When Kids are Off Their Schedules

We’ve traveled for 3 weeks out of the last 6. That is a LOT for a two-year-old who has a pretty good routine. When we’re home - our day normally looks like:

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Wake up: 6:30/7:00 am
Breakfast
Play Date/Activity
Nap: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Play-time while mom cooks dinner
Dinner: 6:00 pm
Bedtime: 7:30pm

But changing time zones, running around visiting people, and not to mention not having your own house can throw all of that off. I have to hang it to my kid- for needing her naps- she champs it when she needs to and doesn’t get naps.

When we were in Virginia for a week, she didn’t get a nap unless it was a car ride. She went from 2-3 hours of a solid nap at home to 20-minute intervals maybe once or twice. And when she was done in the evening SHE.WAS.DONE. Can’t say I blame her.

But managing family expectations with your toddlers is enough to throw parenting into a total upheaval. So what do you do? What do you do when your kid is crying, they need sleep, there are too many people, they’re refusing to eat, what have you? How do you manage?

You find a space inside of you and you drop all of the expectations. You stop with the “at home they should be” and instead you look at your options in front of you and you make it work. So how exactly do you do that? You’re probably asking. Let me give you some of my real life examples.

When Evelyn would start melting down and not listening, we went for a walk.

When I could tell she needed some space we went and ran an errand.

You take your time getting ready at the hotel and wait until they wake up naturally before going to meet people.

You excuse yourself for the night directly after dinner to go back to the hotel and wind down.

You feed them when they’re hungry.

You find ways to introduce play even if it isn’t normal: i spy outside, chalk on the sidewalk, clean up books or magazines in the house, go smell the flowers outside and find bugs. Color me a picture, let’s read a book. And even- let’s watch a movie can sometimes help break it all up.

Don’t force them to greet people, or interact with people, just tell them when they’re ready they can join a group. Meeting a lot of strangers (even if they are family) can be really overwhelming to kids and they can act out for attention or frustration. Meet them where they are at. Go find a back room and sit quietly with them until they can regain their composure.

They key is to try your best to just go with the flow- getting worked up about things not being the same as when they are at home is when you will run into a lot of issues. Travel is hard on littles and until they understand how to cope with their emotions, you just have to try and see it from their perspective.

Got any other tips I should add to my arsenal for future travels? Drop them in the comments- I’d love to hear more!

Traveling with Small Children and Stress

We fly often with my daughter. That’s not an exaggeration. She has been on 28 flights, to 3 international countries, and to 3 different states. I wouldn’t consider us a pro- but pretty dang close. A few weeks ago we flew to my home state of VIRGINIA! (ps- I lived NOWHERE near DC haha) to surprise my mom for her 60th birthday. This was the second time I was flying solo with my daughter- the first time being when she was 2 months old- and even then I only had 1 flight out of 4 alone. But this happened to be her FIRST flight in her own seat.
 

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Basically we like to save money- so until she turned 2- she was a lap baby- always- even when we took her to Europe. This was also our first time taking the larger car seat- you know the one that is basically ginormous and a huge pain in the ass to carry? That one. I did some research and knew I would check it at the gate, we bought a strap to attach it to my carry on and I wheeled it through the airport.

 

But the stress came when A) my toddler INSISTED on walking through a very crowded airport and I had the bag, carseat, both our book bags to look after. Do you know how hard it is to chase after a strong willed 2 year old while lugging all your crap? I had all these visions of her being snatched away from me and sold into human trafficking- yeah I like to go deep when I’m stressed.

Add in my added mistake to lug her carseat onto the long overnight flight in which she didn’t sleep at all- basically I was sleep deprived, out of patience, and completely frazzled. So what do you do when you’re out of your element and stress and anxiety are creeping in? How do you regain your composure and avoid a meltdown? That’s where my tips come in:

 

  1. Hydrate & Fuel- when traveling it’s easy to put your nutrition and water level on the back burner. It’s easy to forget that you NEED to eat and drink water. But the easy way to reduce stress is to make sure you eat and drink. I like to pack lots of quick snacks (nuts, popcorn, protein bars) and empty refillable water bottle I can fill up at the water fountains between flights. I also plan for 1-2 hour layovers so we can grab quick food in-between and eat on the plane.

  2. Have a bag for JUST the kid- Evelyn now has her OWN bookbag for flights- it has ALL her toys and things to keep her occupied, so it’s her responsibility and saves room in my bag. It’s small and easy to lug around and it keeps all of her stuff contained once we get where we are going. No giant diaper bag, no toys scattered over someone’s house. If it doesn’t fit in the bag- it doesn’t go.

  3. Use electronics (for the kids). Evelyn knows the ONLY time she ever gets the ipad is on a plane. And thanks to digital copies- she has 4 movies to choose from. She doesn’t get the ipad before, and she can lose the ipad if she isn’t listening. It serves as a great option to reign her in and it isn’t something she ever gets when we are home- which makes it an extra special treat.

  4. Breathe- this one is hard, because sometimes things are happening outside of your control (like that time we got delayed due to mechanical errors and were stuck on the plane for 2 hours and couldn’t leave). Just embrace the situation for what it is, and if you need to ask a flight attendant to sit with you kid(s) so you can go to the bathroom and regain your composure if needed. No one will think less of you, but you melting down will just make your kids meltdown more.

Learn to say yes about some things to avoid the battle- Evelyn INSISTED on walking onto the plane, do you know how long that took? but honestly, who cares- she’s a child. If they want to help pull the suitcase- let them. If they insist on throwing away the trash themselves let them. The more you say “yes” the more weight “no” has when you are traveling.

How’d I do? Did I miss any that you can think of? Drop your travel tips below if you have them!

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Why Self Care is Crucial

By Justine Robinson

There is a reason the famous airplane analogy exists: “put your oxygen mask on before assisting others with theirs”. It can be difficult to heed this advice in ordinary adult life -- while trying to build a career, go to school, and keep up with family and other social demands. When you’ve just had a baby, the typical self-care routine can be close to impossible. Many new parents find themselves searching their memory for the last time they have eaten, taken a shower, or had something to drink. This is problematic for many reasons, one of the biggest is that neglecting one’s own health can increase the risk and severity of postpartum depression.

 

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In the days and even weeks after a newborn baby’s arrival, it is essential to try to maintain as many self-care rituals as possible. The definition of a person’s typical self-care routine varies from person to person, but as a general rule:

1. Drink plenty of water. Under normal circumstances, it is okay to drink to one’s own thirst in order to take in enough fluids for the day. However, for busy new parents, it is advised to keep water nearby at all times for convenience. This is especially true for mothers who are nursing: The Institute of Medicine recommends around 13 cups of fluid for people who are lactating.

2. Make sure you are eating enough. Again, for those who are nursing, this cannot be overstated. Most healthy breastfeeding women consume 1800-2200+ calories in order to maintain an adequate milk supply.

Even mothers and partners who are not breastfeeding will benefit from eating regular, nutritious meals. If sleep deprivation was not hard enough, low blood sugar can add to energy loss and brain fog. No one wants to be sleepy and “hangry”.

3. Bathe. This one seems kind of ridiculous, right? After all, being told to take a bath is something that most people haven’t experienced since they were kids. It is such a simple thing, feeling clean. Some people opt for showers, some people prefer baths; Either way, the quickest method can feel like a luxury retreat when your newest perfume is eau de baby spit-up. After a quick soak or rinse, you may find yourself feeling like a completely new human.

4. Ask for help. Ask family, friends, or your local Stars and Stripes Doula. Ask them to do a load of laundry, or to finish loading and running the dishwasher. They can help care for the baby so you can sneak a nap in, or eat a meal/take a shower uninterrupted. Tell them how you are feeling.

Seek professional help if you are not feeling like yourself. Research has shown that a significant barrier in seeking treatment for postpartum depression is the reluctance of the mother to ask for help. You’ve just gone through an extraordinarily life-changing event. There is no shame in asking for help in order to cope. After all, it does take a village—even if you have to assemble the village yourself.

The major takeaway from this is that in order to adequately take care of the newest member of your family, you have to take care of yourself first. If you are not eating or drinking properly, there is a good chance that you will quickly run out of strength and energy in order to enjoy the little, fleeting moments of parenthood that will be cherished forever.

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Justine Robinson is a Labor Doula and Postpartum and Infant Care Doula with Stars and Stripes Doulas, LLC.  Justine represents the Washington DC chapter. You can learn more about your favorite Stars and Stripes Doulas at www.starsandstripesdoulas.com

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What is Self Care?

We live in a day and age where we are ALWAYS on the go. Rushing around from point A to point B. Burnout is on a rise, and doing more is considered a badge of honor. Rarely do you meet people who have “free” time or lack of schedules. Here’s the problem with that- if you overcommit, and are in a constant state of rushing around from activities, meetings, chores- then you’re blood pressure tends to be higher, which elevates your cortisol levels, which slows your metabolism, affects your sleep, and causes a lot of other issues in our body.



Rest and self care need to be something we re-implement back into our day to day. Self care should be the priority- because we can’t operate on a high level of stress forever, eventually we crash. Sometimes- it’s small, like sleeping for a few days, other times, people have heart attacks or collapse. And who wants to wind up with serious medical issues? Not me- that’s for dang sure.

But what exactly IS self care? According to Everyday Feminism Self care is defined “basically any set of practices that makes you feel nourished, whether that’s physically, emotionally, spiritually, all of the above. Self care is putting aside time to recharge in a way that’s meaningful to you, and that can mean different things to different people.”

So Self Care varies from person to person. You and your spouse may have different definitions of self care. You and your siblings may not think the same activities give someone rest and recharge. But it’s important for you to figure out what brings you joy, what makes you feel refreshed, and how often you should do self care.

Some people need small amounts of time everyday. Others, once a week. And there are even some people that need large chunks away from their home and responsibilities a few times a year in order to feel refreshed.

Here’s how you get started:

So the first steps into figuring out some self care are for you to take some time, sit down (preferably alone, or undistracted) and list out things that bring you joy and make you feel relaxes, refreshed, and rejuvenated.

Things can include:
Reading
Doing Yoga
Going for a Walk
Drinking Coffee Outside
Getting a pedicure
Spending a weekend away from home
Errands by yourself

Now think about the frequency you would like to implement in your life. Some questions to think about can be:

Would you be able to space self care out?
Do you need it everyday?
Once a month?
A few times a year?
Do you prefer to be alone or with people?
If with people, who lifts you up and makes you feel relaxed?

Who are people you would like to avoid when doing self care?
Remember there is no right or wrong answer to this- this is your personalized self care plan.

Now that you have the answers to some of those questions, where do you go from there?

That’s where I come in! As a Sanity Saver Mentor- I help you develop a self care plan and implement it in your day to day life. Are you interested in learning more? Send me an email at cecoralc@gmail.com and let’s get started on your personalized plan.

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Guest Blogger: I'm Not a Natural Mom

We have a special treat for you today. Meet Rachel Harrell who runs The Naptime Projects , a blog dedicated to end the mom-shaming and helping moms take back their life one nap-time at a time. She enjoys building things from pallets, date nights with her husband, Chris, and playing with her baby boy, Will.
 

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I don’t love motherhood. I don’t adore being a stay at home mom. I love my baby boy dearly, but I’m not a natural mom. Patience has never been a strength of mine, and I’m not an overly compassionate person. Both are extremely necessary for being a mom, especially a stay at home mom.

Since I was little, I knew I wanted kids. I enjoyed kids and knew I wanted some of my own, but I guess I had an overly optimistic view of motherhood. I assumed I would have well behaved kids that just came out that way. That I would be great as a homemaker, wife, and mom, that I would regularly keep up with friends. I always imagined I would be thriving as a mom.

The truth is, I’m not thriving as a mom.

I’m lonely, I’m overwhelmed, and I can’t keep up with the “supposed to’s” of motherhood. There are days that I’m just not sure if I can handle one more slimy hand touching me or change one more poopy diaper. I feel like I’m having to work really, really hard at this mothering thing. I don’t love it. And I feel guilty because of that.

I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that I am not a natural mother. I imagine that some women possess a natural set of skills for motherhood. There’s a woman out there who feels natural doing the duties of a mom. She is good at setting up toddler activities, she has a knack for meal planning, and somehow, she maintains a clean house while keeping up with everything else. This mom loves taking her kids to the park for hours at a time and rarely surrenders to TV as a babysitter.

After half an hour, I’m done with the park. I use the TV paired with an exersaucer almost everyday so I can take a shower. Locking myself in the bathroom for just five minutes of personal space is something I do on a regular basis. By the time my husband gets home from work, I’m desperate to have a real conversation instead of the one-sided loop of motherhood phrases: “When you throw things you don’t get them back,” “Are you poopy again?” “Look where you are going, or you are going to bonk!”

I’m starting to learn that all of this is ok. It doesn’t make me the world’s worst mother. I still love my child and am trying to do the best I can for him. In the end, he is most likely going to turn out ok. So I battle my feelings.

1) I’m lonely.

Loneliness sucks. But I’m prone to wallow in it and not do anything about it. I’m what I like to call a people-person introvert. I love being around people that I know well, but meeting new people and making small talk wears me out. I desperately need friends – close friends. So, I’ve joined a Mothers of Preschoolers group at my church to help me meet moms. They are all in the same stage of life as I am. They understand the horrible teething weeks, the endless diapers, and the fluidity of plans based on toddler tantrums. This is my current way to battle the loneliness, and hopefully it will bloom into many beautiful friendships.

2) I’m overwhelmed.

I’m overwhelmed by the clutter of toys always covering the floor, the mounds of laundry, the never-ending screaming on a hard day. I used to think I could handle a lot. Then I became a mother and found out that I really can’t. The main way I battle overwhelm is to get out of the house at least once a day. When I am feeling like I am about to explode, we run an errand, go to the library, or even just go on a walk. The simple act of getting up and out has been so, so helpful for me, and my little one gets a bit of a reset out of it as well.

3) I can’t keep up with the “supposed to’s” of motherhood.

This is something I have to actively work against every day. I have to give up the supposed to’s and the comparing. I’m not going to be the same mom as someone else. My life is going to look different than everyone else’s too. The only one enforcing standards on me is myself. My house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean all the time, my child isn’t going to be well behaved every day, and I may end up making quesadillas for dinner 4 nights in a row. And all of that is ok. Perfection is an unattainable standard that will just create misery in the pursuit of it.

I’m an unnatural mom and I’m becoming ok with that.

I will continue to battle my feelings and work towards better coping strategies. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that this mom thing isn’t easy. But in the end, it really is worth it. Nothing could replace this precious child of mine.

 

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