Mommy Burnout

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For this post I’ve decided to share with you something that I’ve experienced, and quite honestly, continue to experience. It’s called mommy burnout.

The transition from a full time working mom to a full time stay at home mom was at first an easy one. I was busy with an infant, and loved all the extra time I got to spend with my older children. Housework was done in a timely manner, I got to cook homemade meals, and didn’t have to worry about getting up and running to my office. I’d say the first 12 months were great. I was class mom for two of my girls, on the PTA board, hanging out with friends when our kids were home, and even fit in a series or two on Netflix. Then came last summer. The baby began walking…..well she actually went directly to running…..and baby proofing came along with that. We no longer were content just sitting on a blanket playing with blocks lol. Then came the diagnosis of my middle daughter’s speech delay. She started seeing a speech pathologist twice per week, and each session was a struggle just to get her there and back. Her tantrums didn’t end there- she’d freak out at the slightest little thing if it wasn’t done her way. My eldest daughter has always been a voice of reason- so sweet, calm, collected……andddd then she turned 7. I don’t know what it was, but it’s like the second her birthday came, so did a huge attitude adjustment. She continues to be my bright little sweetheart, but constantly has something to say about everything- especially when it involves her middle sister. In the past 6 months my two eldest transitioned from constantly playing together to constantly fighting. Oh and did I mention that all my kids hate sleeping? I’m serious. The baby (who’s 19 months now) barely naps, my 4 year old hasn’t napped in years, and of course my 7 year old doesn’t. Even at night, despite having everyone ready for bed at 7:30, they usually are up till around 9pm and then wake up at 6:30 the following morning.

I know it sounds a lot like I’m just running off a list of complaints, but I’m simply trying to paint the picture of what it was like. Add in my hubby working 12-14 hour days and mommy eliminating regular time with friends & exercise. When you take all that stuff, multiply it by life’s everyday stressors (ie: money, health issues, family drama) you end up with something called mommy burnout. Or in my case, an extremely bad case of anxiety and panic. I should have seen it coming. I was too calm and collected for too long. Then one day I woke up and just didn’t feel like myself. I felt terrified. Of everything- and nothing all at once. The physical and mental disturbance is unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. All I can say is that I should have taken more time to focus on myself, but I didn’t. I thought I could be super mom, super wife, super friend, super daughter, and super everything to everyone 24 /7. When I fell apart, very few people knew- only my husband and a couple close friends. And when I say “fell apart” I mean I was plagued with constant anxiety, panic attacks, and stomach problems. I wasn’t stuck in a padded room if that’s what you’re thinking, but I can tell you that I all of a sudden was afraid to go to the grocery store or bring my child to the park- for the fear of having a bad episode of anxiety or a panic attack.

Although it was extremely tough for me, I went to see a therapist and psychiatrist. Honestly, it took me 2 months of suffering every day, losing 10 lbs, feeling shitty about myself and my abilities before I bit the bullet and went. I was afraid of what others would think about me, and honestly, what I would think of myself. I didn’t want people to see me as some nut job who can’t function without meds, and I didn’t want to have to explain to a stranger why I all of a sudden was terrified of everything, although in my mind I knew it was irrational.

But, I went. I saw both professionals. I even switched my dr after seeing one guy that I didn’t really like. And you know what they both said: everything I’m experiencing is normal. I mean sure, I clearly have an anxiety disorder, that much is clear, but no I’m not crazy, I’m not a bad mom or wife or friend. They explained to me that I was having a very physical, real reaction to stress. I felt a little better hearing that, but still wasn’t 100% on the “med train”. After seeing both drs, it took me another month before I brought myself to try medication. I also began practicing yoga regularly and trying to get out in nature as much as possible. I won’t lie- the road from there has been rough and rocky- just when I would begin to feel great I would have a stressful event and then take 2 steps back. In fact, I’m there right now. The past month I felt amazing, I was really almost back to myself. Then I woke up last Saturday in panic mode. I’ve been in an anxious state for the past 6 days. Saw my therapist today and she did point out all of the big events and stressors that have evolved over the recent weeks. I also haven’t been to yoga in 2 months or gotten outside due to the blizzards.

All excuses aside, I’ll admit that every day is a struggle. Some are just easier than others. Through the support of my amazing family, friends, drs, and faith- I’m trying my best to bounce back from my mommy burnout. My advice to anyone else who may find themself in this situation, or one similar, is to make yourself a priority. It’s so much easier said than done, trust me, I know. But, when mommy isn’t feeling well, the whole house won’t be either. You, like me, are a strong, beautiful woman with goals, passions, and dreams. You don’t have to lose sight of those dreams just because you became a mom- your plan on reaching them may just have to be rerouted.

I want to end this post by letting anyone out there reading this that if you need someone to listen, I’m always here. Even if we don’t know each other- you don’t have to struggle alone. Stress, Mom Guilt, Lack of sleep, Anxiety, Depression…..they are all unfortunately very prevalent among today’s moms. Burnout isn’t fun and if you feel like you’re on the edge or just need someone to vent to- go ahead and do it. Or take the time to drop the kids off at the babysitter and get your hair done. Go to the spa every once in a while. Or, simply try your best to take 5 minutes to yourself to read a book. Whatever makes your heart sing and your mind clear.

Best Wishes and Happy International Women’s Day

 

xo Robin

 

Snow Day Delights

Ever heard the saying, “winter meals make summer bodies?”. Yeah me too. And it’s stupid lol. Now if it were “spring meals help shape summer bodies”, I’d be a little bit more on board. Spring allows us to get outside, get active again, and (hopefully) eat lighter, healthier meals. Now, it’s supposed to feel spring like here in the Hudson Valley, but instead my three girls and I are hunkered down inside while a howling Nor’easter drops another foot of snow on us.

After playing dolls, arts & crafts, and watching movies, we decided to cook some delicious, and healthy recipes together. Up first, Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies. Note: none of my children are required to have gluten free diets, but I had almond flour left over from a previous recipe and needed to use it up. The results yielded a delicious and more nutritious result than expected.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (I used Newport Sea Salt)
  • 1 whole organic egg
  • 2 organic egg whites
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup organic grade A maple syrup (I used Nature’s Promise)
  • 1 cup organic semisweet dark chocolate chips (I used Nature’s Promise)
  • 1/2 cup organic walnut pieces

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer (or by hand if you’re stronger & steadier than I lol) beat the maple syrup and coconut oil on medium for about 5 minutes. (The mixture will give you creamy light brown result)
  4. Next, add the vanilla extract, followed by the whole egg, and 2 egg whites, mixing slightly to incorporate each egg.

Up next was a more substantial meal- a lemon chicken & orzo casserole. (In case you’re wondering: yes we do dessert first in this house on special days).

As soon as the word casserole is used, my kids tend to run in the other direction. So instead, I told the girls it was a magical pasta and chicken just like the Trolls love to eat. I also had to put on the Trolls movie soundtrack while we prepared it lol. Hey, whatever works, right?

Creamy Lemon Chicken & Orzo Casserole

Ingredients:

  • One 9″ x 13″ baking dish
  • 2 cups orzo (NOT COOKED)
  • 3 cups low sodium organic chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp melted butter (unsalted preferred)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 lemons: 2 of them zested and juiced, 1 lemon just sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 organic, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease your baking dish with non stick cooking spray.
  2. Let’s work on the orzo first. (This will be the base layer of your casserole). Begin by whisking together the chicken stock, melted butter, lemon zest & juice from the 2 lemons, cornstarch, oregano, dill, and 1 tsp of the salt. Once combined, mix in the orzo and fully coat.
  3. Next we will work with the chicken. Rinse and pat dry the 4 chicken breasts. Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and coriander.
  4. Assemble the casserole by placing the orzo mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Then, take the chicken and lay them on top of the mixture, but at an angle so they are “nestled” among the orzo. Top the chicken with the lemon slices
  5. Bake casserole for about 45 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving, then top with parsley. Enjoy!

***Sorry for not posting a picture- my hubby dug right into this dish when he got home from work. It was literally demolished in a matter of minutes once the kids got their hands on it too. My favorite part of this casserole is that the orzo becomes very creamy- almost like a risotto. The chicken was very tender and flavorful as well. Definitely a recipe I’ll make again. ***

I had plans to try out another recipe or two , but once my husband got home, we honestly needed a glass of wine. With full bellies from the casserole, and giddy from enjoying a local dry riesling, we decided to tackle the 14″ of snow that had accumulated outside. The snow is still falling, and you can most likely expect another recipe post tomorrow.

Hope everyone is staying dry, safe, and happy.

xo Robin

 

Is it Really Possible to do a “Digital Detox”?

A “digital detox” is an idea I’ve been reading a lot about lately. And although it sounds good in theory, I’m not 100% sure if I have the willpower to go through with it. Or perhaps I simply am lazy and haven’t tried. Seems to honestly be a little bit of both.

The other day I received an article in my email detailing all the positive ways a digital detox can help you. I agree it should help us socialize better, spend more time “in the moment” with families and friends, and of course it will allow us to gain back all that wasted time scrolling on your phone to do more productive things…..even if “productive” for you means reading a tangible book or simply taking a hot shower.

Personally, I’ve definitely noticed a difference in our culture as we as a society have dove head first into the digital age. I find it mind-boggling how my middle daughter needs to be practically pushed outside to play on a warm sunny day because she’d rather watch YouTube on her tablet. Once I get my children outside, they’ll play for hours, which in my mind is what childhood is all about. As long as they’re in a supervised, safe environment, I let them explore, I let them get dirty, and most of all I let them laugh and be themselves.

More and more I see my children (and my peer’s children) all wanting to spend more time glued to an electronic device rather than playing with each other. To me this isn’t real childhood. It’s a shell of one. Something to pass the time and not gain any true knowledge or sense of perspective in the world. My biggest fear is that one day these kids will wake up and they’ll be 18 years old, and not sure how to act on their first interview. They (hopefully) won’t be able to text their college admissions board or first boss…..and I want them to know how to properly interact. Or what if god forbid our worst fears come true and there’s a zombie apocalypse? (Yeah I watched too much of the Walking Dead lol). I know I wouldn’t last 5 minutes out there …….but I certainly believe our future generation wouldn’t last 30 seconds. Without Amazon to overnight them a taser or someone tweeting on how to build a fire…..they’d never make it.

In real talk though, I’ve gotta admit all the ways in which we are so connected to each other should bring more gratitude and positivity. Instead, I find that it breeds anxiety, jealousy, and unrealistic expectations. I mean how many times have you seen something on Pinterest, whether it be a party decor, recipe, or craft, and tried so hard to recreate it, only to fail miserably? I know I have. Or what about seeing constant stories on Instagram of someone you went to high school with going out to chic expensive restaurants wearing their Louboutins every night, while you’re busting your ass at a 9-5 job just to make ends meet and put food on your kid’s table? This is not what social media does to everyone, but I have seen some of these scenarios first hand. Also, I don’t want you reading this to think I hate technology. {I mean, I write a blog, so clearly I don’t lol}. All I’m getting across is I truly feel that we need to take a step back from the hold all these digital devices have on us.

I miss Sunday afternoon family dinners where people would talk, laugh, and tell stories about things new & old. I miss seeing kids playing outside until dark when they had to be yelled at to come inside. I miss making a tangible card or meal when someone is tired or sick or has a tragedy, rather than taking the easy way out and sending an email or amazon gift card (although that is at times totally appropriate). Overall, I miss the meaningful interactions us as humans used to have with each other.

Everything in moderation is the key.  Technology should be there when we need it to support us. Not to destroy us. Friends, families, co-workers, neighbors, etc…. we all need faith, love, and kindness to survive. Not to mention pressing the “reset” button once in a while. That’s in my mind what a digital detox is really about. Resetting ourselves to be mindful, social beings. Perhaps we can start by reducing our screen time by just a little bit each day.

Baby steps.

Stay tuned to see if I can follow through with my own digital detox

xo Robin

 

Provencal Mustard Braised Chicken “Stew”

It’s been a rough start to March here in the Northeast. Last week we were pounded with snow/freezing rain and another storm is due this Wednesday.

Thus, upon looking out my window yesterday afternoon I could only think of two things: 1. The snow looks pretty but….. 2. I miss warm weather & need some comfort food. So I broke out my trusty dutch oven (see pic below) and decided to make something hearty and filling. But, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: NOT ALL COMFORT FOOD HAS TO BE FATTENING.

GASP!!! Are you wondering if you read that right? Well you did. It’s true. Every once in a while i indulge, but for the most part, I try to “health-ify” all my meals.

This specific dish is something I whipped up with items I had on hand: a yellow onion, a few cloves of garlic, carrots, celery, baby red potatoes, organic boneless skinless chicken breasts, low sodium organic chicken broth, a bunch of spices, and half a bottle of white wine (remnants from the night before…Don’t judge me- it was a looong Saturday lol).

Sounds pretty meager, and I suppose it was at first, but upon adding a tablespoon of flour as a thickening agent to the cooked veggies, followed by a delicious grainy dijon mustard for flavor- yum. Finish it off by pairing with some crusty bread or {to be healthier}  serve over a bed of quinoa.  If this seems like something you’d be interested in making, read the recipe below. Bonus fact: It basically cooks itself. And quick. This meal is GREAT for prepping ahead of time too, since all “stews” taste better the next day.

 

Provencal Mustard Braised Chicken “Stew”

Ingredients:

  • 4 organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts chopped into cubes
  • 3 full sized carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1/2 a small bag of baby red potatoes rinsed and quartered
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons grainy dijon mustard (I prefer Grey Poupon)
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flower
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio, but you can also use Savingon Blanc. Other wines will work too, just be mindful that the sweeter the wine, the sweeter the stew will be)
  • 2 cups reduced sodium organic chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (I was out of it so I used cold pressed organic sunflower oil purchased at a local farmers market)

Directions:

  1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Using a very sharp knife, cube the chicken breasts, then sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the dutch oven over high heat. Once shimmering, place the chicken in, cooking for about 8 minutes, or until no longer pink. (Be sure not to overcook. It’s ok if a few larger pieces don’t look fully cooked, as they will be placed back in the pot later.)
  3. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and place on a plate. In the meantime, add remaining one tablespoon olive oil and heat until warm. Place the diced onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes in the dutch oven. Cook about 6-8 minutes, or until brown and fragrant. Then put in the 2 garlic cloves and cook 1 additional minute.
  4. Next, stir in the tablespoon of all purpose flour. Stirring constantly, cook 1-2 minutes, or until fully incorporated and light brown.  (This will help to thicken your stew.)
  5. Add the 2 cups white wine. Simultaneously, using a wooden spoon, stir the veggies and make sure to get all the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Cook the wine until you can no longer smell the alcohol, and reduced by about half.
  6. Add the 2 cups chicken stock, thyme, and oregano, and cook until the mixture comes to a boil.
  7. Add back in the chicken cubes, along with the 3 tablespoons grainy dijon mustard. Taste and add more salt & pepper if necessary.
  8. Bring the stew to a boil, then simmer on low for 30 minutes. Add fresh parsley before serving.

**Note: If cooking for meal prep, let cool, then refrigerate or freeze. When ready, defrost completely and cook on stove top till warm.**

I couldn’t believe it but even my 7 year old loved this meal. It’s hearty, healthy, and warms the soul on a cold day. Hope you & your family enjoy!

xo Robin

Interior Design

Hi y’all! {I don’t know why I’ve adopted the term “y’all”…..perhaps I’ve been watching too much Fixer Upper.Haha.} Anyway, I’ve been thinking A LOT about interior design lately, as my husband and I are in the middle of purchasing a new home. Our current house was purchased when I began dating my hubby, so it has always been viewed by outsiders as “his house” (although 99% of the stuff in it is mine & the girls’ lol) That’s what truly makes this real estate purchase so exciting: it will be our first property we are buying together. We have been blessed to find a beautiful home that’s close to our existing one (fingers crossed for an easy move), in our current school district (so no major transitions for the girls) and is more than double the square footage of our current home (woohoo storage!). I cannot tell you how excited I am to finally have the room to “stretch our legs” and design the home I have dreamed of.

Although my specific taste has evolved over the years, it has consistently included two major styles: French Country (mainly for the kitchen / dining areas) and Rustic Farmhouse (for the rest of the home). I believe this comes from my mother’s parents- as they loved antiques and their home always had a cozy, farmhouse like atmosphere filled with good food, family, and laughter. Add in the modern invention of Pinterest, popular HGTV shows such as Hometown of Fixer Upper, and I’m a brainstorming machine. I’m proud to say that I’ve kept the crazy dreaming at a minimum, and tried my best to only “pin” ideas that are realistic. For example- I always wanted light-colored granite counters, yet this home has black granite. At first I hated them. Yes- hated. However, after seeing them a few more times in person, they began to grow on me, and I focused more on how much potential the kitchen truly had. My current design ideas include all new appliances, painting the cabinets an off white, or “ecru” color, and adding design aesthetics such as an oven hood & new hardware to create that French Country vibe. This design will extend into the attached formal dining area, where I’m hoping to purchase a large antique hutch at my local Country Living Fair to repurpose (I’ll let you know how it turns out).

One book I recently purchased  is A Touch of Farmhouse Charm by Liz Fourez. (you can find it here on Amazon).  It has a bunch of cool DIY ideas ranging from very simple to pretty difficult. I figured it was a great reality check for some of the design elements I want to incorporate into our new house. If you’re looking for a great starting point, I’d recommend it 🙂

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If you’re a dreamer (and collector of “coffee table books”) like I am, I’d also recommend checking out Country Living Rustic Homes: Barns, Cabins, Cottages, & Farmhouses if you prefer an authentic “rustic” style or  Modern Farmhouse Style: 250+ Ways to Harmonize Rustic Charm with Contemporary Living if you prefer a more updated look.

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If I sat here and went room by room I could write all day about my interior design plans & ideas {and book recommendations}. Instead, I’ll simply say that my major 3 focuses upon moving into the house will be the floors (converting it from carpeting to hard wood) painting (let’s just say my rooms my kids’ will use are currently blue & neon orange) and of course new appliances. I don’t think that’s too much to ask lol.

I’ll finish this post with asking for YOUR favorite design ideas. Do you like modern, clean lines? Quirky? Artsy? Victorian? Colonial? I’d love to hear new ideas and recommendations. Even cooler if you’ve done a new house reno and can share your stories. Because I am sure that once we get going on ours, I’ll be documenting it here in my blog.

Cheers to new beginnings!

xo Robin

 

Sushi & Roses: A Story For My Fellow SAHMs

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These are “French looking Flowers” says my husband. He knows me so well. They are absolutely perfect.

He brought me these and sushi after a long, exhausting day spent with sick babies, endless laundry, attempting to disinfect my house, and playing referee to two constantly arguing 4 and 7 year olds. When he arrived I had on the same pajamas I was wearing when he left 12 hours before. No makeup, no blow dried hair. I quickly glanced in the mirror and barely recognized the woman in front of me with deep circles and tired eyes. I must admit, this was pretty bad- I always at least get dressed and look presentable. But not today. Or the day before that. In fact, the day before I spent 8 hours in our local ER holding a screaming toddler. The day before that I also had shuttled the girls around to speech classes, dance classes, religion, and doctor appointments.

That brings me to my next point. I’ve been seriously lacking on keeping up with this blog lately. I’m truly sorry about that {To my readers and to myself}.  Please understand that all of the above craziness has been my life the past few weeks. Oh, and let’s not forget to add in the process of buying a new home while finding a renter for our existing one. (I’ve had more conversations with my lawyer & mortgage rep than I have with anyone else. I literally know their numbers by heart.)

One day very soon I’ll look back at this stress & craziness and laugh. Maybe. Or I’ll just be happy that I made it through. As I’ve probably mentioned before, being a SAHM (stay at home mom) these past 18 months is the HARDEST job I’ve ever done. So I’d like to tell all my fellow moms out there, BRAVO! You are AMAZING. We are in this together, and on days that you feel you can’t get through one more poop diaper or clean up another thrown juice cup…..remember…..you aren’t doing it alone. We are warriors. We are responsible for shaping the next generation into respectable humans. And we can do this.

{But I’m not gonna lie…..sushi and roses help.}

xo Robin

Happy {Day After} Valentine’s Day

Happy {Day After} Valentine’s Day everyone! I say this because I originally wrote this post last night, but unfortunately had a sick baby on my hands and was unable to get around to posting it. But here goes…..

I don’t know about you, but the ideas surrounding this holiday have evolved quite a bit for me over the years. I remember as a teenager being so excited to receive gifts and flowers, and get all dressed up for a fancy date with my significant other. The same rang true when I began dating my husband. We would always look forward to a special date night where we would exchange gifts and be romantic. After we had our first daughter, nothing much changed. I was also 23 years old, fairly young, and more concerned with what color lingerie to wear than with the upcoming bills. Then came our second daughter. We slowed down a little, still doing chocolate, flowers, and cards, but typically not going out on actual Valentine’s Day, as my hubby tends to work late and we wanted to save money (not to mention avoid the crowds). Fast forward another three years to my third child being born. I now spend more time and effort picking out the right type of cards, chocolate, and class valentine’s than anything else. Today is no longer about me, but about seeing the happiness as my children come downstairs and read the heartfelt cards with x’s and o’s from mommy and daddy. It’s about watching them skip off the bus to show me all the valentine goodies they received from their friends and classmates. Please don’t think I’m complaining, because I’m not. I still make my husband get me a card, and I always buy him one along with chocolates. This year we will hopefully get a chance to have a breakfast date next week rather than spend the couple hundred dollars for a babysitter and fancy dinner, but it’s ok by me.

Despite this total 360, I have to say that I’m not sad. In fact, I feel renewed. Sure I still love getting all decked out for an expensive dinner and doing something fun like a theater day or a romantic hike & picnic. But honestly, it’s not about the material “stuff” anymore. I no longer anticipate Valentine’s Day like a kid on Christmas morning, thinking “what did he buy me?!!”. Instead, it’s about TIME. Time spent with my kids. Time spent with my husband. Time spent with my extended family & friends. I cherish those special moments most of all.

So…….whether you’re having a glass of champagne tonight with your girlfriends, or a romantic date with your spouse, or even spending it on your couch with a pint of Ben n Jerry’s- I’m wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day. Please remember to cherish those around us not only today, but every day.

xo Robin