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.

Learning To Love Myself

If you were given the opportunity to redo parts of your life, would you? Would you go back to your teens? Or would you go back to your 20’s? I’ve caught myself thinking about my life before I met my wonderful husband and before I had my girls. I would find myself asking, would I ever do it again?

The answer might seem like an easy one for so many. One of the biggest promises I made for myself was to always live my life without regrets. This was so important to me for so many reasons. I remember that first feeling of regret and how it made me feel, and that’s where I started to do some internal, emotional digging, and learned the tools I needed to cope and learn from each experience.

Growing up, I have had my fair share of being in the wrong places at the wrong time and making friends who made questionable decisions. Everyone around me saw me as crazy, reckless and wild. I was the “problem” child. I was labelled as defiant, and rebellious. These were the constant labels that I would often hear. But, was I actually rebellious, or was I seeking independence? No matter what outcome this had brought me, I learned from each mistake and learned things about myself that others around me wouldn’t have learned

Some of the best choices I have made and lessons I have learned were from pushing back, and making my own choices. Despite what others would think, I did choose my friends carefully. Despite what others thought, my friends were my village. I surrounded myself, and spent most of my time with my friends than I had with most of my family. I chose friends who allowed me to be who I wanted to be, without judgement. I surrounded myself with friends who not only chose their own decisions and their own path in life, but would never question my decisions or my paths. My friends, for the most part, were always there for me, when I needed someone the most. Early on, I knew how to look past questionable differences, because the choices that someone makes, doesn’t always translate to the choices I make. Everyday, we are making choices for ourself, consciously and subconsciously. Even though we can’t always control all circumstances, we always have the choice on how we act and react. This was something I remember that was not always trusted of me. From early on, it was easier for my parents to guard me instead of allowing me to experience and learn from them. When people hurt us, whether its from their choices, the choice is still ours even if we let it consume us, or if we choose to move on, and forgive. The choice to find something to numb the pain, run away from the pain, or choosing relationships with people who were wrong for you, are all choices we make.

I knew this all too well. Some of these choices I have experienced first hand, and others I have witnessed. I became very aware of my wrong doings and in so many cases I have allowed them to linger or have chosen not to correct them. I was not very good at navigating through challenging situations. I avoided shit outcomes of my poor choices.

Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Pexels.com

So, if I could redo parts of my life, would I? I would! But… The part that I would change would be to have learned how to love myself in its entirety. For most of my life, I have put others first before myself. I have learned early on, how to love others, but I was not very good at knowing how to love myself. From a young age, I was not very comfortable in my own skin. I struggled with appearance issues which led to unhealthy habits. I have found relationships in unhealthy ways. I grew up not feeling confident. Self-esteem was something that would drift in and out of my life. I never felt 100% comfortable in my own skin. I found ways to dodge pictures, even though I was outgoing and wanted to participate. I found excuses to not attend gatherings that involved swimming, where you had to wear a bathing suit. In the summer time I mostly wore pants and ignored the idea of wearing shorts, no matter how hot it was outside. There is no doubt that some of these issues stemmed from my upbringing. I would watch different family members express discomfort with wearing certain clothes and expressing vocally their discomfort with their own body. When they say that kids are like sponges, this is so true.

It wasn’t until I became a mother where I felt the most comfortable at being myself. I found comfort in my life with how my body is, now. I remember struggling with my weight a lot growing up, and what my weight was, consumed me. Now, that I am a mother, I have realized that weight should not consume your thoughts day in and day out. I have made a promise to myself that I would focus on “living in the moment.” Not just some, but all of it!

I am raising two young girls and the last thing I wan’t to display to them is how uncomfortable our body can be. By shifting the mindset from “I feel fat,” to the mindset of “I need to exercise more to keep my body healthy,” shifts the body image mindset. If I start to openly complain about how I dislike myself, my body and mind, this will translate to my young girls faster then I can predict. Part of my journey to loving myself begins with ACCEPTANCE. Accepting that I’m not like everyone else. Learning to love yourself begins with baby steps. Begins with ACCEPTING, RECOGNIZING, and GROWING with yourself. This will never be something that happens over night. I have to acknowledge and understand that this journey will be lifelong, and there will always be moments where there is doubt. So, one of my reminders is that my body carried and delivered 2 beautiful girls, and this is, and will be the new Me.

I have to remind myself that it’s OK to age, and that we all get older, despite what the media will show us. We are meant to age. It’s natural, and it’s ok for our weight to fluctuate. Staying healthy doesn’t always equal weight loss. There is no such thing as “perfect.” The word “PERFECT,” is so subjective, it should be removed from how we identify each other. What is perfect? What’s perfect to one person, is and will always be different to another person. We should look at people the same way we look at clothes. There are a million different styles, not one style is the same, and that’s ok.

I am here to set an example to my girls, that we need to embrace imperfections and remove the word “PERFECT.” I need to continue to love myself, and model that love to my girls. We only have 1 life to live, and we should be fulfilling our life with things that truly matter in life. I will never be like everyone else. There is only 1 of Me, in this world, and I am here to make the best of it. There is only 1 of YOU in the world, and that’s damn special!

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!

The Working Mom

Becoming a mother is the most rewarding life change that I have experienced. It completely consumes my attention, and emotional well-being. Undoubtedly so, how could it not? I’ve planned for this time and carried my daughter for 9 months. I was home with her for 1 year, and I will now spend the next lifetime being there for her, being her mom. On the flip side, I find being a mom, and being a working mom in today’s society extraordinary hard. There is incredible peer & social pressure towards moms about what your next parenting step is. Have you started your baby on solid foods? Do you breastfeed, pump, formula feed? Will you be a stay-at-home mom? Will you go back to work and will it be full time or part time? All of these discussions are part of interacting with people, and some of it is advise seeking or advice giving. Whether these discussions can be primarily positive, there is still a level of “social acceptance” and “social norms” that we as mothers get sucked in.

When I decided to go back to work, my role as a mom changed. I can’t count how many comments and advice was given about going back to work full time. However, the worst feeling was the social pressure. The pressure from society that has evolved within the last few decades. It’s been deemed socially acceptable and almost demanding for moms to go back to work without considering all of the facts, and to place our children in a caregivers hand. While there is still a small percentage of mothers staying at home, this percentage has declined significantly. For example: 69% of Canadian families with at least one child under 16 were dual-earner families in 2014 (up from 36% in 1976) – Three-quarters had two parents working full time in 2014. Only 27% of Canadian families with children were single-earner families (down from 59% in 1976) – Among the 27% ONLY 16% had a stay-at-home mother. Lastly, ONLY 9% had a parent that was either unemployed, attending school or permanently unable to work.

For me, the decision of staying home was not financially feasible at the time. When I became a working mom, I was naive on the difficulties I would be faced with. As a lot of moms would know, you morph into that “everything mom:” the family administrator, the taxi driver, the maid, the cook, the nurse, and teacher. I wear a lot of hats being a mother. When I was back at work, I wore all of these hats, among the several I wore at my “daytime” job. Shuffling all of these hats came at the expense of my mental health. Stress is one of the leading causes of emotional and physical health decline in moms, today. The amount of stress working moms experience jumped 40% compared to full- time women who do not have children. As a working mom, we continue to move forward, because it’s expected of us. At some point, somewhere, it has been increasingly clear that once your maternity leave is over, we go back to work.

I remember, everyday driving to work, I would be mentally checking off my to-do list. I was setting reminders on my phone, appointments, playdates, family events, and not to mention all of the reminders at work for important follow-ups and deadlines. By the time your work day ends, I’m scrambling to get to daycare on time, all while remembering if I pulled out something for dinner. There is no doubt I was constantly looking at the clock, counting down the minutes to bedtime. Finally, bedtime comes, my daughter is peacefully sleeping, and I start feeling guilty. Guilty that I ran myself so thin, and that I lost sight of the meaningful moments with my daughter and my husband. My husband certainly receives the short end of the stick, most days. Not because I don’t value his love and appreciation, but because my time has run short.

As a working mom, once I have created a routine that works, you now have to factor in your sick child. The social demand of moms going back to work, now translates into your child going to daycare. While our children are attending daycare, it is to be expected that they are exposed to an unlimited amount of germs. The average amount of cold viruses your child might be exposed too are between 8-12 per year (as per Statistic Canada). The list of illnesses that they might be exposed too (not including colds) can vary, but they can happen at any time. The average cold virus can require stay-at home care between 2-4 days; longer duration depending on the daycare provider and illness. A working mom, like myself I am only entitled to 2-3 paid sick days per year. This hardly covers me for only 1 illness, if I’m lucky. If you require more days, or your child is sick often, you are often left using your vacation days, asking family, friends, or neighbours. For myself , I don’t get the luxury to have family come in and help us when our children are sick, we don’t have family who live locally. I would be using unpaid days off.

Additionally, what happens when we get sick. So using your 2-3 sick days for the year on your child, plus any additional time you have used, you now have to be off for even longer, when you fall ill. However, using unpaid days doesn’t always get you an understanding golden ticket with your employer. So many moms, you get the opposite treatment. Mandatory requests to make up each day you have been absent, working overtime, or attending countless meetings to review the reasons “WHY” you have been absent. Not to mention the ridicule you face among your colleagues and/or manager because they were likely accommodating absences. This is a vicious cycle that is never ending. Do you go to work sick, and get everyone else sick. Do you stay home and use what availability you have. In the end, your biggest uphill battle is your need of accommodation and support from your employer.

With several studies and conclusive research, it has been proven that working moms multitask exceeding more than 10 hours per week. While feeling the demand to go back to work, there is no escape from public scrutiny “How can you leave your child?” ” Don’t you feel guilty?” “Have you properly researched your caregiver?’ On the flip side, if you choose to be a stay-at home mom you also hear “How do you contribute to paying bills?” “How are you able to save for retirement?” “It must be so nice to not have to work.” No matter the decision you choose, you are constantly judged for your choices. None of these choices get you a “free pass” from judgement.

My husband is a full time advisor. His career commitment is something I have been the most supportive of. He will spend breakfast with my daughter and I, and then off to work he goes. Most days he is gone until dinner time, 6-6:30PM, and other times he is not home until after dinner time, 8:30PM. While he is working full time into most evenings, no one ever questions him about his time spent away from his family. No one questions his active parental role, and wonders if he feels guilty about being away. If a dad chooses to stay home with their child, do you think he will experience the same judgement and expectations as mothers? Will he be questioned by society’s standards about all of his parenting decisions, or will be praised with gratitude for “trying?” If your husband stays home consistently with your sick child, will be pulled into meetings regarding his several absences, or will he be given understanding during this difficult time through this adjustment period? Time has changed. Dad’s are not staying at home full time or even part time. They certainly are not expected to work full time and manage the household duties to the same extent as mothers. Women are expected to do it all. Women are expected to withhold their full time job, while managing the house, without question. If husbands are not expected to withhold the same level of expectations, why are we? Somewhere, and somehow the status quo is that mothers must do it all while facing criticism, while fathers go to work, come home and participate when they can, and receive no judgement.

Mothers are the most stressed. Mothers need the most support, understanding and patience today, than ever before. A study from University of Manchester and the University of Essex which was published by The Globe & Mail https://globalnews.ca/news/4896926/working-mothers-more-stressed-study/ discovered that accommodaions, such as, “working from home and flexible office hours did not improve stress levels” Mothers are, and will always be the primary caregivers in most family settings. This is not to say that fathers do not care, this is just a “natural” fact of life.

Pushing through all of these demands that were thrown at me has led me to develop PTSD taruma, anxiety as well as clinical depression in addition to additional emotional hardship. It has become so vividly clear that there is a very clear divide between what society & employers expect of you, as a working mom, and what is realistic. Realistic expectations do not exist in most employment settings. To be told that “we can’t find the means to accommodate you” , suggesting a “career change” or “maybe you should apply for STD” are not realistic approaches and will never solve this stigma that exist. These were all the approaches thrown at me while severely struggling mentally.

I was struggling the most while trying to return to work and factoring in my need to breastfeed/pump, I was clearly denied. Denied the space and denied the time. This not only forced me to abruptly stop, but mentally and emotionally this was a forced decision that not affected myself, but affected my daughter. To make matters worse, I was later told months after I had forcibly quit breastfeeding, that space would now be available. This is what escalated a mental breakdown. This is what triggered traumatic stress.

We have come along way with recognizing women’s equality, and equality in the workplace, but when I look at all of my efforts and how much I have given it all, it never seems to be enough or seldom recognized. We have still failed as a society. We have allowed working mothers to feel so much burden, and stress from the pressures of work at the expense of our mental health without any support from their employer and with a severe lack of empathy. We have ignored as a society that this is a fundamental women’s rights issue that isn’t talked about. It needs to be talked about. Mothers are the foundation in most families. Mothers play some of the most important roles in our child’s life, so why aren’t we embracing that as a society? As a society, if we can’t create an equal parental ground between fathers and mothers, then how can it be socially acceptable to judge and criticise a mother for needing to catch their breath, or take a break?

There are so many things a “working mom” relies on in order to make transitioning back to work a positive experience, and that comes with a certain level of understanding and support from their employer. Support of a feasible schedule. A schedule that isn’t given on a Friday so we know what we are expected to work for the Monday. We need proper notice. We have a family, and we rely on adequate timing of our schedule, not 2 days notice.

For all of my moms near and far, I am sending you love, and support!

XO

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!