, there were.  We started attending MOPS.  It was so refreshing to meet other mom’s who were in the same situations.  My kids are still adjusting to being in a separate room than me, but hopefully they’ll get better with time, because I’m not giving it up.  The most recent meeting was at the Splash Park, which was our first time there.  I still can’t get over how fearless my boy is.  I took his shoes off and before I could do anything else he was off and running through the water.  He couldn’t get enough of it.  My girl, on the other hand, decided she didn’t like water very much, and spent most of her time with me.  She is just like her momma in so many ways.

Through MOPS I discovered another mommy and me playgroup.  Although we’ve only made it to one so far, I am looking forward to attending more.  As I said before, it is just good for my momma soul to be around other’s that are trudging through this wonderful, amazing, hard journey with me.  It is also good for my kids, since although they have play dates with their cousins frequently, they don’t have many little people that they are around often.

We also signed them up for swim lessons this year, which started this week, but so far have been cancelled due to weather.

I had to laugh when I looked at our calendar the other day because, boom, just like that we are the parents with swim lessons and mommy and me and play dates.  I felt like it was a right of passage.  And call me crazy, but I love it.

In other news, my littlest little turned one at the end of June, and all of a sudden I have two toddlers.  His birthday party was wet and cold (which seems to be a theme this summer), but he was surrounded by people that love him, and that’s all that matters.

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We celebrated our five year wedding anniversary.  I can’t get over how quickly five years can go.  Or how much you can accomplish in such a short period of time.  We went from newlyweds, to parents, to homeowners, to parents times two, in five years. Blessed is an understatement.

We spent the 4th of July at Mimi and Pop’s lake house.  The kids absolutely love it there.  We celebrated my mom’s 50th birthday, watched fireworks, had a fire.  Madeline fished.  She is a girl after her father’s heart.  It was a wonderful time, until we had three screaming children at 2:30 in the morning

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We have also been spending a lot of time at “the farm”.  My grandparents house is where me, my brother, and all of our cousins spent a majority of our days growing up, and it fills my heart with joy watching my kids appreciate it in the same way we did.

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Needless to say, we are taking full advantage of summer.  It has been good to us so far, and I am looking forward to more to come.

Finding a Fit Balance, Continued

*I first need to note that I am not selling either of these products.  I am simply sharing what I worked for me in case there is someone reading this feeling completely hopeless that they will ever find anything that can help them get to where they want to be physically*

Since my last post, I have (somewhat) successfully completed two programs.

The first one was the Mutu System.  This was a 12 week program that is designed to correct diastasis recti.  In short, diastasis recti is a condition where your abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy, and cause your core to weaken, among other problems.

After having my second child I had a gap above my belly button three finger widths apart, and a gap at my belly button four finger widths apart.  My core was so weak it was hard to sit up from a lying position.  I had constant back pain.  I had a stomach bulge that would not go away.

I completed 8 weeks of the 12 week system, and still do some of the exercises on a regular basis.  At the end of the 8 weeks my gaps had gone down to 1 finger width apart above my belly button, and 1.5 finger widths apart at my belly button.  This was four weeks ago.  Today, I am half a finger width above my belly button, and 1 finger width at my belly button.

This program made all the difference.  It taught me the proper exercises to restore your core.  It was gentle and relaxing.  If you are suffering from this after having babies, I would highly recommend it.  I found mine on Amazon, but it can also be purchased directly from the website.

The second program I have completed is the 21 Day Fix.  I will fully admit that when hearing about this I thought it was just anoher gimmick.  Another get thin quick thing.  I was wrong.  I absolutely love this program, and have started my second round of it, with no intention of ever stopping.

The workouts are 30 minutes long, and, really, who doesn’t have 30 minutes?  Even if you are a working mom with two kids, there is always an opportunity to squeeze in a 30 minute workout.  There is a different workout for each day, which keeps it interesting, and kept me from getting bored and quitting.

Beyond the workouts though, is the meal plan.  This was, and still is, my biggest struggle.  How do you know what to eat, and how much to eat, and how much of what to eat?  This program breaks it all down for you.  It seriously couldn’t be easier!  When I first got my containers in the mail I thought “Oh my goodness, I am going to starve”.  Wrong.  Most of the time I can’t eat all of the food.  I didn’t follow it to a T, because, life.  In real life there are going to be birthday parties, and cake, and holidays, and picnics.  And to me, that’s okay.  We are all going to indulge here and there.  But what this program taught me is that you don’t need to indulge every day at every meal.

I can honestly say that I have never felt so good.  Yes, I have lost weight, and inches.  And yes, that is definitely a plus.  Beyond that, though, I have gained muscle, and strength.  I have more energy.  Yesterday my (almost) three year old said “We need to exercise to feel good!” and my one year old was trying to do squats with me.  If you haven’t seen a one year old try to do squats, I highly recommend it.  So, I’m doing it.  I am showing my children what it is to live a healthy lifestyle.  I’m making time for me and my health.  And let me tell you, if I can do it, anybody can!