Motherhood · Postpartum · Wellness

Don’t Be a Mombie: Ways to Combat Exhaustion

The contributors over at OKC Moms Blog have a private Facebook group in which we discuss extremely important blogging-related topics like ta-ta towels and cookie butter oreos. A few weeks ago, I asked this group of new and seasoned moms from all walks of life if I would EVER not be tired again? (I’m eight months into this mom gig.) Although these moms were full of support and encouragement as always, no one came back with a resounding “YES! On this day. In this amount of time. You will have all your energy back.” Not exactly the reassurance I was hoping for, but it did inspire me to reflect on what I can do to get through this season of life in one piece.

Lack of sleep is part of mom life, but being a mombie doesn’t have to be! Here are my best tips to combat exhaustion:

  1. Exercise.
    I know, I know, I know. You don’t have time to workout. I’m not asking you for two hours at the gym every day. I’m talking about just 20-30 minutes of walking, lifting weights, swimming, something you enjoy. You’re too tired to work out. As Elle Woods reminds us, “Exercise makes you happy, and happy people just don’t kill their husbands.” Exercising helps get you into a good cycle – it provides you with happy hormones and energy for your day and helps you fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep at night, resulting in having more energy the next day!
  2. Avoid caffeine.
    I know, I know, I know. You can’t mom without coffee. I’m not asking you to give up lattes forever. Try giving up caffeine for 3 weeks, and you may find that you really don’t need it. Much of our beloved caffeine addiction is just a comforting habit – try switching to decaf or half-caff and keep it all before noon. outdoor tea
  3. Stay hydrated.
    Mild dehydration contributes to fatigue and headaches. Be sure you’re getting plenty of high quality, filtered water.
  4. Focus on nutrition.
    Exhaustion makes us crave the quick fix energy that comes from sugar & processed carbs – think donuts, bagels, & cheese fries. These foods may taste great in the moment, but they send our bodies into a vicious cycle of crashing and cravings. For your best energy, focus on anti-inflammatory foods and get plenty of protein and healthy fats.
  5. Practice meditation.
    Meditation is not only super relaxing, it helps you develop the skills to turn your mind down before bed each night. We spend so much time teaching our babies how to fall asleep, yet we often rely on television or cell phones to help us fall asleep! Mediation is a game changer for sure. When I was very early postpartum and had tons of heavy anxiety, I would use the Headspace app to help me fall asleep for naps during the day.
  6. Go outside… and take your babies with you.
    Not only does Vitamin D help ward off depression, the natural rhythms of the sun help our bodies develop a good circadian rhythm. Taking kiddos outside at dusk helps them get mentally prepared for bed time! woman outside
  7. Turn off those screens!
    You’ve probably heard this before, but maybe you’re not convinced. Let me be the one hundredth person to tell you that taking your cell phone to bed is a bad idea. The National Sleep Foundation warns that the blue light from screens suppresses melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep and recommends 30 minutes of screen free time to unwind before bed.

 

What is your favorite restful ritual?

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Kindness · Motherhood

The Opposite of Kindness: Episode 2

In my original kindness post, I shared that in a recent yoga class, I felt a deep conviction to cultivate more kindness in my life. The first step in this kindness journey was to take notice of when I felt unkind, had unkind thoughts, or said unkind words.

The first trend I noticed is when I’m running late, I tend to be unkind toward things that are standing in my way (traffic, a slow line at Starbucks, uncooperative carseats, my dogs when they won’t kennel, etc.) I’m sure that this is because I am frustrated with myself for being late/not wanting to let down whoever I am meeting.
So? I could swear never to be late again, but I have a kid, so that solution would last .2 seconds. Even though it sounds counter-intuitive, I think the solution to this one is when I am running late, to slow down. Slow down and realize that wherever I’m going is not an emergency. Slow down and take notice of how much less stressed I feel if I don’t add anger to the fire. Slow down and be more careful. Slow down and remind myself that I am enough, even when I am late. Kindness and self-compassion go hand-in-hand.

The second trend revolves around people. I have unkind thoughts when someone gets something they don’t deserve, or someone is doing something “wrong,” or when someone is unkind to me first. Although these might be somewhat reasonable times to feel negative emotions, I truly believe it’s never okay to be unkind – even silent unkind thoughts harm me and my connection to the universe.
So what’s a girl to do? There’s always going to be people winning when they cheated, wronging people, and being unkind first. I think I need to observe deeper and notice how I feel toward myself when I observe these things and why it matters so much to me to induce unkind thoughts. Am I trying to make myself feel better?

Third, I am much less kind when I am exhausted beyond comprehension. Exhaustion and comparison must be BFF because when I’m tired, it’s so easy to jump on facebook or google and see how much better it would be if… how much less tired I would be if… how much better someone else is handling motherhood… when I’m TOO TIRED, I have unkind thoughts toward myself, yet I wear my exhaustion like a trophy, desperately wanting to be seen and acknowledged for how much of myself I give each day. When my exhaustion gets the best of me, I am sharp-tongued and unable to make a decision to save my life. I am short with those who deserve my kindness the most. It ain’t pretty, but luckily it’s not too often. My kid does let me sleep sometimes.
Holla at your girl if you have an answer to this one that isn’t “get more sleep.”

I also noticed that I feel the absolute kindest when I am sharing my heart by teaching yoga. There’s just something about coming to the mat with a group of women, sharing space, and guiding them through postures and breath work that cultivates an absolute lightness of heart. This week we honored the root chakra throughout our practice and used the breathe to receive truth from the universe to the question: I am.

kind

Kindness abounds. I am.


Photo credit: Jeanye Mercer (Jeanye’s Art)

Marriage · Motherhood · Wellness

The Opposite of Kindness

I went to my first ever yin yoga class this week. If you’re not familiar with yin yoga, it is essentially a 90 minute meditation practice where you do a few simple poses for long lengths of time. Toward the end of the class, we were in our second side of pigeon pose and as they often do, tears started to fall from my eyes; from my heart. Yoga helps you to soften. In that practice, the tears weren’t of sadness. They were of conviction.

In our practice, Darci often asks us to choose one thing we want to invite in and in that moment I knew: kindness. It is the trait I admire most of my mother and grandmother. I believe it is the secret sauce to the ever-elusive happiness. I need to invite kindness. I need to learn kindness. I need to cultivate kindness. I need to be kindness.

The opposite of kindness is not pure evil. It is impatience. It is rudeness. It is ungratefulness. It is brattiness. It is pettiness. It is shame. It is anger. It is apathy. It is passive aggression. It is too tired. It is distracted.

I am embarking on a kindness adventure. I’m not sure what valleys and mountains I will cross, but I am going.

 

Featured Photo Credit: Jeanye Mercer

Motherhood

The Circle of Life.

Tonight as I was rocking my son to sleep, I closed my eyes. I reached deep into my soul and connected with memories of being rocked and patted and sung to the same exact way so many years ago.

I love Phillip, I love Phillip. Phillip is so good and sweet, I love Phillip.

I learned in Beautiful Babies by Kristen Michaelis, that baby girls are born with the eggs that might eventually become babies. Fun fact, but also deeply and beautifully touching. The egg that eventually created me was formed in my Granna’s womb. My husband’s egg was formed in his grandma’s womb. My son’s egg was formed in his Manna’s womb. These are intimate and eternal connections.

Though we are blessed with a huge, crazy family that loves our son to pieces, my husband and I mourn the loved ones that our little Hawk won’t get to meet. Tonight while I rocked, I was reminded while he may not physically meet them, he is truly, madly loved by them, divinely connected to them, and each one is a special part of who he is and will become. I am so grateful for the circle of life.

Motherhood

Mom Life Picked Me

My shame story starts in 4th grade. Forced to prepare for the TAAS test, my third grade love for creative writing diminished into my 4th grade hatred of English class. I conveniently started getting tummy aches every day when it was time for English class and would instead visit the nurse’s office. I was miserable.

In 5th grade, my favorite teacher, Mrs. P, nourished my spirit & my love for math and all things academic. With this newfound confidence, I decided to run for student body president. I lost.

In 6th grade, all students had to choose between Art/Music/Drama OR Band. I can’t sing or art, so even though I probably would have been SPECTACULAR at drama, fear kept me from picking that route and I chose band. Percussion. Well, wouldn’t you know I can’t percussion either.

In junior high, I finally found something I was good at: volleyball. Freshman year, diving, rolling, and serving were my specialty. I was starting server and defensive specialist. I loved it. Until summer before sophomore year when we were required to run sprint a certain number of laps around the track under a certain time.  I quit my beloved volleyball to avoid the shame of never being able to complete those laps.

Oh, and there was the time I thought I would raise a goat.

In 10th grade, I failed the TAKS writing test. Me, the smart one, the intelligent one, the nerdy one, the straight A student. Failed. Big time. I hated school. With nothing left to enjoy, I ended up graduating high school early just to get away.

In college, I thought I would finally find somewhere to fit in. I applied to be an Aggie Hostess, a group of intimidatingly gorgeous, popular, rich girls who support the football team. Did I mention that I was still in braces at this time? Needless to say, I did not make the cut. Second semester, I joined a group called Aggie Sisters for Christ, but I never belonged. I applied to be a small group leader. 8 people applied and 7 were chosen. Rejected. I joined a group called Ags of Open Acts of Kindness. Served for two semesters and loved it! Applied to be on the board. 4 people applied; 3 were chosen. Rejected.  I graduated college early, chasing the belief that I could escape rejection. But, adult life turned out to be just as harsh. Online applications, job interviews, and rejection.

As women, we smush and smash and contort ourselves – trying to fit into the molds laid before us of who we think we are supposed to be. Who we are told we should want to be. When we are too big, too much, for those molds, we feel rejected. Too much, yet not enough.

When I gave up trying to fit in, the sting of rejection went away. I found a job I loved, a master’s program I enjoyed, and eventually a career path I am very fond of and plan to pursue. I met and married the man who showed me what true strength is made of and helped me discover a love of hiking and adventure.

I didn’t think I wanted to have children. I was sure motherhood would be one more thing I attempted and failed. One more way life told me I was too much, but not enough. But it turned out to be the only mold I’ve ever truly fit. I’ve made more friends since becoming a mom than I’ve made in my entire life. True friends. I’ve become even closer to my own wonderful mom and sister-in-love. Becoming a mother has made me a better, more patient wife.

My loud, my happy, my silly, my protective, my emotional, my strong, there’s room for it all in my baby’s heart. His heart is full; my heart is full.

Mom life picked me.

 

 

 

 

 

Fitness · Motherhood · Wellness

What I Learned Hiking 30 Miles With My Newborn

This April, my son and I completed the Hike It Baby 30 Challenge! Hike It Baby is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families get outside and get moving! There are local groups all over the country! The challenge consisted of logging 30 miles within the month of April. Before having a baby, 30 miles could have easily been logged over the course of 3-4 days. This April, I barely scraped by, hitting 30.17 miles on the last day, but I loved the challenge and I’m looking forward to the next one in September!

Here’s what I learned hiking 30 miles with my newborn:

1. Babies LOVE to be outdoors!! My son is happiest outside. This is a huge motivator for me to get outside every day, even in the rain.

2. Every mile counts. Some days, I would just strap him on and walk to the stop sign and back, logging just under a mile. I rarely was able to log more than 2 miles in one day. This was good though, because it required me to be consistent and get outside every single day.

3. The right carrier matters! I wish I had done more research about baby carriers before I had my little guy. I probably would have purchased a LilleBaby All Seasons carrier, but my Boba 4G worked out just fine and I’m looking forward to using my Onya Pure when he gets a bit bigger.

4. Motherhood doesn’t mean the end to your hobbies and adventures. Sure, it’s a little harder to squeeze in a hike and I worry much more about the heat and I have to pack three bags just to go to the local park for an hour, but it’s worth it to share the outdoors with my son. I hope he continues to love it as he grows older!

Motherhood

A Birthday Story

Ever since I can remember, one of my favorite things has been for my mom to tell me my birthday story. This consists of “When you turned 1, we had a carrot cake. You wore a pink outfit with big black polka dots. When you turned 2, we had a Little Mermaid party…” and on and on. Sometimes we remember them all, sometimes we get them mixed up. Some birthdays were unforgettable, like the now infamous (to me and my mother only) 12 hour birthday cake where we made a swimming pool out of mini M&Ms and teddy grahams with icing swimsuits or the time when I decidedly told my parents that “four-year-olds can do anything.”

Now, this fun tradition has been passed down to the next generation and my sweet niece will ask her Manna to hear about her “wittle daddy” and his birthday story.

Me and my brother are very lucky to have parents who always made our birthdays very special – and still do! Being that our birthdays are about 6 weeks apart, they could have made us share a party, but they always gave us our own day. We got to pick the theme, invite our friends, and there was always cake. Usually chocolate cake. With chocolate icing.

This year, I almost forgot my own birthday.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been preoccupied with counting how many weeks old my sweet son is turning (23 tomorrow). Maybe it’s because I’ve a little busy fighting the almighty nap war, trying to learn how to make a more decent meal than tacos, starting a part-time job working from home, cultivating new friendships with the sweetest mamas around, and changing poopy diapers. So many poopy diapers.

Or maybe, it’s because I have fully embraced the fact that when you become mommy, you’re writing someone else’s birthday story. You’re the one who gets to remember the cake and pick the flavor until they’re old enough. You’re the one who gets to send out the invitations and make the reservations to rent the Y pool (wait, what do winter birthdays even do?). You’re the one who, even though you do it every other day of the year, gets to pour your heart and soul into your kid and give them a special day.

Today and forever, I get to be Will’s wife and Hawk’s mommy, and that is better than all the cake in the world.