Whether you’ve had a long day with the kiddos, a trying day at work, or pretty simple and easy day, self care for mom seems to get put on the backburner. I hear things like, “There’s not enough time,” or “How can I prioritize myself above my kids?”
The best metaphor I can use here is pouring from an empty cup.
If we have nothing, we’ve got nothing to give.
I explained a little more in-depth about the necessary superpower of asking for help in my last post, so if you haven’t checked it out go and do yourself a huge favor ;)
I’ll admit that mommy guilt can creep up on me like a storm, and running a business can take me away from spending as much time as I think I’m “supposed to” with my kids. After a long day, I want to get in bed with the baby and run my hands over his angel soft little cheeks, and shower him with kisses. I can let that guilt turn me into a fairy Godmother, that grants all the wishes I possibly can in the hour I see them before they go off to bed, and when the sun rises the following day that guilt can trick me into thinking I have to give like I’ve never given before.
I tell myself things like, “I’m going to be present, we are only eating organic, and I’m not going to look at my phone once for the next 24 hours because I was gone all day yesterday, and I really need to give, give, give of myself to this little being." I seriously sound like my favorite #momtruths mamas, Cat & Nat in this hilarious video.
That video is so hilarious because it’s just so true!
I get to about noon, and all that presence wears me out. My business and my people are so rewarding and fun, but even a day at Disneyland takes a toll and you eventually wish for some quarters for that machine that gives the crumby foot massage. That foot massage is what gives you the pep back in your step and pushes you toward that last ride and then to the car.
It’s not fair to think that we can be present at ALL times. In order to do all the things, mamas need to time to themselves, they need that foot massage to get over the hump, and they need to fill their cup so they can give to their people.
Here are 10 things you can do to recharge your batteries that I think are so much better than that crumby foot massage machine:
In the last several months I’ve become obsessed with my Headspace app. You might think of meditation as some strange thing that only monks do, but it’s truly like a little cat nap for your brain and I highly recommend it. Mama brains are like a website browser that has 1,000 tabs open at all times, and it can be seriously overwhelming to have all the tasks and to-dos floating around in there. Take 10 minutes out of your day and refocus your mind. You’ll come back to your day feeling a little lighter and a little more refreshed.
Capture all of the things that you are grateful for, and the fantastic moments of the day that you don’t want to forget. I love The 5-minute Journal, and it comes in paper form or as an app. When we focus our minds on gratitude, it helps to melt away stress and anxiety and bring us back to what’s really important.
3. Give yourself permission to use naptime as your time.
Instead of catching up on chores, do something for yourself. Call a friend and catch up, watch that show you've been meaning to get to, even if it's only for 30 minutes and the rest of the time you actually catch up on chores - they're always going to be there. A happy, present mama is worth so much more than a load of laundry.
4. Take a bath.
That sudsy goodness isn’t just for your little ones! After a long day, a nice dip in the tub with the door closed and locked, and no tiny hands rummaging through bathroom cabinets can do wonders for your mind and your body. If you don’t have a bathtub, take a nice long, hot shower. Listen to some music, and indulge in some nice aromatherapy with a sweet-smelling bath salt or body wash.
5. Hit the gym.
If you can't get to the gym, try something like Stroller Strides, or create your own workout at home. There are so many solutions to the problem of not having childcare, so hit up Google for some exercises with kiddos and babies. Exercise will give you more energy and boost your endorphin levels helping you feel less anxiety and more self-confidence.
6. Create a space just for you in your home.
For me this is my office. It’s where I go to write, and think, and meditate. Truthfully, it isn’t even all mine, because I share it with my hubby who also works out of there, but that piece of space is just for me. Having a small corner somewhere in your home or yard that’s decorated just for you where you can read, do yoga, or just pass by and look at will remind you that there is more to you than just being mama. Create a little space that’s inviting that will remind you to take a couple minutes for yourself each day.
7. Join a moms group.
I know not all moms see the value in this, and it can be scary to put yourself out there and meet a group of strangers, but knowing that you’re not alone in your journey as a mama is so important. If you don’t feel up to meeting new people, and already have a group of friends that also have kids, arrange to meet up on an ongoing basis – once a week for a park date or activity. The emphasis here is on connection and the kids will love it too.
8. Plan a MNO, and make it a recurring event in your calendar.
Having a kid-free event with your pals on the calendar can help you survive a hellish week of teething, tantrums, and carpool. Plan something fun and give yourself permission to let daddy or the babysitter be in charge for an evening so you can enjoy yourself and do something that makes you happy.
9. Get a massage or spa treatment.
Do it without guilt. Carrying around little ones doesn’t just take a toll on your brain, but also on your body. If you can’t realistically plan a full day to indulge at a spa, try booking a 30-minute massage and sneaking out to indulge a little. While you might initially feel a little guilty for this indulgence, focus on the way you feel when you return home to your little people, and keep that in mind. Filling your cup is what’s important here.
10. Plan a retreat weekend.
This might sound like a big leap here, and as I shared in my last post, I didn’t get to this one for a while. I took a retreat for a long weekend with a fantastic group of Lady Bosses, and it was fantastic! It took some planning and preparation to leave for 3 days, but I came back refreshed, and rejuvenated. Not having to cook or clean up after people, and enjoying full meals without interruption can sometimes be what we need to wind us back up!
So there you have it – I’ve given you 10 ways to recharge and fill your own cup. As you may have noticed, I started small. If taking time for yourself seems selfish, start small and work your way up to doing things that take a little more time and planning, or create your own list and pick and choose things that make you feel like your best self. If you’re not quite sure how to do that, and could use some help, I’m so happy to support my fellow mamas out there, don’t hesitate – pick up the phone and call me (909)226-6124.
Your partner has shattered your world.
The relationship that you once had is no longer, and maybe you’re still on the fence about staying in the relationship, but you certainly don’t know how to love them at the moment, and should you?
I have so many injured partners who sit on my couch and tell me similar stories. Stories of hating and loving their cheating partner all at the same time.
They often say things like, “I feel sick to my stomach when I think about the fact that I still want to be with this person, shouldn’t I hate them for what they’ve done to me?”
Dealing with infidelity is like getting on a roller coaster that you didn’t know you got strapped into. The emotions are high, and they are also really low, and they are incredibly confusing.
The only way to love your partner through something like this is to try understand them. But you also need to understand yourself.
The greatest misconception that people have about cheaters is if they do it once, they will always do it – “once a cheater, always a cheater, right? Wrong.
Affairs happen more than people think. It’s really easy to say, “If my partner ever did that, I’d leave in a heartbeat!” But when push comes to shove, there’s often way too much at stake. There’s a long history and relationship that’s been cultivated for years, and ending it abruptly is often so difficult to fathom.
More people are staying together after infidelity than the public thinks – they just aren’t talking about it.
I advise my clients who are struggling in this area not to share it with family and friends. When they are working to repair their relationship either by themselves or along with their partner, they are taking the time to heal and to learn new ways of approaching the relationship so that it doesn’t happen again.
When the affair is disclosed to close friends and family that surround them, they are rightfully upset and angered that their sister/brother/friend/daughter/son was treated in such a way. But when the couple comes out on the other end of it with a new perspective, a new relationship, and have healed, their friends and family haven’t done the work that they have, and can be stuck in their anger towards the cheating spouse and often find it difficult to forgive.
Another common misconception about cheating partners is that they are solely responsible for what’s transpired in the relationship. People cheat for many different reasons, but both partners have some responsibility in what was happening in the relationship prior to the infidelity.
It can be incredibly difficult for an injured partner to hear that they somehow played a role in the infidelity. I’m not saying that the infidelity was their fault, and it’s important not to misconstrue or take this out of context, but there are often challenges that are occurring in the relationship prior to a partner stepping outside of it.
It could be as simple as not communicating in a way that one’s partner can hear. Is that totally your fault? No, absolutely not. But that’s when the work in couples counseling becomes about learning how to communicate in a way that will allow your partner to be receptive.
Most people who cheat want their partners to know that they didn’t go into the relationship with the intent to do so.
Sometimes there is a breakdown that happens during the course of the relationship, and the cheating partner feels lost and unable to find their way back. People who cheat don’t always understand why they did it, and it can take months for them to get to a place where they have learned enough about themselves to identify where they got off track, and what lead them to make the horrible decision to cheat.
If your partner has cheated there are a couple of things that you can start doing today to improve your relationship:
1. Get support. Seek out counseling for yourself with someone who specializes in infidelity issues. You need a sounding board and a safe place to vent your anger and frustration. While it might seem like a good idea to use your partner as that sounding board, it’s really not the greatest way to go about it – you may say things you’ll regret later.
2. Start journaling. While you’re looking for a therapist get a journal and start writing down your thoughts. This will help you understand your emotions and organize your thoughts in such a way that you can be a better communicator with your partner when you do have those difficult conversations.
3. Decide what is important to know about the affair and what isn’t. Things like: how does this impact our relationship? Do you understand why you made the decision to go outside of our marriage to find something? Where do you want our relationship to go in the future?
All of those questions are very different than things like: where did you do it? Was she better than me? What types of things did you talk about? These questions fall into the category of what I call, emotional cutting, things that you want to know out of curiosity, even though you know that hearing them is just going to cause you pain.
4. Start thinking about the boundaries and things that need to happen in order for you to want to move forward and repair your relationship. For most, the first thing is that the affair needs to stop, as does any and all types of communication with the affair partner.
But would you feel more comfortable if you had all email and cell phone passwords for the first few months as you work on the relationship together? Do you need your partner to move to a different department at work so they are no longer in close proximity to the other person? This is where your support and journaling will help to keep you on track, and making sure that you’re asking for things to better your relationship and not just to spite your partner.
It’s difficult to know the exact statistics surrounding infidelity, but it’s estimated that 35% of couples decide to stay together after infidelity, and according to the American Association of Marriage and Family therapists, about 15% of women, and 25% of men say they’ve had sex outside of their marriage. When you factor in things like cyber relationships, and emotional affairs, those numbers increase by 20% according to AAMFT.
The number of couples staying together after infidelity may be even higher, as I stated earlier, many people experiences it but don’t talk about it. It’s a difficult thing to bring up, especially when you’re not sure what the fate of the relationship will be. But the future can be promising if both partners are able to own their faults and learn to create a new relationship that is more fulfilling.
In seeing those statistics, my hope is that you take away the fact that you are not alone.
If your partner has been unfaithful, know that you are not crazy to want to stay, or to want to go, or to have no idea what it is you want, and you’re not crazy for still loving them.
What you’ve experienced is a psychological trauma, and you must treat it as such. Take care of yourself first, and you can make the big decisions later after you’ve started to regain your strength and have gotten the support that you need.
If you could use some more support in understanding your relationship and what you really want after experiencing infidelity, please reach out and we can talk about ways therapy can help (909) 226-6124.
Marriage is hard.
Sometimes it’s REALLY hard. Sometimes I describe how hard it is with a 4-letter word with an ing at the end of it, just to describe how incredibly hard it is, to my clients.
Many times they look at me dumbfounded, and maybe it’s because I’ve just used the F word, but I don’t know any other way to describe just how challenging it is to show up and be all that you can in your relationship day after day, year after year.
What else do we choose to have in our lives, for the rest of our lives?
We don’t get to choose our family, for better or worse, we are just born into them. We choose all sorts of other long-term things to be committed to, like a job, a mortgage, a car loan, and possibly education. But none of those things come with contracts that bind us to them until death.
You can always change your career if what you’re doing no longer satisfies you. You can sell your house, or your car, if those things become lack-luster. Going to school and furthering your education may seem like something that’s life-long, but if you become disinterested you can always change your major, or quit.
Sallie Mae will still want her money, and that repayment might seem like a life sentence, but it’s not the same thing as entering into marriage.
Marriage is something we choose.
We choose to say our vows, and we make a lot of other choices about so many things that don’t matter, leading up to standing in front of all of our families and friends to profess our choice to be with this other person. Until death.
After the centerpieces have wilted, and the honeymoon is over, you start to settle in to your new normal with this other person that you’ve chosen. In the beginning it doesn’t seem like such a difficult choice for most, but as time passes, the novelty, and the newness of your choice wears off and life sets in. You might start a family, or be focused on your careers, or both.
When couples add babies into the mix, and time passes, then the choice seems to become much more apparent. Sometimes you have to choose between sex and sleep, conversation or isolation. Sometimes after a hard day of parenting and adulting, you just want to be left alone. You don’t want to have to talk or explain, because sometimes it’s just too exhausting. That’s when the choice rears it’s ugly head.
When you do choose sleep over sex, silence over connection, or to work just a little longer even though you know your partner is going to be asleep by the time you get in bed, it’s not always apparent that you’re not choosing your marriage.
I’m not saying that it’s always one or the other, and even though you might choose to work late (like I am right now), you may be showing up in your relationship at another time of the day, and making the conscious choice to put your relationship high on your list of priorities.
So maybe you’re in a rut, and life has just been happening, and date night has been on the back burner. The kids need you, work needs you, and those dishes in the sink aren’t going to wash themselves, and sometimes you might not even like the person you’re married to because, hello, do they not also see those dishes??
But you always have a choice.
You can both agree to ignore the dishes if it means you spend 15 minutes on the porch connecting, and talking, and maybe enjoying a glass of wine together. You can choose to get in bed 30 minutes earlier than usual, and forego reading or scrolling through your facebook in order to talk and possibly have sex.
Those choices aren’t easy. Neither is marriage. But it is a lot easier when you are both in it together, and find creative ways to show up in your relationship and make even the smallest of connections.
Turning towards one another is what keeps couples together, and keeps them saying, “I still do.”
If you need help sparking your connection and making the choice to show up in your marriage, I'd love to help! Picking up the phone is the first choice you can make to show up in your relationship. You can reach me at (909) 226-6124, I'd love to hear from you!
Have you ever had one of those days? I’m talking one of THOSE days. The kind where no matter what you do, and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t pull yourself up and dust yourself off. The kind where even though you truly try to just hit pause, and take a breath, and reset, but the reset just seems like a freakin repeat of what you were trying to reset from.
I actually just had one of those days yesterday.
My terrible, horrible, very bad day started like most other days. I got up, and got my coffee fix in, and had some time at my desk to myself.
I got a little work done before my beautiful little angel of a 2-year old woke at his usual time (Which is 8am, in case you were wondering. I know you’re thinking I should just shut up, because really, how bad can life be when your toddler sleeps in past 6am, right? But I digress, and I never said this day wasn’t full of first world problems).
Somewhere in between his first diaper change and breakfast, this beautiful, sweet, tiny little angel morphed into a fire-breathing monster. I didn’t exactly see the change happen. Maybe I missed his head spinning around while I prepared his breakfast, but something definitely happened, and he was unrecognizable!
The day proceeded to be filled with frustration after frustration. I’m sure the rest of the mamas out there can attest to having such a day.
The word “no” equaled the end of the world, as we knew it to exist, and my responses to the tantrums sounded something like, “I’m really sorry that you can’t keep sucking the ink out of the Crayola marker! Even though it says non-toxic on the box, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean it’s ok to try and drink it!!”
I’m not even sure how many time-outs we went through on that terrible, horrible, very bad day. I stopped counting and started counting down the minutes until I got to leave for work. But just as I was about to walk out the door my husband and I had a spat (I know I’m a couple’s therapist, and you may have assumed that I have the perfect relationship, but I am human, and I too fight with my husband, you can ask me about it in session anytime ;)).
Dealing with my toddler had me weak and broken down, and that spat was enough to send me into a spiral. Not only was the little one against me, but so was my partner, and wouldn’t you know it, that was the precise moment my teen decided to text me and let me know just how unfair I was being for not letting her take the car and leave her dad stranded at home for the entire evening while she hung out with her friends after school.
The score was now 3 against 1. One angry tot, one stubborn man, and the wrath of a teenage girl were all in my opposing corner.
I can literally feel the tension rising in my shoulders as I recall the details of the day. When I returned home, my house looked like a war zone. I know I’d been begging for the ice maker to be fixed, but damn, why did it have to be today and do we really need to move ALL the appliances??
I locked myself in the bathroom several times. Took deep breaths, and desperately tried to start over with a fresh and positive attitude. None of it worked. It was like the movie Groundhog Day. I really hate that movie!
I finally used my last lifeline. I reached out and phoned a friend. Ok, I didn’t really, but I did text my bestie. If anyone was going to understand what a frazzled mess I was, it was her.
I’d love to end this post by saying that she text me back, and we had a laugh, and all was right with the world. She did text me back. 1 hour later. She has 3 kids of her own, and between diaper changes and kindergarten drop-offs, things get hectic.
We did have a laugh the very next day, and the only thing that I could do was sleep off my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. I went to sleep knowing that the next day would be better because I have a tribe that loves and supports me. I knew that the next day would bring clarity, and laughter, and connection with at least one friend who truly gets me.
But sometimes there isn’t a bestie to laugh it off with. Sometimes you just lay down and the tears stream onto your pillow, and you feel so alone in this life as a mama. You just wonder if you’re really doing it right, and if anyone else out there is trying to figure it out just like you.
But I’m here to tell you that you are not alone, and motherhood is really freaking hard sometimes, and that’s why I created the Mindful Mums group. I wasn’t born knowing how to be a mama. Things don’t always come naturally to us, and I’ve had to learn how to be mindful and gain the strength and tools that I need to sleep it off, and reach out to my tribe.
Maybe you have a tribe, and your BFF is on speed dial like mine, but maybe you both could use a push in the right direction, or an excuse to get together once a week without the kiddos and focus on yourselves. If so, I want to invite you to see what it’s all about, here.
Whether you join our tribe of Mindful Mums, or another mom's group, I truly want to encourage you to find support for those terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days, and everything else in-between. You might not find it on your first try, but keep trying, and keep reaching out, because you will find the one that feels comfy and accepting. Having a tribe is not just a want, it's a need.