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!

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!

Modesty: See more, Be more

Photo by tiverylucky- Image ID: 100319198

Photo by tiverylucky- Image ID: 100319198

For decades our culture has stopped valuing modesty, instead valuing women for all the wrong reasons. Yet, as parents, we try to teach our children to dress and act appropriately despite what we see and hear around us. How difficult is it to teach our children, teenagers and young adults the value of self-worth and respect, when our culture isn’t teaching it?

I don’t have children yet, but I do fear, when the time comes, what this will be like for them.

We live in a “sex-crazed” society; sexual messages are everywhere, and are reviewed by children. What was once known as unacceptable or risqué is now accepted and we see it everyday. There is no wonder, some boys and men experience difficulty fighting  their temptations, or sudden urges to look, speak and act, when sex is around us, all the time. It is very important to understand, men have a responsibility to control, but .. women have responsibility, too. Women have to start taking responsibility for their wardrobes or lack there of. What you choose to wear, and how you wear it, reflects who you are, more so, it will impact the type of men you attract. This can impact their behaviours and attitudes they have towards YOU, and sex. You have to think about the kind of man you want in your life.  If you choose to dress seductively, you are sending a message implying you are “impure,” and attracting a man who is fine with that. If you choose to dress more modest, you will attract a man who is attracted to who you are as a person.

To be modest, doesn’t have to mean, you cover yourself from head to toe. Although, in some religious beliefs, perhaps this does. Modesty can mean different things, to different people. Someone who is modest, doesn’t solicit them self by how they dress. In order to teach this to young girls, you have to decide what you consider to be modest. This has become more difficult because society’s standards have changed. When I was in school, exposing bra straps were considered embarrassing. Shopping for bras, when I was a young girl, were plain, and considered “no big deal,” as far as style and colour choices are concerned. Today, stores have “sexified” undergarments and have also added thongs and Brazilian cut panties for young girls. Girls, today, purposely show their bra straps, and  thongs, not to mention wearing pantyhose as pants.

So how do we decide what is modest, and what isn’t? How do we change what has already happened? This is a decision up to you, as parents, to set this standard. This is a decision you have to make with your spouse. You can not make a decision and have it be effective, if you include your daughter. Discuss what clothing you find acceptable and NOT acceptable in public. Talk about specific ages to wear heels, and make up. Parents, familiarize yourself with the latest trends, fad’s and slang.  Hidden sexual messages are all over clothes and accessories today, and slang is used everyday. Unfortunately, most of these things slip under the parental radar, not because you don’t care,  because the “meanings” have changed. Communicate with your daughter, your daughter’s friends, and do your research. Simple fact, if you don’t know, chances are, your daughter does, Ask! Most importantly, stay connected with your daughter, this includes telling your daughter how beautiful and proud you are of her. Help them understand why this is important, and teach them along the way, so they can make good decisions on their own.

Women already have a hard time being valued, respected and treated, don’t add more fuel to the fire, by wearing something that gives others the opportunity to devalue who you are. We live in the twenty-first century, its time to stop blaming media for everything, men for “gawking,” and embrace modesty.

8 Success Tips for Marriage

From dating, to marriage, no one really prepares us for the next stage in our life. We are given advice from family & friends, we refer to books, and online resources, but not all advice applies to our own relationship. If there is one thing that is true, from books, advice, or online, is that  no marriage is easy or  perfect,  but that’s what makes it real.

Along the way, we figure it out, and sometimes make mistakes. Some mistakes can affect our marriage.  I want to discuss some important points to make your marriage better.

1. Be Patient

Photo by David Castillo Dominici-Image ID: 100122416

Photo by David Castillo Dominici -Image ID: 100122416

It is so important to be patient with your spouse. This doesn’t come easy, and some will say, “I am patient.” My question to you is, are you always? Men and women, react, reflect, interpret and communicate differently. While most women find it easy to express how they feel, happy, sad or angry, for men, this isn’t always easy. Let’s take a look at chores. We all have them, they need to be done, and we expect our husband or partner to help. Women, you ask your husband or partner to “tidy” the living room.  You have given the task, while you clean another room. You and your husband or partner are finished, and you come to find a stack of papers, or books left on the coffee table,  and blankets piled at the end of the couch.  At this point, you ask “why didn’t you tidy the living room?”  The response from your husband  or partner , “it is tidy?” When communicating, understand that your husband or partner’s interpretation might be different. Even though the room doesn’t look “tidy” to you, it looks tidy to him.

2. Communicate

Photo by photostock- Image ID: 10034198

Photo by photostock- ImageID: 10034198

It’s important to be clear when communicating with your spouse. It’s true what they say, men are not mind readers. Men and women process information differently. If you say you are “fine,” or “you should know why I’m mad”  this is very insensitive and unfair to your husband. Men are not “wired” the same as women. Men don’t always know when they have hurt your feelings.  Communicate with your husband or partner on how you feel.

I’m still learning to do this, but when you have mastered this, it will make a positive difference.

3. Respect your partner

One of the most important things a man needs is, respect and to be respected. He desires it most from his wife or partner. The saying, “you have to earn respect to gain respect,” is true, but you have to remember he is human. We all make mistakes, and no one is perfect. To lead a healthy and happy family, both partners need to be respected, even if you feel your husband or partner didn’t deserve it.  If you continue to respect your husband or partner, it will help motivate him to earn it. This doesn’t mean you ignore his bad decisions, pretend they don’t exist, these will still need to be communicated. It means, you need to discuss your differences with respect.

4.  Forgiveness

Photo by stockimages -Image ID: 100108461

Photo by stockimages -Image ID: 100108461

At some point in our lives, we all make mistakes. There comes a point in our life where we need to choose to make forgiveness a life long habit. This includes big ones, small ones, or even annoyances – ( most mornings I have to forgive my husband for leaving breakfast crumbs on the counter or the window open in the bathroom during the winter). No one says forgiveness is easy, but the more you forgive, the less room there is for resentment.

5. Date Night

Photo by nuttakit-  Image ID: 10036113

Photo by Nuttakit- ImageID: 10036113

This one has been around a long time, and there are so many articles supporting scheduled date nights. This is something my husband and I make a habit of doing each week.  You can never stop dating your spouse.  It’s a funny thought, “we are married, we are done dating,” but its true. You need to set time aside for just you and your spouse, and talk about each other. Don’t talk about your kids, bills or work. Just each other. Scheduled date nights, don’t have to be costly. Some inexpensive ideas:

  • Take a walk
  • Eat in, but catch a movie out
  • Go to a cafe
  • Movie in, with popcorn or your favourite snack( Plan a babysitter, play date ) Or wait until your kids are asleep.
  • Cook together, eat together

Spending one-on-one time allows you to connect emotionally and  learn something new about each other.

6. Never threaten

Sometimes we find ourselves in an angry spot. Never threaten, unless you mean it, and you plan to follow through. Sometimes couples will often threat separation or divorce when they are angry. This tactic is cruel and unfair to your spouse. Threatening is a TEMPORARY way out, that can lead to more harm than good. There are other ways to get past this method.

  • Take a breather
  • Communication Talk when ready, and calm.
  • Seek advice from an outside, reputable source if communication doesn’t work.
7. Don’t criticize

Criticizing your spouse is hurtful and embarrassing, even if it’s done with friends. Making this a habit will damage the respect you have with each other, and makes it uncomfortable for others around you.

8. Love

Photo by Sharron Goodyear- Image ID: 1003633

Photo by Sharron Goodyear- Image ID: 1003633

No one said marriage is  easy. What we see on television, or read about in books, is not always true. Marriage takes work, and commitment. There might be times you might question the love you have for each other, or the attraction you have towards your spouse, but always choose to love each other. The day you walked down the aisle and read your  vows are so sacred. You made a commitment to each other. To have , and to hold, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. They don’t say “to have to hold anyone you please” or “in good times only.”  They say to have, AND to hold, implying, holding each other. In sickness AND in health. Good times AND in bad times. There will be bad times, along the way. Remember to love in the good parts AND in the bad. Good times, will always out way the bad times!