Take care of yourself first

You can’t pour from an empty cup, it is not selfish to take care of yourself first.

Have you ever been on a plane when they tell you to put your mask on before helping others? You can’t help someone get oxygen if you pass out first. The same goes for all areas in our lives. For some of us, it causes us great anxiety to take care of ourselves first because we hold the fear of failing someone else and someone else being negatively impacted by that decision. I fight this battle every single day.

I started this post almost 2 months ago but found myself not doing exactly what I am trying to get others to do, so I never posted it. But, I am finally filling my cup back up and am reminded of the importance of keeping my cup full enough to be able to pour into other people’s cups. It is so easy to get hung up on making other people happy, but what I found is that I was making myself even more unhappy and even more stressed out. I had to step back and a couple therapy sessions later, I am here to remind you how important it is to give ourselves the same grace and energy that we give others. I am always asking “how can I help?” but I am never asking “How can I help myself?”

To start, I was really unhealthy so step 1 was investing into myself and getting healthy. For me, that was starting at a local boot camp gym with a good friend. It does cost $125/month, which was a big pill to swallow at first, but then I broke it down to just not eating out once a week for my family of 4. Or even not getting starbucks but maybe once a week, the investment now seemed tangible. So I pulled the trigger. I signed up for a 6month commitment next to one of my best friends and we are doing this together.

Step 2 of investing in myself was recognizing when I need to take a break and just walk away. This is from work, from a friendship, or even from family. In the past, I have given everything 110%, no matter what. But, the pandemic paired with the worst struggles with depression in my life, brought me to a new reality. That I can’t give 110% to everything all the time but only give 5% to myself. I have to start giving that 110% to myself and then I can start giving what I can to everything else. I was sacrificing my mental health, my physical health, and my happiness for what? For a job that won’t take care of my kids if I’m gone, for a family relationship that will never get better because there was never a positive, for a friendship that was literally draining the life out of me? I took time off work, I left my phone on DND and I asked myself what I needed it. Was it worth it anymore to give my time and energy into things and relationships that weren’t reciprocated? No. I had to cut the things off that were sucking the life out of me and start breathing life back into me.

It has been a long year of mental health improvements and taking baby steps to get where I’m at but I started my physical health journey about 6 weeks ago and I’ve never felt better. I have more energy, don’t crave Starbucks anymore, I have more energy to put into my friendships and spend less time stressed out and more time focusing on what I can change rather than what I can’t. My therapist is always reminding me that you can only control yourself, and it is important to remember that no matter what, you know your truth and what anyone else says doesn’t matter. Some people may think I’m gloating by posting my workouts every day and calories burned, but for me, that is my accountability to keep showing up. The more I fill my own cup up, the more I have to share with others.

BE SELFISH. INVEST IN YOURSELF. DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF. You can’t save the world, but you can save yourself and that is just as important!

Pick your battles

The motto I have heard the most throughout motherhood is “Pick your battles.”

I know much of my blog to date has been about Mental Health. The past year has been a lot of therapy trying to work through a lot of dark times. I plan to spend this next year continuing to work on my mental health but I want to include more sides of my balancing act in my blog. So, onto picking your battles.

Being a mom of two, most days are what I call, pure chaos. No matter what you have planned, they have other plans. In the beginning, it wasn’t that hard having two. But now, being 4 and 2 they both have their own opinions about everything. The simple thing of what to eat for dinner is always a debate. Not wanting to sleep alone is another battle. I have learned that the key to sanity in parenthood is picking your battles. Hint: these are 2 battles I have found not worth fighting.

My husband works long hours so it is just the 3 of us in the evenings. I try to let them decide what they want to eat based on a list of what I have to offer. Many times, it ends up with them eating different things and me eating a little bit of each of their picks. Many people would say not to give them an option and just make what I want and offer it and they either eat or they don’t. While I agree with that method, it just isn’t pratical for my sanity. If I cooked mac and cheese with hotdogs, I would hear screaming and crying about how they wanted something else and then at bedtime how they are so hungry. So, for me, to avoid all the crying, I let them choose dinner. That is one battle I have chose to avoid at this point in my life.

More recently, the fact that the girls sleep in bed with us has started to be a battle that we are fighting. In the past, we have co-slept because it allowed all of us to sleep the best. Jordyn didn’t sleep in our bed until she was 1 and daycare moved her from a crib to a toddler cot and I wasn’t able to get her to fall asleep in her crib anymore. Kamryn on the other hand has always slept in our bed. I couldn’t sleep without her next to me after she was born so she hasn’t known anything different. For the last 3 nights, I have laid with them to fall asleep and ended up sleeping on the floor next to them. Last night, Kamryn couldn’t fall asleep because Jordyn was crying, imagine that, so she ended up going to sleep in our bed by herself. However, Jordyn slept all night in her bed. This battle is not for the faint of heart. So many times I wanted to just go lay in my bed with both of them so they would fall right to sleep and we would all sleep all night.

I have realized that them falling asleep in their own room is important not just for me and my husband’s sleep but also for their sleep. Many times we have to move them throughout the night so that we don’t fall off the bed, this leads to them waking up so you can imagine the cycle. And they both are growing so the space they take up in the bed grows with that, and the fact that they both like to sleep horizontally….. Like c’mon kids! Sleep like a normal person!! If you co-sleep, I know that you can relate.

At the end of the day, it is so important to pick your battles because if we don’t choose wisely, or at all, we could be fighting our children all day everyday. Be mindful, remember that they are looking to you for guidance, they don’t always know what is best for them, so pick your battles and make sure that they are worth your energy and frustration. If we fought every battle, we wouldn’t have enough energy to fight the war. Remember, a battle not fought is not a battle lost, it is just a battle not worth fighting.

Truth Be Told

Lie number 1: you’re supposed to have it all together. And when they ask how you’re doing just smile and tell them “never better.” Lie number 2: everybody’s life is perfect except yours. So keep your messes and your wounds and your secrets safe with you behind closed doors. Truth be told, The truth is rarely told.” – Matthew West

So I started writing this post a month ago. And then couldn’t decide if I was actually going to post it. After a month of back and forth, I am realizing that this is more important than ever. In the past month, I redefined what Family is to me. This allowed me to process the holidays much different than I have in the past.

With Thanksgiving come and gone and Christmas coming in fast, it is important to remember that you aren’t the only one with messes. You don’t have to deal with them alone. For me growing up, the holidays were always that time that we got together with my step-mom’s family and we all had to put on our fake face as if we had the most perfect life. When in reality, there were a lot of fights behind closed doors. Throughout my last year of therapy, I have realized the amount of damage that actually caused me. I have worked on that and now only surround myself with people that I know are being as real as I am. This has been a huge pain point for me and still something I have to remind myself daily is worth it.

Some of the people I have had to remove from my life are those I held on to for so long because “they’re family” or “they have always been there.” I realized that these people were fake to my face and real behind my back. I can only control the interactions that I have with them but I cannot control how they interact with me or what they do afterwards. This caused me to end up deeply wounded and lying in the fetal position in order to keep my most vulnerable organs from being destroyed. To be totally honest, I was afraid of getting hurt that I never let anyone else in. But in the last year, I’ve realized that getting hurt only serves as a lesson to not trust that person again, not as a lesson to never trust anybody again.

Everyone used to think that our family was “perfect.” But, as I write this today, I can tell you that is the furthest thing from the truth. My own sisters would gossip about me to everyone in town. My own family would judge me in high school if I ever got above 120lbs. I went to college and healthily gained weight to 150lbs and was told that I “could afford to lose a few pounds” at THANKSGIVING. What did I do as a result? I stopped eating… again. I was all the way back down to 130 when I graduated college. Looking back at pictures, I am sad at how skinny I was and how “normal” people thought it was. I truly believe that there is such thing as a healthy weight. I definitely was not at that then, nor am I at it now. My weight has always caused me to be self-conscious, but what I really should have been learning/paying attention to was how I treated people, how honest was I with people about how they made me feel or ways that we could be better. I never had a safe place to talk about my feelings, so they got pushed under the rug so deep that I became numb to any feeling at all.

You may think “numbness isn’t always a bad thing.” But, I promise, it is when you are married and have zero feelings. My marriage was about to end because I literally did not feel. This meant that I didn’t feel happiness, sadness, anger, ANYTHING. Can you imagine being married to a robot? Because I’m sure that’s what it was like for my husband. This also meant that he probably felt like he could never make me happy or that he was never enough. But in reality, I just had zero feelings on the surface and was feeling every single emotion all the time.

The moral of this story is that as long as you can let the truth be told about how you are feeling or how something/someone makes you feel, you will be set free from the pain of “what if.” Let your truth be told.

Hitting the Reset Button

Living in the NOW generation. Disconnecting from electronics is a foreign concept. But sometimes, we need to hit the reset button.

The world we live in today is very much connected. We have the news at our fingertips and updates on our friends in an app without ever having to reach out to them and communicate other than a “like” or a comment. If we don’t know the answer, we want it NOW. If we go through a drive-thru, we want our food NOW. There is no leisure in our day to day. We are in a rush to get everywhere and do anything. It is important to step away from that lifestyle and just hit reset.

The last 2 weeks I have been disconnected from social media, and for the most part, texting and phone calls. I took the time to hit reset. My family and I took a trip to Panama City Beach and we only used our phones to take pictures. I left my phone in the room most of the time and just used my husband’s phone to snap pictures.

Now that I am home, I can tell you how important that time was with my family. My daughters are going to remember us burying each other in the sand, looking for seashells, building sandcastles and much more without the memory of us being on our phones or worried that our phones were going to get ruined in the sand or in the water. These memories are so important to their childhood. This isn’t to say that your day to day isn’t important too, but it is even more important to get out of the day to day even for a couple of days and disconnect to reset.

Sometimes we get caught up in what I am going to call “virtual reality” and forget what is right in front of us. Virtual reality is what exists on our phones; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Some people spend their evenings “scrolling” to see what is going on in others lives but fail to see those first steps taken right in front of them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my daughters growing old with memories of “mom always on her phone.” For me, it took this vacation to realize how much phone time impacts my girls. Pressing reset allowed me to disconnect, reflect and figure out what I want my life to look like when I do come back. No, this wasn’t an entire day anxiety session. This was over the course of the 2 weeks taking notes of who popped into my mind of “I really wish they were here” or “This would be fun with this person” or even “I wonder how they are doing right now.” I also took note of the people who asked me how vacation was once I did get my phone out.

The most important part of hitting reset, is making sure you close all windows before you push the button. If you push it while things are still running, you are going to get a ton of windows opening back up when you return. Thank you, Windows, for this lesson! For me, I cleaned up my work inbox so when I returned, it would only have what I got while I was out. Next, Closed out any tickets or gave my interim person all the information in case they asked for an update. Then, I cleaned the house – top to bottom. My husband even got out the carpet cleaner! Nothing better than coming home to a clean house. Finally, I told close friends and family that I was going out of town and would be disconnecting but I would check my phone periodically. This is important so you don’t have family or friends texting you 100000 times because you typically respond and you aren’t and they think you may have died. It is no fun to do that to your people!

Now here are the steps that are key to have a successful reset period.

Step 1: Put away the phone.

This is the hardest step for most people. But it is the most important step. If you find this too hard, you can ease into it and just do a couple hours at a time. But, the goal is to go back to a time before phones were glued to our hands and just live in the NOW.

Step 2: Read a book.

If you don’t like to read, you can use this step to draw or write or whatever brings you to a state of relaxation, whatever allows your mind to drift. I read 2 books between my time in the car and free time in the hotel. Escaping the reality and allowing my mind to drift into these books gave it the break it needed without just shutting it down.

Step 3: Relive your favorite memory from your childhood.

My favorite thing growing up was looking for seashells on the beach and finding the biggest ones to take home. We came home with an entire glass star of seashells and sand that we all got as a family. We have been home a few days and my oldest still talks about looking for seashells with me, I hope it is one of her favorite memories.

Step 4: Don’t be afraid to talk to new people.

Since your phone is put away, you have no excuse to not talk to the people around you. Get to know them, where are they from? Do they know any good places to eat where you are at? We made a good friend the first day and they were at the resort we stayed at the entire time we were there. We even ate dinner together the last night.

Step 5: Live.

THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. LIVE. You can’t die if you don’t live, so take this time to soak up the life you were given and live it how you want to live it. I took the opportunity to order a drink at dinner, and let my kids order virgin daquiris. My husband ate the fresh catch of the day. We spoiled ourselves and the kids because vacation was our escape from reality for a little bit.

Take time for yourself today, so you can be there for others tomorrow.

Introducing Myself

You’re probably wondering why I am doing this.

  • Because I know that I am not alone
  • Because other people need to know that they are not alone
  • To create a safe space where mothers, working or not, know that their feelings are valid.

I am starting this blog because I know that I am not alone and I want other people to know that they are not alone in their feelings either. It is a great task to be a mother. As a working mother, not only are we expected to work 40 hours a week (minimum), we are expected to keep our house clean, keep warm food on the table for dinner, and spend plenty of time with our children. As a mother, you have the expectation that you will teach your child everything they need to know about love, happiness, sadness, their colors, letters, animals; you name it, we are responsible for making sure they know it. The reality is that this is HARD.

There simply is not enough time in the day to accomplish everything we are expected to accomplish. It is important to take it one day at a time and not let it overwhelm us. That has been difficult for me in the past. Personally, I have gone through bouts of depression and anxiety. Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Are my kids happy? Is my husband happy? Am I being a good sister? friend? Am I setting my kids up for failure? What if they don’t know their ABC’s by the time they get to preschool? What if they can’t write their name in kindergarten?

I know that some of these thoughts have crossed your mind too. Are you doing enough? The answer is YES. You are doing enough! If you even have this question cross your mind, the answer will always be YES.

I am hoping to use this blog as a platform for moms of all varieties to come together and realize that they are not alone and it is okay to be overwhelmed. It is what we do with that feeling that really matters. I plan on writing about mental health, what it is like to be a mom, what it is like to be a working mom, fun things to do with your kids, fun crafts to do on a girls night, and even what it is like being a wife, daughter and sister.

I hope that you are still reading this and are ready to go on this journey with me. I can’t wait to see how this blog evolves as the year goes on. Here’s to new adventures and doing this together!