Becoming a stay at home mom didn't fulfill me....and that's ok.

IF MOTHERHOOD DIDN'T FULFILL YOU LIKE YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD, THIS IS FOR YOU. 
I've had probably 10 conversations in the last week with stay at home moms, working moms, moms of multiple backgrounds around this topic of not feeling completely fulfilled when they became mothers. It is only something that I have really been able to verbalize for myself within the last 6-8 months because I felt an enormous amount of guilt and shame for not feeling what I was expecting to feel ALL THE TIME and for the reaction I received from other mothers when I even whispered this was how I felt. If being a stay at home fulfills every part of who you are I say ROCK ON. If it doesn't THAT'S O.K. too.

I'm not trying to convince anyone to believe or live how I choose to. I'm encouraging women and mothers specifically to live what is true for them as mothers, women and people, regardless of what others think, expect or believe you should be doing. 
Regardless of how scary it feels at times to put it out there. 
Regardless of what you've done up to this point.
Expressing this has made me feel like a weight has been lifted that I didn't even realize I was carrying. 
It's possible to be an AMAZING MOTHER AND MAKE YOURSELF A PRIORITY
It's possible to CREATE AND LIVE WHAT'S TRUE FOR YOU AND STILL LOVE YOUR CHILDREN

Check out the video below and share your experience and thoughts about this. Your voice matters! ;) 

Dealing with MOM GUILT

 Today's post is courtesy of Bridgette Petrino,  mama blogger and a member of the I-have-twins-and-I-survived club.  She is sharing her thoughts on one of the most challenging emotions motherhood evokes in us : GUILT.  Whether you are a working  mom, stay at home mom, single mom or any other type of mom, chances are you've experienced guilt at some point. Read on to learn more about how this twin mama handles guilt and why she's not letting it get her down. 

I want to talk to all my mom friends today. I know we’ve all dealt with this – including myself. And, I think it’s one of the biggest struggles that moms in our culture deal with today. There is one thing that we can all stop doing today, right now, to make ourselves better moms. It is to stop feeling guilty. Stop. Just stop. We are human. We make mistakes. We want time to ourselves. We like spending time with our friends. Of course we love our children. We love being a mom and we are so blessed to have a wonderful family. We all know that. It’s OKAY to do things for us. To buy clothes for us. To tell our kids no or wait. We are allowed to send a text while our kids are playing on the playground. We are allowed to put a show on for our kids so we can jump in the shower. Not every single second of the day is going to be us smiling in awe at our children. It’s just not. Get over it.

For a long time I completely neglected myself thinking I was doing the best for our family, but it ended up back-firing. This also led to me being very critical and judgmental, but I’ll save that for another post… By neglecting myself, I lost of piece of myself and in turn our whole family suffered. I actually used to be proudof the fact that my husband and I hadn’t gone on a date in months. WRONG. It’s ok for us to do things that we like. In fact it’s necessary. I’ll never forget that one of the first questions my counselor ever asked me was “what do you do for fun?” And guess what. I had no response. None. Because I stopped doing fun things. I was all business all the time. Being productive. Making sacrifices for my kids. Being a mom. I was a mom. All. The. time.  And I wasn’t being a wife, a friend, a woman. Ever.

Mom guilt is becoming a major problem in our culture.  So, let’s change that. Go do your thing. Own your decisions. Have fun. Step out of your mommy role. There is no question that you love your kids, so don’t second guess yourself. Of course, I am not saying neglect your kids or ignore your kids. Never. As moms we are responsible for providing our children with food, clothing and shelter. I am sure you are doing that, and then some. So, stop feeling guilty for being yourself.

All 3 of my daughters are in school for the next 2.5 hours and I am home alone. And, I can tell you right now… I am not going to be making blueberry scones and I am not going to be scrubbing the bathroom. I am going to enjoy my free time for a little bit. And, I am NOT going to feel guilty about that!

My question for you is, do you feel guilty when you take time for yourself? And,why?

To check out more of Bridgette's post and to join the "Timeout Community" head over to www.bridgettepetrino.com  

NO matter where you are on your journey of motherhood you are not alone, and you are doing a much better job than you give yourself credit for. :)  

 

Drawing a line in the sand

When I was a young woman I wasn't clear with my boundaries because I was shy, and I wanted people to like me. I did things so people would like me instead of liking myself and building from there. Becoming a mother changed all that for me because  I think one of things that comes most naturally is  having clear boundaries on what is ok, and not ok for our children.  We very quickly become tiger mamas if anyone says or does anything that we feel will damage our children in any way mentally or physically. Essentially we are defining their boundaries to keep them safe and healthy. Yet many mothers I know have a difficult time setting boundaries IN THEIR OWN LIVES.  Establishing what is ok for their own health and well being and standing up for it. 

This can show up in the form of : 

Having friends or relatives who take advantage of your kindness and generosity by ( asking you to babysit all the time, borrowing money, living at your house, expecting you to drive them places all the time) without offering to reciprocate

Being harassed or bullied for food or exercise choices by those closest to you, people at work or your friends who just don't get it

When a stranger walks up to you as a pregnant woman and touches you without asking

People who push unsolicited advice on you about parenting issues, ideas and how you're doing it 

People who belittle your goals, dreams or ambitions separate from motherhood ( yes it's ok to want something other than being a mother.) 

Establishing boundaries is a tricky thing because if we are unsure how to do it and haven't done it before, we often become scared of how the people in our lives will react to us deciding to do it. We go through our list of what if's? What if they get mad at us? What if they don't wan't to talk to us anymore? What if they leave? What if they hate us, betray us or hurt us? 

The bottom line is when you don't set boundaries you betray yourself and your true feelings. You cease to be on your own side. You have the right to say what is ok for you and not ok. You have the right to feel safe, happy, healthy and in charge of your life and how you want to live it. You don't need permission from anyone to decide what's ok for YOU. Establishing boundaries creates healthy relationships and reveals the people who are truly a part of your Dream Team. The people who clearly want to be a part of your life, support you and your decisions and are willing to respect you when you verbalize how you want to be treated and why. 

The added benefit of setting boundaries for yourself is that you will be much more capable of teaching your children how to set boundaries with the more challenging things that may arise as they grow older ( drinking, bullying, sex, peer pressure from friends) 

So HOW do you have a conversation about boundaries with someone you feel is crossing one? 

1.  First be clear on the behavior you believe to be unacceptable. 

Say to them " When you _______________( fill in the action that is making you angry, uncomfortable or upset) 

2.  Tell them how their actions make you feel

It makes me feel ___________________ ( communicate how you feel when they do the action above) 

3.  Communicate the action you would like to see instead

Instead I would like you to _________________( tell them what action you would like to see instead, or how you would like them to act differently) 

4.  Be assertive about what will happen if they continue their behavior and actions

If you can't respect me and my choices, I will _________________ ( communicate your consequence if they choose to continue the action) 

 

What you can expect from those you do attempt to set boundaries with can be anger, discomfort, shock, and with a select few receptiveness and understanding. No matter what their response, the very act of voicing this will give you confidence that you were true to yourself and took action on that. Which is something I believe WE ALL want our children to be able to do.  It's one step in becoming more of who we want to teach our children to be. No matter what, believe your voice matters, and trust yourself. 

 

 

 

 

 

FEED ME SEYMOUR!

With my first set of twins in school for half the day I am now in full on meal planning mode. Being in the car more, and having to stick to an actual schedule of places they have to be and things they have to do means in order to avoid going into overwhelm mode, I need to plan what we eat, when we eat it and how and when I prep it. Easy enough right? Yes and no.  There is no one right way of meal planning.  Some people like to plan a week at a time, some people like to plan months at a time. Below are some of the options or ways of meal planning I have tried and experienced and the pros and cons of each. 

WEEKLY PLANNING

PROS:  less meals to come up with which means less recipe hunting, good for beginner or those new to meal planning, energy spent doing this frees up ENERGY during the week for things you actually want to do, putting something like meals on a system makes you less anxious and less likely to make unhealthy choices for yourself and your family, it means you don't have to rely on willpower because you have a strategy and a plan in place already, instead of just preaching healthy habits and good nutrition you are actually TEACHING it by living it and giving them a real life plan of how to make it work in REAL LIFE, your confidence as a mother will skyrocket because you will have more time and mental space to devote to your children and actually be present, patient and kinder because you are less stressed. 

CONS : Sundays are busy prep days instead of relaxing, more frequent grocery shopping, washing, cutting and prepping of fresh veggies which may require multiple trips to the grocery store, 

MONTHLY PLANNING

PROS: less stress because more  meals planned ahead of time, can make double and triple batches of meals and freeze, can be overwhelming for beginners and those who have a hard time finding or coming up with recipes, all the same as above

CONS : freezer meals in my opinion and or crockpot meals use less fresh ingredients and more processed, canned, or creamed ingredients ( I will post any healthy meals for crockpot or freezer in the comments section! I love it when I'm wrong!)  more to write out and shop for at once, harder to store veggies for long periods of time.  

Either way for  my family and myself meal planning is something that equals less stress for this mama.  Some of my favorite and easy plan ahead mini meals and snacks include :

Egg muffins :  which is basically scrambled eggs with your choice of sidekicks ( veggies, meat, cheese)

Meat muffins ( better than a studmuffin and guaranteed to help you get rid of those muffin tops!) Also, truth be told I really don't measure things that much in terms of ingredients.  I experiment a lot until it tastes how I want it to. I encourage you to do the same. 

 1 lb ground chicken, sautteed white or yellow onions ( yellow are sweeter!) chopped fresh spinach ( a handful), 1 egg ( beaten), minced garlic and herbs of your choice. I use italian seasoning, or just salt and pepper. 

Mix everything together and bake in a greased muffin tin at 350 until baked through, usually about 12-15 minutes. 

There are lots of ways to customize these with spices, other veggies and herbs. Get Crazy with your meat muffins! 

Quinoa : prep ahead and then portion into containers for the week with veggies, or meat

Stuffed bell pepper or mushroom mixture : ground turkey, chicken or cooked quinoa, spices of your choice, veggies, small amount of cheese, stuff into bell pepper or mushroom and bake in oven, until warmed through. Yummy! 

 

Got some killer meal planning recipes and ideas? Share them here in the comments, visit our page on Facebook here and most them or join the conversation in our M.O.M. SQUAD facebook group today! 

If you are new to meal planning and are looking for a guide that breaks down exactly what to do and how to do it then check out the Shop section of our website.  Each purchase of the Beginners Guide to Meal Planning comes with a FREE hour of nutrition coaching with ME!  Get the info you need and the support you want.  

Happy Eating! 

Why this is the worst thing you can tell yourself as a mother...

As mothers the most common thing we do is sacrifice. We sacrifice our time, our energy, our bodies, our sanity , and our goals and dreams all in the name of creating the life and love we want our children to have. Does this sound familiar? 

" When the children are older, then I'll have time to focus on me." 

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this from women... unhappy women.  And I think to myself, but why don't you want to be happy and healthy now?  Why don't you want to show your kids that version of you? Why don't you want that for yourself as much as you want it for your children? 

 I can show you how to make yourself a priority and why it's going to not only change how you feel about yourself, and  your life, but have an incredible impact on your children as well. 

Making and taking time in our daily routines for ourselves once children arrive is a challenge.  You will get no argument there. In fact after I had my second set of twins, I believed it was near impossible. Then I had a moment when I realized if I didn't do something, I was doing my children a huge disservice.  They were not getting the best of me, because I wasn't taking care of me. 

 

BECAUSE WE ARE IN CHARGE OF OTHERS, WE NEED TO CARE FOR OURSELVES!

Does this sound like you? Are you someone who takes care of everyone else before you think of your own needs? Does everyone have their food at the table and everything they need before you even sit down? Does everyone have clean clothes and baths before you do, if you even get one? I'm talking about your significant other also. Are everyone's physical, mental and emotional needs met before your's?  If you said yes to any of these, then you are not alone, you are a mom. But my guess is, not the happiest one you could be. 

But I ask you to think about these questions....

If your not healthy, who's going to be around to take care of your kids?

Who will celebrate their successes and beautiful victories in life if you are not physically and mentally able to?

In addition to your physical health, what about your mental health and happiness? Your goals and dreams for yourself separate from that of being a mother? Yes it's ok to have those!!

If you are not happy with who you are and how you feel, how does that impact your relationship with your spouse or your friends? Making the kids your main priority also means we are not making our relationship a priority as frequently either.  What happens when the kids are gone? Will you know each other anymore? 

The good news is, you can take steps to change this today! 

Start by asking yourself :

1. What is one thing I can do today to feel more alive, more vibrant, more energetic? Just one thing.

Then do it. 

2.  Tell a friend, your spouse or someone who truly gets you, that you are wanting to make a change and you would like their support.  Speaking it out loud makes it real! 

3.  Make a list of all the things you would like to do that energize, invigorate, and excite you.  That connect you more to you. Pick just one a week or two a week to do, and enlist the help of that friend, spouse or support person in making you stick to it. 

4.  Make an appointment with yourself and keep it! You are worth it! 

5.  Sign up to receive awesomeness in your inbox and  joining the other mamas on their own missions to live more vibrantly, and energetically for themselves and their children.

Join us today! 

 




The Most Powerful Sentence You Can Say To A Mother

I was fortunate to have a career for 10 years before having my children.  I was both a teacher and an athletic coach, two things that when I started I was horrible at.  I thought in order to be effective I needed to be assertive and unyielding and have horribly strict rules. I didn't understand teenagers and they didn't want to understand me. While my intentions were always true, my delivery was harsh, and my self-esteem was weak so I overcompensated by being too strict, too authoritarian and wasn't productive, inspiring or motivating, all things I desperately wanted to be.  It took me 5 years, some serious introspection, and some well timed questions from older teachers to make me rethink who I was professionally, who I wanted to be and what I needed to do to become that person.  In short, I dug deep within myself, sought out others to help me and I changed. As a result of the changes I made, I developed deep, meaningful and symbiotic relationships with my students that fostered positive growth for both of us.  I am proud to say that I am still in contact with many of the students I taught in those last 5 years and feel fortunate to have been a part of their lives through marriages, children and other life changing events. 

One of my former students sought me out after I had quit teaching high school and started teaching fitness classes at a local gym.  In addition to being a dedicated student, she was genuine, hardworking and caring.  She came to me at a time in her life when she was attending nursing school and had given birth to her first child just 6 months earlier. Our first  conversation was mostly catching up, describing how she was doing, sharing her happiness about being able to come back to working out and what she hoped to accomplish physically by moving again.  She mentioned several times how great her body was in high school and how she now felt she was nowhere close to that.  She emphasized she was willing to do whatever it took to get it back. I asked her if she was breastfeeding ( which she was ) and tried to explain that there was alot going on right now with her body. Trying to re-incorporate vigorous exercise and improved eating habits would be difficult with the already imposed changes from hormones, stress, school and raising a baby.  I encouraged her to be gentle with her expectations of her body. 
Each week I saw and talked with her in between classes in an attempt to reassure her, encourage her healthy habits and and just let her know that she was being supported.  After two months of not seeing her desired results she wanted to try something more drastic and inquired about a more strict eating plan and or/adding in more exercise. She was most specifically unhappy with her belly and it's refusal to go down.  This is a common theme by the way, and a question/complaint I hear a lot from women who've had children. I advised against any drastic changes or cuts because she was breastfeeding and tried to remind her to have patience. Our body doesn't change overnight, it changes over time. 
After 3-4 of these conversations she broke down crying one day and just said she felt so incredibly unattractive because of her stomach.  That she couldn't stop thinking about it and how it was never going to look like it did before. 
My heart broke for her.
Here was this BEAUTIFUL, VIBRANT, INTELLIGENT, CARING AND WONDERFUL MOTHER AND HUMAN BEING,  and all she saw was ugliness in an area of her body that had performed part of it's naturally intended function to assist her in not only growing life, but in safely bringing it into the world. I continued to try to encourage her to look at the progress she had made physically and focus on all the benefits she was experiencing both physically and mentally as a result of her dedication and commitment to working out and moving. It had in addition had a positive effect on her family members and their relationships.  None of this seemed to resonate with her. It wasn't until I asked her one simple question that she got a look in her eyes that told me she finally understood, and they once again filled with tears.  What I said was this, 
 " What would you say if your child came to you and said they viewed their body and themselves the way you have just told me you see yours? " 
She looked at me, with tears in her eyes and said " I would cry and try to make her see how beautiful she is." 
I smiled and said " Exactly. You must believe it yourself and tell yourself the same things, because don't we deserve to have the same amount of compassion for ourselves that we give to others? The reasons we are beautiful are not external.  We don't pick our friends because they have flat tummies, small waists or long hair. We choose the people we spend time with based on their AUTHENTICITY, their LOYALTY, their LOVE, their INTEGRITY, their sense of HUMOR, etc. We choose them becauseTHEY LOVE AND SUPPORT US AND WHO WE ARE. In order for you to teach your child to believe they are beautiful and worthy and amazing, YOU MUST BELIEVE IT and live as if you believe you are as well. In order to foster a sense of compassion in our children, we have to demonstrate to them that we have compassion for ourselves. In order to teach them about self acceptance we must demonstrate first and foremost that we accept who we are. 

I feel as if this is an all too common theme for so many mothers and if you are among the women and mothers who view their body in a negative light because of what it has been through, I encourage you to take steps to improve this.   Not sure how? I filmed a short video on it for you. 

Here it is enjoy! 

 

 

Please leave a comment and or share with another mother who could use support in finding her beauty again. 

 

In the eye of the storm

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Today, in an attempt to beat all the midday shoppers, I packed all 4 kids into our soccer mom van, clean, with hair combed ( no small feat), shoes on, fed and made the 20 minute drive to our nearest Michaels. It generally takes me about 15 minutes ( if I'm on my A game) to get all 4 kids out of their car seats ( yes, we have 4 in car seats) grab my bag, make sure everyone is holding hands and not running into the parking lot, lock the door and then walk at the speed of 2 year olds into the store.We hurry, hurry, hurry, to walk slowly pretty much everywhere. 

 I mentally prepare them for all this by telling them 5 minutes in advance what is going to happen and then playing a game called good guest, bad guest, where they have to tell me how a good guest would behave in the store and how a bad guest would behave in the store. This I've found helps bring to the forefront of their mind the good behavior I expect.  This is in addition to them being completely full of course and snacks stowed away in every orifice I have available. Is it always successful? NO.  Is it successful a lot? Yes. Anyway, back to the store. 

I'm delighted to find the store empty except for a few employees and we quickly start making our way down the narrowest aisles known to man in the smallest shopping cart in existence, which of course also has a huge pole that goes like 10 feet in the air so it cannot be removed from the store. Really Michaels? Like I want to steal the 3 paper clips that would even fit in to your small ass carts. Anyway, I digress. Continuing on. 

  The older set of twins are hanging on the sides or walking sporadically and the younger twins are in the cart....somewhat. I can see the store employees are nervous my son is going to fall since he is of course not sitting down.  I am quickly scanning the aisles for what I need, while also telling him gently to sit down so the older store employee will quit following me around and asking my older twins to stop grabbing all the fake flowers since they seem to think we need every color and style there. 

I find what I want and of course they do not have it in the color I want, so as I'm trying to figure out how to readjust my plan I look over and see my son squatting in the cart looking down at the rapidly forming puddle beneath the cart and all I can do is suck my breath in quickly in shock.We have been potty training and while I debated having them wear a diaper, they had done well in previous outings so I thought, let's give it a shot. He turns and looks at me, and very calmly says Mom..... I peed. All I could say was " I know.... but why? " At this point his twin sister is telling me he peed, one of  my older girls is telling me he peed and the other one is wandering around Michaels.That stalker-ish employee? Yeah, she's gone now. Coincidence? I think not. 

I find the nearest store employee and ask for a towel, then take everyone and everything out of the cart, walk excruciatingly slowly to the car (still at the pace of a 2 year old, but now one walking like he just got done riding a horse because he doesn't like the feel of wet underwear), make everyone put a hand on the car, put a diaper on him and some sparkly jeans that belong to my older twin girls since that's all that I packed and make the trek back to the store for round two. 30 minutes, one dry diaper and a whole lot of fake flowers later we were done.  Since I prefer to knock out as many errands as I can while in town, we then went to Target, where I will spare you the details of what happened in the bathroom, ( your welcome)  and the local grocery store where we were able to avoid any further potty incidents. 

As I relayed this story to my father later on in the day, he just laughed and shook his head and said, "I can't believe you take all of them to all those places." I laughed and said, " where should I leave them?  " How do you stay so calm and not just lose it? " ( for the record this is a question I get a lot.)  "Everything is calm in the eye of the storm dad. "  He just looks at me and laughs again. It's true though. I live in the eye of the toddler storm. I am surrounded all day by little balls of energy bouncing off each other, the environment, and anything else they can touch. The moments of calm and peace are few and far between but I also know it will be over soon, just a like a storm. Every age feels intense for us because we have all of our kids experiencing it at once. One of us has to stay calm to even see it happening. 

I do lose it sometimes.  I mean I'm human.  However I attribute my ability to make calm, concise and most of the time constructive decisions regarding my children to four simple factors. 

1.  I workout 4 out of 7 days a week early in the morning, so both my body and my brain are awake, alert and firing on all cylinders first thing.  I purposely do this because I know it makes me feel awesome. I know for a fact my  self esteem, ability to make decisions and level of confidence are going to be affected in a positive way and who doesn't want to that? I want to start the day in positivity, not panic. 

2.  I eat breakfast within 30-45 minutes of my workout, because a hungry mommy is a scary mommy. As a coach, one of my biggest principles I tried to get my athletes to understand was how important it was to eat and replenish your body's energy after exercise.  Water is not enough. Ideally a mixture of protein and carbs will get the job done and my breakfast of choice is some Fage yogurt, with vanilla, almond butter and a little granola mixed in.  If this is not something  you do regularly I highly recommend you start implementing it and pay attention to the difference in your energy levels as well as your overall mood.  It makes a huge difference. 

3.  I have and actively use my sense of humor.  If you have children and have no sense of humor, I'm not sure how you've survived. Mainly because kids are fun and everything they do can be made into something hilarious but more importantly because laughing can change the state your in, literally. I have had moments like most mothers when you are so angry, tired, irritated or just annoyed that you want to choke someone and the only ones around are your kids. And at those moments I flip a switch, and I laugh.  I laugh because I thought I knew what kind of mother I was going to be before having kids and I was dead wrong. I laugh at what my sisters and I put my mother through and how it's coming full circle. I laugh because I feel I've touched more poop than any other person on this planet and that's completely unrealistic. It feels true though. I laugh because I'm sure there will be days when I miss these being the biggest concerns I have. I  laugh because everyday is a real life comic strip and I couldn't have written a more perfect way to learn about who I am and what this life is all about. 

4.  I live in, cultivate and seek out a community of the most amazing women and mamas. Some I've known forever, and some have just come into my life, but all play an important part in helping me reveal who I am as a mother and supporting me as a woman. They get it and on the days they don't, they fake it and laugh with me.  To all the fabulous mamas out there, keep on keepin on. You truly are doing a really fabulous job. 

 

 

 

 

What needs to be said, but isn't.

I am an enthusiastic, naturally exuberant and optimistic person.I am also a mother…. to two sets of twins… under the age of 6.  I am not ashamed to say there are times when motherhood can feel relentless and confusing. I have experienced this more so since becoming a stay at home mother.  The question I dread most now is “ and what do YOU do? “  We are conditioned and pressured to believe that choosing to sacrifice ourselves to raise our children is the best choice for the child and held in the highest regard.  Yet it’s not.  It is no way a source of money, power, or status in society or even within the family.  So if we as women/individuals choose to return to work after having a baby, we are viewed as unmotherly and proceed under raised eyebrows and judgement.We are encouraged as Shari Thurer said to “ maximize our potential, but are called selfish for doing so. “ If we choose to stay at home, giving up the ability to use our talents and strengths to serve others outside the home, we almost cease to exist to the rest of the world.  That’s the choice I made.  It is only recently that I realized how devalued I felt as a result of that choice. Realizing it felt heavy, uncomfortable and hard to sit in. But I did….  And here is where the light broke through the trees for me. 

IT’S OK. The intensity of the emotion, having the emotion, saying it out loud, thinking it, sitting in it. It’s all ok.  While I desperately want to do the right thing for my child I also want to do the right thing for me as an individual, separate from my children.  To be challenged,  serve the world, provide value and use my unique talents in only a way that I can. As I believe many other mothers do. I don’t believe this conveys a betrayal or a loss of love or appreciation for my children. I believe instead it  highlights the ways in which I believe I can be an even better mother in terms of presence, happiness and joy. In fulfilling myself I am teaching them how to value themselves and who they are. 

  We can be who we choose, feel how we choose and live how we choose. I choose me. I choose motherhood.  I choose to LIVE.  What about you?