Managing the Mental Load

There are a lot of things you prepare for when you’re about to enter parenthood.

You know you’re going to be sleep deprived, you know things will be challenging, you know you’re going to buy/wash a bazillion diapers, you know things are going to change a bazillion diapers.

What you don’t know, is along with all these things, there is another item added to the list. It’s one that is constantly running in the background and one that you probably don’t even realize is there but it is just as exhasting as the sleepless nights.

It’s called the “mental load” and I was first introduced to it by this BRILLIANT comic. Seriously, you need to take 5 minutes and read it.

So what is the Mental Load? The notion that you always have to remember everything.

It’s the running checklist you constantly update in your head. Looks something like this.

You go to put a dish in the dishwasher. You get there and realize you need to unload it. As you’re putting dishes away, you remember that you have to pick up sippy cups at the store because your toddler smashed the last one and you had to throw it out. CRAP, you forgot to take the garbage out. You start to tie up the garbage bag a remember you also need to buy garbage bags because you’re out. You go to the closet to take out a plastic bag you stored there and see the kids have left a mess on the floor. You chide yourself for not making them clean that up before they went down for a nap. SHIT, you were going to start a load of laundry at nap time. You trudge up the stairs to grab your laundry and make a mental note to try and read a chapter of that book you left on the stairs. This goes on until you finally get to sit down to have a glass of wine when you realize your clean cups are in the dishwasher you forgot to unload.

It’s that OH so common feeling about doing shit all day without actually getting anything done. Sound familiar?

The good news is, you’re not alone. While typically this is known to be present in mothers, I think it’s a common side effect of parenting.

There is so much going, in addition to remembering your own stuff, you now have to remember stuff for yourself, for your family and everything in between. The struggle is VERY very real.

I also found managing this load put a lot of stress on myself and my husband. I took it all on myself and began to resent him when realizing he wasn’t taking it on as much as I had.

Here are some tips on how to manage this:

Make a list

Are you laughing at me right now? I know, I am too a little bit. Who the EFF has time to sit down and make a list? Ok, let’s be realistic.

Open a note on your phone. In said note, use the talk to text function and blurt out all the things you have on your mind and things you want/need to accomplis. MAKE SURE SELF CARE IS ON THAT LIST.

Prioritize

Then, after the kids are in bed and you’re watching Netflix, take a second to prioritize that list. And don’t tell me you’re REALLY into that episode of Friends you’re watching for the 50th time. I know you’re just mindlessly scrolling the ‘Gram. So multitask. You’re a mom for god sake, you’re a MF pro at it.

FOCUS FOR GOD SAKE

Now, when you start to chisle away at that BEAUTIFUL list you just made, try and focus on one or two of those tasks at a time.

My biggest struggle (and maybe because I have ADD) I’m terrible at finishing one task at a time. I somehow feel like if I do 90 all at once, I’m more productive. Then at the end of the day I’m exhuasted and haven’t accomplished shit.

So whenever you’re in the middle of something and feel pulled away, remember to STAY in that task for a few minutes more.

Listen – it’s hard when you’re a parent and you’re pulled in 100 different directions. Sometimes this isn’t always possible and I totally acknowledge that.

Funny Sidebar: It took me a good 2 weeks to write this post because I started it, got pulled away and then forgot about it. So. It’s not always perfect.

How do you manage the mental load? Plsszzzz share your tips here or DM me on Instagram.

On not feeling good enough

I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole body positivity movement that’s happening right now.

On so many levels, it’s the best thing to happen. More and more I’m seeing my feed fill up with pictures of women proudly owning their bodies and grinning from ear to ear. There are SO many amazing accounts that are inspiring women to just put on the damn shorts and wear that crop top.

But here’s where I struggle.

All of this is amazing. They are all great things to do to help you feel confident in your own skin.

But here is what this movement doesn’t overtly address. The REAL reason we hate our bodies to begin with.

Yes, we all know the media plays a huge part but it is NOT the only reason.

The real reason is much deeper (and harder to address). The one below the layer of “I don’t like the way my stomach jiggles”.

It’s the thing that you’ve pushed down or forgotten or don’t want to think about. It’s something happened to you when you were younger that caused you trauma in some way.

Now, trauma is a relative term. There is the horrible things that you think of when you hear “trauma”- sexual assault, emotional/physical abuse, a car accident. All very difficult and very real versions of trauma.

But there’s also the version that you don’t think of:

  • A parent leaving a child.
  • That one time as a kid where you felt strong and proud and relative made a (seemingly harmless) joke about your baby fat.
  • Or the time you were so proud of something and the adult you were most excited to show, brushed you aside and made you feel small and unimportant.

As a child, trauma can present itself in any shape or form. It doesn’t have to be something horrific and awful. Sometimes all it takes is one small moment (no pressure, parents) to alter the child’s perception of themselves forever.

And a lot of it comes back to – “I’m not good enough.”

“If I was good enough, my parent wouldn’t have walked out on us”

“If I was good enough, they wouldn’t have joked about my baby fat”

“If I was good enough, she would have cared about what I was showing them”

And often – that wound isn’t treated. So it slowly starts to fester and manifest into an internal dialogue that keeps saying “You’re not good enough. You’re not worth it.”

And until we address that original “wound”, it will never truly heal, no matter how many crop tops and positive affirmations we say to ourselves. It helps, but it’s kind of like putting a band-aid on a bullet hole (that one for my T-Swift fans out there). It’s not enough to make ourselves BELIEVE that we are good enough.

It’s worth mentioning, having a negative relationship with our bodies isn’t the only way these traumas surface. Some people medicate with drugs, alcohol or self-harm. I’m only talking about the body issues because this is what I struggle with.

Ok, so how can we address this?

Well, therapy for starters.

But also – the next time you are having a particularly bad day when you feel down and shit about your body, pay attention to that feeling. For me, it’s a pit in my stomach and a tightening in my chest.

Then reach back in time and try and think to that one moment where you first felt that feeling. Where were you? Who were you with? What was going on? What was said to give you that feeling? No moment is insignificant. Write it down.

I’ll bet that when you get back there (and it’s scary and hard, I know) you’re going to have a moment of “holy shit” and recognize where these deep seeded feeling of “not being enough” comes from.

For me – I was in kindergarten. There was a race where the kids in JK were paired up with an older “buddy”. We were running a race of some sort and we had to run together. I was tired so asked if we could walk. My friend and her buddy ran by and asked my buddy why we weren’t running. He said “Oh, she’s slow and wants to walk.”

Did he mean anything by it? Probably not. Is it a big deal? Not really. Yet in that moment, I remember feeling the most shame I’ve ever felt in my life. After that day, I started looking (subconsciously) for more examples of not being good enough. Trust me, they’re easy to find.

Guys, it’s a long, exhaustive journey with no clear destination. There are a lot of scenic routes and stops. A lot of detours. A LOT of bumps. But finding that one moment will help you in ways I can’t even express.

I hope you give it a try. If you want to share it with me, please feel free to send me a DM in Instagram. I’d love to hear from you.

And also? You are fucking good enough. You are amazing and capable and incredible. You are living and breathing and taking it one day at a time. So yea, you’re fucking worth it and you’re good enough.

On my eating disorder.

I’m standing in a store, trying on clothes. The size I normally buy is too tight. I know I have to go up a size. I feel so defeated, so crushed. I’m a failure.

This triggers me. I want to go home and get a rush. That feeling I get. I’m buzzing because all I can think about is going home and getting that next fix. I’m also edgy and agitated because I have to wait until I get home to get what I want. So I can do it in peace.

It’s not a drug, at least not in the common sense of the word. 

I want food.

Food is my drug. Food is my medicine. Nothing will calm my nerves like it.

This is me, about 14 years ago. Second year university.

I had just lost a pile of weight (my “freshman 15” was more like “Freshman lost-count-after-30”) and had done so in a way that I thought was healthy. I was doing Weight Watchers and that can’t be bad, right?

What I also had done was deprive myself of what I really wanted. I never used my weekly points or my exercise points. I got a a rush out of going to bed hungry and felt so proud that I hadn’t eaten those fries. I also ran 5KM a day AT MINIMUM. I WOULD COUNT GUM POINTS. Yea. I only had 1 piece of gum a day because it was only 0.5 points.

Yet, I was getting so much praise and reward from those around me. Telling me how great I looked and how amazing I was.

But here I was, 135lbs, a size 4 and absolutely miserable. I was hungry, I was unfulfilled. Wasn’t I supposed to feel amazing being so small? “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”

Well, turns out, that’s bullshit. There was no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Now big reward for getting to a size 4.

So, here I was, back a school. Stressed, anxious and HUNGRY. (Have I mentioned I was hungry?)

I started to eat and drink all the booze. It started innocently enough. A poutine after the bar, a McDouble on the way home from class. Then peanut butter. Food became something I thought about constantly.

And to clarify, this was not in the cute way “Tee hee I just love food”

No, food consumed my every thought. Everything I did was driven by my desire to consume more. When can I eat next? When can I get my next fix? I would get anxiety before the end of a meal wondering when I was going to be able to eat again without it being gross.

Depending on the day, it didn’t really matter what the food was. Chips were my drug of choice, but if I was stressed out enough, anything would do. 8 bowls of cereal, an entire jar of peanut butter, a bag of fries from the freezer, a bag of M&Ms.

I ate to feel that rush. To get that satisfaction. That buzz. 

But then, at the bottom of the bag of chips, that feeling wore off and I was consumed with guilt. How could I let that happen again? How could I be so stupid?

I would resolve to NEVER to that again. I was going to start counting points again, work out 5 times a week for AT LEAST an hour, walk to class, drink only water. All these empty promises I made to myself.

Then, the next day would come and the cycle would repeat. As the weight crept back on, I felt guiltier and shittier. I was worth nothing.

And this pattern has continued, on and off ever since.

I KNEW that what I was feeling wasn’t normal. I knew that I had a problem, but like any good addict, I wasn’t willing to face the facts. I wasn’t ready to do the work to fix whatever it was that was TRULY causing me pain.

Plus, binge eating was THAT big of a problem, right? I knew of anorexia, Bulimia, but I never threw up after a binge so I was probably just lazy.

Then I decided to look up “Binge Eating Disorder” online and felt like I had been punched in the gut.  I was checking ever.single.box.

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as over a two-hour period
  • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
  • Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
  • Eating rapidly during binge episodes
  • Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
  • Frequently eating alone or in secret
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss

Here’s the thing about an eating disorder like this one – no one thinks it’s a thing (unless you make yourself puke at the end) and they just assume you’re too fat and lazy to do something about it. “You should just stop, just stop eating. Go for a run.”

Right.

Here’s the thing about eating disorders in general…it’s not like drugs or alcohol. You can’t cut food out of your life. You HAVE to eat. But, like a drug, once you have a taste, you can’t stop.

As I’m writing this, I’m beginning to second guess myself. Shame myself a bit even. I feel guilty bringing something like this up when there are people literally starving in this world and here I am complaining that I eat TOO much.

But this is my battle and what I struggle with. I eat to deal with my emotional pain. I eat to celebrate. I eat because I’m bored and it’s something to do. Food is my crutch.

Now, I’ve come a LONG way since that period in my life. I DID get help, I’ve done a lot of healing and work. But I never came to terms with the fact that I was struggling with aneating disorder. It was too scary.

And while I no longer binge like I used to, I still do. I still can’t stop myself sometimes. Sometimes I still eat until I feel sick. Not often, but it happens.

So I’m finally calling it what it is and taking steps to heal. I’m done fighting and pretending that I have poor will power. That I’m a lazy person and somehow that means I’m a failure. My eating is disordered and it’s time for me to figure out why.

Plus, sometime just calling something what it is, takes away so much of its power.

If you’ve every experienced this or something similar, I would love to connect with you and chat. You can find me here (through the comments) or on Instagram @spitupandsippycups.

Guest Post: Sara

Today’s #FeatureFriday is my lovely friend Sara – we first connected via Instagram/Royally Fit and later met IRL at a boss babe event.

Sara is such a fun, kind and beautiful soul and I LOVE the photos that she does.

Her post brought me some serious feels. I’ll let you read it, but for anyone who has/is struggling on their breastfeeding journey, I think it will resonate with you too.

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“I’ll be breastfeeding my baby no matter what!”

I must’ve said that 100 times while pregnant with my first daughter. To my mother in law, my mum, my friends, my husband…anybody who tried to get me to see the other outcomes. Well-meaning people who just wanted to introduce me to the idea that it may not work and that it would be ok if it didn’t.

But, I refused to hear it. I refused to believe that there was any reason why I couldn’t do it.

Now, before you leap off your couch and chase me with pitch forks and fire. I was not of the mindset that breast is best. I have ALWAYS believed that fed is best. But for me, for my dream feeding scenario, the way I wanted to feed my baby was by nursing. I so badly wanted to snuggle their little body against mine, smell their lovely baby head and feed them the way nature intended. And save some money…if I’m being brutally honest. #maternityleave

Imagine how crushing it was when the milk never came.

Let’s rewind a little bit.

I was pregnant with my first baby. A baby I wished for and tried for and wanted so badly. We were truly hashtag blessed. I had decided to go with midwife care – which I LOVED – and was determined to breastfeed this baby. Probably until she was 13 (not actually). I knew I wanted an epidural (I’m no hero) but, wanted to prolong it as long as I possibly could. I was going to push that baby out and get to hold her on my chest immediately, we’d nurse flawlessly, and rainbows would emerge in the sky among us.

The Universe had other plans for us…

This baby would. not. come. out. to the point where my midwife had to transfer care to the on-call OB so that she could vacuum her out. That still didn’t work. Out came the forceps…and you know how the story ends. If you don’t, don’t google it. I didn’t get to see Lucy until the next afternoon when I was wheeled into the NICU and we tried nursing for the first time. I couldn’t wait – this was my time to shine!

Here comes the Universe again, ready to tear that dream up.

Nursing did not come easily. We tried, and tried and tried some more. We used nipple shields, pumps, syringes, tubes, visited lactation consultants, drank nasty tea. But, there was not a single drop of milk to be had. I so badly wanted to do this. I was ashamed to go out with my baby and feed her a bottle. I felt embarrassed when people asked why I wasn’t nursing her. It took everything in my not to break down and cry when I saw other mother’s nursing their children.

Cue the PPD/A, the darkest days of my life, the loneliest days of my life. As someone who has always had body image issues this was just another body disappointment to add to my lengthy list. My body had failed me on the one thing it was supposed to be built to do naturally. I had completely failed my child, our connection was in jeopardy. We probably woudn’t have any kind of bond. I mentally beat myself up about it for a LONG time. What was wrong with me?

Quite a lot in fact.

My placenta had not come away the way it was supposed to following Lucy’s birth. In fact, it stuck around – undiagnosed – for a month after she was born. After multiple visits to the hospital, an exciting ambulance ride (not really), and numerous extraction attempts (surgical and non), and one lengthy hospital stay while I fought off mysterious infections and received multiple blood transfusion we finally had answers. See, when your placenta is still adhered to your uterus…your body still thinks you’re pregnant and therefore milk does not produce. Colostrum, yes. I did get about 2 ouches of that (WIN!) but, no milk.

I finally had answers. But, I didn’t feel any better. I was sick, and had been poked, prodded, on drugs, and was unbelievably exhausted from the blood loss, depression and crippling anxiety. I was so done. I needed to focus on getting healthy – mentally and physically – and could not bring myself to start that breastfeeding journey all over again. What if I still had issues? I didn’t have the strength to start all over again. But, I also didn’t have the strength to stand up for my decision and to believe that I was doing what was right.

The memes; the Facebook mom group discussions; the motivational quotes. Just google breastfeeding quotes and it’s easy to see why someone who wasn’t able to breastfeed or who CHOSE not to breastfeed (which was my decision with baby #2) and it’s no wonder we feel ashamed about mixing a formula bottle in the middle of the mall while Brenda over there judges our “horrible parenting decision”.  “Breastfeeding isn’t a choice don’t you know? It’s a responsibility!” No offense to any Brenda’s.

But, this story isn’t to get sympathy or to have someone tell me I made the right choice. And it’s certainly not to have people tell me I made the wrong choice. It’s not to villainize the breastfeeding champions or victimize those of us who didn’t, don’t or have no desire to nurse. This story is to open people’s eyes to the fact that we don’t know someone else’s story. Nor do we need to know everyone’s story. It’s really none of our business.  I’m hoping that my story will help you approach this motherhood journey with grace and to reserve judgement about another mother’s choices. To listen, respect and be kind.

And most importantly – to show yourself grace as you enter this exciting, new, confusing, exhaustion chapter of your story. Do what you need to do for your health. Make decisions based on what works for your family. Ask for help when you need it. Take help when it’s offered. Don’t let people’s opinions weigh so heavily on you. As my #1 role model, Ru Paul says “People have been talking since the beginning of time. Unless they’re paying your bills, pay those bitches no mind.” Can I get an Amen up in here?

For those of you who have a similar story to mine. Know that it’s ok. How you’re feeding your baby is rooted in love. You’re so strong!  For those of you who are breastfeeding, how you’re feeding your baby is rooted in love. You’re so strong! For those of you who are tube feeding, how you’re feeding your baby is rooted in love. You’re so strong!

YOU are the world’s best mama for your littles.

Fed is best. Kindness is best. Love is best. And really, at the end of the day, they’ll all eat sand and dirty car floor crackers.

You can follow Sara on IG: @sara.inreallifephoto

What happened when we cut back screen time.

Okay, before I dive into this, I want to make something perfectly clear. This post is in no way meant to be shamey or judgmental. All I’m doing is sharing our families experience of cutting back screen time. This could look different for other families, and not all kids are as susceptible to the effects of screen time. Just wanted to state that at the top.

Also, for the purpose of this post, “Screen Time” is the iPad/Tablet. We didn’t watch a ton of TV.

As I’ve mentioned before, O has BIG emotions. It’s funny, for the first 3 months of his life, O was the absolute chillest baby. He slept like a log, wasn’t terribly fussy. For lack of a better term, he was the “perfect” baby.

Then around 3 months, everything changed. He started making strange VERY early on and only wanted to be held by me or Boppa. He didn’t like being put down, nothing would hold his attention for more than 2-3 minutes (seriously) and when he wanted something, BOY did you know.

Around the 15 month mark, we had W and it was a big challenge trying to balance the two despite how much help I had. The one thing that would keep O occupied was either the Wiggles or the little tablet that we had. I honestly don’t even remember the first time we gave it to him, he just had it.

This little magic machine allowed me to have a few moments to myself while W was sleeping (like, I don’t know, eat something or have a coffee). Sometimes, the only way we could get him to eat something other than Crunchies was to have him watch the tablet. (I KNOW OK, I KNOW)

As time went on, I reached for the tablet more often than I care to admit. I was drowning and honestly, just needed the distraction for him. W wasn’t as interested, but he also was (is) attached to my hip.

Every time I did reach for it, I would justify it by thinking “Oh, I need to make dinner” or “Oh, he hasn’t had it that much today” and honestly, you kind of loose track of the time they spend on them.

The tablets became part of our routine. Getting up in the morning, give them tablets so I could make their breakfast and get ready for the day myself. They’re up by 5:30-6 and despite how early I get up, it’s like they hear me and were up at the same time. When I started back at work, they were only 2.5 and 12 mo.

Honestly, it was about survival. I have no regrets about that period. Plus, I will say, they learned a lot of songs, counting and colours from them. They were watching SOME decent videos.

However, the boys got older, and Os tantrums were getting worse and more explosive. In the back of my head, I knew the tablets had something to do with it, but I wasn’t ready to fight that fight. I was still exhausted.

Then, one day, O had his worst one yet (which I talk about here) and I was done. After reaching out to my amazing IG community, the answer was pretty clear: Pay attention to the amount of time he spends on his tablet and see if you notice a pattern.

And wow…did I ever. If we watched a couple episodes of Paw Patrol on the TV in the morning, he was fine. But watch more that 15 mins on the tablet…game over.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. Bring on the Mom Guilt, the shame. We were those parents, using the tablets as a babysitter. I think it hit me so hard because I knew, in my heart, that was a lot of the problem. I just chose to ignore it.

So, J and I had a chat and decided it was time to cut WAY WAY WAY back. No more tablets at the table. No more tablets in the morning. No more tablets before bed.

When they did get them, we set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes. When the timer went off, they had to turn them off or else they lost all their privileges.

It was fucking hard. Those things are like a drug to them. A LOT of tears, a lot of upsetness, a lot of anger. It was so hard for us not to throw in the towel. But I kept thinking WWMD (what would Meemaw do) and we stuck to our guns.

It’s been about a month since we did this and here is what we noticed:

  1. Drastic drop in tantrums/meltdown – yes, they are still there (he IS 3 after all) but the length, the level and the emotions have come way down
  2. More imaginative play – Both of them are playing longer and more imaginatively by themselves. I’m sure part of this is tied to age, but I’ve noticed a substantial difference since limiting their devices.
  3. Eating better – it’s that whole thing, when you’re paying attention to what you’re eating, you feel more satisfied. Believe it or not, since taking tablets away at dinner time, O has been much more adventurous with food.
  4. They’ve stopped asking for them – SAY WHAT?! I know. I mean, sure. If they see them, they want to play on them. But we put them up high so “out of sight, out of mind” and they no longer ask for them in the morning.
  5. Playing together nicely (mostly) – Listen, they still fight, they still bicker (they’re siblings after all) but outside of that, they are playing so well together. Again, could be the fact they are growing up, but it definitely had improved.
  6. I’m on my phone less too – I figure, I can’t very well tell the boys they can’t have screen time and then be on my phone in front of them. So, I try to limit the amount of time I spend scrolling through IG.

HOW ANNOYING IS THAT?! Honestly, I was secretly hoping on some level that nothing would change and I would be able to say “SEE IT WASN’T THAT” but here we are.

Again, I wouldn’t change anything before this. My kids are 15mo apart. It was about survival or else literally nothing would have gotten done. We did what we did because that’s what worked for us, until it didn’t.

So – have you gone through something similar? Tell me what you noticed!

GUEST POST: Meredith K

It’s #FeatureFriday and this week I’m so excited to introduce you all the Meredith.

I met Meredith through Hot Mommas Hip Hop and fell in LOVE with her energy and enthusiasm. I’ll let you read her post, but this woman has gone through so major shit in her life and has found a way to work through it and rise to the top.

I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did, and be sure to reach out to her with any questions or comments you might have!

Annotation 2019-08-08 134202Hey all!
My name is Merideth, and I’m a mom to 2.5 (almost 3) year old wild child Lennon and step mom to Avery age 15 and Mackenzie age 18. I’m super blessed to have bonus babies and enjoy a blended family for the last 7.5 years! Oh and I’m almost 40!!🤪
I most recently closed my business of running a dance studio for 15 years and am shifting into a new career as a makeup artist and blogger. I have a passion project entitled “Kaleighs Cause” that’s a youth empowerment foundation connecting young women to extra curricular activities to help promote positive self esteem. And currently helping women have fun, and feel sexy teaching “Hot Mommas Hip Hop” with Royally Fit! As you can see my interests lye in helping women feel their best!!! Mind, booty and makeup.
Motherhood is everything and more than I thought it would be, in the best and worst ways. Yes it’s magical but also exhausting and isolating. And step motherhood is even more difficult to navigate as there’s not much advice or support for that community…. thanks to @jamiescrimgeour for her platform! Motherhood has forced me to deal with my mental health and body dysmorphia issues and allowed me the space to give myself grace. After being diagnosed with PTSD from childhood trauma and recovering from serious body dysmorphia I know the importance of self care and that includes mental health.
Seek help if you feel like you’re struggling, as I can assure you you’re not alone. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and my family. I continue to see a psychiatrist and my dr for regular mental health checkups and I take a daily med to keep me from having severe episodes. I’m no longer ashamed and am proud of the work I’ve done!
Some quick tips and tricks that have helped me: 
  • breathe… no for real take a deep breath or maybe 10 when you feel overwhelmed
  • check in with yourself- do you need a break? Or 10 mins alone?
  • take care of you first, you’re no good to anyone else if your cup is empty
  • ask for help- others don’t know if you don’t ask!! Open the dialogue
  • 10 minutes of stretching, walking, journaling, working out, meditation
  • find things that make you feel instantly happy- for me that’s dancing
  • shake it off… as Taylor would say!
Thank you so much to Lisa for having me as a part of this community, feel free to connect with me if any of this sounds like you too!
You can find Meredith here: @meredithlkahn

Your relationship after kids

Next up on list of topics of “shit no one wants to talk about” – how much your relationship changes after kids.

When you make a tiny human with someone (or go through the process of adoption) you have all these ideas in your head about how things are going to go. It think it’s only human to romanticize them and imagine EXACTLY how things are going to look and feel.

Flash forward to 2 weeks post-baby.

There’s a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. No one has slept. The only food you’ve eaten was once frozen and/or brought over by someone else. You both smell. The baby finally fell asleep so you both go to lay down. He falls asleep and just as you’re about to, the baby starts crying.

Your partner is sound asleep and snoring.

There is a firey rage that flashes across your eyes. Not that it matters, your baby probably only wants you anyway.

Having a baby changes EVERYTHING.

I love J more than anything but let me tell you…having kids has seriously put our marriage to the test.

You are both learning how to take care of this tiny human. You’re both sleep deprived. You both feel like YOU have it harder than the other. That YOU deserve the break.

I used to seriously resent him for not knowing exactly what I needed in any given moment. I resented his ability to fall asleep at the drop of a hat. I resented him for not having boobs that created milk to feed our baby.

So if you’re sitting, reading this on the couch right now with the new baby while your partner is soundly asleep beside you and you can’t remember one reason why you even like them…it’s ok. That’s normal.

We also went through a period where we became ships in the night. We would meet on the couch at the end of the day and watch a show (or as much as we could until one of us fell asleep). Truthfully, we drifted apart quite a bit.

We fought. We fought more than we ever had before.

We were angry.

There was a moment, after we had W, we had ANOTHER argument and we both sat there and were like “what are we doing here?” Luckily, we both wanted to fix it and take the steps back to each other.

But it was hard. It’s still hard sometimes. And BOTH of us are guilty. Not just him and not just me. We were both doing things that contributed to our unhappiness.

No matter how amazing your relationship is and how much you love each other, having kids WILL put that to the test. Some more than others. But it’s ok because as long as you’re both willing to put in the work, you will find your way back.

Here are some tips for getting your relationship back on track.

1. Listen to each other. And I mean REALLY listen.

After that pivitol moment, Jon and I sat down and realized that so often simple disagreements escalated to arguments because neither one of us felt like we were being heard. We were playing the “who has it worse” game and both losing. When we actually started listening to HEAR instead of listening to FIGHT, things started changing immediately.

2. Both parties need to recognize the other deserves a break

It is likely that one of you stays home with the baby and the other one works. Both are EQUALLY hard jobs. The worker gets a break from being home with the baby, but still has to show up and adult. The other is responsible for keeping a tiny human alive, take care of the house, feed said tiny human, entertain tiny human, be able to understand what the tiny human needs, ALL THE TIME.

Both are hard. Both need a break.

Give your partner that break.

3. Make time for each other

This is such a cliche, but make time to have regular date nights. It’s VERY hard in the beginning, so start with 1 hour at Starbucks or, in our case, ice cream and a trip to Walmart. Try not to talk about the baby the WHOLE time. Be present.

4. Remember intimacy

The baby often takes priority over everything. And for a period of time, that is just how it has to be. But after the 3-6 month period, it’s important to remember the person that helped you bring the baby into the world.

It’s hard. Trying to be intimate after giving 120% of yourself during the day is a lot. So it doesn’t have to be sex. It can be cuddling on the couch. Holding hands. Some sort of physical contact that says “I love you and you’re important to me”.

When you’re out, buy their favourite snack and bring it home. Buy flowers. Buy a nice bottle of wine. Show them that you’re thinking about them too, not just the baby.

Important – I think it’s important to note here that while I’m referring to the early stages of baby, all of these can be applied to any rocky period in a marriage. If you don’t have kids but are feeling at odds, these are still relevant.

And listen – marriage takes a lot of work. It will never be perfect and there will be rocky periods. That’s ok. As long as you are both showing up for each other on a regular basis, you can get through it.

Any tips that I missed? Leave them below!

 

Sex after babies

WARNING – The following post is pretty open and may be TMI for some readers. However, to have an honest discussion about the “S” word, well, I have to actually talk about it. You’ve been warned.

Last week I asked my friends on IG what was a topic you wanted me to talk about. One of my friends said “Sex after babies” and honestly, I cringed. Not because I didn’t like the question but because I haven’t really talked about it all before now.

I grew up with a Mennonite background and sex was one of those things you just DIDN’T publicly talk about. It wasn’t shamed necessarily but it also wasn’t actively mentioned. It’s an old habit that has died hard.

However, this topic is a BIG one once you’ve had a baby and is one of the biggest topics of conversations amoung my friends that have had kids.

When is the right time? How soon is TOO soon? How long is TOO long? Does it hurt, should it hurt? What if I don’t want to? What if it feels different? What if my partner no longer finds me attractive? Who has the time or energy?!

So, let’s talk about it.

Sex after babies.

Next to your first poop after giving birth (terrifying, amirite?) this is a big and scary hurdle. For me, my main concerns were 1) what about the pain!? 2) What if my boobs start leaking on Jon?! 3) Will it feel different for Jon and 4) Will I ever even want to again?! I’m EXHAUSTED.

You’ve just pushed a baby out of your vagina (or had one pulled out of your uterus). Either way, things hurt. Things are tender. Things just FEEL different. Your uterus is going back to it’s regular shape. Your boobs a bit leaky. Oh, and you aren’t sleeping. Not all things that make you feel super sexy (at least, not me).

Pre-baby, I had a pretty high sex drive. Post-baby…well, is there such thing as a negative sex drive?

The more I put pressure on myself (and it was me, not Jon), the more worried, scared and worked up I became. We would try and O would start crying. Or I couldn’t stay awake, never mind bump and grind.

Honestly, I can’t even remember how long it was before Jon and I tried for the first time. I think it was around 3 months? Probably after I started taking medication and was coming out of my PPD.

When we were done (and nothing terrible happened) I looked at Jon and asked “did that feel really different?!” He kind of looked at me, unsure of what to say and landed on “Yes, but not in a bad way?” Bless his heart.

When I shared my experience with a girlfriend she was like “I’m 6 months post partum and I haven’t even thought about trying!” I was shocked. Here I had put all this pressure on myself to get back on the horse, and it wasn’t even something that had crossed her mind.

So, here are my tips to getting jiggy with it post-baby:

  1. Take your time. There is NO rush. Give yourself time to heal both physically and emotionally. The newborn phase is TOUGH.
  2. Talk to your partner, express your concerns. I felt gross, Jon thought I was beautiful. I was worried about pain and it DID hurt a bit (kind of like losing your virginity again….fun!).
  3. Accept and embrace the fact I t might be weird the first couple of times – I was worried about booB leakage…and one time, I did leak on Jon’s face. That weirded us both out but we moved past it (PRO TIP – do a full feed or pump before getting freaky).
  4. You may have to plan it around baby’s nap/sleep time. Maybe not, but sometimes having a set time can help prepare you and maybe even get you excited.
  5. USE PROTECTION…just trust me on that one.

And above all – LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If something really hurts, respect that and give yourself more time to heal.

Do you have a funny post-baby sex story?! I want to hear it! Leave a comment or head over to my IG and send me a DM!

Lisa

You’re not alone

Last week, O had another one of his knock-down, drag out, screaming and hysterical temper tantrums. I tried everything I had in my tool box. Talking quietly, trying to get him to take deep breaths, giving him a hug, giving him a time out. Nothing was working.

I felt so helpless. In that moment, all I could think about was “why am I the only one going through this? This must be my fault.”

I know it sounds silly, but in that moment, that’s truly how I felt. Alone. To my knowledge, none of my close friends have kids who experience the same thing. Tantrums for sure, but not like O.

And because of this fact, I very rarely talk about it because, well, I’m embarrassed. The blank stares I get when I tell people about them just make me want to curl up in a ball. So I keep silent and isolate. Healthy right?

Then I had a thought, if I’m isolating, there must be other parents out there doing the same thing. So I took to Instagram and expressed myself and asked for help.

It came in droves. I can’t even tell you how many messages I got from parents going through the same thing, who HAD gone through the same thing, teachers, educators, all giving me incredible amazing advice and/or support.

Turns out, not so alone. I not only felt empowered with new tools, but also an overwhelming sense of community.

It’s funny, in my new business, I am constantly encouraging women to reach out to me to ask for the help they deserve yet here I was, not doing the very thing I believe so strongly in.

What was stopping me? My pride. I’m a perfectionist (in a way) and feel like by admitting I feel completely powerless and out of control can feel weak. Yet, as our friend Brene Brown keeps hammering home – true strength comes from being vulnerable.

So if you’re feeling alone in your journey – reach out. Doesn’t have to be to me, but so someone safe and loving or an online support group. Because chances are, you’re not alone, and you sharing may encourage someone to do the same. I cannot emphasize enough the power of community.

This is a crazy journey and we’re all in it together. ❤

Mom Mentoring

Mom Mentor. Life Coach. Spiritual Guide. Goal Coach. Journey Navigator.

Many different titles, same basic goal.

I want to help.

My whole life, I get the most joy from being able to help others. To listen to them, to guide them, to share my experiences so that they can work on theirs.

I always knew I wanted to help people in some way. First I thought I wanted to be a teacher (whoops – turns out I don’t like kids). Then I was going to be a social worker. Then maybe a counsellor.

Then *shrugs*

I’ve never been one of those people who just KNEW what they wanted to be. I think partially because I’ve spent my life trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be (but more on that another time). But also because, I just hadn’t found it yet.

Fast forward to having a baby and suffering from PPD. I’ve never felt so alone in my life. Not because I didn’t have people (I had many wonderful people) but because I was so absorbed in my own journey. So afraid of the judgement of others. So afraid of saying the wrong thing and being chastised. So overwhelmed by ALL the advice and the “You shoulds”

I really felt there was a gap in the care for women going through this time. There was TONS of care for the baby, but not for the mental health of the mom. There was no professional around to say “Hey, a baby was just pushed/pulled out of your body. You’re a hot mess of hormones and sleep deprevation…how are you emotionally?” No one to say “Listen, it’s cool if you don’t like this screaming tiny human right now. You will.” or “It’s OK if babies aren’t your thing.”

And it’s not neccesarily that people didn’t say these things to me, but I think it would have been really helpful to talk this out in a 100% judgement-free space to someone who knew what I was going through. Similar to a friend, but not someone that I actually knew.

I knew I wanted to be this person for other moms. I knew I wanted to create this person for other women/parents.

I shelved this idea for awhile because I wasn’t ready. I was still not in a great head space and well, I got pregnant again.

Fast forward again to February 2019 when I really started to mull this over in my head. I had always thought I had to go back to school to become this person until I met with a really talented coach (Kristi Hrivnak – check her out) who said “Uh, you have a degree in Psychology – I would say you are qualified” She also had the amazing advice to say “Just go for it, what’s the worst that could happen? Have an open mind and see what happens.”

And I was like holy shit – you’re right.

So, here we are. I put it out into the ether and found myself with 3 really wonderful clients/guinea pigs who are helping me while I help them.

I’m still nervous before every session. I still wonder if I’m really cut out for this. What do I know? I’m sure they’re going to realize that I’m a phony or something.

Then then after every session, I have the biggest grin on my face because I’m living my true purpose. I’ve even  been told that I’m HELPING (WHAAAA!)

It’s funny because it HAS morphed a bit already. It’s not what I had originally envisioned in the sense that a lot of the women who reached out to me, just want to talk about shit in a non-judgemental space and honestly, I’m 100% here for it. I love being able to do that.

So phase 1 of 9,000,000 is complete. I’ve started, and that’s really, really exciting.