When Blessings Feel Like Burdens

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12322583_10103391980116680_2891993775767244846_oNoel Perez-White is an a English High school teacher who recently became a mama. She loves to write about her experiences in the classroom, at home, and her daily life. She’s got some pretty rad Haikus about motherhood going on in her own little corner of the cyberworld at www.reflectionsofamillennialmama.com. She is always looking to encourage other mamas! Feel free to stop by her site and say hello!

 

 

 

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It’s 5:45 P.M. on a Friday night and I’m driving home after an excruciatingly long day. Stress from the week has finally reached a boiling point and hot tears start falling down my face. It’s just been one of those weeks, and I’m on the ledge in danger of falling into a deep pit of self pity.

I start thinking about the fact that I stayed at school for an hour after the last bell to grade student work and I still had a pile waiting for me when I returned. I reflected on the school week. A week I wanted to forget. I broke up two fights, my eighth period’s misogynistic comments forced me to tears (in the privacy of the bathroom), my computer broke, and I couldn’t shake the feeling of being overworked and under­-appreciated. I planned out the following week in my mind, which included several meetings after school. I thought about how my meetings earlier in the week lasted so long that by the time I got home, my daughter was tucked in her bed, sound asleep. Another missed opportunity to spend time with her. My chest ached because I was pulled into a quick meeting at school and I missed a pumping session. The lasting effects were starting to hit me, as sharp pains shot through my chest.

The to­-do list for the weekend started scrolling through my mind. The ACT class I had to teach Saturday morning was not yet planned for, the shopping list I had for my daughter’s upcoming baptism reception kept growing, yet the RSVP’s were rolling in slowly and I knew I would have to start tracking down the invitees to get a final count.

I couldn’t remember the last time I had alone time with my husband, and even though he slept next to me every night, he felt a million miles away. The idea of planning a date night seemed ridiculous in light of everything we had going on.

…as I climbed the steps to my house I was ready to throw in the towel. I was ready to declare to my husband that I QUIT! Adulting was not for me, and I was over all of it.

In the short ride between school and home I had worked myself into a full on anxiety meltdown. I kept telling myself that it was impossible to do it all: mother, teacher (both during the week and on the weekend), wife, club moderator, union member (who is in the middle of contract negotiations), caretaker, party planner…and as I climbed the steps to my house I was ready to throw in the towel. I was ready to declare to my husband that I QUIT! Adulting was not for me, and I was over all of it.

My husband knew I was having an off week, as I had complained about it over the last few days, so he didn’t question my sullen silence as I came into the house and prepared to nurse my daughter. She was hungry and a bit fussy. As he handed her to me, she smiled as she knew what was happening. Dinner! I felt a surge of relief as the engorgement that was ailing me before began to subside, as did my anxiety.

Over the course of the weekend I began to realize I had it all wrong. I was looking at my life ­­ and the things that were making me upset ­­ as a problem. In reality, all of those “problems” were things I had prayed for, wished for, and worked for. It was at that point that I saw that I am not in fact burdened, but I am blessed. I had so much to be grateful for!

I began to see that I was allowing the challenges I was facing overshadow the fact that I have so many things going right in my life. I have a job that, although is a major stressor at times, is meaningful and gives me a purpose every day. I have the privilege of being on the team that is building a fair and comprehensive union contract that will benefit many students and teachers who enter the school doors even once I am no longer there.

I have a huge family! And yes, that can mean that parties and gatherings can get pretty expensive and are hectic to plan, but it’s only because everyone wants to be a part of the celebration. How can I be upset with that? There will always be opportunities to make more money, but making memories is more important.

There will always be opportunities to make more money, but making memories is more important

When I think about what I am grateful for, I start to feel lighter. There is still so much in my life that can cause me stress, but I have come to see that it is only because I care so much about it all. As my identity expands to include more and more roles, I’m learning there may be some growing pains associated with each. I have to trust that the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to be successful will also shift, grow, and change. To not have change is to be stagnant, and that is definitely something I don’t want.

By the end of the weekend, I was determined to make a shift in my thinking. I spoke to my husband about what I had been thinking and I shared my frustrations and guilt. To top it off, in all of this, never did I even ask him how he was doing. Why did I think I was the only one struggling? My guilt became heavier.

To not have change is to be stagnant, and that is definitely something I don’t want.

I decided we needed to make a point everyday to be positive and grateful.  We agreed to do one little thing everyday that would not only give us time to connect, but also help us to see the blessings in our lives. We set a timer on our phones, to everyday, before bed, share with each other something we are grateful for. Something specific to the events of that day. It can be something the other person did, or something related to work or family or ­anything really. To hold ourselves accountable we made three rules:

  1. We BOTH have to do it, even on the bad days. If there is ever a time when we are not together at the end of the day, we must share our gratitudes in a phone call or text message.
  2. It must be specific­ not a vague cop­out statement like, “I’m grateful for my husband.”
  3. It must be genuine gratitude ( this one was mostly for me since I can get pretty sarcastic when I’m in a bad mood)

I know it may seem like a silly thing, but so far it has made such an improvement in my life and in my marriage. It forces me to stop and think about all the good moments I had throughout the day that can easily be overlooked, and it’s an opportunity to spend a genuine and intimate moment with my husband. It can be said over dinner, or during my daughter’s bath time. It can be just a statement or it can open the conversation to a story from the day I want to share. Eventually, this will be a tradition we will extend to our daughter and future children. We’ve only been doing it for a short time, but I believe it’s something that will last because it makes us feel good and it’s not hard to keep up.

I have to admit, I am a little embarrassed. I let myself go on and on thinking I had it so rough, when it’s the opposite. I am grateful to my readers, for allowing me to be self­-centered. We all need to sulk sometimes, but it’s also important to pull ourselves out those dark moments too.

How have you been feeling lately? Have you been looking at your blessings as burdens like I was? It’s never too late to open your eyes and heart, and make a small change that can improve your outlook on life.

Do you have a story to share? Want to encourage other moms? Click here for more information about Writing With Us!

Momming

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The following post was written for our mom-to-mom column “It Takes a Village.” If you are interested in sharing one of your stories from motherhood, check out It Takes a Village.

So much went through my head when I found out I was going to be a mom for the first time. I’d put money on the idea that most young mothers – not married, not financially secure, not planning on having a baby – feel somewhat the same. Mostly because of those things. The “nots”. The nots can ruin a perfectly laid plan. They can change the future. The nots are the reasons that sleep is elusive and hearts thump wildly and answers about the future are evasive.

But what happens when that pregnancy moves forward and that just turning 19 year old girl looks at herself sideways in a mirror and sees a change is that the nots slip away. 847 different things can happen. Paralyzing fear and amazement are two of them. Sadness for the what-ifs is another. Considerable anxiety about being responsible for someone else takes up about 823 of those things under different labels.

Then that baby is here. And nursing is like, whoa. Why won’t my milk come in. I read all those books. And then…Holy batman I can feed a starving third world country and how do I turn it off. Diapers. Trying cloth and realizing that can’t be right. Not sleeping. Playing when reading sounds better. Strollers and collapsing them and why did I tear my pants trying to get that thing in the trunk.

Time becomes a not. I did not prepare well for this walking baby thing. Or talking. I did not know that the end of a day can bring instant regret for harsh words and missed opportunities to hold that baby tighter for longer. Suddenly waking in the middle of the night is about less fear of the unknown and more about not losing time. Not skipping days and weeks that fly by while that baby boy becomes a big boy.

And praying. Pleading. Sneaking in there at night when the fever is raging and making sure he’s safe. Breathing. Sleeping. Praying and pleading for safety and making deals with that higher power and saying that anything can happen to me if you do not let anything happen to my sweet boy. Because these are nots I can live with. Not hurt. Not scared. Not lonely. Not teased. Not bullied. Not unhappy. Not.

What I was unaware of was that this wasn’t because I was 19 and shocked and not ready. It wasn’t because I had to throw that kid on my hip and pray for a parking spot on campus and dash to class and apologize 176 times to the hungover 20 year olds who were all scared of the chicken pox (it had totally scabbed over). It wasn’t because I counted dollars to pay rent when we needed milk, too, or I needed a supplementary text for psychology and how does that pay the electric bill and I’m still trying to mom over here.  It was all just part of being a mom.

It was the same when I was 29 and married and I was driving to the hospital and making deals that I would be better and do better in the world if this new baby could be okay. During that c section when that baby was yanked out and my eyes were wet with crazy happiness and crazy fear and crazy love, all I wanted was this one to be alive and healthy and have a good life, too. Then the nursing and the stupid stroller and the pleading that all would be well. And the sneaking in at night and when the ear infections set in and putting a hand ever so gently on that baby’s chest. Just a graze of the fingertips to ensure that all was well.

And it was not always well. There were not any guarantees. The deals were not real. But I woke up at night then and I wake up at night now and worry and hope and plead and pray, and I know that I could not have any of it any other way. I am me because of these babies. Life is not a series of planned events. It is not boring and steady. Instead it is filled with grass stains and love and bad jokes and giggles and worry. It is this. It is momming because not momming was never really an option.

This story is shared by Sarah Stalker. She is the mother of four kids with an irreverent take on parenting. She makes jewelry (Foxy Hardware) and does social media work here and there while spending as much time as possible with family and friends. Laughing is her favorite.

WANT TO SHARE YOUR STORY? CHECK OUT “It Takes a Village.” CLICK HERE.

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Get Your Body Back after Baby

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I met Erin in a mom’s group on Facebook. I asked the group a question about Asher and she responded with some kind advice. Once someone comments on your question, you start to notice them more as they comment on other posts. I paid attention to Erin and her “social media etiquette” and found her to be a lovely person. Not long after my question, Erin reached out to me via a private message and we found we were both teachers! We became friends on Facebook and I soon learned that she is a fitness lay-day! She works hard and is AWESOME at encouraging others–a dominate trait I see in Erin. She is such an encourager and positive person.  I knew I wanted to have her on the blog to encourage other moms to improve their health. Enough rambling from me! I’ll let Erin take the stage!

Erin

 

I’m nervous what’s going to happen to my body after having this baby. Will I ever get my body back? Will I be able to wear my pre-pregnancy jeans? Will I turn into a “frumpy” mom? Will I have “mom” gut forever? Will I feel sexy again? Will I still feel comfortable in a bikini?
Ever have these thoughts? I did. As a first time mom, there are so many new things dealing with the baby that I think we struggle with these inner thoughts, but then as soon as we start to try to figure it out, the baby wakes up, needs to eat, needs a diaper change, etc. And the cycle continues.
However I’m here to HIGHLY encourage you not to wait to long. There will ALWAYS be something to do. Whether with the baby, the house, your job, your husband, etc. But MAKING time to take care of you WILL make you a better wife, mom, more patient, you’ll have more energy, you’ll feel more confident about yourself, plus you’ll be teaching your kids BY EXAMPLE how to take care of themselves!
Not only that, I’m here to tell you that you CAN DO IT! You can get your body back, or better! You can wear your pre-pregnancy jeans, you don’t have to be a ‘frumpy’ mom, you can get rid of your mom gut, feel sexy again and wear a bikini proudly!
Think I’m crazy? Well it happened to me! And if I can do it, so can you! After having 3 kids, I’m actually in the BEST SHAPE of my life! I have toned arms and legs, no ‘frumpy’ flat mom butt, I’m wearing clothes 3 sizes SMALLER than I ever did before I was pregnant, I have a flat stomach (though get me in a plank and I still have some saggy skin), I feel confident in my clothes, feel good about myself and I learned how to take care of myself physically and how to eat properly.
Here’s my transformation video http://youtu.be/4fyiseQrMjs (This one I did after baby #2, but I did the same process and got the same results after baby #3).
So how do you do this too?
1. Your baby is not an excuse, your baby is your REASON for taking care of yourself. Stop the excuse that you don’t have time. You have the same 24 hours that other moms have that are in your similar shoes and they make time to workout. I’m not saying it’s going to be convenient, but you do have time.
Most practical (notice I didn’t say convenient times to workout): In the morning before your kids wake up During nap time Doing it WITH them! Doing 30 min of exercise and have them play in the room. After your kids go to bed (I know you’re tired. Do it anyway.)
2. You HAVE to have a plan! I was actually a fitness instructor and a personal trainer before having kids. And I NEVER got the results I was after UNTIL I followed a workout program and a nutrition plan! That’s because they’re smarter than I am and put together a fool proof plan to get you LASTING results! If you follow the workout calendar, IT WILL WORK. If you replace one meal a day with Shakeology, IT WILL WORK. If you commit to sticking to the meal plan, IT WILL WORK. If you check in with our accountability group every single day, learning and growing together, IT WILL WORK.
3. That leads me into the last thing you’ll need. ACCOUNTABILITY. You can do it on your own, but you’re MORE LIKELY to succeed if you have someone to do it with you! And that’s me!! I won’t let you down or let you give up on yourself!
I run accountability groups monthly to help you find the right program for you, guide you with your nutrition, plug you into an accountability group to keep you on track! Check out some success stories by clicking here. 
If this is something you’re looking for, or just want some advise on where to start your fitness journey, I want to help you!!
Fill out this form so I can learn more about you and your specific needs.
Send me a friend request on Facebook, and let’s connect there too!
YOU GOT THIS!
BodyBackGuestPost

Top 5 Must Have Books for Baby

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I met Ke’o back in the day at college. We had a mutual friend and brushed by each other at times since we were both in the Education Department. We became friends on Facebook and I have enjoyed watching her become a mom of one of the cutest little guys in town! Not only is she a third grade teacher but she also moonlights as an Usborne Sales Consultant. OK. Normally, I sort of glaze over at this point, but if you haven’t heard of Usborne before, then you are truly missing out! I quickly learned they have some of the best. books. ever. Whether you have littles of your own or love to love on other littles in your life, you really should consider adding Usborne to your gift giving. My bubby loves them and we really enjoy reading them. When I first started digging into Usborne, I was a little overwhelmed about which options to go with. Ke’o is here today to give you a list (I LOVE HER!) of what books to start with as you begin your Usborne journey. Here is Ke’o. ENJOY!

Babies love to chew, drool, and crawl all over their books. This is how they explore literacy! Your books should be sturdy, as well as engaging, for your little one. I know your child will enjoy all of these amazing and affordable titles that Usborne Books and More has to offer! Our books are also backed by a lifetime half-price replacement guarantee.

 

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5) With brightly colored, high-contrast pictures, this book is sure to engage your baby’s attention! As your child grows, he/she will love tracing the tactile finger trails, lifting the flaps, and running their fingers over the touchy-feely areas in this delightful book. Two other personal play book favorites by Usborne Books and More are “Baby’s Very First Touchy-Feely Colors Play Book” and “Baby’s Very First Playbook: Animal Words.”

 

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4)I love that Usborne Books and More makes little books for little hands! My Wild Animal World is a collection of nine tiny board books that fit into a cute book shaped box with a magnetic closure. In each little book, a wild animal tells its name, where it lives, what its baby is called, what it eats, and what it says. These chunky books are super durable and can be stacked like blocks. Your child can also practice matching by using the pictures in the box to place each book back into the correct slot. We also offer these other beautifully illustrated board book sets: “My Farm Animal World,” “I Can Count,” and “My First 100 Words.”

 

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3) This adorable and engaging board book uses questions and flaps to introduce colors. On the left hand side of each spread, Little Red Penguin is traveling by a different mode of transportation with an animal friend. On the right side of the book, the reader is asked a question about the image on the left. Answers are creatively hidden beneath each question by large, durable flaps. Such a fun way to help your child learn colors, animals, and types of transportation! We have three other titles in this fantastic collection that will teach your little one words, shapes, and numbers.

 

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2) Slide and See Animals is my personal favorite of the three titles we currently offer in our fantastic and fun Slide and See series. These books are full of vivid colors and are perfect for developing essential motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Your baby will love sliding the panels and revealing the secret images hiding below!

 

 

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1)That’s Not My Puppy is just one of the many, MANY titles in our super popular board books series entitled, “That’s Not My…” These stories follow a little mouse as he looks for his animal, person, etc. Along the way he encounters others who are NOT what he is searching to find. These adorable books contain bright, black lined pictures for developing eyes and touchy-feely patches for your baby to explore different textures and develop sensory and language awareness.

 

Reading is SO important for our children’s future — and luckily, these books make it FUN!  Building a love of reading starts in those first months and years of life. To find these phenomenal books and see the full selection of what Usborne Books and More has to offer, visit http://k4330.myubam.com/. Happy reading!!

 

Top 5 BooksPIN

Quick Tips You Need to Help Reduce Toddler Tantrums

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Ohhhh the toddler days. Threenagers. Terrible (or Terrific!) Twos. Whatever kind of animal you’re dealing with you as you go through toddlerhood, I think many of us can relate to toddler tantrums. I am so happy to have a guest post today to offer you some quick tips on ways to defuse a toddler tantrum.

I met Heather through a mom’s group on Facebook. I was desperate for help with Bubby and his napping and she has literally saved me! Once I started communicating with her more through the group, I did what anyone would do and stalked her profile 🙂

I found out that she is an advocate for Love and Logic. I had heard about L and L when I was a teacher and used bits and pieces of the philosophy in my classroom. It never occurred to me to think about using some of those skills when it came time to discipline my son. Just like any parenting advice, you take what you want and leave what you don’t need. Heather’s tips today are ones you’re going to want to add to your toolbox!

Heather has shown great patience with the many moms she has helped through our mom’s group. She encourages you to review what you’re doing and see what works best for your children. I have seen it in her comments to other moms over and over. If you are interested in more of what Heather has to offer, you definitely should check out her Facebook page she has listed below.

If you are interested in knowing more about Love and Logic, this book is a great starter that introduces the foundation of its philosophy. I’ll let Heather finish the rest!

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PARENTING & CHOICES: The More Control You Give, the More Control You Get

It’s split in the parenting world about what parents think of giving children choices.  Some parents feel like it creates choice addiction, or that kids should just do as they’re told.  Others believe giving choices empowers children in the decision-making process, thus creating a more cooperative child.

Giving my children choices is my secret weapon.  I’m a mom of two energetic, brilliant, and some may say strong-willed (gasp!) children, ages 3 and 22 months.  I am also a facilitator for the Love and Logic Early Childhood Parenting Made Fun Curriculum. I have enjoyed presenting a different way to view parenting and giving parents simple tools that are life changing.

Choices is one of those tools.

The interesting thing about control is the more you give, the more you get.  The more control you can give your toddlers, the less likely they are to experience tantrums from feeling “powerless.” The reality is, picking their own color of cup or deciding if they want to skip to the car or sing to the car as you leave the library, can empower your toddler while defusing a tantrum.

So how can we as parents use that to our advantage? The secret is giving your child small choices throughout the day so you can make “withdrawals” on the larger issues.  However, things can go very wrong if choices are not used properly.  Here are a few quick tips you can start using now to reduce upset toddlers.

  1. Give 99% of choices when things are going smoothly. Don’t wait until all hell has broken loose at bedtime to start giving choices!

  2. Provide choices on issues that are not dangerous or cause a problem for any else.  Always provide two choices that you can live with.

  3. If the child does not choose in 10 seconds, choose for the child.  For example, if your child hesitates too long  when asked, “would you like milk or water?”, respond, “looks like milk.” Pour the milk. So what happens when the child throws a major fit because you chose? No problem! Respond with a simple, “I know, it’s hard.  I bet next time you’ll make a fast choice!” And move on.

  4. It never fails that your child will want to choose the invisible “Option C.” Respond by repeating your choices and choose for the child if no appropriate choice is made.

There’s two types of choices I have pinpointed- choices that really don’t matter to you, the parent (“red cup or blue cup?”) and choices that are preceding a power struggle.  Make sure you try to include similar styles of choices throughout your day! Then when you know certain situations are always power struggles, start out with a choice. “Time to take a bath! Do you want to hop like a bunny to the bathtub or crawl like a bear?”

When I do this in my home, I can actually see my child’s brain go from “NO!” to actively thinking about which choice he’s going to make.

Brainstorm choices ahead of time so you will be ready when the situation arises.

Here’s a few ideas for choices you can incorporate in your daily routine.

“Would you like milk or water with breakfast?”

“Are you going to put your shirt on first or your pants on first?

“Are you going to wear your red shorts or your blue ones?”

“Do you want a story before bed or no story?”

“Do you want your night-light on or off?”

“Do you want to — now or in 2 minutes?” (This is a great choice for transitions)

“Do you want to walk to the car by yourself or do you want me to carry you?”

“Do you want to hop like a bunny or crawl like a bear to the bathroom?” (Get creative!!)

Go ahead, offer your child some choices and watch your child’s face light up as the ball is in their court! I’d love to hear some testimonies of how choices have worked for your family! To catch videos and tips of me using L & L with my kids, be sure to check out my Facebook Page.

I’d love for you to stop and post any success you’ve had to encourage other parents! Also, you are welcome to contact me through my page with any questions about parenting struggles you’re facing.

As always, let us know any tips or successes you’ve had in the comments below!