Behind the Smile

Hat

Kristina: Photo by Mislav Marohnic / CC BY 2.0

Social media is valuable for many reasons. It can help people stay in touch, it helps promote businesses and more.

However, an important piece to remember scrolling through a feed is this: social media is a filtered world. This is helpful to remember as a mother. Often mothers may question, “am I doing this right?”/ “why does it seem easier for her?”/ “insert your common concern here”.

When you feel the trigger of your insecurity as you are scrolling through your feed, remind yourself:

Behind the perfect family photos are challenges, struggles, and fights.  The mama, who is showcasing strengths that are your weaknesses, has her set of flaws. The announcement of a new job, that sounds amazing, may come after heartache and serious financial struggle.

The purpose of this reminder is not to be negative. It is to remind every mother she is not alone with struggles, and nobody is as perfect as they seem on social media.

 

I came across a blog recently that addressed this topic in an amusing way.

 

Personally, I love seeing my friends post pictures of major milestones, weddings, babies, vacations and more. It often makes me smile. Just be aware of anxiety that can come along with comparing your whole world to this filtered world.

Vacation!

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In our society, busy-ness often seems like a competition. Unused vacations days are worn as a badge of honor. Exhaustion is a status symbol. I am here to encourage you to exit this race.

My family just returned from vacation and my spirit is renewed. I spent quality time with my husband and son.

Taking breaks and vacation actually increase productivity. Read more about it here. This article is focused on the workplace outside the home, but this goes for stay-at-home mamas too. People need time away from the everyday routine to refresh and rejuvenate. There is something to be said about simply being “away” from the area that you live in.

The tips for making the most of your breaks and vacation:

  • If you have them, take ALL of your vacation days.
  • Vacation does not have to be to an exotic location. Explore somewhere a couple hours away that you have always wanted to.
  • If your budget is slim, take a long weekend somewhere nearby.
  • If your budget does not allow any travel, do a “staycation”. Use your time to visit local beaches or do hikes you have never done before. Act like a “tourist” in your town.
  • May time in your life for play. Play with your kids at the park, the beach or even at home.

For new mamas who feel like vacation is the furthest thing from your mind, no worries. You will get to a place again where you can enjoy it again.

What is your best vacation tip for families?

 

Movement for Motherhood

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Push Ups 2: Photo by Parker Knight / CC BY 2.0

Motherhood brings on multiple imbalances in the body. Pregnancy physically changes the body. After the baby arrives, repetitive actions such as breastfeeding, carrying baby, hauling heavy bags and car seats all affect muscles and posture.

The following are two workouts specifically designed to correct some of the imbalances that come along with motherhood. Each workout contains a warm-up, workout and cool down. Click on the corresponding tabs to see each one.

 

Total Body Conditioning Workout for Parents

This workout can be done with mostly bodyweight to begin with, and then add weights after. The seated cable row and seated chest press can be done at home with an exercise band if you do not have access to machines.

 

Postural Workout for Parents

This workout is great because it uses all bodyweight exercises. It can be done anywhere, anytime.

 

When adding fitness back into your busy routine, fit it in where you can. If you have 5 minutes, complete a couple of the moves. You can come back to it when you have another 5 minutes, you can add some more.

Remember, ALWAYS check with your doctor or a fitness professional when beginning any type of exercise program.

Three Little Words.

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Holding Hands: Photo by Waithamai / CC BY 2.0

No matter where a mother is in her journey: Just beginning or experienced many times over, she will, at times, feel challenged or overwhelmed. Many mothers try to hold it together and push through obstacles. However, the truth is, it is ok to say the three little words.

I need help.

To the new mama who is suffering with postpartum depression in silence…

Call your doctor and say: I need help.

To the seasoned mama who is feeling overwhelmed with handling the needs of many different children…

Call your mama or a mom friend and say: I need help.

To the working mama who is trying to balance all her responsibilities at home and work, while still being effective…

Tell your partner or family member: I need help.

To the stay at home mama who loves her children with all she has, but needs a moment…

Tell your partner or someone you love: I need help.

To the mama who is feeling isolated or helpless…

Look to a higher power or pray: I need help

Asking for help is not weak, it is strong. We all need a helping hand at some point or another. Saying the three little words feels vulnerable, but can help you and your child through the hardest of times.

If you are not sure how or what to say, check out these tips for asking for help.

Mama, we are all in this together.

 

 

What do you love? Indulge (a little)

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Coffee: Photo by Cheryl Foong / CC BY 2.0

I love coffee. I am not a morning person, so my morning cup of coffee is a saving grace. It only takes 1 cup and I am a new person.

Often it is simple pleasures that can make a big difference in your day. I enjoyed this article about Three Ways to Enjoy your Life More.

It starts off with a quote from John C. Maxwell: “Enjoyment is an incredible energizer to the human spirit”. In other words, if you take the time to do small things that you enjoy, you will be rewarded with an energy boost. The article outlines ways to enjoy your life as it is now, instead of always wishing for something in the future.

Busy mams can use all the energy boosts we can possibly get. If all it takes a cup of coffee/ a piece of chocolate/ curling up with a book for a couple minutes/ enjoying the sunset/ hot showers/ a quick nap/ fresh air at lunch time/ (your favorite thing here) enjoyed for a couple minutes, mindfully, to boost the spirit: by all means, indulge a little!

Friday Gratitude

Gratitude

Gratitude: Photo by Sheila Craan / CC BY 2.0

It is Friday and I am thankful. After a long week of juggling, I have the weekend to look forward to with my son, husband and dog.

On this Friday I ask you: Mama, what are you thankful for? Counting blessings is a great mood elevator. If gratitude is used on a regular basis, your brain can be trained to begin to scan for positive in your daily life instead of negative.

Gratitude challenge

Step 1:

If you are looking for a way to keep your mood elevated, challenge yourself to a gratitude list.

What are the BIG things you are thankful for?

This could include family, faith, relationships, health and passion.

What are some basic things you are thankful for?

This could include having enough food, a home to live in and a job to work at.

What are some little things you are thankful for?

This could include indulgences like coffee or chocolate, alone time, or leisure time.

Step 2:

After writing down your personal list, record how you are feeling mood wise.

Step 3:

Repeat as necessary throughout the week to increase benefits.

 

To read more about the science between mood and gratitude, check out these articles:

Gratitude Adjustment

The Science behind Gratitude

Simple Solution to Keep Positive

mom and twins

Mom and Twins: Photo by Donnie Ray Jones / CC BY 2.0

Awareness is the first step to change. The way we think and speak on a daily basis has a big impact on mood and happiness. Check out this neat graphic about Moms & Happiness.

One easy way to keep positive throughout the day is to change negative language to positive. It is about saying the same thing using different words that keep your brain positive throughout the day.

The following are some examples of how to reword statements to create a positive spin:

I feel tired today after work —- My body needs a break

I won’t forget the diapers today—-I will remember to put diapers in the bag

Don’t hit mommy—-I like when you are gentle with mommy

Not a problem—-Sure, I can help

I can’t do anything right—-I made a mistake

Cleaning up negative statements throughout the day can boost your overall mood.

  1. Start by becoming aware of frequently used “negative” words and phrases (don’t, won’t, can’t, shouldn’t, problem, terrible, worthless, wrong, bad, failure, never)

 

  1. Become creative about changing your daily language like above (I will never succeed—-I will do my best to succeed…This is a challenging problem—-I will work on a solution….I feel like a failure—-I will improve next time)

 

  1. Use positive language when you think and speak. If you catch yourself, replace negative language with positive.

 

Check out this link to read more ideas using positive language in your daily life.

The Motherhood Paradox

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Photo by Karilop311 / CC BY 2.0

When a woman becomes pregnant, she often wants to learn as much as she can about raising her child. She may read articles, blogs, research and books. However, she can find herself becoming overwhelmed with the information as she is bound to find contradictions with everything from feeding, sleeping, naps and more.  The deeper she digs for information, the more inconsistencies she may find. Everyone from doctors, research and personal blogs have a different way of what is best.

It all becomes confusing. She may question, what will I actually do when the baby comes?

Personally, I had to take a break for a while from all the information. It was beginning to create anxiety for me, instead of reassurance, which is often the initial intention.

One night while I was still in the haze a few months in, my son’s cries broke the night silence. I sat up and move toward his side. A simple thought crossed my mind. “My son needs me.” All the jumbo of information on co-sleep/cry-it-out/crib sleep/breastfeeding/solids/nap schedules/on demand was lost. It was a simple moment of me as a mother knowing what my son needed.

I have learned how powerful motherhood instinct can be. I still continue to read and educate myself on various viewpoints of raising children, but first trust I my instincts as my son’s mother.

Mamas: it does not always go smoothly, and we will surely make mistakes. Just know this – motherhood instincts and love combined with knowledge can go a long way.

Motivation Monday: Write it down

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Pencil: Photo by Andrew Taylor / CC BY 2.0

It’s Monday, and you have a chance for a fresh start this week. What wellness goal has been on your list for a while, but keeps slipping away?

One way to increase your odds for achieving a goal is to write it down. As simple as it sounds, writing a goal down instead of keeping it in your head can increase your odds of achieving it. Grab yourself a pen and paper.

For example, I have been wanting to begin regularly strength training again. I used to be very effective at regularly doing this, but since becoming a mother it is much harder to fit in to my routine. Creating a written plan that is specific and measurable can help instead of thinking in your head “I want to work out more”.

 

Write down your goal:

I will weight train this week.

Make it specific:

I will weight train 3 days this week.

Make in measurable:

I will weight train for 3 days for 20 minutes each time this week.

Make it timed:

I will weight train 3 days for 20 minutes each time during the week of August 8th – August 14th.

 

With a written goal that you can measure, you will know on August 14th if you have reached your goal or not. This process of writing goals down can help in many areas of your life.

Read more here about the power of writing goals down.

Mindful Moments

lake superior

Mothers become masters at juggling. They care for the needs of children, partners, hopefully themselves along with balancing jobs, caring for the home and more. Stress is part of the chaos and hustle of daily life.

One way to slow down and press pause is to take a mindful moment. Mindful moments are when you focus your attention to the present instead of worrying about your future to-do list or fretting about a past mistake.

I was at a Lake Superior beach (my place of bliss) yesterday with my son and it was a beautiful evening. One of the best ways to have a mindful moment is to focus on your senses.

I saw my son tossing rocks in the lake, the sun moving toward the horizon, and people enjoying the water. I heard the waves breaking on the shoreline, laughter, and birds calling. I felt the warm sand beneath my feet and breeze against my skin. The scent of fresh air and beach was all around me. In a mindful moment such as this, stress melts away, for a brief instant.

When you engage your mind in this manner, it automatically pauses the racing mind. These pauses can be done, anywhere, at any time. It does not have to be in your place of bliss. You could be at work or home when you just need a moment.

First, focus on what you see. What colors are around?

Next, what do you hear? Sometimes it helps to close your eyes.

Focus on what you are physically feeling. Are you seated or standing? Feel the ground under your feet or your breathing.

Finally are there any scents or tastes to take in?

The racing of your mind may pick up where you left off, however, taking a small pause can help take the edge off of an overwhelming day.

If you want to read more about mindfulness, check out these articles:

Back to the Present

The Art of Now