Simple Self Care During the Busiest Days

Motherhood is a beast. Once we pop those little suckers out, our own self care plummets. I have recently been very bad about giving every last drop of myself to the kids or other commitments until I am burnt out.

tim-goedhart-334149-unsplash.jpg

I’ve started prioritizing myself in little ways throughout the day that have really improved my mindset during this busy season of our lives (both holidays and having a 2.5 year old and walking 1 year old).


Here’s what I recommend:

Wake up [ a smidge ] earlier

Everyone says it, “Wake up before your kids.” Well, no, Paula with the perfect hair in your LuLu Lemon leggings. I like me some sleep, like the hair is a mess lots of drool kind of sleep. I have, however, started trying to wake up just 30 minutes before I used to. My rockstar husband loves to take the kids on a walk in the morning so just those few moments of quiet time are priceless. I write or start laundry or on the weekends spend too much time on my phone. Regardless, its me time. And if I can start the day feeling productive, things go smoother.

Turn the TV on

Call Child Services! On days when Brooks is screaming in protest to the fact that I have to wake his brother up from his nap and Vance has hit his head 100 times while toddling around, you better belief that I turn that TV on so that I can get a second to regroup. Peppa Pig is oddly relaxing. It’s perspective people - Would a crying mess of a mother be better than 30 minutes of a British Pig teaching my kids about the outback?

coffee xmas tree.jpg

Develop a hobby outside of the children

As a SAHM, those little monsters are my life. They’re my bosses - if they’re not happy, no one is happy. It wasn’t until a few months ago when I saw myself getting a little lost in motherhood. It was all I could think about. As a woman who would like to get back into the workforce once the kids are bigger, I decided to choose a hobby that could keep my writing and creative skills fresh. Heyyyy blogging.

Don’t sleep with your phone nearby

I started leaving my phone in the bathroom overnight. My sleep has improved ten fold since making that decision. I also like to read right before I go to sleep. It slows my mind to focus on just one thing.

Pamper yourself

As I approach my 30th birthday, skin care has taken on a large part of my beauty routine. I love that feeling when your skin is nourished and feels like butter. Whatever your guilty pleasure is, embrace it. Drink wine and watch trashy TV, have a girls night, eat a tray of brownies in bed. You earned it.

Personal Mantra

I talk a lot of game, but I struggle with feeling like I have done enough for my children everyday. We could have read, worked on shapes, played outside, eaten healthy meals, and kept TV to a minimum, but I still wonder if there is more I could have done to make their day better. I try to repeat phrases that calm me to combat this feeling. Things like “You’re a great mom” or “You did your best today”. As someone who can’t handle the zen nature of yoga or meditation this is about as good as it gets for me.


Small steps have made a big difference in my daily mindset. I’ve realized more than ever that having a good day with the boys relies heavily on my mindset. When I’m tired, it is much easier for the kids to get bored and cranky. But if I can start my day on just a little bit better note, everyone is happier. So I take a hot second and give myself a pat on the back. You should too. Motherhood is a beast




Working Through Anxiety as a Parent

When you find out that you’re expecting, you start to wonder what traits you will pass along to your children. I dreamt that I would pass along my attention to detail, work ethic, and ridiculous good looks (Read: sense of humor).

Hohman2017_5.jpg

On this first leg of my parenthood voyage, I have realized that while I do pass things on to the kids, they also create new qualities within me. The most evident has been the escalation of my anxiety.

I have always had anxiety. As a child I obsessed over throwing up when I went out in public. I always thought it was just silly kid stuff, but now I know better. I eventually grew out of that around 5th grade, and just moved into typical nervous behavior.

Recently, however my anxiety has been raging. I think the recent spike has several causes.

First, modern day’s prevalence of violence, mostly against women and children, is shocking. It seems like every week I turn on the TV and hear about a shooting, murder, rape, etc. The constant reminder of this behavior in my own community is jarring.

For example, Tampa has a large human trafficking problem. According to the Florida Dream Center, which provides care to victims of trafficking, 80% of victims are women and up to 50% are children. In addition, “human trafficking is the fastest growing and 3rd largest organized criminal activity, behind only drug and arms trade.”

There have been reports of men videotaping, following, and trying to grab people at malls and grocery stores that I frequent. Reportedly, they have accomplices who wait in unmarked vans in the parking lot.

Secondly, the fact that I no longer have to worry about just myself but also the well being of my little people is overwhelming. I know that if I were to be approached or someone were to pull a gun at the movies, I can run. I can hide quietly. I can fight back. However, when I have my little people, I can’t do those things without leaving them alone. I couldn’t fight off an attacker and manage the stroller at the same time. If I were to have to hide my kids, they wouldn’t keep quiet. They wouldn’t understand.

So now that my concerns are out there, what am I doing to keep this anxiety in check?


Mindfulness

It is easy for me to spiral. What if someone were to come in here with a gun? What if someone approaches my kids? I try to be very aware of when the “what ifs” are getting the better of me. When that happens, I try to take a step back and rationally think through more likely scenarios than “what ifs”.

Having a Plan

When I feel my heart rate rising, I think of a contingency plan in case my greatest fears were to occur. Typically, that includes being aware of exits at all times, making direct eye contact with strangers, and making sure that others know where I am all the time.

Treatment

I haven’t gotten to the point where I feel like I need medication or a therapist, but I am 100% open to that. I think that realizing there is an issue and seeking treatment is the smart and courageous thing to do. No shame in that game, playa.

Breathing Techniques

Ask my husband, and he will tell you that I called Lamaze bullshit within the first few minutes. However, I do some intentional breathing when I am having trouble sleeping. It does chill me out. It can be hard to actually focus on your breathing with toddlers in tow, but if possible I do this in public. Sometimes that means grabbing the iPad and turning on Netflix, but that doesn’t make me a bad mom.

Take Action Against Triggers

The largest trigger for me is gun violence. Pretty much every type of place that I frequent has been victim to shootings - movie theaters, malls, groceries, gyms, schools, churches. I literally do not go a day without thinking, “What if a gunman walks in here?” Once I realized that this was the trigger, I got involved with Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety.


I have noticed recently that the anxiety that I feel is starting to get in the way of my typical daily activities. For example, I am extremely uncomfortable setting foot in any house of worship nowadays. We used to go every weekend as a family, but the thought of someone barging into church while my family and I are sitting ducks is overwhelming, so I just avoid it.

It’s hard to explain this to someone who doesn’t suffer from anxiety. I often try to explain my emotions to my husband who is all logic, and he just can’t understand it. He tells me to think about the odds of something bad happening. But all I can think is that the parents in Sandy Hook or the clubgoers in Orlando might have thought the same thing, “It couldn’t happen to me.” But it did. And it continues to happen.

Hopefully, I will overcome these anxieties in the future. I try not to let me kids see when I am worried about our safety in the hopes that they will be as chill as their dad. I work on it everyday.

I also hope that this worrisome behavior does rub off on them a little bit. I want them to see that I am thinking through any situation that we are in. But, I don’t want them to know the extent to which I am seeking out exit signs and hiding spots.

I do, however, want them to be thoughtful decision makers. I want them to think through the consequences of their actions and anticipate the reaction. So maybe that is the silver lining. Maybe that is what I will pass along to my children.

Self Care Tips for the Fourth Trimester

jen-p-541459-unsplash.jpg

Those first months of motherhood can be isolating. Your hormones are going crazy. Your body is changing dramatically once again, and now you’re expected to take care of your precious newborn. Odds are that your partner (especially if that partner is your typical dude), won’t understand what you’re going through - the pressure to be the perfect mom combined with the pain of recovery.

Don’t get bogged down by the pressure. Even in those days when you’re waking every few hours at night and then getting up bleary-eyed, remember your importance. You’re the one who sustained this life in your body. You can do it now that your baby is earthside. No one can take care of that baby the way you can, but first you need to practice good self care.

I believe that overall wellness relies on three steps - rest, release, rejuvenate. I’m not sure every new mom can (or should) squeeze all three in everyday, but focus on one to start.

Rest - If possible, sleep of course. But if that doesn’t work, find what recharges you. But I have seen even the most avid “Oh, I don’t nap,” people turn into nappers during the newborn stage.

Release - This step is all about getting rid of whatever toxic thoughts you may have. Exercise and meditation are two ways to set your mind straight.

Rejuvenate - The fun step! This is doing what makes you YOU! Whether you’re a writer, a reader, or skincare enthusiast, make time to remember that in addition to a mom you’re also the same woman you were 9 months ago.

Here are some simple ways to take care of yourself that are easy to forget in the fourth trimester when you aren’t necessarily physically or emotionally ready to get back to all the things that you love!


Sleep

Could I be more cliche? But seriously, sleep is so critical. It has been shown that sleep deprivation past a certain point has the same effects on your body as alcohol does. You wouldn’t be taking care of your baby after a tequila bender would you?

You likely won’t get the quality or amount of sleep as before, but don’t be afraid to ask your partner to take over so that you can nap. In addition to the exhaustion, your body also needs to heal and does so when resting.

Nutrition

It’s so easy to order pizza or run through a drive thru, but you will feel so much worse. Stock the pantry with healthy options and keep on getting those fresh fruits and veggies in! I prepared a bunch of healthy crockpot starter kits that I froze before I had my first son. It was simple, and it felt like we had an actual dinner instead of just questionable burgers out of a greasy bag.

If that’s not possible, keep taking your vitamins - especially you nursing mommas!

Also, stay hydrated. Sometimes drinking water perks me up even more than a coffee does. Sometimes. Not all the time. Let’s not go crazy.

Stretch

I am far from a yoga lover. I’m the one in the back rolling my eyes and thinking about my to-do list when I should be centering myself. But I do think that stretching, particularly right when I wake up, gets my body ready for the day.

I literally roll out of bed and right onto the floor. I also find that I can think about the day ahead more clearly at this point. Check out these simple stretches for beginners and Beauty and the Beat blog for more in depth details about yoga and motherhood.

Get outside

Again, I typically roll my eyes when someone (usually my husband) says take a second and get some fresh air and sunshine. But, as a new mom I loved taking my little ones for walks. It was the perfect way to get outside and also start getting back into a fitness routine. Plus, usually babies are soothed by the ride which means a few minutes of peace and quiet for you!

Take a route that has a bench or two so that you can take a breather or nurse easily.

Decultter

My favorite! When my house is cluttered, my mind is cluttered. There are so many things going on in the fourth trimester, that any additional clutter is too much. Pick one room, cabinet, closet and purge. Get rid of anything that is unjustifiably taking up too much space. This is also a great way to get you back into a fitness routine. Or is it just me who breaks a sweat decluttering?

Remember what you used to love + do it

I love morning quiet time. It let’s me do whatever it is that I want that day. Like today, I’m writing. Yesterday, I was meal planning. Yes, I do enjoy meal planning.

We have worked our schedule so that my husband takes the babies on a walk in the morning so that I have a second to breath. It’s great for me, and it gets all the boys outside everyday.

Have conversations about something other than kids

It can seem like you a now defined by this precious baby. Plus you want to show them off to anyone who will listen, but don’t forget that you have interests outside of that. Even if it’s just talking to the barista about the newest blend, focus on talking about what interests you outside of your child.

Morning and nighttime beauty routine

I am not one of those girls who feels compelled to put on a full face of makeup everyday. I do love a good skincare routine though. I have found that just a quick routine of a few product in the morning and evening right before bed relaxes me. My morning routine has fresh scents and Vitamin C to wake me up and my nighttime routine has more creams and oils to wind me down.

Take a long shower

Girl you stink, take a bath. No one wants to say it because you’re a raging hormonal mother, but take a long shower. Not only will it instantly rejuvenate you, but it also is the perfect excuse. “Sorry, honey, I can’t get the baby right now. Will you check on him?” Boom.

Check out

Sometimes, you just have to separate yourself from it all. The fourth trimester has by far been the most overwhelming season in my life. There is someone new in the family who constantly relies on you for everything, and that can be really jarring. When you feel that overwhelm bubbling up, schedule child care and get out. Go wander Target and enjoy the fact that all the screaming kids there aren’t yours.


Tips to get it done

Schedule it

If your life is run by your calendar, then plan it. I have the gym scheduled three days a week every week. I know that it is time for myself that I get to look forward to, and my husband will plan his work day around it.

Prioritize yourself

It sounds so simple, but it’s so difficult. I can tell you from experience - when you try to have it all, you will get burned out. Remember that in order to properly take the best care of your child, you need to take the best care of yourself. Build a community that will help you do that - friends who will talk to you about The Bachelor and trusted neighbors who can babysit.

Don’t feel guilty

The hardest step. You think you will miss something or that you SHOULD be with your child. The best way to overcome guilt is to talk about it. I always tell my husband when I’m feeling guilty about doing something for myself, and he talks me down.





3 Essentials to My Wellness Routine

Motherhood is full of seasons - newborn months, crawling months, walking, etc.  With each development my little ones have, my daily routine changes drastically.  Through my mom guilt and tired eyes, I always try to make time for myself.  I constantly fall back on three words when creating a wellness routine that fits into the current season - rest, release, rejuvenate. 

DINING (1).jpg

Rest

Before children, I was a huge napper - almost daily.  I could fall asleep quickly, sleep for hours, and repeat.  That was back when my days were filled with work and worrying about what I would eat for dinner.  Now that I am following two little people around constantly picking up things that they could put in their mouths, wiping noses, and changing diapers, my definition of rest has evolved.  If I can get 30 minutes to sit and be at peace knowing whoever is watching my boys is capable, I'm happy.  If I can actually get a nap, I'm escatic.  Perspective. 

Here's some ideas on rest:

  • Watching your favorite show (binge something if you're lucky!) 

  • Read a chapter of a book 

  • Paint your nails 

  • Do a face mask 

RELEASE

I only realized the need for release after babies, when stress and anxiety were at an all time high for me.  The best way for me to release is exercise.  I love OrangeTheory.  I rowed in high school, and I love that OTF includes a rower in their workouts.  Plus, I know the class is one hour and will kick my ass.  And they charge a late cancellation fee for each class, so I'm finanacially motivated as well.

Some more ideas for release: 

  • Yoga

  • Walk the dog 

  • Meditation 

REJUVENATE

This is the most personal essential to my wellness routines.  This is the step where you determine what genuinely makes you whole.  What is it that you would do even if you weren't paid?  For me, it is writing.  In the past, it has been baking, making lists, or calligraphy.  

Rejuvenation might look like this to you: 

  • Journaling

  • Drawing 

  • Cooking 

  • Design 

It's so easy to lose yourself when you're constantly prioritizing others over yourself.  I have found that my own well being is paramount for my family's well being.  If I don't take the time to remember who I am, I can't be my best self for my boys.  

Dry Shampoo Trials

This post contains affiliate links. An affiliate link means that I may earn a referral fee if you make a purchase through my link without any extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Let me start by saying that as a teenager, I would wash my hair multiples times a day.  I don't know why.  And on the rare occassion that I didn't overwash my locks, I was using baby powder as my 'dry shampoo'.  I was always fine with that because I have always been really blond.  Except for that one misguided time when I dyed my hair red.  Anyway, the white baby powder blended fine and the static that I accumulated wasn't a big deal.  

Flash forward ten years and hot dog! There are oodles of options out there.  I've been testing 5 out since early this year - Bumble and Bumble, Living Proof, Amika, Batiste, and Dry Bar.  I ranked them on the following criteria to establish one end-all, be-all for dry shampoo! 

SCENT 

OIL ABSORPTION

RESIDUE 

PRICE POINT

OVERALL



BUMBLE & BUMBLE

Scent: Pleasantly perfumey. I'd happily smell like that all day.

Oil Absorption: Not great.  I felt like it left me looking like I still had dirty roots if I held it just a bit too close when spraying.

Residue: None

Price Point: $29.00 for 3oz....what?!

Overall: You can put all the pink clay you want in there, I'm not spending that much. 

LIVING PROOF

Scent : Whoa.  Fragrant. My husband actually like the scent, but if I put it on at any time other than right before bed, it will give me a headache.  It smells good, but too much. 

Oil Absorption: Great.  Looked like new again.

Residue: Zero

Price Point: $23.00 for 4oz.  

Overall:  If this was a notch less perfumey and cheaper, I would buy stock.  It is supposed to '"deliver a fresh scent throughout the day," so if your nose is less sensitive and your wallet is fatter, go get it!

AMIKA

Scent: Unoffesive

Oil Absorption: Absorbed.  Not enough for it to work for multiple days in a row.

Residue : None

Price Point:  $25.00 for 5.3oz

Overall: This hurt my nose and head far less than most of the others.  I felt like its performance was just average.  I won't be paying $25 for it, but if its a free sample, I'd go back for more. 

BATISTE

Scent: The most mild

Oil Absorption: Two thumbs up

Residue: Yes, lots

Price Point: $5 for 6.8oz

Synopsis: If you're ok with residue that you have to work in a bit, this is your jam.  I also never feel like I can spray too much because the scent is very mild.  If I need more, I spray more without hesititation.  Which is good. I usually need more. 

DETOX DRY SHAMPOO BY DRYBAR (ORIGINAL SCENT)

Scent : Synthetic, I felt like I was in a dry shampoo factory.

Oil Absorption: Great

Residue: None

Price Point: $23 for 3.5oz

Synopsis: The initial scent is strong, but once you’ve sprayed it it dissipates quickly. Works great, but again expensive.

THE VERDICT

Here’s what I learned: My hair must really stink when I need dry shampoo. This stuff is pretty much always potent. In terms of oil absorption, all but one (Bumble & Bumble) really brought their A game.

So with oil absorption being relatively consistent, the game changers became scent and price point. I might have a heightened sensitivity to smells post babies, but I think anyone would be on their way to a proper migraine using Living Proof too much.

That brought it down to Batiste, Amika, and Dry Bar. Dry Bar is far more expensive than the other two, and my least favorite scent so they’re out. Being a mother who appreciates a deal and doesn’t have time to make a trip to Sephora frequently, Batiste’s low price point and availability at drug stores, grocery stores, and Amazon make it my winner! I don’t mind rubbing in a bit more residue when it smells so nice and doesn’t put me into debt.

Here is the final ranking:

  1. BATISTE

  2. DRY BAR

  3. AMIKA

  4. LIVING PROOF

  5. BUMBLE AND BUMBLE

Which do you prefer? Got others that I should try? Let me know in the comments!