Mommies are Humans Too

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“Mom I need you”

“Mommy I’m hungry”

“Mom can you help me with my shoes?”

Mommy, MOMMY, MOMMMMMYYYYYY

I hear that about 30 trillion times a day. If you’re a fellow mom, I bet you do too.

Now let’s switch gears. When talking to others, instead of introducing myself as “Robin”, I tend to say, “Hi, I’m _______’s mom”.

AND 9 times out of 10, whether I’m with my children or not, they become the sole focus of my conversation.

With that said, I believe it’s safe to assume that my children take up 99.9999% of my time both physically and mentally. But, is .000009% enough energy to allocate to myself? Probably not.

Make that Definitely not.

And…..that’s where we as moms need to make a change. No, we shouldn’t slack off as parents, or spend less time or energy on our children. We love them more than anything and want to make these years memorable. But in all honesty, we can’t forget who we are as people. Our roles are not singular.

This brings me to the main point of my post. When do we as moms (or dads!!!) stop remembering who we are, what we enjoy, what our hopes and dreams are……and put all of that aside to be known only as “so and so’s mom/dad”?

This topic is a difficult one and a sensitive one, but nonetheless, important. It’s something I have been truly struggling with over the last year.

HOWEVER, you and I alike, do not need to wallow or give in and think, “well, being a mom is the only important job in my life”, because IT’S NOT. So, I challenge you (as I challenge myself) to start by making a list of all your hopes and dreams. Sounds corny, I know. But it really isn’t. These dreams, or goals, could be as small as making time to eat breakfast in the morning or as large as a big career change. Then, after making this list, get together with a friend, family member, colleague, professional, or anyone else you feel comfortable with, and map out how you can get started working towards these goals. It doesn’t matter if you only make one ounce of progress, as long as it’s forward progression, it will help you. Good luck friend, I know we can do it!

xo Robin

PS- I’d love to hear from some of you as to what your ideas

and dreams are & what your plans look like. I’ll be sure to post mine too!

 

The Road Back To You

Doesn’t the title of this post sound like a U2 song? As an avid fan, I think it does {lol}.

However, the true nature of this post is to follow-up on my last one entitled “Mommy Burnout”. What I’d like to talk about now is how do you get back to “yourself” when you don’t even know how you got off track?

I like to think of it as when you’re exploring in the woods. Especially as a kid, I would always follow a trail, then something would catch my eye- usually something beautiful or exotic. Before I knew it, here I was surrounded by a gorgeous forest, yet scared because I was lost. In those minutes it took me to get back to the trail, I was terrified, unsure, and quite frankly in tunnel vision. But once I found a glimpse of the path, I again was at ease.

Truly, this is the journey ahead. That time between hitting your rock bottom and getting back on track to live your fullest life is the hardest. Trust me, I know. Whether it be with substance abuse, physical ailments, mental ailments…..they all affect us the same…..as we are looking, or for some, discovering for the first time, what our path is.

One way I have discovered honesty and calm is through art. No, I have no talent in this subject whatsoever. I even go to those sip & paint events, which are guided classes, and it still looks like a 3-year-old did my painting. But, there’s something about mixing the colors and the brush strokes on canvas which help to harness positive energy. Or at least for me. Regardless of the end result, the painting itself creates a good environment, allowing me to think clearly.

Music is another one of the ways to touch the soul. As a mom, usually the only music I get to hear is whatever is playing on the Disney Channel. But, what I found works for me is to play my Pandora on my phone while taking a shower. It helps to block out the noise from the kids, and its private time where I can take a deep breath and feel the music. Lately I’ve been on an Amy Winehouse kick, but I also listen to everything from Blink 182 to Frank Sinatra to 80’s Pop. Taking a moment to listen to the words of the song, or even just the beat truly helps me when I’m in a funk.

Physical Activity should honestly be at the top of this “list” of ways to get back to yourself. This is an area I’ve been seriously lacking on lately. I can sit here and blame the winter, blame my IBS issues, blame my kids….but they’re simply excuses. I haven’t made my physical well-being a priority in the last 3 months. But that’s the beauty about exercise- there’s never a bad day to start. So today, I’ve sent my younger two to daycare for a couple of hours and carved out time to do some yoga & meditation. Now, some of you may be thinking that yoga isn’t a workout. Trust me it can be. For me, I’m starting with yoga because I want to stretch, do sit ups, push ups, and asanas before attempting to meditate. I also don’t feel ready to go brave the cold today and do a full on hike by myself in the snow-covered trails. That I’ll leave for another day- hopefully Sunday or Monday when my husband can join me. Being out in nature together is one of our favorite things, and I think it will allow us some much-needed bonding time. Anyway, as I was saying, just moving your body will help you mentally and physically. This I can attest to. You can take baby steps, or a huge leap, if you like. Please just make it for you.

Writing and Journaling is another big one for me. This blog in itself has been a saving grace. There are many times I begin to write a post, only to alter it or delete it completely because it may not be “share worthy”. Those thoughts and ideas reside mainly in my personal journal, but nevertheless, help get out the things that are on my mind.

Whatever creative or physical outlet is feels right to you is where you should go if you’re like me….trying to climb back up to where you feel you should be in life. Another quite interesting way to think of it is that this low or difficult point may just be part of your journey. There’s no “normal” in this world. Who’s to say that what you’re feeling or experiencing isn’t ok? Only you can be the judge of that.

Well, it appears that I’ve gone off on a philosophical tangent. Sorry about that. I hope that no matter what you’re dealing with, you find peace and serenity. Remember that after the storm comes a rainbow. Corny: yes. But I sure can’t wait to see my rainbow.

 

xo Robin

 

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

 

Challenge Day 9!

Yesterday was day 9 of my ten-day Positivity and Productivity Challenge. The task at hand was to plan meals for the next week. As a mom, foodie, and list lover, this was a fun one for me. I always try to mix it up when planning family dinners, hoping that at least one of my children will be willing to veer away from the chicken nuggets & mac n cheese train to try some “real” meals. With that in mind, here’s what I chose:

Sunday: Superbowl!!! No dinner needed- just appetizers, as we are going to a party.

Monday: Trying this whole “meatless Monday” thing by making lasagna, garlic bread, & a caesar salad. I’ll do the prep on Sunday afternoon so all I have to do Monday evening  is pop the lasagna into the oven.

Tuesday: Leftovers. Because who’s really going to eat a whole 8″x13″ pan of lasagna in one sitting?

Wednesday: Beef stir fry with Asian vegetables and brown rice. This is another easy peasy meal, as I buy the veggies already frozen. I do slice up the steak and sear it prior to combining with the vegetables and condiments, but still a pretty simple one. Here’s a recipe if you’re looking for one: https://www.dinneratthezoo.com/teriyaki-beef-stir-fry/

Thursday: Cedar plank grilled salmon with sun-dried tomato and fresh parsley chutney. Served with quinoa and steamed asparagus. Needless to say this is an adult meal lol. But salmon is my fav. Especially when grilled on a cedar plank. If you haven’t made this yet….try it. I promise to post all these recipes shortly.

Friday: As a treat for the kids I’m going to buy a pre-made gluten-free pizza dough at the grocery store along with all the fixings (sauce {obviously}, three cheese Italian blend, shredded, pepperoni, and mini meatballs.) Then, in the evening we’ll make pizza from “almost” scratch together. We used to do this a lot in the summer and the girls loved it. I let them eat it in the family room while watching a movie too. (I have a feeling the requested movie will be Descendants, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for an alternative lol)  *Note: None of us require a gluten-free diet, but we prefer the taste and elasticity of that pizza crust as opposed to a regular one.*

Saturday: Snow is in the forecast for next weekend, and we have most of the afternoon free while my hubby is at work. That means arts & crafts for the girls while mama makes some comfort food. I’m thinking lemon chicken orzo soup, which is healthy with a nice addition of fresh spinach. The recipe I use is from New England Soup Factory’s cookbook. Check out their website, or better yet, look them up next time you’re in Boston.

Well, that’s it for today. I’ll admit that after planning dinners for the next 6 days, I made a shopping list with all the ingredients not stocked in my pantry. I then added all our other weekly necessities. Overall, a very successful and productive use of my time. I did this task while my youngest was sleeping, and still had plenty of time to spare.

Sunday Success!

xo Robin

 

Challenge Day 8

Today’s original challenge said to make a meal plan for the week. Since I prefer to do any weekly  planning on Saturdays, I decided to skip this day and go right to Day 9. I mean it’s my challenge, so why not customize it?

Ok, so challenge day 9’s task was to think of a good memory and share it with family and friends. This is something I like to try to do often, especially with my kids. Today I had some extra down time with all three girls, (due to a 2 hr delay) so I decided to talk to them about my grandparents. My dad’s parents were very special people, who took care of me practically every day while growing up. They taught me how to play the keyboard, take care of a garden, play card games, listen to classic music, read literature…. You name it, we did it. There wasn’t one important event in my life that my grandparent’s missed, no matter how trivial it may have seemed. February is also a very special month because both of my grandparents’ birthdays were in the first week. Therefore, my daughters and I began with me asking if they knew whose birthdays are coming up. Of course they replied with “groundhog day” and “mine” and again with “mine” lol. I replied that although all of them were correct to a degree, it would have been both my grandparents’ birthdays very soon. Unfortunately they recently passed away and we can’t share it together, yet, I thought it would be nice to honor them with some music, food, and card games. The girls and I were limited on time, but listened to a few Beatles songs, as my grandmother loved them. Her favorites were “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Let it Be”.  Dancing was of course part of this morning celebration. and serendipitously, my eldest told me that “Let it Be” is the song for her dance recital. Words can’t describe the smile that broke out across my face.

Next, was breakfast. I explained that my grandfather was English and loved a traditional breakfast. In fact, he usually ate two or three. One at 5am, another around 7am, and a light breakfast snack around 9am. Since I have picky children, we couldn’t have eggs, sausage, oatmeal, or scones with tea, and instead settled on toast with jelly.

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Finally, I didn’t have enough time to teach my eldest how to play the infamous cribbage- a card game my grandfather and I played daily. (I honestly don’t even know it she would understand if we DID have the time lol) Nevertheless, we had about 25 minutes left before the bus came, so the four of us played “go fish” (I played for my one year old, who kept trying to throw the cards underneath the coffee table). During the game I told the girls how my brother used to play this game all the time with my grandparents, and how he used to have a meltdown if he wouldn’t win. Not surprisingly, my 4-year-old did the same thing shortly after….

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Overall, today was a great time. I consider myself an old soul. And I absolutely loved today’s challenge. It reminded us to slow down and take time out of our crazy lives to think about our memories. We laughed, we cried, it’s bittersweet, but in the end…..it’s all good. Because each one of these little moments is what makes life so amazing.

xo Robin

Challenge Day 5: Decluttering

Sorry I’m so late with this post. I wrote about 80% of it on Saturday, then, as you’ll see below, I got sidetracked. Thanks for your patience. I’ll resume with Challenge Day 6 Tomorrow.

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I believe in Serendipity. Do you? That word alone sounds awesome. But to be real with you, I find it very serendipitous how today’s challenge was to declutter and organize things {both literally and figuratively}. Being a Saturday, my husband is at work for 12 hours and it’s usually spent with the kids and I running to various sports practices or parties or play dates. Today, was a different kind of day though- we finally had a day to just chill. AND, the bunk bed mattresses I ordered TWO MONTHS AGO were finally being delivered. I took this as a sign to reorganize and declutter the girls’ rooms. Serendipitous? Maybe.

Now check this out. A few weeks ago while house hunting, my hubby and I decided to put in a back up offer on a home that was in our neighborhood, though it was pending sale. Today I received a call from the realtor saying that the pending sale fell through and the seller was accepting our offer instead. SCORE!!! Also, I immediately thought: TIME TO THROW STUFF OUT!

Fast forward two days…………..

I continued my day 5 challenge task throughout all of Sunday into Monday, as I have to get my current house ready to sell. It felt great (although I must admit a bit overwhelming) to start going through our many belongings and throw out unused or unwanted things. I imagine I will be organizing, packing, decluttering, then re-cluttering (don’t think that’s a word but I’m using it anyway lol) for the next few months. However, if you too are looking to unload some negativity, organize that closet or pantry, throw out those old clothes you haven’t worn in 5 years. Trust me, it will definitely help you be more productive and positive 🙂

xo Robin

Challenge Day 4

Yesterday was day 4 of my Positivity & Productivity challenge. The task given was to try and focus on the good in everyone, and to provide a genuine compliment to someone I know. My first instinct upon waking was to provide my spouse with some kind words. I’m very blessed to have married a man who’s such a wonderful father. Most morning he helps get the kids ready for school, even doing the girls’ hair, and making lunches. So yesterday morning, I let him sleep in, brought him coffee, got myself and three girls ready, then told my hubby how lucky I felt to have him in my life. Not sure if this technically counts as a “compliment”, but it sure felt like one to me.

Later, while picking up my daughter from school, I spoke to her teacher for a few moments and made sure to tell her how much I appreciate all she does for my child. It’s true, my older two have exceptional teachers.

As I went throughout my day, I have to admit that there were times I didn’t think positively, such as when a guy cut me off and proceeded to drive 20 mph in a 45. I had a few choice words for that fellow. Or when I signed onto social media and saw so many people complaining about everything imaginable. This makes me think a social media detox may be my next “challenge”.

However, I did have a meaningful moment during this day while at the coffee shop. In our small town there’s one particular hip place I love to stop by, daily if possible. Yesterday I had an extra 20 minutes of mommy time, so I took that to sit and enjoy a cappuccino (in a to-go cup of course). While sitting there, I chatted with the barista and made sure to tell her that she had great style & always looks so put together. It’s true, every time I walk in this girl has a funky piece of jewelry, or a cool looking crop top with a perfect messy bun or nails to match. She may have thought I was a weirdo, but I was giving what I considered a nice compliment. (The truth of the matter is, some days I’d compliment a hobo just to have some human interaction with someone over the age of 7.)  She took it with a smile though and thanked me graciously.

At the end of day 4, I have to say that I’ve definitely been experiencing a more positive outlook. Observing others {and myself} in a more kind, meaningful way seems to be starting to pay off. Plus, no matter how modest you are, I think everyone likes to be complimented once in a while.

xo Robin