Tag Archives: heathy routine

Knock loose thoughts that spoil the magic

Bad mood can be reached in seconds. But does a mom want it? How to knock thoughts loose? Thoughts that can spoil a sunny day, a romantic evening, a relaxing afternoon? I call these thoughts – laundry thought – and here you will learn, from my perspective, about the hidden danger in these seemingly harmless mental wanderings.

What are “laundry thoughts” and how to knock them loose? First, it’s important to recognize the wrong mental objects that appear in mom’s head at the wrong time: a cooking pot… a broom… carpet with scattered toys… speckled socks. You get the point. 

Imagine a mom walking home on a magic spring evening. Cool, refreshing breeze, full moon, twilight. Amazing night, and she does not even have a stroller to push, or loads of grocery shopping or anything like that. That mom is in the most romantic mood, which can be spoiled with just a hint of a thought. Let’s not spoil that mood, and here, in this post I am writing (from experience, of course), how to say “no” and knock thoughts loose. 

The worst thoughts to spoil a happy mom’s mood are thoughts about the mess at home. The laundry. The dishes. The homework. The laundry again (the wet, the dry, and the one in the machine). The unprepared dinner (even if for tomorrow, but why not think about it in advance). The toys, generously spread all over the place. The small Lego parts, waiting for the bare feet at the night time…

These redundant thoughts clamber into mom’s head in the most natural way, like undesired guests who call in the least appropriate moment.

So, just like you would say “no” to unwanted guests (unless they bring food with them), you can say “no” to unwelcome thoughts. Here is how I think about it: “These thoughts came to steal my energy, to spoil my magic, to gnaw from my happiness. I knock thoughts loose right away, I send them away on a speed train, I clean my consciousness from them with a magic broom. 

Awareness is the king

If a mom is aware enough of what’s going on she will chase them off, free her mind from the unnecessary cognitive activity, from the vain trouble-solving process (because it’s not actually solving anything), from the painful process of rewinding the dirty laundry of her life in a mixing bowl called “head” by a machine called “mind”. Once a mom is aware she will easily knock these thoughts loose. 

I know, that people like guidelines and lists, so here I prepared a short and comprehensive guidelines on how to recognize, avoid and knock loose thoughts that spoil the magic. 

Step 1: Knock thoughts loose – recognize when it starts

It’s the hardest and the most important step. Because once you catch the thought from its very beginning, you can get over it more easily. Tracking thoughts should be a mom’s healthy habit, something she does on a regular basis. When the “laundry” thought creeps in on a magic night with a sky full of start, a conscious mom has two ways to handle it: either she smiles to herself and says “No. This is not happening because I don’t want it to happen.” Another way is, if the thought brings a great degree of embarrassment or unpleasantness – mom can boil a little, then – puff – let it out. 

And here we come to step two:

Step 2: Knock thoughts loose: cut and replace the “laundry thoughts” by “magic thoughts”

Cutting thoughts to zero thoughts, stopping the process and staying alive is, in my opinion, kinda impossible. The author of this post surely cannot just hang in there not thinking about anything at all (though she tries and maybe some day she will do it). Therefore, the easier way to do it, for now, is to REPLACE the “laundry” thought by a “magic” thought. Something good that matters. Something positive that seems good for real (not something a mom has read in a book or seen in a movie). A wish to come true, an old dream – anything that brings the authentic, good vibes. Don’t try to fool yourself, don’t fake it – the thoughts should be about something that matters and it is the key point here. Otherwise, you simply won’t believe yourself and the trick won’t work.

Step 3: Focus, count, repeat.

It’s vital to focus on this positive thread, be it anything that makes you feel vigorous, powerful and happy. Breathing and counting works great, but if it sounds boring just walking out there counting and focusing you may try other technique. For example, repeating words that matter, words that help knock the laundry thoughts loose from your mind. I say to myself sometimes: “the sky is blue, the breeze is fresh, isn’t it a miracle that I can walk like this, watch these blooming trees, this graceful architecture, these fascinating cars. Isn’t it awesome that I can breath, smile, enjoy good food, listen to music, watch movies, read books, paint, dance, stretch, jump and feel good about myself?

Once it becomes a habit you don’t need to do the counting work anymore. Things happen naturally, you learn to stay focused on what YOU pick from the diversity of the world. You watch the movie you choose and you knock the awful thoughts loose in a wink of eye.

avoid back pain

Avoid back pain – 5 minutes per day

Hello, I am your back and I am in pain.

How to avoid back pain with just 5 minutes per day and some minor effort? How to fend off the creepy feeling of your spine nearly breaking by the end of the day?

Do you ever know what your spine is through while you don’t even feel it? Every time I curve sit near my laptop, every time I bend in the wrong way, every time I have to lift something heavy my child – there are little bells ringing “My back, my back, my back! It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!”

All the exercises and techniques I show here are super short and dense. Just like in the post about breathing techniques – also here, you can learn to avoid back pain significantly with an activity that will steal 5-7 minutes from your schedule.

Is it even possible to completely avoid back pain?

Yes and no. Yes – if you train for at least 30 minutes every day in the right manner (better with an instructor or guided by a video). No – if you skip the practice, neglect and dismiss the first symptoms of  discomfort and only use heating pillows to put under your back before going to sleep.

Every mom knows what pack pain is. Some moms do something about it, others neglect it and wait until it strikes them hard one day. Avoiding back pain on early stages is one of the best things a mom can do for herself and her children. 

Busy females who run banks, raise twelve kids, maintain apartments and have to carry water from the river every day definitely have no time for classic yoga, Pilates, swimming and a bunch of other healthy things. The author of this post is a buzzy busy mom who only finds time to blog and take long showers, but never the time for a proper work out.

Therefore, here is one great exercise that anyone can do without special training. All you need is a mat or a carpet to sit and roll on. It takes about 5 minutes but makes a huge positive change to the back. No more wailing about lack of time!

Here is how it goes:

Step 1: Sit down, bend your knees and hug them with your arms. Your back can be straight but it’s ok if your back is slightly curved.

Step2: Pull your knees to your chest, keep on holding them with your hands. Your feet can be crossed or parallel – I prefer mine to be crossed, but it is up to you.

Step 3: Gently push yourself down on the back, while your legs are crossed in the air, your hands supporting them. All your movements should be slow and careful.

Step 4: Roll back until you are back to the initial sitting position. Your hands are hugging your legs all the time. Are you feeling ok? If there is dizziness you should drink some water and sit still for a while.

Step 5: Repeat the rolling back and forth, this time try to stay on your spine for a longer time while rocking back and forth. If you hear “bones cracking”, it’s ok. This is the way of my back to thank me after a long day of no exercise.

When rolling forth, you do not have to reach the initial sitting position every time. Touching the floor (or the mat) with your toes is enough, though you can reach a fulling sitting position if you want to. I prefer not to, as it causes my head to spin. I prefer my back-and-forth movements to have a shorter amplitude.

Step 6: By the end of the rock-n-roll sit straight again, gently release your arms from your legs. Stretch your legs forward or to the sides and bend to the right and to the left. Touch the toes of each leg with your hands, as much as possible.

Avoid back pain in a more creative way

For ingenious moms are bored to just roll back and forth, here is a twist in the scenario: every time you land back try to move your body a bit to the right or to the left (once you picked a side, stick to it). Every time you lift up try to move your body again to the opposite side. For example: every time I roll down I land slighty to the left, every time I move up I move slightly to the right. Repeat the same way with every rock.

At some point you will be able to make an entire 180 degree turn using the ups-and-downs!

The same exercise can be done in a slightly different way. Instead of rolling back and forth on your spine, you can roll from side to side. Legs are held by your arms, and you are using the stomach and the back muscles to move your body from left to right and vice versa.

yawning therapy

Yawning therapy

So, what is Yawning Therapy?

It’s a natural and simple way to get rid of stress, bad mood and undesired thoughts. Yawning is free, you can do it almost anytime and you don’t need a life coach to teach you  to grab some extra oxygen. Yawning therapy is one of these simple and neglected things people have forgotten (Why? Because most people are busy with other things, that’s why).

Every mom needs to do some yawning once in a while, and when she does is consciously and purposefully, things change: from mere yawning to an effective relaxation technique.

What is it good for?

  • good mood (not a bad thing at all)
  • beauty (some extra oxygen into the cells is a great idea). Tears, that come down by the end of the practice are good for rinsing and refreshing the sensitive eye skin.
  • brilliant ideas and inspiration that come into mom’s head (when the head is not heavily occupied by dirty soup, scattered soup and sock making… sorry, I meant dirty diapers, scattered socks and soup making)

Before you start the yawning therapy

  • you can be alone or among strangers who don’t care about you (like in a bus or in a busy street. But not during family dinner, even if you are with your sunglasses on.)
  • if you cannot be alone, at least put some sunglasses on or turn aside so that your face will not be seen
  • you will not have any make up on your face or at least in the eyes area.
  • You cannot talk or listen to anyone at the time of the practice, it will distract you and reduce the effect (well, it’s pretty self-explanatory, but I had to say it just in case).

Yawning therapy. Three steps:

Exhales longer than inhales

start breathing 4-6 (or any other number, but make sure your inhales and shorter than your exhales). Keep on breathing and counting: 1-2-3-4 is an inhale, 1-2-3-4-5-6 is an exhale. Continue the same way even if nothing happens: just lie and breath (you can do it in a sitting position as well, even in a public place. Just make sure you have sunglasses on).

Let yawning happen naturally

soon, you will start yawning. It will happen naturally, no need to do anything special otherwise than breath in the 4-6 way. Let yourself yawn as it goes, dont’t try to stop or control it. It is better if you are alone, but if not, as I said, make sure that you have sunglasses on or that nobody sees your face. It can get in the way when someone is observing you while yawning. Also, no need to cover your mouth, forget about rules.

Tears of relaxation

In the third stage, tears might start running down and it’s not because you’re sad and sorry, but it’s a natural process which I cannot really explain. I only know that it occures and that it leaves black traces of mascara, so better remove it before.

When to stop?

You can stop the practice at any moment, no special instructions needed. I would recommend doing it for 10-15 minutes at the least, because it takes time to get to the stage of “tears” and relaxation. 2-3 minutes will not be enough for a proper therapy, but it’s still better than nothing.

life scenario

Breathing techniques for tired moms

The overwhelming, hectic and messy day routine brings mom to hell an unbalanced state. All she wants is to drop down somewhere (bed is the best option but other options such as carpets, armchairs and sofas fit as well). Here is where simple breathing techniques can save the mom’s world.

Imagine this: a mom is surrounded by her dearest little ones. Each kid is in a different mood producing appropriate sounds: loud, demanding, complaining, even crying. Mom’s task: to remain calm, solve the problem, remain calm. Repeat, if necessary.

I’ve learned to catch this tiny moment when “remain calm” mantra stops working and turns into “get wild”. It starts somewhere in the chest, around the 4th chakrah. The breath does not flow as easily as it should. And from here, there are only a few steps to the “wild” state.

Here are three simple breathing techniques I use to retain the balanced mood and prevent anger and frustration to take over.

breathing techniques

 

 

Breath 4-6 – when you are alone

Count till 4 while you breath in. Count till 6 while you breath out. The rule is simple: inhales are always shorter than exhales, even if you choose different numbers. The technique is good for quiet moments with yourself, but not for moments of acute stress. One important thing to remember is to stop for a second between the inhale and the exhale. This is the short moment when no breathing is taking place – this little suspension, the peak, the ultimate point between the ups and downs. As a part of the meditation, stop for a moment and recognize you are there. Relive this turning point when the inhale is already behind and the exhale has not started yet.

Do extra short exhales – for acute stress

breathing techniques

It is a yoga practice, which I like to use when I feel I’m approaching a totally wrong place. In moments of darkest despair and crazy fatigue it is the best thing after chocolate. The inhales take only fractions of seconds. The exhales are also super short and they require the belly to work hard. During this technique stomach works the most, releasing the negativity through the out-coming air.

Breath normally but consciously – for every situation

Watching the flow of air all the way up and down is a great relaxation practice before fatigue has reached its extreme point. When I am not in the mood to count 4-6, the best thing is just to allow the breath to make its natural way in and out. The most important here, is to watch this natural flow of air, keeping thoughts-of-the-day out if your mind.

It’s amazing, how many things can be achieved by simple breathing exercises, if practiced regularly. In the worst moments, it’s good to remember, that breathing is the most essential part of human existence. While it is possible to survive without food or water for a while, oxygen is an invisible companion following us in every life situation, good or bad. A totally basic thought, true. For me, however, these basic things are like beams of light in a dark attic.

What is the best present for a modern child?

Here’s a riddle: where hides the best present for the modern child who has nearly everything? To put it short: my children don’t enjoy the sweet small gifts for the new year that I put into their socks at night. They show signs of disappointment if it’s not some shiny model of a trophy tank or a mermaid who solves double integrals. They show almost no interest if it’s a simple thing like a set of color markers or stickers for room decoration – something I would enjoy tremendously in my childhood.

Spoiled? Maybe. But I believe it’s more of a trend, that has to do with the growing addiction to the digital devices: smartphones, tablets and so forth.

Every time a problem pops up, I like to analyze, look for reasons and come up with a smart and elegant solution and feel very smart. But this time I admit – I only see the phenomena but no way to get rid of it.

Children of the digital age – my children, in particular, obviously have different set of priorities than I used to have in my childhood around 30 years ago. I’m more than OK with the digital age but yet – I still read thick paper books, appreciate moments of total silence boredom? and make sure I do not become too addicted to the smartphone. But how come, that my little people have lost a great part of appreciation of material things called toys?

This is a cry into the void. Yet, I have come up with observations and ways to turn the old-fashioned toys into best presents.

Listen to your child – she will tell you everything

Children often tell us directly what kind of presents they wish for. It’s parents, who systematically choose to ignore or forget. Busy, tired, distracted – there are many reasons why moms don’t hear the messages that are poured directly into their ears.

I make a conscious effort to hear them. I struggle to create a space somewhere between the nerve cells of my brain, sort and store the most important information. It ranges between casual after-school conversations to serious evening talks about global social issues. It’s about getting used to being there when your child talks. (Even if that means answering with an “uh-huh” because you are too tired to stir the muscles of your jaws). Then you both may find yourselves in a better place of mutual understanding.

Ask them

Yes, the element of surprise will disappear. However, asking a direct question will save the guess work and will ensure you give them something they genuinely crave for. By the way, it often happens that kids forget they had told you what they had told you, so the element of surprise might reappear if you wait long enough.

Surprising or not – the conclusion:

Despite the said above, once the digital devices are put away for a while, a magic thing happens – my children become children again: creatures happy from just being there at home with their mom and dad. They jump on sofas, mold with play-dough, stand on their heads and write stories (on paper). Plush dogs and cats become best presents again. My straightforward conclusion: it’s us, parents, who allow children to hang an endless amount of time with the devices, because it’s us, parents, who crave for the quiet hours moments. Which means, that it’s all up to the mom – how long can she last (work, rest) without her kids being fixed on the monitor?

Who will save the mom?

I’m so tired I never want to wake up again. But I’ve figured out now that it was never them that made me feel that way. It was just me, all along.”
Maggie Stiefvater, Forever

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/tired

Mom’s routine is mostly predictable. It’s the energy resources that can unpredictably end. Then she, multi tasking super-hero mom, feels on the edge of collapsing.

The sudden wave of fatigue is so spontaneous, I cannot always see it coming.

It’s not exactly that you bite off more than you can chew.

It’s more about the fact that a mom is already in the crazy agenda, moving forward slowly like heavy artillery and every shift to the side adds an unbearable weight to her every day life.

This slight shift can be anything: an unexpected project, an evening with friends that ends late at night, an exhausting day with lots of tasks and no option for anything that resembles rest… and the list goes on.

This post was inspired by an unusual wave of fatigue. It has reached a point where daily tasks and headache coincide into one painful shiny point somewhere between the hypothalamus, the Pituitary gland and the 7th chakrah.

I have created a list of virtues and evils, that help me avoid falling into the trap of self-pitying, misery and depression.

First, comes the “bad” list which consists of one thing – a thing I would almost never do.

Complaining (even to yourself) is useless and is taking your energy away.

Ever time I stand in front of the mirror (I try not to do it in the morning, not to scare the mirror), this feeling of age, time and self-criticism is covering me like a stinky mixture of negative emotions, which I did not ask for (or did I?) So here’s the thing. Every woman – mother or not – is gifted from birth in finding leaks and disadvantages in the way she looks (contrary to men, who never find any, even under a microscope).

The unhealthy self-criticism in a form of passive complaining. Do anything to avoid it, unless you want to find yourself in a loop. As for myself, I use the mirror for practical purposes only – teeth and eyebrows. The rest can wait for better times.

Silence is a true friend who never betrays.

Confucius
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/silence.html

Another form of complaining…

…is setting a competition with other mommies discussing whose life sucks more. (Just like some old people like to boast with their diseases). My golden rule is – if there is nothing constructive and positive I can talk about, I shut up. If another mommy wants to share her misery, well, she can do it. I will listen and nod with respect.

Complaining in any form – to yourself or to others – brings you nowhere. It drains you empty without giving anything in return. For me, the mere thought of all the things I could have done rather than complaining, gives me wings and inspiration.

Now for the good list:

Postpone all possible tasks for better times – leave only the most critical ones.

By critical I mean –

    • go and get some sleep
    • pick your kids from schools (unless no one else can do it).
    • buy some cooked food, fruits, yogurts – anything that doesn’t require watching the blue gas (or the red electric stove) burning and your hand stirring, stirring, stirring… they will survive, don’t worry about it.

By non-critical I mean –

    • helping kids with homework
    • cooking (you’ll be surprised how well they can manage)
    • cleaning and doing laundry (you’ll be surprised how fast the house will turn into a mess, but… I still think it’s not critical when it comes to “saving the mom”).
    • A lot of other things I did not bother writing, because they are too unimportant, for example reading this post, checking on People You May Know in LinkedIn or staring into your smartphone.

Breath deeply and count your breaths breathing-suslik

This is a primitive but one of the most efficient, productive and available methods invented especially for exhausted moms. It chases all the junk thoughts away filling you with oxygen instead. The more self-aware I have become through the years of pain and joy, the more precious I find this method to be. It works well no matter how stressed I am and it’s sort of pulling one up by their own hair. Amazing and simple, no negative side effects.

Keep a healthy diet

hot-chocolate

This is more of a general advice applicable at all times, however, it becomes super important in moments of emotional and physical crisis. My living cells, for example, react acutely on any wrong action I take in time of weakness. Therefore, my goal is not to trigger the stomach, pancreas, liver or any other digestive organs. The author of this post uses a golden rule – better eat less and drink more than eat “something”. When I learned to listen to my body and understand what it is trying to tell me, things became a lot easier. This brings me to another rule: healthy does not always means best for me at a given moment. If your body screams for a mug of hot chocolate and a piece of creamy nut cake – don’t torture yourself with salad. Go wild.

Set sleep as your top priority

sleeping dog

How come, that knowing all about the benefits of a good sleep we, moms, still procrastinate and hit the buttons of our smartphones instead of just diving into the world of Morpheus? How can we allow ourselves this forbidden luxury that eats us up, steals our beauty and youth and gives us absolutely nothing in return? (Why yes, it gives wrinkles if you wish). I am not talking about screaming babies, growling stomachs, husbands with a flu or other factors that cannot be ignored. This is about silly and unreasonable procrastination – an ugly habit, that takes away crucial hours of beauty sleep. The funny thing is, that children help mom avoiding this trap once she decides to fall asleep at the same time as they do. Children have this amazing gift of structuring moms’ (and dads’) time. You will not wait till midnight to put them to sleep, therefore, as a mom, you will be obliged to at least pretend you’re asleep, at around 9 p.m.. However, it only works for moms who directly participate in helping their child fall asleep (in my case, I still secretly enjoy it, as I am officially forced to relax).

Minimize communication with people who steal your energy

vampire-bat

Especially Even if they are family members. Yes.

This is a very important and largely underestimated rule. Every mom is different: some need attention, conversations and play dates with other moms and children (because it’s so boring to be with your child on the playground and watch her do things), others crave for silence. However, regardless of these differences, every mom knows exactly what type of other moms and people she should or should not interact with.

Annoying and preaching aunties family members, friends who ask for favors, other friends who constantly complain about life – all these should be kept away at a respectful distance at any cost (yes, there is price for everything, but isn’t your mental tranquility worth it?)

Managing mom’s relationships is a separate topic I will bring up later, while in this post – I only mention what’s based on my own experience: when mom needs a rest, the less people she interacts with, in general, the better.

And the last one, a friendly reminder: remember, that nothing lasts forever – neither the good, nor the bad.

This too shall pass

Persian Sufi poets

What matters when choosing a baby name

 

Jason scratched his head. “You named him Festus? You know that in Latin, ‘festus’ means ‘happy’? You want us to ride off to save the world on Happy the Dragon?”
Rick Riordan, The Lost Hero

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/names

What, in your opinion, are the most important name attributes?

  • The way it sounds?
  • The historical meaning?
  • The ethnic origin?
  • The number of syllables?
  • The compliance with the last name?

The author of this post thinks, that the most important thing is the association, that you, the parent, personally have with the name.

It can be the most adorable set of vowels and consonants, but if I know someone evil, unattractive, mean and unsuccessful carrying the same adorable set, I will probably refrain from this choice.

Does it sound stupid? Maybe, but this is the reality for the author of this blog and she is trying be on the right side of her intuition, common sense and information she gets in the internet.

There are (too) many ways today you can find sources of different names.

Names websites:

Hundreds of websites interpreting a name, a nickname, a variation of a name or a nickname and so on. Even when you narrow your search to the most specific options (“native american origin, female names, 2 syllables, starts with M”) – there are either no options given at all (the search was, probably, too narrow) or there are some two-three really weird names, that you don’t like.

Name forums:

With more human touch, name forums is where people (future moms, mostly) exchange their sympathy or antipathy for specific names, asking for advice or opinion and sharing thoughts. The downside of this way of choosing a name is, that there is not a lot of practical information on a specific name (e.g. its historical meaning), but rather the biased opinion of an undisclosed female, which, in some cases, can be nice nonetheless.

The good side of using name forums is, that you can get some information about nicknames and other versions of the name you had in mind – something you don’t always find on names websites.

What if you don’t want to use the internet?

At least at first stages of first rough choice (e.g. the first 5 optional names to choose later from).

I would do a traditional paper brainstorming. Take a pen and a piece of paper and write down all the names that come to your mind and make you feel good. Names of friends, literature heroes, movie stars (though I would be careful about that), ancestors (I would be even more careful about those ones) or names you might have wanted for yourself, have you been given the choice at your birth.

I think this nice and simple method open options that do not exist on the web, since they come from your own “field of information” (which is based, of course, on the reality you live in, but still – it’s something that has gone through your system and has not been taken fully and directly from outside sources like the internet).

Here is an interesting thought though, which is related to any choice, including that of a name.

“We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.”
Alan W. Watts

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/names

Do brainstorming but be careful about associations with the ansestrs – you don’t always want your baby to repeat the same life as your great grandfather (no matter how magical figure he might seem to you – you don’t know all the details, plus, every person is unique).

Avoid celebs and famous people – naming your baby after a super star (I don’t mean a new galaxy or a supernova) doesn’t seem like the best idea, because the fate of living public people is way too unpredictable. It’s not the same about deceased kings, writers, philosophers and so on. Though I, personally, would refrain from naming a little new individual after anyone at all.

So what is the bottom line?

Use your imagination but don’t give your name a weird baby – sorry, your baby a weird name – she’ll have to live with it her entire life, remember?

Moms’ life rule – thinking, trusting, treating

The three “T” rule became my rule for life since I became a fresh mom many years ago.

The first T: Think less, breath more

“Raising a kid is part joy and part guerilla warfare.” Ed Asner

http://www.happyworker.com/supermom/mom-quotes#.WC__CCTn–c

It’s not that I don’t like the process of thinking and having this inner dialogue with myself. But not when it begins to control my time and my energy.

From empirical perspective, most of the thinking I’ve done in my life was absolutely useless. It’s hard to admit. It’s the same thing like saying – I wasted tons of time – my only precious resource, a resource will never come back.

Since I started meditating on a continual basis I realized, that conscious breathing and chaotic thinking do not come together. Try it yourself and you’ll see, that it is impossible to concentrate on the flow of air coming in and out your nostrils while your brain is working on a problem at the same time.

Conscious breathing or meditation (choose the most appealing word, even aqualung will do), is what helps mom (and soldiers on a battle field, managers or hunting tigers) freeze the leaks of energy and gain powers.

Mothers of teenagers know why animals eat their young” – Unknown

http://www.happyworker.com/supermom/mom-quotes#.WC__CCTn–c

Why is it so important?

Moms need energy more than any other human beings. Moms are on non-stop demand (guess by whom). Moms eat on the go. Moms never really sleep. Moms are expected to multitask and still look good (no, really?). Hyper responsible moms have no time to visit cosmetologists (they only have time to put sunglasses to try and hide the blue circles under their eyes). Moms don’t have time for gyms (fitness at home – yes. Aqua aerobics = mopping the floor, weightlifting = picking up the baby, cardio = running between the kitchen, the bedroom and the bathroom). In short, moms DO need an effective and affordable way to keep themselves afloat.

Disclaimer: when I say “think less, breath more”, I do not mean this nonchalant style of living when your motto is “this will never happen to you”. All I am saying is, worry less about hypothetical things. Most of our fears do not come true.

The second T: Trust your intuition

Moms (especially first-time moms) are walking receivers of never-ending advice, remarks, question and criticism from relatives, friends, colleagues and even female strangers on the street.

“Oh, watch it, the edge of your child’s blanked is on the ground…”

“It’s so cold, your child’s hat is 30 degrees on the left than it should be, the tip of his ear is exposed…”

“Do you breastfeed?”

“Do you breastfeed at night as well? You shouldn’t do it, you know”

“You should give yourself some time off, ask your husband to stay with the baby from time to time”

“Don’t pick up your baby, he will get used to it and will never want to stay off your arms”

“The baby must get used to sleep in her own room after the first month.”

“The baby must sleep in her parents’ bedroom until she is at least one year old”

“Never breastfeed in bed”

“I always used to breastfeed in bed, it’s the most comfortable way to do it”

“Never put the baby in bed with you, you might accidentally strangle him”

“Always put the baby on you, stomach to stomach, it will relax her fast”.

And the list never ends.

I’ve learned to trust my intuition right from the beginning, taking apart my own feeling and professional advice. It’s true, that sometimes you have to shut up and listen to what the nurse or the doctor says. It’s true, that moms need to be open minded. However, this does not contradict something very basic, that all women bear in themselves, but do not always let it pop out – our intuition.

It comes handy in a million of situations starting with a newborn, then a toddler, then a schoolkid, a teenager and so on. Actually, trusting your intuition stretches far beyond your motherly duties. But since it’s a mom-focused blog, I will not spread on other things.

So – mom and intuition, just like in Sinatra’s song about love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage. I know moms who cannot make a single decision without asking for somebody’s opinion (though, paradoxically or not, they mostly ignore these advice. It’s more of a tradition – to ask everyone around). I don’t really know what they are doing that – lack of confidence? The urge to get an “official confirmation”?

I’ve never suffered from that and I’m happy to have always walked hand in hand with my inner feeling in every smallest details along my kids’ growth:

  • how many layers of clothes to put on my kid when the weather is unstable?
  • does he cry because he’s hungry or just to get my attention
  • is she really sick or does she pretend only to skip a day in school?
  • is it a good idea to make him read a book now or better do something else?
  • Should I let them watch cartoons and rest or force myself into some activity?
  • Should I allow another piece of chocolate or should I play the strict mom this time?
  • When they fight – should I be the judge or let them try to figure it themselves?
  • Should I praise my kids for every little thing or let them know my honest opinion about the drawing (sculpture, toy-tower)?

These questions are endless. There is not a single book, person or website, that can clearly answer them and give mom the perfect advice for every small occasion. It simply does not exist, because we, humans, are meant to respond and not react in an automatic way (if a then b).

The third T: Treat yourself well

This one is my favorite. As Christmas time is approaching, I find myself spending amounts of cash on gifts, trying to remember everyone – from the cleaning lady’s dog to the painting teacher.

Somehow we, moms, tend to neglect ourselves in this messy gift-buying process. Or maybe we secretly hope someone will get us something magical, like a medium-sized diamond ring or at least two tickets to the opera. Sometimes it actually happens, but to count on that? Seriously? Remember: a mom needs constant supply of positive energy since her energy expenses are enormous, extending far beyond financial amounts she can possibly spend. Mom’s happiness stands above all (of course, that still does not give moms the indulgence to do certain things). Don’t listen to those who say, that happiness cannot be bought. Of course not – in the broad sense of the word. But when it comes to treating and spoiling yourself with little necessities, no one can do it better than mom herself.

Face oil, black lacy stockings, earrings from a bijouterie shop – yes, there are things than money can buy and provide a temporary splash of joy. The problem does not lay in the money. It’s the attitude.

 

 

bubble

How to cut malicious thoughts during the day?

Why is it so important for mom to preserve her energy and keep her inner balance all the time?

The answer is so simple, I’m not even sure I have to write it, but, still:

  • Because children need happy mom
  • Because your partner will appreciate a happy wife/friend
  • Because you will feel very good about yourself being content

The order is purely accidental (I’m not saying that children are more important than your partner and you are the last one on the list. It just so happened, that I wrote it in this order).

So what’s the big deal about keeping our level of energy on its proper level?

The big deal is, that there are constant sources (people, events, THOUGHTS) that suck our energy. All the time. Unless you stay in focus on what’s going on, you might find yourself completely drained (sick, annoyed, depressed) by the end of the day.

I took three main sources who steal your energy (or better to say – you let them do it).

1. Energetic vampires: –

People, who are trying to get your reaction (read = energy) by provoking you, consciously or not. When these are your “friends”, it’s easier: just stop being their friends. But when these are your family members, it’s a more complicated case, since you are expected to love and care about your relatives.

There is a good old movie by Woody Allen called “Cassandra’s dream”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0795493/plotsummary?ref_=ttmi_stry_pl

where the subject of “blood relationship” is taken to the extreme point: – an uncle offers two brothers to “get rid of” of an old connection, strengthening his case by “family ties”. The end is sad, but anyway, I like this movie, because it illustrates how far things can go if we don’t learn to stop whatever smells bad.

But there is the price for that.

The result? Some people might feel offended. Some family members might press you very hard, try to manipulate, plead into doing something that you feel that you hate. On the other hand? You retain your comfort, your energy, your good mood and your balance. You run your family the way YOU want, you raise your kids the way YOU want, in short – you are the owner of your life and no uncles, aunts, moms and dads can tell you what to do. It’s not only about learning to say “no”, but also saying “no” and feeling good about yourself.

2. Events.

–Sometimes we are dragged to take part in events we hate: family parties, weddings (this one is particularly annoying), a friend’s birthday party, social gatherings you feel obliged to attend and so on… Events always consider people, so it’s not the events but the certain people you don’t want to see. In cases when you cannot find the right excuse keep it as short as possible. Put a reminder, set an app with anonymous call or simply say that you must go. One hour, forty minutes -– you decide the minimal amount of time you can spend there without seeming to have escaped too soon.

The trap:

We always want to be nice and if nobody is leaving early it looks inappropriate to run away. But remember, that if you stay too long, the carriage will turn into a pumpkin. You will later regret having surrendered to the social pressure and having spent too much time in the wrong place and with the wrong people. So be nice to yourself first and stick to the minimal amount of time you have set to yourself in the first place (unless the circumstances have changed and you feel you enjoy it).

3. Self-destroying thoughts.

This one is almost impossible to control, but with the help of techniques you can tame the monsters and make them pass away slowly, like the wind blows clouds away. The conclusion that I have come to is: bad thoughts are often a result of our own bad physical condition: fatigue, sickness etc., and but not necessarily events. Why do I think so? Because, from own experience, we can take a lot of things easy when we’ve had a good night’s sleep feeling healthy and good about ourselves (how many times did you feel all these good things at the same time? Umm…)

The best way to keep malicious thoughts from sucking your energy is to catch the thought from the very beginning when it is sneaking into your mind but hasn’t done any serious harm yet. You can catch it by its tail and ask yourself: “Do I really want to think about it now? Am I the master of my thoughts or are thoughts controlling me?” If this is not a problem-solution thing but a sticky, disturbing situation, out of your control, that can stretch like a muddy shield blocking the sunshine, better cut it off right away. (Will talk about my own techniques of cutting malicious thoughts later on in this post ).

As a bottom line:

No matter what beast empties your energy, one thing is sure:– you should not allow this to happen. If there is a specific problem: go on, do some brainstorming and look for a solution once and for all. But if it’s a vague situation where you feel you are dragged into self-accusing, self-punishing thoughts  shake it off sharply, without mercy.

How to shake off thoughts that suck mom’s energy?

I use some very simple techniques. The amazing thing about these techniques is, that you can practice them without interrupting most of your daily routine.

  • Count your breath: Breathing is something we do as long as we live, and I appreciate every breath I take. Counting the in-s and out-s is a good method when combined with some automotive task (cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping) or when trying to fall asleep. Make sure you reach 300 (I’ve never made it that far, by the way).
  • Speak mantras: make up your own or take ones that already exist. Any words that help you – work for good, as long as they are not intended to hurt a specific person (words have power, beware). For example: “Do I want to be calm and happy or nervous and sick? Of course I want to be calm and happy!”

These words don’t have to be wise or sound smooth and spiritual. Their purpose is to help you and no one hears and judges your eloquence.

I mentioned only these two techniques, because they are simplest to follow for a busy mom. There are other great ways to empty yourself from junk, but those require a resource most moms can’t brag about –- time.

So, while my kids are small, I choose to save my time and my energy and, simultaneously, be the boss of my own life, as much as possible. Wishing you, my readers, the same.

clock, time

Happy working mom. Does she exist?

“Working mothers are guinea pigs in a scientific experiment to show that sleep is not necessary to human life.”

— Anonymous, www.grinningplanet.com

A friend of mine, who didn’t have kids at that time yet, asked me a question long time ago: “How do moms manage to work and run the house with children at the same time? When I come home from work in the evening I’m exhausted to such an extent I can only breathe and cannot imagine myself doing anything else except lifting my phalanges lower limbs high into the air and stay still for at least 30 minutes. What about working parents? How do they manage?”

Back then I was working as a home-based freelancer with my first daughter who was almost 2 and I couldn’t tell her how it feels to come back from the office. Nevertheless, there are quite a lot people around me who are lucky to raise great kids and work full time far away from their bed and kitchen.

So yes, it’s a big and interesting question: how to manage the level of productivity, professional focus and concentration during the work day and then be an energetic and happy mom in the evening of the same day. And though I cannot give advice to parents who spend most of their lives in an office, I surely have been through the pain of keeping myself awake through romantic summer nights with deadlines I had to meet, and during noisy vacation days when I had to exploit my talents despite the crazy sounds coming from the kids’ room.

Here is how it works for me.

To make it simple I will divide the day into 4 parts:

morning – waking up and plugging into your source of energy
work day – squeezing creative juices without using too much caffeine
family time – spending happy time with kids and family (or leaving them and go for a nap without feeling guilty)
bed time – putting the little ones to sleep and enjoy a few quiet moments before collapsing to bed

The “good morning” stage: wake up time, make up time, meditation time:

As the joke goes: the most important is to get up. Will wake up later.

The way to keep yourself balanced through the day begins right from the moment you wake up. Your work conditions, work environment and your personal health – all play their role in the degree of your love or hate of the world by the end of the day.

Different things work well for different people. For example, do you hate waking up early and getting to the office by a certain hour? Then doing so will drain your energy and empty your source of inspiration before you even get to work. Something must be changed in that case. Of course, not all companies allow to work from home or arrive late, but you know the situation better to evaluate what can be done, how the schedule can be maneuvered to fit itself best to your nature.

Do one thing that makes you happy in the morning

Even if it means 30 minutes less sleep. A quiet cup of coffee (unless you have a talking coffee cup), a 10-minute meditation with some native American flute music, a short walk outside, breathing exercises, muffin baking, drumming – anything that helps you pass this sensitive time called “morning”. I strongly suggest doing it while the kids are still asleep (it works well with older kids who hate waking up anyway). There was a time when I finished a big muffin with two cups of instant coffee while reading jokes.
At other times I used to meditate and do soft stretching with gentle yoga music in the background. Both activities are completely different, but all is good as long as it serves the purpose: make me happy at this stage of my existence. Don’t try to do something “healthy” just for the sake of it. Better do something that might sound less perfect but does the job.

Now you are entering the 2nd stage – the work day

Experiment

with different working hours, different surroundings different lighting and even different placement of your laptop while working. (there were times when I discovered that sitting crooked straight at my home desk makes it so hard for my back that I was unable to concentrate. So either replace your chair, your back (huh?) or just move to the sofa.

Ignore myths 

night laptopThere are certain false truths that might stand in the way of great experimenting. One of the myths I was bound to is – “inspiration comes at night” or “nights are the best time to do creative jobs”. This is totally wrong. Muses come, muses go – sunshine is not their enemy. Night is, indeed, a great time to work but remember, that you have to wake up early the next morning (this is not a post about free artists who sleep during the day and work during the night). As a working night owl parent, straining your brain at night is a luxury you cannot afford anymore. So keep on experimenting.

There are other myths people might be telling you, or you might read somewhere that can keep you away from optimal work flow process.

Another example is: “I can do it all alone”. There are a lot you can do, but sometimes you need help of others so don’t feel abashed, confused or embarrassed to look for help from colleagues, friends or whoever you can. Don’t try everything before asking for professional advice. Don’t try pulling the carriage all alone but rather look where you can use knowledge of others and offer your help in return. Don’t be a lone wolf.
These are only two examples, but I’m sure there is a ton more. You can share your own in comments.

Say no to the perfect conditions

balance

That will never happen. If you are getting tired after the first 10 minutes of work that can mean two things: either it’s not your day (get more sleep, jump a little bit and roll on your back). Or – you hate your current task so much that you are exhausted from the inner fight or having to keep yourself chained to the damned working activity. If you hate it but cannot drop it at this very moment (a client is waiting for your report, article etc.) stop the work for a few minutes and meditate – think of the whole situation it as a life exam (that will not last long for various reasons), imagine yourself doing your best and finishing it.

Now it is the third phase of the day called “family time”

bear mom
There is a joke: “do you also call the day when you clean, cook and tidy up – your day off?”

Family-time is when your kids get back from schools-kindergartens-nurseries-playgrounds. It’s not necessarily evening and you’re not necessarily ready for the switch from “serious” brain work to the “light” brain work (playing, jumping, talking, soothing, controlling etc.). Here are some tricks I use to guarantee soft landing from “work” to “home”:

Take them out

Even if for 30 minutes. Usually, kids don’t get enough time being outside while at schools/kindergartens anyway. You surely don’t get enough fresh air (unless your office is in a tree house) as well. So you all need this refreshing time to spread away the remains of the work/school energy that is left there. There is almost nothing better than gaining powers in the fresh air.

Or keep them busy

chess

with anything at home while you are regenerating. Give yourself some time alone, even if it means letting them watch a 15-minute cartoon, a 10-minute TV show or showing them a game they can play without adult supervision. This should be really short, just for you to shake off the work mood. (There are cases, though, when I am too exhausted to spend quality time with anything except my pillow. Then, the 15-minute playtime turns into 40-minute cartoons/games/TV shows while I regain my energy in another room. Don’t pretend to be cheerful and energetic when all you need is a good nap).

Read to them

bookshelf

Reading out loud is something most kids like, and most moms don’t find too hard to do. Dining time, for example, is a great time for storytelling. What is so good about reading out loud? First, it’s a good way for a mom to get relaxed. You don’t even have to make up stories but read the written text. Second, it’s a good way for the kids to learn something (therapy fairy tales or fables) and be with their mom at the same time. I, personally, find reading out loud a great opportunity to teach my kids something, to communicate with them (they ask questions, I explain) and to enjoy a homely atmosphere. 

At this point, when the 4th phase arrives (and your partner arrives from work as well) it’s time to turn the active part of the day off. Putting them to bed is a separate topic we’ll discuss later. Good night, meanwhile.