Parenting Through A Pandemic

Where I live, we entered into another lockdown which included a 2week extension. Schools have been closed for weeks, and businesses including restaurants have either temporarily closed, permanently closed or have become delivery/pickup only. There is no question that this is a hard time. We are all tired, exhausted and very frustrated. We all want this to end.

This is a trying time for so many parents and families. We are faced with sacrifices we never knew would exist, and there is so much added pressure trying to maintain work and home life. While we are feeling upset and stressed out, there are some things to be grateful for. These will never take away the many struggles we faced, but I wanted to show you that not everything was crap!

I have formed a special bond with my daughter.

Being at home, and my daughter’s preschool was closed the beginning half of the pandemic, she was home with me full-time. At first, this was the hardest parenting lesson I experienced. How would I teach, and entertain my daughter for a full day, while being house bound? I felt panicked, and knew I was not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. I have had to pull up my sleeves and get creative. We walked, ALOT! We spent a lot of time outdoors in our backyard. We made friends with our local garbage & recycling truck men. I would be lying if I told you we didn’t watch more TV than planned. Sometimes we all need a break. Spending one on one time with my daughter, allowed us to form a better relationship we otherwise wouldn’t have. We created a routine that allowed us to dance, be silly, snuggle and just hangout, just the two of us. We created memories.

Photo by Angela Best

Our family worked as a team.

During the majority of the pandemic I was pregnant with my second daughter. While I got bigger and further along in my pregnancy, I had to rely on my daughter and my husband for more patience and help. Although, my husband was forced to work from home due to the pandemic closures, this was a blessing. Having him close by allowed me to lean on him a bit more for help. If he was at the office I wouldn’t have had the same level of help. This was certainly an adjustment, but overtime we were able to develop a groove that worked. I was able to develop a routine with my daughter that allowed me the necessary rest I required while she got to do activities she wanted.

I learned to let go, and pick battles.

Not everyday was a walk in the park. Some days we watched Frozen 1 & 2 in a day, while other days we spent more time outdoors. Excessive TV watching and tablet play, I was picking my battles. In normal circumstances I would have been more mindful. However, being house bound and with limits to what you can do for fun, I learned to let go, a lot! Wrestling a toddler to wear shoes, playing with sticks and using them as wands, while making sure she wore her hat on sunny days, didn’t always end up happening. I learned to pick my battles because not wearing shoes, playing with sticks, and not wearing a hat was not going destroy my day, it would have ruined my daughter’s day. We learned to let go when it came to meal time and meal prep by ordering take out more often than before. Our house looks “lived in”, with a side of chaos. We have learned to accept that things aren’t perfect and it’s ok to let go, sometimes. 

Photo by Angela Best

We have slowed down. 

Scheduling playdates, and activities have been canceled. This free time was hard to get used too at first. Now, it has been nice. Not having something scheduled a couple times a week, has been a blessing. As a family, we have adapted to more quality time, and planning more family activities around the house. Everything we do as a family has been thought out and slowed down. We have enjoyed taking a more “relaxed” approach, and we no longer feel that we have to cram so many activities in our day.

Even though a lot of days have felt hard and super stressful, I have learned so much. I have practiced patience, gained strength, and learned to love in many ways I didn’t know was possible. I felt so angry when I would see others not following the rules. It would make me so mad while others would travel to visit loved ones while I was waiting until it was safe. All of these feelings were so raw, honest and consuming. There is no doubt I felt pissed off!

It took me months before I accepted that this pandemic was out of my control. I’m still working on not allowing this pandemic to consume myself and my family, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with my girls and husband. This has been a blessing in disguise. Our kids are only kids for such a small amount of time. The time we have with them, are the times they will remember the most. Sometimes we have to experience the hardships, and stress before we can truly appreciate, and see the little moments that are meaningful. I find myself less mad and upset with this pandemic, and more excited for all of the new things we can do as a family, and the memories will continue to make.

I Come First Too!

Have you ever wondered how some families seem to have it all figured out? They have somehow found their balance. Someone once said to me while I was shopping with my kids ” oh wow! I don’t know how you balance having a toddler and baby. You look great!” When that was said I couldn’t find the words to reply back, I was too busy thinking about the word “balance.” I mean, what is balance? I almost wanted to spurt out a chuckle, but instead I smiled and thanked her. Don’t get me wrong, I sincerely appreciate any complement that comes my way. But, what this woman didn’t see several minutes before was that my 3 year old threw herself onto the floor when I told her I wasn’t buying the Paw Patrol yogurt drinks, my youngest crying because her sister was crying, and I had spilled my $6.00 coffee down the side of my pants. I’m already too tired to curl up and watch a movie with my husband when my girls are in bed, so how on earth do I balance his needs, my needs… all of our needs? I’ve always wanted to find the moms I see on my Instagram feeds who appear to have figured it all out. Showing that their balance is a solid 10/10.

I have been married almost 8 years and yet figuring out the intricacies of marriage remains constant. Along the way I have been given so much advice on various subjects around marriage and parenting, but no one really talks about both parenting and marriage together, and what that actually looks like. Does it even exist? It must if my Instagram moms are doing it, right? How do you balance both? We all want to be that great wife or that great mom, but how do we fit both of them together? There is no proven textbook on how to balance parenting and marriage. There are tons of books suggesting ways to improve things, but what works well for others will not always work for you. So how do you balance being an equal wife and an equal parent?

Along time ago I stumbled on articles that discussed putting your husband and yourself first, children second. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “how could anyone do that?” or ” I would die for and do anything for my kids.” So before you get your pants twisted, let me explain. These articles made some valid points. It discussed that we wouldn’t be parents without our partners. We were married & together first, so why would we make that less of a priority. As we navigate parenthood, we often put ourselves and our husband last. We are so caught up with our children’s needs, that we forget about our own needs. When we put ourselves and husband’s needs last, we lose a part of our identity. The identity that we worked hard on developing before kids became part of the equation.

Photo by JoEllen Moths on Pexels.com

When the parental team breaks down, this not only impacts your marriage, but it also impacts your children. It’s so easy as parents to put ourselves and partner last while you figure out raising your children. When we do this, you not only lose a sense of yourself, but you lose those moments and much needed connections with your husband. Having a positive secure family are the building blocks for your children’s security. If you are focussing equal efforts on your relationship, this helps your children see that marriage is an important relationship to have. Just because we shift our focus to our needs or our husbands needs first, this is doesn’t mean that I care for my children any less. Infact, it means I care for children so much more, that I recognize times where my husband or I come first in the equation. How do I find this balance?

While I’m knee deep in various bodily fluids between, scattered toys, and lack of sleep for the foreseeable future, I ask myself, “how on earth do I have spare time?” I haven’t seen spare time since before I had kids. I remember hanging out with some of my friends who are also a mom, and it was said that they plan “couple” time and “me” time. “Couple” time? “Me” Time? They pre-schedule alone time with their husband and alone time for themself, without their kids. This might include time spent once the kids are in bed, or calling a family member, or babysitter so they can take the afternoon to reconnect with their husband over coffee, a meal, or just a walk in the park. This sparked some good ideas. I’ve only read about couples pre-scheduling, but I never knew for a second this would be me. My husband and I pre-schedule our kids appointments, and family events, why not add “couple” time? and “me” time. I’m not suggesting that this becomes frequent as weekly; this could be monthly. If I’m already using my phone, what’s another appointment?

For a happy and balanced marriage, scheduling time together and apart is so crucial. Whether it’s a round of golf, or a few hours spent getting your hair done, or meeting up with a friend, plan this time. This is balance! This is not you being selfish, this is you, recognizing that your marriage comes first, sometimes. In order to raise positive, happy children, you also have to be living a happy and positive life. Find time for yourself and your husband, you will thank me later!

Finding the balance

My daughter is almost two years old, and I never for a second thought that the hardest part of being a mom is balancing being a mom and a working mom.  When deciding to go to back to work, at the initial time, it seemed like an easy decision. My decision to return to work was purely a financial decision in my household. The time of my return,  and coordinating the household with my husband, we knew we wouldn’t be able to maintain our family’s lifestyle if I stayed at home.  Knowing that, becoming a stay-at-home mom wasn’t a thought. I had mentally prepared myself (at least I thought I had) to return to work. I felt strongly that I would go back to work, carry on with my regular job, and motherly duties: pick up my daughter from daycare, go home & make dinner and everyone would be happy; all would be well. At least, that is what I envisioned would happen. A part of me was excited about the time away from my daughter and homelife. I would interact with adults, and engage in adult conversations instead of my days discussing The Wiggles, Peppa Pig & Sesame Street.  

Leading up to and returning to work, I started doubting my decision. The excitement mixed with fear, mixed with anxiety and nervousness became so surreal. Don’t get me wrong, all of these feelings are to be expected. As any new mom would do, and with the realization that there isn’t another option, I put one foot in front of the other and carried on for days, weeks & months. I’ll be honest, some days were easier than others. Finding the right balance was, and still is the most challenging thing I have ever experienced.

IMG_4983   So many moms to be, and new moms often receive an outpour of advice solicited and unsolicited from family, friends and strangers about what you should, or shouldn’t be doing as a parent.  However, I have yet to receive insight about what to expect or what you should know about deciding to return to work. I wish someone would have told me that your exhaustion level goes from 0-100 by 9:00 AM and you still have to find a way to manage the next 8 hours of your work day on top of the next 4-5 hours work you have at home in the evening as a mom. So, when you think you have 1 fulltime job, times that by 2. You’re now working full time, and you are a mother full time. 

I wish I had known that the feeling of failing: failing as a mom, and failing at work was to be expected, and was likely to happen. There are no words to describe what it truly feels like to “fail.”  While I would hug my daughter each morning in the doorway of her daycare, letting her go was incredibly hard. I would take that extra moment to soak up her cuddle, and her smell, before letting her go. She cried, and then I would cry driving myself to work.  This process took months, before it got just a little bit easy. This wasn’t an easy transition for me, and the one advice that WAS given to me, was that this transition is normal, and your child will eventually stop crying.  I kept reminding myself that she will stop crying… eventually.

As mothers, what we struggle with the most is admitting when something is hard. We are wired to take on challenges daily, from getting the right colour cup and spoon each morning for breakfast, lunch, dinner,  while coordinating multiple tasks simultaneously: pretending to be princesses and fairies reading a book to a group of teddies while the floor is lava (yes, this is a real game). We are warriors! We are STRONG! But where we fall short, and what we don’t talk about is how we try to keep the glue stuck, while dividing our self from what we know best, being a mom and our workplace. What some of us are born to do, is to raise our babies. Our constant need to be the “perfect” mom foreshadows our ability to admit when we are struggling. When we admit we are struggling, we are no longer seen as “perfect,” we are now seen as “weak”. Being seen as “weak” now translates to the feeling of “failed”  which is something no mom wants to feel or admit too.

All I wanted to hear  was that this transition in your life will be hard! This process isn’t always an easy one.  The feelings you are feeling are normal. There is no timeline on your feelings. Your feelings will come and go. You will have good days & bad days. You will constantly feel like you can’t do it all. When you can’t, you feel like you have let someone down and that someone is YOU. You have let yourself down, your child down, your husband/partner down,  and that’s a hard pill to swallow.  I wish I was told that the whole “work life balance,” is completely, and utterly, full of crap! Repeat after me, CRAP!! There is no balance. We are all trying to keep ourselves from sinking, and drifting away at sea. What is true is that some moms are just better at hiding it than others.

Lastly, I wish as a working mom there was better support, for us.  Better resources helping moms cope with their decision to go back to work. This decision is not easy. In fact, it is the absolute, most challenging decision you might face. For some mothers, this means weaning from breastfeeding, pumping and/ or bottle feeding routines and implementing new routines and structure. These changes affect not only you , but your little one. This is a difficult time for both you and your little one.  Changes like these cause incredible hormonal changes that affect you physically and mentally (scientifically proven). Gearing up to go back to work is overwhelming, sad, happy, frustrating, exhausting, angry and all feelings in between and the most important thing we need, is patience and support!

From a mother to a mother, I understand you! I commend your strength! A mother who claims they have figured it all out, I am all ears … but until then, I  will continue to send to my fellow moms, support & love during this difficult time ❤️ .

Baby Milestones You Don’t Read About

As a new parent, you might have received parenting books or someone might have recommended a good book that will navigate each month of your baby’s milestones. While this can be good information, and provide perspective to the parenting world, what makes these books just like the others, they only show you the cute and adorable milestones that your baby will experience.  You know…the ones where they will suck their thumb for the first time, babble, say their first word, or roll over. The list goes on.  These are all super cute and fun, but let’s face it, the REAL milestones are what you won’t find in books … Let me tell you what you have to look forward to!

The first time baby pukes in your mouth. 

Yep! This happened to me. Actually, more than once. My daughter was about 3 months old or so. We were playing on the floor, and she was sitting on my tummy while I was singing “row your boat” and she definitely rowed her boat of puke right into my mouth. You might think this may never happen to you, but lets face it, it most likely will, and it’s absolutely disgusting. But, if anyone ever asks you if you know what sour milk tastes like, you can tell them 😉

The first time you get pooped on. 

I know what you’re thinking, this won’t happen to me. You wait, and you will thank me later when it does, because you will be watching for it. I remember this like it happened yesterday. My daughter was laying on the change table while I was changing her wet diaper, when shots fired, and poop sprays outward, covering my hand, the change table, the wall, and behind her dresser. Poop sprayed everywhere. You know when you watch someone at Dairy Queen prepping your blizzard and you think, “Wonder what would happen if the machine malfunctioned and ice-cream would spray everywhere?” Just picture soft serve ice cream everywhere. She was notorious for poop blowouts, and pooping while being changed. Poop will come when you least expect it. And the next time you get a blizzard …. you’re welcome!

When your baby cries, you cry. 

There is no tougher moment than listening to your baby cry. My daughter is 11 months old, and I STILL cry, when she does. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. There is something to be said about a mothers bond with their children. This can happen during your midnight feeding, during your bedtime routine, or perhaps in the backseat of the car. No matter when or where this happens, you will feel personally responsible for your baby’s tears. Your lack of sleep and/or hormones will get the best of you, and you will find yourself shedding those tears alongside your baby.  I remember the first time I cried while my daughter was crying when she needed to see an ophthalmologist.  She was only a couple of days old. As the doctor examined her, and administered eye drops, she cried, and I cried listening to her. Another time, when my daughter was only about a week old and my husband and I were ready to take my daughter with us to do some errands, and there was my daughter crying in her car seat before we got her in the car. Tears were running down my face, while I was singing “you are my sunshine.” Every parent will tell you that you will you cry when your children cry, and I remember saying “nah, I’m not that emotional..” You think you aren’t, now… but you wait!!

The day you feel like the other moms seem to know what they’re doing better than you.

It’s very easy to think that someone else might be handling, or doing something better than you are. Women seem to compare themselves with other women. In some cases, its hard not too. You show up to a baby group, and you see other moms wearing makeup, and wearing their pre pregnancy clothes, and looking so fresh, while you’re still rubbing out ‘sleep crusties’ from your eyes from the night before. Your hair is tied back, because you are on your third day using dry shampoo. That’s when you think to yourself, “man, what am I doing wrong?” or “whats the secret?” The truth is, whether another mom has managed to squeeze in a shower, or put on makeup, or is able to wear their skinny jeans, at the end of the day, we are all figuring out this mom thing, and we are all winging it as we go.  There will always be a mom who appears refreshed, who seems to know what she is doing, one that seems to have all the answers,  and one that stays calm during stressful times. But on the inside, they could be stressing about the things you are rocking. The truth is, we are all figuring this whole mom thing out together, and as much as you think some moms are doing a better job, remember that no one has all the answers. Take time to pat yourself on the back for a job well done!!

First time everyone and everything is covered in food. 

It comes with great pleasure to introduce you and your baby to solids. You may think that you will just throw down some garbage bags and clean up will be that easy. This idea seems to make sense but those garbage bags don’t help protect your walls. While your baby explores the joys of their food in all forms, in a split moment, there isn’t enough preparation that stops a spoon full of puree or a handful of pasta thrown across the room, covering  your walls and floor. Your baby decides to squish their food in their fingers, and then they mash it through their hair, their legs and feet. It’s like an art class gone wrong. Just when you think you’ve cleaned up the mess in your kitchen, and your onto cleaning up your baby, you find remnants of their meal inside their diaper, arms and leg rolls.

First tantrum. 

Actual toddler tantrums can start around the age of 18 months, but infants can have outbursts too. The difference though, is that infants can’t speak. The best part is that you get a full ear of hysterical crying, and not knowing what’s wrong because they’re obviously unable to tell you, and everyone has stopped what they’re doing to stare at you.

 

Just when you think you’ve figured it out.

As you might already know, babies have a mind of their own. They aren’t textbook. So, no matter what you might google online, read, and think it will apply to your baby, it doesn’t always work. Or, better yet, you might have figured out the perfect thing, and it works for a month, and BAM! Game over! What seems to work today, no longer works. And what didn’t work last month, might work today! Babies don’t keep us on our toes for nothing.

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Always remember to praise yourself for the good work you are doing. Being a mom isn’t always a picnic in the park. Its hard work, its full-time, always. No mater the challenges the day brings, or the held back tears you’re fighting, or the difficulties you are facing, remember to remind yourself you are doing a great job. You are an amazing mom!

 

 

 

My wish for you

Before you were born I always dreamt of what you would be like, who you would become and how your life would be once you were here. Now that you are here,  I find myself wishing for so many things for you. Things that I never knew I would ever have to wish for. zoey sleeping

I wish that when you start going to school, you not only make a lot of friends but you are respected and treated fairly.  I wish that you don’t have to worry about your classmates bullying you over the internet, at school, on the playground or on your way home from school. I wish that schools enforced a more strict  “no policy” against bullying. I wish that if you see someone being bullied you feel safe helping them.

I wish that when you decide to date, whether male or female you are treated with the utmost respect from your partner and the community around you.  I wish that one day, everyone will be treated as equal, and you can freely express romantically that you have found the love of your life without being criticized by the choices you have made.

I wish that one day when you decide to explore the world around you, and travel abroad, you can do it safely without feeling scared. I wish that as you explore this world we live in, you always feel safe. I wish one day when you attend concerts, sporting events or any kind of entertainment you are always safe having fun.

I wish that as you enter into the work force, one day, you are treated equally and you are respected and supported by your achievements. I wish that as you strive to be the best that you can be, you are treated fairly, and you work hard reaching for the top.

I wish one day we all got along. That no matter what race, or ethnic background you are, we all got along.  No matter our physical, or religious differences we treat each other with respect and love, and ultimately how we want to be treated, because at the end of the day, we are all the same. We are all human beings. We all have feelings, and we all come from a place that deserves happiness and love. I wish that if someone you are acquainted with is treated unfairly or disrespected, you also feel safe helping them.

I wish that weapons become a thing of the past. I wish that where ever you are living or travelling too, you are always feeling safe. I wish that when you visit new places, or attend outings with your friends, you don’t have to worry about feeling safe. I wish that proper security measures are in place where weapons are seized and the government has placed a more strict weapon control in our community.  family

My ultimate wish for you, as you grow up and become the best young lady you can be, is that you stay true to your self. No matter the difficulties life and adulthood hands you, you over come it with grace, love and respect and that you are always happy. You stay true to yourself and you don’t let anyone try to change that. As you get older and times become challenging, as they often do, you know you are so well-loved, and you remind your self each day that you are. Just know that some people don’t come from the same place of love, but if we always treat everyone with happiness and love, you are doing your part. One day I hope my wishes for you come true, but if not, maybe one day you will make some of these wishes come true for yourself and for those important around you.

With so much love,

Mom & Dad

What I don’t say often

Being a mom comes with a whirlwind of emotions, challenges, and a new definition of who are and who you’ve become. You are no longer thinking about your self and your husband, you are constantly thinking about your child. From

the moment your baby is cradled in your arms, your life instantly changes. You naturally adjust the time you once had all to yourself or with your husband, you are now spent caring for and loving the child you both have created. As we go through the motions of waking up several times a night, and operating on far too little of sleep, and finding yourself eating cold dinners, and skipping lunch or eating stale granola bars you find at the bottom of your purse, you still manage to love your child unconditionally and that love you have for your child is so profound. You adapt, and make the best of these moments. You turn these moments into memories. These memories that we will look back one day and congratulate ourselves for making it past what we thought were the best, the worst, and the hardest times of our life.

As we continue to grow and love as a family, our marriage changes. All the attention we found ourselves giving to one another shifts and makes room for our children or in my case our baby girl. We put ourself in the backseat while our daughter rides shotgun. Our attention shifts to her and her needs, and it’s no longer all about us. Our date nights, happy hour and our weekends spent binge watching Netflix have been replaced with copious amounts of laundry, nailing down naps during the day, bedtime routines and mom and tot groups. The place where the topic of our conversations is about our daughters bodily fluids, or the new skill she has learned.

So even though our marriage has changed, ultimately it has changed for the better in many ways. And we are ok with that. We’re good with where we are. We want to be **here**. But being **here** takes a different kind of “being married” than being **there** — without a child. There are so many moments where I get so tired and so distracted, we have limited face time. I don’t always remember to say the things I want, to make sure my husband knows how I feel. I am so preoccupied with being a mother that I forget to be his wife.

There are so many things I think the father of my child needs to hear and deserves to hear.

I am beyond thankful for the partnership we have together in this life that we share together. I love having you alongside me as we raise our daughter together. I am very certain I don’t always say the words “I appreciate you!”because we have such a small window of real conversation time each day.

My husband is not a mind reader. Although I wish he could, he definitely can’t. Nor does he pickup on my passive aggressive hints I put down. I do know he wants to be a fixer. When there is an issue, he wants to fix it. I have to remind myself that I have to communicate in words when I need help, or a break. When I do that, it becomes easier for him to reciprocate the gesture back, so it becomes a win/win.

Not only do I love you but our daughter also loves you and needs you. The role you play in her life is so great and she will thank you her whole life. She is too young to say it now ,and depending on her mood will she show it, but once she calls you “dadda” which then turns to “daddy” you wait. Your heart will fill up.

There is no doubt that my husband sees a lot of the worst parts of me. I can be the most cranky, the most tired, and that’s what happens when your best friend, you’re life partner is with you and around the most. I often forget to say the simple things like “thank you!” Thank you for picking up my socks, making the bed, getting up to get me a drink, even though I could have done it, to name a few. Thank you for being the best dad to our baby girl. Thank you for being my best friend, my partner in crime, my husband. It’s so easy to treat the people you love, the worst.

Lastly, I think you’re totally “hot!” I definitely don’t tell my husband enough how much I am attracted to him. That he’s stunning in so many ways. I have to remember that I was his wife first, and then we became parents. Without being his wife first, I wouldn’t have been a mom. The mother of our beautiful baby girl. I feel like he needs to know that he still knocks my socks off.

However you choose to tell your husband you love him, remember to to acknowledge him both as his wife and as the mother of his child. It’s very hard to forget through the tiredness but it will make him feel good.

To my dearest husband, my best friend, I’m completely crazy about you, I love you, and I think you’re hot!