I love to listen to podcasts and audio books. I’m a young mom, and don’t have a lot of friends or social outlets at this point in my life, so I tend to listen to something audio when I need a break from the being-home-alone-with-toddlers-24-7 overwhelm.
I like mom podcasts, and enjoy learning about parenting. Being a mom is hard, and it’s helpful to find resources to work through issues we’re facing with our kids.
So last week I turned on an episode and the ladies commented about how hard shopping is with young kids, and how lucky they are to live in an era of grocery pickup, because they don’t have to live through the struggle with toddlers that their moms did.
Oof. First of all, shopping with toddlers is so hard. I am extremely thankful that pickup orders are possible, it’s so convenient to drive up, pop the trunk and drive home.
BUT. I think avoiding social situations like shopping with young kids is doing them (and yourself) a big disservice. Every outing is a training opportunity and avoiding the hard situations means that your child isn’t going to learn how they are expected to behave in a store, restaurant, or place of business. Instead of learning early, it’s going to be impossible to run errands or shop as they get bigger/louder, because they just didn’t learn how to behave in a social setting. (And the tantrums will get bigger if they’re not addressed and worked through as toddlers.)
All of this is to say:
1. Don’t be afraid to take your kids with you, even when you know it’ll be hard. The work will pay off later when your kiddos are able to be respectful in businesses, and have FUN learning life skills with you! (And don’t worry, shopping is stressful for me too right now, I’m right there with you, there is a 100% chance that either Tori or I will cry in the store or the car on the way home. )
2. Let’s give lots of grace to the mamas in the store/restaurant/church who are dealing with those toddlers meltdown. She’s made the decision to push through the hard and embarrassment of meltdowns and tears to help her kiddo learn how to navigate social situations, and snarky comments/judgmental stares and unsoliced advice are not helpful or edifying in anyway! In fact, having someone tell me “you’re doing great,” or “keep it up, it gets easier!” Is literally something that will brighten my entire day!
It has been the most stereotypical Monday morning.
My 3 year old peed his bed. My 18 month old had a horrible poop explosion. I spilled my coffee all over our couch. It’s pouring rain. The world is going crazy with awful, unimaginable things. I woke up in a panic from a nightmare at 5am. Liam has run into the bedroom and slammed the door announcing “me grumpy!” Twice.
We’ve just been bombarded by things all morning, and it’s not even 8:30am! It’s tempting to just give up and have a lazy, movie marathon day. Or, we can take a little while to reset our day, and try to reclaim the day.
These are some of my favorite ways to do that:
-get outside. Spend some time in the sun. If it’s raining, get outside anyway! Fresh air (and a change of scenery) is amazing for resetting moods!
-drink a extra cup of coffee or tea. This is very calming to me, and actually sitting down to enjoy a hot beverage is relaxing!
-read your Bible. I’m catching up on my chapters from Numbers that I missed this weekend.
-Watch the rain from the window. It’s oddly calming to watch the rain drops roll down the window.
-Get some exercise. This is so important and a great way to start the day over! Get those endorphins and the blood pumping through your body!
-Journal a prayer and/or some things your grateful for.
– Read a book for 20 minutes! (Leave a comment and let me know if you want a suggestion! )
-Call or text a friend. It could be something simple. “I was thinking about you!” Or something more involved like getting together. It’s about taking the focus off of you and your bad day, and brightening someone else’s!
We are headed out for a run (in the rain!) in a few minutes, and then we are going to work on doing some of these to help continue to reset our day!
I love taking my kiddos to the park. I love the excitement, the time outside and watching them explore and discover their new abilities .
I am that mom at the park who hovers. Not full helicoptering, but always close enough to catch one of them if I need to. It’s nerve-racking as a parent to watch your kids run around on equipment up in the air, and hurtle themselves down slides and over bridges.
But I’ve become fully convinced that I have to let my kids play. I have to let them test their abilities, and see what they can do. It’s exhilarating for both of us when they do something hard, and then accomplish it! When their little faces light up, and a giggle bubbles out of them from pure joy!
It’s good for kids to learn how to do things for themselves, and how to push through even when it’s hard.
Obviously, this is within reason, especially as my children are toddlers, but I’ve been so surprised how much more they really can do, when I’m not always stopping or redirecting them.
Today Liam was riding his bike home from the park. We got to a small hill, and he got a little m nervous, afraid that he’d fly down the other side. We encouraged him to take it slow, and use his feet to keep himself stable. He easily made it down, as we knew he would. And I wish I had caught his little delighted giggle on camera! He was so proud and excited to do something like that in his own! Makes the moments of anxiety worth it, seeing my kiddos proud of their little accomplishments!
We have been living in small spaces for about 2.5 years now. We started out by living in an RV for about 6 months, which we really loved. It was so different learning to live with 1/4 of the stuff we had in our former apartment. But it ended up sparking a new mindset for me, and I am so grateful we’ve had the opportunity learn to live with less. It’s been life changing in many ways!
After 6 months, we needed to move out of the RV, and had a very quick timeline. We found a small local apartment, and moved it! (It’s about 450 Sq feet.) It’s not been without challanges, (there is no oven, so we learned to cook everything in our smoker and other kitchen appliances.) but the way my mindset has changed towards things, and what we really need, has been huge, and I wouldn’t give that up for the biggest house in the world.
1. Kids don’t need as many toys as you’d think.
We have had to keep toys at a minimum, due to lack of space at first, but then because we saw that our littles were more than content with the intentional toys we brought into our home. We’ve also seen them become more creative, and using their imaginations with other things from around the house. We prioritize books, and toys that encourage imaginative play, (instead of electronic toys that sing for example!).
2. If you actually need it, you’ll find space for it.
There have been some things that we thought we needed, and then realized once we’d moved it around multiple times, that if we can’t find a place for it, we don’t truly need it.
3. To be intentional about what we bring into our home.
This was a huge one for me, and I am so thankful to be learning this early in our marriage! With minimal space, and a place for everything, I have to be 100% sure we need something, and that we know where it will go before we buy it! This means that I do lots of research, and think about purchases a while before buying anything, which also has helped us save money.
4. Minimal doesn’t have to mean boring and stark.
I was just looking through pictures from when we first moved in, and it’s amazing how different our apartment looks now. We’ve slowly added little touches and enough decor to make it feel homey and hygge, but not cluttered or overwhelming. It’s a fine line, and means I am always straightening up, because there is no closets or drawers to throw random junk in.
5. Declutter daily
This doesn’t have to be huge or whole closet makeovers. This is just getting rid of the daily clutter, putting stuff back in its designated place, and making sure that things that shouldn’t be in the house are gone. (Garbage, broken things you could fix, but won’t, things that are no longer practical, etc.) It makes a big difference in my mental load to have the visual clutter calmed.
What are some things you’ve learned through through your home or current living situation?
There are two vastly different worldviews I regularly see all over social media, and in real life, about motherhood.
The first is “wine mom culture.” You know what I mean, messy hair, messy house, flaunting the less than perfect parts of being a mom, turning everything into jokes and witty captions. There is a touch of realism in this portrayal of motherhood. These people and posts are relatable. They show their life as it is, not hiding away and pretending life is a-ok 100% of the time.
The second view I see the most is the “very religious,” spiritual people talking about how motherhood is a blessed calling. That as Christian mothers, we should never complain to anyone, or show a negative outlook of our life online or in person. A lot of these well meaning Christian people take it a little too far, encouraging fellow moms to personify a bright, flourishing perspective all time, no matter what is actually going on in their lives. That if you’re not talking about how blessed you are, and radiantly shining as a mom, you’re failing as a Christian, because if you’re saved you shouldn’t have struggles, or anxiety.
Both of these views have some merits, but both have some really dangerous flaws.
While wine mom culture is relatable, and it’s nice to find people who are dealing with the same things you are, and it can be hilarious to poke fun at some of those things, using wine to cope in any area of life is dangerous, especially when you’re coupling it with parenting. The “wine mom” label that people are using is really cryptically masking alcoholism. It isn’t just fun and relatable, but covering up deeper issues that need to be addressed off of social media.
I agree 100% with the view that motherhood is a calling and a huge privilege. It isn’t lost on me that I have been given the gift of two sweet babes, when so many can’t have children. I also see the merits of being careful not to complain on social media, and remembering that you are a witness for Christ. However, when taken too far, this is encouraging moms, usually young mamas in the thick of babies and toddlers, to hide the struggle, and just put on a happy face. And I don’t think that is serving anyone.
As a young mom of two toddlers, I have seen and experienced this first hand, and how detrimental it. It encourages mommy judging from those who aren’t struggling currently. And makes those who are going through a tough time feel shame on top of everything else because they don’t see other people dealing with the same exact thing. It often feels like, since we are “Christian,” we’re expected to take that label, but aren’t allowed to admit that we are also human. And that being a human is really hard sometimes. There are stages of life that are truly amazing, and it is easy to be that bright happy witness. And there are stages that are really hard. Whether that is due to life changes, like having a new baby, losing someone you love, or struggles in your marriage, or spiritual drought or warfare.
I really think that as Christian moms, we should be able to normalize admitting to struggling within motherhood, and life in general. We should be able to reach out to those around us for encourgment, and help, without judgement for feeling overwhelmed.
My perspective on this has slowly evolved over the past couple years, as I have had my kiddos, and experienced postpartum twice now.
After Victoria was born, I spiraled into postpartum anxiety, without even know what that was, and it was a really dark time in my life. I had a perfect birth, but still ended up with tearing and stitches, and when my husband had to go back to work just 4 days after I had her, I was in a really rough place. I was trying to take care of everyone, but wasn’t nearly recovered myself. I was having trouble with breastfeeding. Victoria had a severe tongue tie, and she was getting horrible blisters on her lips from just trying to eat. (It took 9 weeks to be able to get in to have her tie fixed.) And then just a few short weeks after she was born, Victoria was diagnosed with a cataract, sending her into surgery as a newborn, and resulting into a host of vision appointments that continue to this day. Just two weeks after her eye surgery, she had another surgery to deal with her tongue tie.
Both of those surgery’s had after care that had to be done 4+ times a day, and that naturally fell to me. I am so grateful we were able to have those done, so that she has vision, and was able to eat without getting sores on her lips. But It feels like I missed her newborn stage, because I was so busy trying to take care of her and everyone else, that I couldn’t even sit down to enjoy my baby.
It was so much for me to handle, and I started to spiral into PPA. There were so many ways it presented, but one of the things I remember clearly, was putting my kids into the car one night, and having to drive with my hand reaching back to feel my baby’s cheek, because I couldn’t see her in my mirror in the darkness, and my brain was terrified that I had left her at home. (It doesn’t make sense, but that is what anxiety is like. This is just one example of how the anxiety was affecting my life.) It presents as rage, and there were times I sat down and wondered why on earth I was screaming at my toddler over his shoes on the floor. It was such a little thing, so why was I so angry? I have always loved a clean house, but I started compulsively cleaning, and thus began the vacuuming 3+ times a day.
This is all to say, it was a really hard time. And I’m finally coming out of that darkness, thanks to time, and finding some supplements and exercise that have helped tremendously. But I’m realizing that it isn’t normal or necessary to hide the struggles away, and pretend everything is okay. We should be able to talk about real life, and support the other moms in our lives.
So while I’m not condoning complaining, or whining about everything you don’t like in your life, I am suggesting that we start to be more real with each other. Motherhood is hard sometimes, but it’s easier when you can find those people who will brace you up and encourage you no matter what!
These are game changers for getting outside with toddlers, especially living in the PNW, where it rains at least 5+ months of the year. They’re awesome even on days it isn’t raining, keeping clothes safe from mud! It’s taken the excuse of bad weather away, so we are getting out every day!
2. Pretty coffee mugs.
I’ve replaced a few coffee mugs we had that were chipped/cracked, and it’s made me pretty happy! Theyre bright and happy, and this is my favorite shape for a coffee mug! Oversized, but still feels great in your hand! (This one is cute, and these ones are so pretty!)
3. Hand cream and mosturizer.
I know, a little weird. But I haven’t used either of those things much before. But this winter my skin has been so dry and looking awful. (My hands looked so old.) so I grabbed a big bottle of lotion at Costco, and it’s made a huge difference in how my skin looks and feels. I’m hooked. But I am looking for a more nontoxic option and very open to suggestions! (I would love to hear your favorite brands in a comment!)
4. Reading actual books.
When I was nannying before I had kids, I got into the habit of reading books in the Libby app on my iPad. And I love it! I don’t have to run another errand to pick up books, or get them back on time. We also live in a very tiny apartment, it’s been helpful to not have a ton of books to store. (I can’t wait to have a bigger space so that we can have our books out of storage, though!) But I have pulled out a couple books that were gifts, and it has been really nice to have the physical books. I really missed it. So hoping to read a better mix of both physical and ebooks this year.
5. Lists I can check off
I know goals, or New Years resolutions aren’t for everyone. I thrive with clear goals, to-do lists, progress checklists, etc. so I love the opportunity to set new (attainable) goals for myself, and see progress as I work towards them. At the beginning of January I made a progress chart with 52 weeks for my goal of running 15 miles a week, and it’s very exciting to fill my milage at the end of the week. It’s small, but helps my mindset and productivity!
6. Decluttering and organizing.
I started picking one space every day to declutter or organize the week after Christmas and it made a huge difference! It was so nice to clear out some clutter, clean little used spaces out, and just refresh our home. I’m trying to keep up with picking 2 or 3 spaces a week, to keep on top of it, and it’s been a huge help! Visual clutter stresses me out, so staying on top of keeping our surfaces and storage is key to less stress and a happier mama!
7. Paring down Instagram
Social media was becoming overwhelming. So I started unfollowing a bunch of accounts that I was no longer interested in, and making space for the people I actually wanted to see in my feed. It’s been a lot quieter, and I’m enjoying the app much more now instead of endlessly scrolling past stuff I honestly don’t care about!
8. Easy dinners
I’ve been trying to find a few simple dinners that are easy for busy days, and my favorite right now is rotisserie chicken (I grab a couple every time we go to Costco, debone them, and throw it in the freezer chopped so it’s easy to grab.) and a bag of prepared veggies/noodles/teriyaki sauce. (Our Fred Meyer has this in the bagged salad aisle. It’s quick, relatively healthy, and takes about 20 minutes to cook up.
I began running March 25, 2021. My first “run” took 21 minutes, and included only 6 minutes of active running. And it was brutal. Lungs burning, couldn’t catch my breath. Muscles hurting I didn’t even know I had.
I had thought it couldn’t be that bad, I had walked a mile or two every day for the last couple years. How hard could it be to learn to run?
It was hard. Getting myself and both kids out the door, appropriately dressed, slathered in sunscreen was hard. Making time for a run/shower on busy days was hard. Talking myself into getting out there even though I was tired and sore was hard.
But I did it. That’s the first thing I learned:
1. I can do hard things.
And after a while, it isn’t quite as hard. It’s still a challange making time some days, and talking myself into going out in the rain and cold. But I’ve realized that the hard is 100% worth it.
2. My body feels better when I exercise regularly.
It isn’t a new concept, but after being committed to this for the last 10 months, I have seen how much better I feel (physically and mentally.) when I am getting out to exercise regularly.
3. My mental health is effected by exercising.
While I started running because I was feeling really off postpartum and wanting to lose some weight, one of the more surprising results was seeing a difference in how I was doing mentally. It’s been a great tool when I am dealing with anxiety, and has been a big stress reliever this year. Getting out to do something physically hard that engages a my mind at the same time, (I like to listen to podcasts while I run.) has become one of my favorite things!
I am looking forward to continue running in 2022, and working towards some new goals!
What is your favorite way to get out to exercise? Is there anything you’ve learned through it over the last year or two?
I love to journal and I have been journaling since I was about 14. Over the past couple years my journaling has shifted into more of a morning routine, brain dumping a to-do list and a gratitude practice. And I have loved it, but as 2021 was coming to a close, I was ready to revisit my journaling routine, and change it up. On a whim, I ordered a 5 year journal, (this one) and started it on January 1st. Obviously, I have only been writing in it for 11 days, so I can’t speak to going through it multiple times yet, but I am really looking forward to that! But I have been thinking about how easy it is to jot down just a sentence or two, and different ways people could use this style of journal. So this is 5 different ways to use a 5 year journal, and honestly, all of these ways sound amazing!
1. A condensed journal of just a scentence or two describing your day or something significant that happened.
2. A gratitude journal (mine has room for 3 items, which is perfect for a daily gratitude practice.)
3. A companion to daily bible reading, jotting down a verse or quick thought that stuck out to you particularly
4. A prayer request and answer log. It would be pretty cool to be able to see what you were praying about, and how/when it was answered throughout the months and years.
5. Something you learned that day. This would be incredible to look back on. It could be anything, something you read, saw, watched, hacks you learn from friends, etc. The possibilities are endless.
There are a ton of different options for 5 year journals out there to chose from! This one is classy and simple. This one is pretty and colorful!
You could even choose a different way to use the journal every year, and it would still be an amazing book to have and look back on!
I think it’s a easy idea for someone who is interested in starting an analog journal or some sort of record of their life, and I hope these ideas were inspiring or helpful!
I’d love to chat in the comments about your journaling habits, or what hinders you from starting one yourself!
This is the perfect soup for a cold winter evening! Pair it with a warm loaf of sourdough bread, or biscuits fresh from the oven and it’s the perfect comfort food!
Country potato chowder:
12 small potatos
2 celery stalks
2-4 garlic bulbs
1 cup heavy cream
3-4 tbs flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper.
Dice carrots, celery, and onions. Sauté for 8-10 minutes, until they are translucent. Add chopped garlic in the last couple minutes of sautéing to avoid burning. Chop potatos, and add potatos, broth, salt, pepper and garlic powder to large pot. Bring to a boil. Once veggies are sautéed, (this adds lots of flavor) combine with potatos and broth. Once potatos are tender, after about 45 minutes, use a potato masher to break them up a little. Combine cream and flour, and stir into soup carefully to avoid lumps. Allow to thicken, stirring often to avoid sticking.
Top with cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon and enjoy!
It’s a quick easy dinner, but packed with veggies, and flavor! Perfect for weeknights, and cold winter evenings. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
I love January. The way the calander offers a chance for newness. The opportunity to make some goals, and spend some time reflecting on the past year. Setting intentions, and creating a plan for the next year. Whether those goals are attained and go well, or unforeseen circumstances change them, I love taking the time to reflect on growing and learning in the new year.
As 2021 has been winding down, the word that keeps coming to mind when I am thinking about 2022 is Challange. I said it in the post I wrote on my birthday earlier in December, I am looking for a challange, goals to work towards and the drive to keep growing and learning. So this is my list of goals for 2022. They’re not huge or revolutionary. Some are health related, some are going to greatly reduce stress! (Dealing with the photo problem! I’m a huge picture taker, and the thousands of photos are becoming a bigger problem by the day!)
I’m really excited to start working on these, and the opportunity to grow and learn through them in 2022!
⁃ Read 22 intentional books
⁃ Run 12 minute miles. (Pushing double stroller.)
⁃ Learn and incorporate a strengthening workout into my routine.
⁃ Clean up our diet even more.
⁃ Dispose of the paper clutter in our home.
⁃ Organize our digital photos.
⁃ Run 15 miles a week. So at least 780 total in 2022.
⁃ Actively work on cultivating some friendships.
What are some goals you’re seeing in the new year?