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Archive for September, 2014

Don’t feel guilty for leaving….

images-49Once in a while it’s good to give your kids a big hug and kiss goodbye then turn off the “eyes in the back of you head” for hours. Calling time away from your kids a “break” may sound bad, but it’s not, it is necessary. Not having to be in mum-mode for even a little while can be relaxing, restorative, and just the recharge you need to be a great parent when you’re back with your kids.

Adult time doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal. A weekend away with girlfriends is nice, but most of the time even just an hour without kids running around can flip your mood around and boost your long-term stores of energy that are so necessary to keep your home operating smoothly.

The thing is, adult time is nearly essential to be a happy, stress free mum. You have likely heard that investing time in date night is important for a marriage; so is taking time away from kiddie-land and focusing just on yourself. Whether it’s an hour, a day, or a weekend, it can be the thing that keeps you from losing your mind in a world of “Mummy, I need this” or “Mummy, do that.”

Do not make parenting you number one priority and let it to take over your very own needs. Understand and accept that carving out time to spend with just your husband or a group of girlfriends is also investing into your bank of mummy skills. You are not less of a mum by not physically being with your child at every opportunity.

When you take sometime “off” you come back energized and desperately wanting to spend time with your kids. Let me tell you: anything that makes you want to spend more time with your kids is a good thing. You will realized that investing in adult time is well worth the time away from the kids, even if you do miss them while away. I could say the same thing about taking date nights with your husband for no other reason than that it’s nice to have an uninterrupted conversation and catch up on each other’s lives outside of your parenting identities.

Taking time for yourself or spending time with your friends recharges you to be a more engaged parent. It’s amazing how much more present you can be with your kids when you’ve had a chance to step back for a minute. If you haven’t been doing so all along, it’s time to give yourself some adult time too, no strings (or guilt!) attached.

Mums need to be real not perfect!

images-46Motherhood is full of plates we must spin. Plates that are packed full of illusions like perfection and happiness-equals-two-kids-and-a-pet. I think it’s made worse by the “perfect” lives we see our “friends” (that we haven’t had a conversation with since high school) displaying on social media sites.
What is the worst that would happen if we dropped those plates a little and risk both judgment and true connection with those who are worthy of our stories? It is a proven fact that our silence breeds “aloneness.” As a mum, I think it’s important that we move past the illusion of perfect kids and perfect lives and sometimes tell each other, heaven forbid, that we need a little help and support. I don’t always have it all together, why do I often think I have to look like I do? It’s not like any one of us has ever done this before.

Motherhood is hard, and sometimes so is life. We all have bad days. We all make mistakes. We do our true selves a dis-service when we believe that every mother around us has it all together. Because we tuck our true selves away, out of site, to make room for the illusion of having it all together.
I realize that I am describing real bravery here, because leaning in and opening up to motherhood and life as it is… messy and real… is an act full of vulnerability and courage. It leaves us out of control in so many ways, but it also gives our true selves the space to show up and foster healthy connections in a world full of fake social media statuses.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Be so grateful for friends who risk moments of authenticity. Moments of true connection, where nothing is perfect but everything is refreshingly real.
Autheniticty is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are:-

Choosing authenticity means
Cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
Exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle and nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe we are enough.

When we really see each other, in all our imperfect and brave mummy-ness, we can understand that motherhood is not about who is the best and most involved PTA mum or CEO mum or small business mum… it’s about connecting and journeying together and daring to show up with our true selves on that journey.

You are not alone.

Capture memorable moments of your little ones

Timages-43here is a certain quote that I feel sums up motherhood quite well. It states, “The days are long, but the years are short.”  In a blink of an eye these little babies are going to be off to college and the photographs that you capture today will be your most treasured possessions tomorrow.

Capture as many meaningful images of you children as you can as they grow. You don’t have to get a fancy camera, most phones cameras can do.

Take a minute and think about what you love about each stage your child is in? Is it how your baby sucks his two fingers? Do you love those little feet walking in their first pair of shoes? Is there a 2-foot tall stuffed bear that your child can’t get enough of? All of these things are fleeting, and make for incredible photographs documenting this stage in their life.

The best camera is the one in your hand. Check out some of the fun photography related apps, such as Instagram, which adds vintage filters to your images. Don’t let a moment pass simply because your regular camera is at home.

The fastest way to drastically improve the wow factor in your baby photography is to change your perspective. We are used to seeing the world from an adult’s vantage point, but maybe not from the level of your toddler. Lay your baby on the bed on her side and place the camera on the bed to take a picture of her at her level. Lay on the floor to take pictures of your preschooler playing.

Simply getting a little bit closer and having your child fill the frame is another simple way to improve the composition of your image. It eliminates distraction and there is no question as to who the subject of the photograph is.

images-42When at all possible try to avoid using your camera’s on camera flash. This is harsh direct light that often results in crazy red monster eyes. Instead, open the blinds of your home and place your child near the window. When they are facing towards the window it will light their face beautifully and light up their eyes.

Capturing true expressions takes work, but it pays off with images that showcase your child’s personality. Laugh, joke, and play peek-a-boo. Don’t forget to capture different expressions. Even though you think that pout is forever seared into your memory, there may come a day that it becomes one of your favorite images.
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Don’t forget to take the time to periodically print your images! It’s so easy to capture digital images, download them to the computer and then forget about them. Print photos for scrapbooks or create yearly family photo albums at any of the consumer photo sites.

Above all, just make it a priority to capture your everyday in images. When you look at your photos in 25 years, they will transport you back to this moment in time so you can fondly remember the messy house, sticky fingers, and a 2 foot tall stuffed bear.

Balancing Motherhood and Life

images-34There is no single formula for attaining a balanced life. It is a personal decision how one combines their career, spouse/significant other, children, friends and self into an integrated whole. The key is to develop creative solutions as you approach the challenges of balancing the responsibilities and joys of your multiple roles. Some of the same skills and strategies you use at work such as planning, organizing, communicating, setting limits and delegating can be used effectively on the home-front for achieving a satisfying, fulfilling and well-balanced life both personally and professionally.

Here are a few tips

Build a Support Network

Ask for help and allow yourself to be helped and contributed to. Get your children involved–work together as a team.

Let Go of Guilt

Guilt is one of the greatest wastes of emotional energy. It causes you to become immobilized in the present because you are dwelling on the past. Guilt can be very debilitating. By introducing logic to help counter-balance the guilt, you can avoid sabotaging your efforts toward work/family balance and stay better on course.

Establish Limits and Boundaries and Remember They are Necessary for Balancing Work and Family

Boundaries are an imaginary line of protection that you draw around yourself. They are about protecting you from other people’s actions. Determine for yourself what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior from other people. Boundaries and limits define how you take charge of your time and space and get in touch with your feelings. They express the extent of your responsibilities and power and show others what you are willing to do or accept. Without limits it’s difficult to say “no”. Remind yourself often that your boundaries are necessary for balancing work and family.

Determine Your Own Standards

Get rid of the notion of being a perfectionist. Wean yourself off it by making compromises–figure out where the best places to make the compromises are without short-changing yourself, your spouse, your children, your boss, etc. Live by your own standards rather than someone else’s. Standards are about YOU and refer to the behavior and actions you are willing to hold yourself to.

Create Time for Yourself

Being a good parent, partner and professional means being good to yourself first. Use your mind to make some affirmations for yourself. Find ways to relax, relieve tension and minimize stress. Taking some time off for yourself will not only benefit you, but it will benefit your work and family tremendously, as well!

Get Organized

Set priorities, work smarter not harder, delegate (and really let go!). Create lists and save them for re-use. Keep a main calendar centrally located to post everyone’s activities.

Balancing Work and Family Requires You to Be Flexible

Forgive yourself when things don’t get done. Understand that with children things change at a moment’s notice. Be ready and willing to assume responsibility for any of the tasks that need to get done at any time. Never get too comfortable, because as soon as you seem to get things under control, they change! Also, realize that in order to achieve success many women have had to give up their original goals and substitute new ones with different but equal challenges. Negotiate for what you need.

Enjoy Quality Family Time

Spend quality/focused time with your family. Give them your full attention. Develop rituals you can all look forward to. Create relationships with your spouse and children that are not incidental but rather instrumental to your success.

Find Reliable Child Care

Leave your kids in capable hands. Find someone you feel comfortable and confident in.  Get involved with your child’s care providers by communicating frequently and observing interactions between caregiver and your child.

Achieve an Integrated Life

Keep things in perspective. Create harmony in your life–a mixture of work, family and friends. Remember, there is no single formula for balancing work and family. It is a personal decision how one combines spouse, children and career.

Are kids growing up too fast?

images-39 At age 5 your kid has a cell phone. She also had her own bedroom complete with a TV and a computer with high-speed Internet access. By the time she is a young teen, she makes regular salon visits and has a hair do that makes her look much older than she is. By 15, she pretty much has it all. A few years after school, she droppes a bombshell asking for permission to get married.

We want our kids to have good things in life. Just as we limit sweets in our children’s diets, we also need to set healthy limits in other areas. We can do this by creating appropriate stages and boundaries.

Creating appropriate stages means putting age limitations on behaviors that rush our kids out of childhood — such as wearing makeup, enjoying Internet use, having a cell phone and getting a job. By delaying these activities until an appropriate age, we use them as rites of passage that mark a healthy progress toward adulthood.

As we set up stages and boundaries, we give our children something to look forward to. We also help them see that maturity is a process, not something that automatically happens when they turn 18.

There are no set rules for determining the ages when kids should be allowed to have or do certain things. Each family and each child is different. But as you think about stages for your kids, ask yourself some questions:

What is the reason for letting my child have or do this? For instance, why would a six year old need a phone? For basic communication or to impress her peers?

Is my child ready for this responsibility? If my son isn’t mature enough to avoid using a cell phone during class, then I’m doing him a disservice by giving him one. Sometimes we even put our kids at risk by letting them have privileges too early. One mom was horrified to learn that her daughter had been giving out too much personal information on social media which led to her kidnapping.

Am I ready for this responsibility? Parenting is tough enough without giving yourself extra work. When we let our children enter a new stage, we have the added job of helping them handle the new privilege responsibly. Letting a child have a phone in his room, for instance, may mean monitoring to make sure he’s not chatting with friends when he should be doing homework.

Will jumping too soon to a particular life stage send unintended messages to my child about self-image or materialism? Will letting a daughter get too many beauty treatments too young make her think her appearance is the most important thing in life? Will letting a boy have too many electronic toys too young set him up for always having to buy the latest gadget?

When your child reaches a new stage, enthusiastically help him or her enter it. When he’s old enough for a mountain bike, help him select one. When she’s old enough to shave her legs, pick out gel and razors together and show her how to do it. When your son is ready for a job, help him research the market. Use life stages not only as signposts of growing up but also as avenues to teach them how to take responsibility of their life.