Tips for Your 1st Year of Parenthood

We did it! We made it through the first year (and then some) of parenthood. I by no means consider myself an expert on parenthood, or any other child besides my own, but I have learned a lot of things about being a parent to a baby and about myself in the past year that I think may be helpful to share. Any tips on parenting a toddler would be welcomed with open arms!

I hope that these things help you take care of yourself throughout your first year on this wild ride. I know everyone has said it to you already, but it really does go by so fast, so enjoy it as much as you can!

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Mom’s Me-Time Strategy

I am very happy to share this honest, inspiring, and beautiful written piece by Zara Lewis (find her on Twitter @ZaraELewis). As moms, I think we can all relate to something in Zara’s writing, and I hope you all will find this just as helpful as I did. Also, please take a moment to check out Zara’s bio at the end of the post, and spend some time checking out some of her other pieces!

Mom’s me-time strategy: essential guide to rebalancing yourself

In the midst of school dance preparations, as I was sewing in the buttons on a costume (which, by the by, I had personally made by hand), I started getting hot and dizzy; it was a feeling like the one they’ve been saying happens when you are dying: a haze, your whole life is flashing before your eyes, and you can’t breathe. A semi-panic attack, and I’m thinking “Am I going to make it this time around?” as my daughter tugs down on my skirt. On autopilot, I pull myself together and think “It is all worth it”.  

Mom fever

Scattered and unfocused with all the activities I’m stretched between –  working small consulting jobs, volunteering at school, driving endless carpools, minding the household, freelancing as a writer, running, making costumes for school dances (to name a few), I was drowning. Deadlines started escaping me; I would miss the kids’ games’ I skipped running more often than I actually went on track; I had no time for my friends or husband; and it felt like failing. All of it. And the worst part? I thought I was in it alone. All other mothers seemed to have it all figured out while I – I was on the verge.

Motherhood community

The magic of motherhood community is that, once you open up, everyone opens up. I spoke to some of my mom-friends and realized – I wasn’t alone. We are all messed up together and all while trying to be perfect, we’re forgetting to just be. Be happy and enjoy parenting.

Still, that doesn’t change the fact that ‘working mother’ is by far a redundant term these days and that we’re all grasping for air. I couldn’t help but think to myself: Do we all really want our children growing up with mothers stretched too thin, rarely ever laughing or glowing with happiness? Of course we don’t. They deserve mothers with a focus, acting from joy, not guilt.

Action on point

At a sit down and over a few Irish coffees, with our kids at school and our self-love and dignity buried in a pile of dirty laundry, my neighboring mothers and I have agreed it’s time we changed things. We’ve decided it’s time we did something for us, individually. It was (and still is) a beautiful motherhood pack – we’ve made a list of things we’ll do for ourselves, change and alter. We’ve become each other’s support system that afternoon, you know.

Here’s what we’ve done and it’s been working since then.

Accept this new part of your identity

The first and key step to discovering who you are as a mother is accepting that, in fact, you are a mother. Most of us were thrown into the motherhood just as we were landing big clients and launching our startups. Accepting that you are a mom – with, now, changed priorities, different body, altered schedule, multitasking and balancing of a different type than the one you’ve known your whole life (you vs. YOUR PERSONAL obligations, not someone else’s) – changes everything.

Think of this transition as a new beginning. Instead of focusing on the loss of your former self, embrace this transformative experience as something that will encourage personal growth. Treat it as a project you’re doing with tremendous love. You are now a role model. Grow into becoming the kind of person you want our child to look up to.

Indulge in a passion

Stop forgetting yourself, immediately! Yes, everything is on you but you are on you, too. Find the time to indulge in your passions, even for an hour a day. It doesn’t matter how banal those passions are – from watching your favorite TV show, writing, drinking that morning cup of coffee alone, going for a run, reading, painting to DIY-ing around the house – who cares! If it’s making you happy, do it. It’s your happy fuel.

Be a kid for a second

Our kids’ happiness comes from, well, them being kids. They’ll find joy in almost everything around them, so why not take their lead?

Stacey (Jerrad’s mom) went to running every day; Joyce (Scott’s mom) took up yoga again; Stella (Jenny’s mom) took up painting classes again; Susan (Mary’s mom) started Tango lessons. Me? I treated myself to a self-balancing scooter and I’m riding it like a boss! I’ve always wanted one, ever since that kid down the block bought it, but I never had the guts. Well, now I did and I love it!

Talk to adults

Perk up your social calendar this very second! Make the time to go on a date with your husband, see your best friends and have a coffee with your favorite neighbors. No, the Earth won’t go flat if you replace doing the laundry (for a day) with going for a movie with your bestie while the kids are at school. Come on.

Ask for help

No one is going to think you are a bad mom if you ask for help; after all, when did you sign up to be both a successful business woman and a successful mother?

Ask your husband to assist or hire help to come in a few days a week. It’s okay, trust me.

Final word

The way I see it, us mothers are a true force, a hurricane in its perfect power if you will. We’re entrusted with the biggest job anyone can embark on – rearing good, kind, self-respecting, ethical, responsible human beings – might as well nail it, right?

 

Zara Lewis (Twitter: @ZaraELewis) is a mom, fitness & yoga enthusiast and a regular writer for

High Style Life. She is devoted to implementing healthy life habits in every aspect of life of her

family and friends. She loves to share her parenting tips and is always open to learning some new skills, because she sees her parenthood as going to school forever. She enjoys traveling, hiking, cycling and baking.

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Goals for the New Year

Last week I wrote about my difficulty sticking with many of my past resolutions and goals long-term. No matter how good my intentions, few things I have tried became normal, natural parts of my daily routine.

As I thought about my goals for the new year, I tried to stay realistic yet hopeful. Many of these goals are goals I have set for myself multiple times in the past, so I knew I needed to approach these goals in a different way. I knew I could not put too much rigidity into the goals I set for myself, or unnecessary pressure with unrealistic goals. I am historically unsuccessful when I do that.

I also wanted to keep in mind that goals aren’t meant to be easy, they require hard work and diligence. I was feeling motivated when I developed my goals and my plan for success, and hopeful that I could be successful and have an improved future by working toward my goals.

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New Year, Same Old Me

I’m a little late to the resolution game this year, which is pretty appropriate as a reflection of 2016. In all honesty, I didn’t follow through on a lot of things I planned to do this year. While some goals were met intermittently, others were completely missed or forgotten about. 2016 was a year of transition and change. Through that transition a lot of wonderful, positive things and changes happened, but some things were also left behind.

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A Lumberjack Birthday Bash

I have always been a big fan of celebrating birthdays. We don’t go over the top, but there is something so fulfilling about making someone feel special on their birthday. Planning a party, organizing a group dinner, making a gift, or even just sending a card with a heartfelt note is something I enjoy. So when it was time to celebrate Jack’s first birthday, I knew I wanted to do something that would be special for our family.
Let me tell you, though. I did not think I would be the person who put so much time into a one year old’s birthday party. “He won’t even remember it” is something I would have said a few years ago. Obviously I am in a much different position now that I have a son, and I wanted the party to reflect our love for him. With all that being said, I tried to keep this party inexpensive. I don’t think the amount of money I spend reflects the amount of love I have, I’m too frugal for that way of thinking anyway. What I mean is that I wanted to put in the time to make decorations, make the food, prepare to fill our home with more people than we originally planned for. Fill it with people, fill it with love for our sweet boy who is indeed so very loved.
So I’d like to share some of the details about Jack’s big celebratory day. I’m proud that I was able to pull something off that was well decorated, consistent in theme, and mostly hand made – without spending a ton of money.
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It’s not Fall without Pumpkin Muffins

Fall is without a doubt my favorite time of year. With the heat and humidity of our summer, we spent more time inside than I would have liked. I guess us Northerners can’t take the heat! The cool weather we are having now is a nice break from all that, so we have been heading outdoors for all of my favorite fall activities. The fresh air, the breathtakingly beautiful changing of the leaves, and pumpkin flavored everything help make this time of year so special for me.

When Jack was sick last weekend, his sleep schedule was way thrown off. On Sunday morning, he woke up at 4:45am and was ready to start his day. Since I stayed up late to watch the end of the Ohio State football game, I was not quite ready to be awake that early, and wasn’t in the best mood.

So we went through our morning routine, played for a little bit, and when I started to get hungry, I decided to do something to turn my mood around and bake some muffins for breakfast. I have always enjoyed baking, but in the last year or so both baking and cooking have become great sources of self-care, comfort, and pleasure. I think being able to feed my child home made meals has really contributed to why I am enjoying it so much more. 

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The Not So Fun Firsts

As a new parent, I have spent the last 10.5 months excited for and documenting all of Jack’s “firsts”. His first smile, first time in a swimming pool, the first time he rolled, crawled, and took a few steps toward me. These are the things I daydreamed about when I was pregnant with him. With each first, I feel a sense of bittersweet pride, watching my sweet boy grow, develop, and explore, but also a little sad and frantic that it’s all happening so fast.

These are the fun firsts. There are iPhone photos to commemorate these moments, they are shared with grandparents and bragged about with friends.

Then, there are the not so fun firsts, and we experienced one of them big time this weekend.

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7 Days of Self-Care: Day 7

We’ve come to the end of the week focusing on self-care. Each day I focused on a different way to practice taking care of mental, emotional, and physical health (you can follow along from day one here), and my 7 topics don’t come close to how many ways you can take care of yourself. I chose the highlight some of my favorites, or things that have been incredibly helpful for me.

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When I first became a mom, obviously, all of my focus went to taking care of Jack. This gives me an immense sense of joy, but “mom” quickly became my identity. It’s gotten a lot better, but my anxiety makes it very hard for me to spend time away from Jack, so for awhile I was missing out on everything I used to do and enjoy.

I’ve slowly been working to reincorporate hobbies back into my routine. By doing so, I feel like I’m reconnecting to Kate, and not just being mom. As I talked about yesterday, I’m back to doing yoga. I started reading a book I got from the library last week. My parents came over to watch Jack after work last week, and I was able to go to an evening Crossfit class for the first time since before Jack was born. I’ve even discovered that I actually really like cooking and experimenting with new recipes. I was always a fan of baking instead of cooking, so this is a new hobby for me!

It’s been awhile since we have gone hiking, I would like to start doing more of that. This is the perfect time of year for hiking too. I used to color in adult coloring books, ride my bike, and crochet. It’s exciting to know that I am in a place now where if I want to go back to these things, I will. I can now more easily say I’m going to go ride my bike for a half hour and leave the boys home to hang out.

I’m getting back to the things I enjoy, the things that make me feel like me, and it’s pretty great. This series was only 7 days long, but I truly feel like I have improved myself by being purposeful about what I am doing to take care of myself. I hope that if you’ve been reading along, you have been inspired in some way to take care of yourself more or in new ways. Thanks for sticking with me through this.

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7 Days of Self-Care: Day 6

“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” – The Bhagavad Gita

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My self-care focus for today is yoga. Yoga includes physical activity and deep breathing, two other topics in this 7 day series, but for me it needs to be something that stands on it’s own.

I have had a long and inconsistent relationship with yoga. One of those on again, off again relationships (except this one is actually a healthy relationship). I’ll do it consistently, then only every once in awhile, with no rhyme or reason to when I do or don’t practice. 

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7 Days of Self-Care: Day 5

I am a big believer that mental health and physical health impact each other. When one improves, the other tends to follow along. That’s why, at least for me, taking care of my physical health is such a big part of self-care.

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A few days ago, my self-care focused on physical activity. Today, my focus is on healthy eating. Before I say anything else, I want to explain what healthy eating means to me. As an eating disorder therapist, I may have a different definition of what healthy eating is than others do. 

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