5 Simple Self-Care Tips for Working Moms

No matter the age of your children being a mom is hard.  It can feel like a full-time job.  Working full time can also be challenging, and adding the two together can feel impossible on your best days.  I have all the respect in the world for Stay at Home mom’s, I couldn’t do what you do, but my experience as a working mom helped me understand how challenging it is for us to practice self-care. Below you will find simple tips on how you can take care of yourself while balancing this juggling act.

If you are a new mom, recognize that it will take some time for you to be able to take any major steps in your life towards self-care.  In that first year of life, I recommend baby steps and finding small things you can do to find balance. Maybe something as simple as committing to finding time to get outside for five minutes each day, or reading while you are nursing.  Each person’s situation is different, but it is very hard to commit to much of anything that the first year, and that’s okay.  

Drink Enough Water

This means having a water bottle that you love and making it a staple to have with you at all times.  If I have my water bottle next to me, I drink all day long.  If I forget my water bottle, I’m done for.  I have all of the intent in the world to drink water, but work is busy.  Before I know it I’ve gone the whole day without water, and I’m dying of thirst! Keep that water bottle next to you and drink, drink, drink! 

Take a Lunch

This is not easy in my profession, and I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve been working on my profession for ten years, and I only started making this a priority this year.  Even if it’s taking lunch while you pump, take the time to actually eat a meal.  Maybe even with colleagues that you enjoy. 

Find Even the Slightest Amount of Me Time

For me, with kids 13, 5 and 3, this has become some alone time on the weekends.  When the littlest was younger, it was my husband taking full charge when I needed to shower.  I would lock the door and turn the music up.  Even if I returned to pure chaos, I took some time to reset.

Get Outside

Even if that means taking the kids to the playground, or for a walk.  Leave the dirty dishes, forget the laundry for twenty minutes, and go outside.  It is good for your soul.

Move

Sometimes this is the hardest one.  I am not always in a place where I can fit working out comfortably into my life.  I’m not saying find a way to add exercise, I know how overwhelming that can be.  I’m saying find small ways to move every day.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Park in the farthest parking lot from work.  Take the long way around when going to a meeting.  I have been fortunate enough that my place of work has invested in a standing desk.  If this is an option for you, I strongly recommend it.  

Being a working mom can be incredibly hard, and overwhelming at times.  Follow these tips and you can take baby steps towards making your wellness a priority.  Trust me, it gets easier over time, but if you can only squeeze in baby steps this guide should help.  Mama, you are important, and you can do this!! 

Top Five Breastfeeding Tips for the New Mom


As a new mom, you have a lot on your plate.  Breastfeeding is one of many things that you have never experienced before.  It can be overwhelming, and nerve wracking to figure it all out.  The tips below can help guide you in the right direction when you are struggling, and provide you with amazing resources when you need support. 

1.) Have some patience.  It’s rare that it works perfectly the second your little one arrives.  Don’t freak out.  Have some patience, and don’t expect perfection.  Keep trying and you both will find your groove.  

2.) Ask for help.  If you feel like you aren’t finding your groove, there are a lot of resources available in person and online to provide help.

If you give birth in a hospital, there is most likely a Lactation Consultant on staff.  Take advantage of that while you are there, and ask as many questions as you can.  

When you head home, many Pediatrician’s offices also have Lactation Consultants on staff.  You can make an appointment for you, and they will spend time with you evaluating your babies techniques, and your positions, to determine if simple changes can help you.  

La Leche League meetings are held in cities and towns across the country.  These groups meet regularly to support all things breastfeeding.  You can find a meeting near you at https://www.llli.org

If these options don’t work for you, there are many online supports.  There is literally a Facebook group for any reason one could think of, and there is a plethora for breastfeeding.  Search for exactly what you are looking for, and you are sure to find it.  

Kelly Mom is also a great online resource.  They advertise as providing evidence based resources for breast feeding and parenting.  They offer articles and resources for almost anything you can think of, breast feeding related.  

3.) It will probably hurt.  But it shouldn’t hurt for long.  It may take a little while for you nipples to get used to so much attention,  but pain is typically a sign that things aren’t quite right.  Constant and consistent nipple cream can be helpful with chapping.  Alternating positions, and placing a rolled up washcloth under the breast, are two ways to switch it up a bit.  Even a small adjustment can prevent constant wear and tear on the same spot.  

Some women also have luck with using a nipple shield, which allows the nipple to heal up a bit.  Many lactation consultants recommend using them sparingly, though, because it can cause some confusion for the baby, and be hard to wean them off.  

It’s always best to consult with your doctor or a lactation consultant prior to using these techniques, as everybody’s experience is different, and I am not a medical professional. 

4.) Pump…but not yet.   Pumping can be a lifesaver, but it is a lot of work and can be overwhelming.  Unless medically necessary, new moms should hold off on pumping for at least a month.  In the beginning your primary goal is to bond and connect with your little one.  It takes your body a few weeks to settle into a consistent supply, and for you to figure out what works best for the two of you. 

The first month with your new little one can be extremely overwhelming, and adding figuring out how to pump to that could be too much.  Many new moms find it helpful to wait until they have established a bit of a routine before adding pumping to their repertoire.  

Once you are ready to pump, it can be a game changer.  It allows others to feed the baby, and for you to have a touch more flexibility in your schedule.  

It was recommended to me that I add a pump session in between two typical feedings to start with.  This allowed me to start building a freezer stash for when I returned to work.  This worked for me because I had an ample supply, but it was overwhelming. In these first few months it often felt like I was either nursing or pumping for most of the day, which was a challenge mentally.  It is not for the faint of heart,  but those early hard stages end quickly and typically a routine is established quicker than you expect.  

5.) Set up a nursing spot.  Prior to giving birth fill a basket with high fiber snacks, reading materials and a large water bottle.  A typical nursing session is anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes, but they can last for a couple of hours.  During a growth spurt babies can marathon nurse, which can feel like forever.  It’s important to stay hydrated, way more than pre-birth,  and to keep energized with healthy snacks.  Keeping this basket stocked will ensure that you have every thing you need no matter how long the baby decides to nurse.  

Breastfeeding is a commitment, and it takes a lot of strength and patience on behalf of mom and her support system.  Remember, your journey is different than any others, and your commitment to breastfeeding doesn’t have to look like anybody else’s.  If you have the supply and the patience, then go for full on breastfeeding for a year or more.  If you don’t, that’s okay too.  Do what feels best for you and your little one, but if that’s breastfeeding, use this guide to help you through it. 

All of the information in this piece is purely from my experience from breast feeding two babies for a year each.  It is not intended as medical advice, and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. 

Step Momming Through the Holidays

I remember thinking as I was growing up about my future family. I was going to be married by 28, and have two children (one boy and one girl) by the age of thirty. Sure it seemed rather fast, but 30 was officially old, so I couldn’t wait until after that. Plus, I was going to travel and go to school, so any earlier than 28 was just absurd.

It’s funny how when we actually reach that nasty “old” age of thirty how old it really isn’t. Looking back at my naïveté is also quite interesting, but minus some minor details I wasn’t too far off. I did get to travel (and hope to continue). I also earned my Masters Degree, which I am very proud of. Then married at 30 (gasp!) and had my first child at 31. I got my baby boy, and all I needed was the girl.

The part that wasn’t part of the plan was that I actually got my girl when I married her father. I think you would be hard pressed to find a young girl or boy who envisions becoming a step parent, especially given the poor reputation that step parents have received. Fortunately, I was blessed with a truly special step daughter. She is kind, caring, compassionate and thoughtful. We have developed a truly special relationship, and I feel as though she is my own. She treats me as a parent, but not her mother. I am her step mother and that in and of itself special role.

All of that being said, being a step mom during the holidays presents its own set of challenges. Like I said, she is my own and I will treat her that way forever. However, I met her when she was five, and I had her brother when she was 8. Holiday traditions were already kind of set. I slowly started my own with her, but now I have so many I want to start with her brother. Elf on the Shelf is a perfect example. We do not do one for many reasons, but one being I couldn’t figure out how to introduce it so late in the game for her. It felt fake, and I didn’t like that. We have started other traditions though, and so far everything seems to be receiving positive reviews, which is great.

Time is also a tricky thing during the holidays. My step daughter splits the holidays between both houses. There are pros and cons for that for her. For us, it can be rewarding and frustrating. I’m sure all families that split time feel the same way. It is great to spend the holidays with her, but disappointing to always be watching the clock. For her siblings (she has a sister at her moms) it means constantly waiting for her to come home. For example, if she is not here on Christmas morning, does that mean her brother has to wait to open his gifts until she gets here? That doesn’t seem fair to him, but having him open them without her doesn’t seem fair to her. We decided that when he gets older we are going to let him open his Santa gifts while he waits, and his other gifts when she gets here. This is a daily challenge, and there are so many more things we need to think about. We want her to feel welcome, as if this is her home, without neglecting her brothers needs at the same time. It is a very tricky balance.

Then there is the topic of scheduling. I am a planner through and through. My husband is not. It is hard enough trying to plan things with him, much less around and another entire family. I completely recognize that others do not plan ahead like I do, but it has been challenging for me to say the least. Luckily, everybody involved tries to be flexible, but it has forced me to let go of some of my control issues, which is good I suppose. That being said, however, this world will be a much better place when everybody agrees to just let me rule the world.

Lastly, my poor step daughter has two very different families. We are purposely frugal, and diy as much as we can. Not many people are like that, and for a kid who does not grow up consistently in that environment it can be confusing at the holidays. She may get the latest electronic at her other house, and a toy her dad made her at our house. Also, everybody has different financial abilities. How do you explain why Santa got one house twice as many gifts as the other house? On that note, everybody handles Santa differently too. I pretty much had a panic attack last year trying to figure out if stockings are supposed to be from Santa or parents. I still don’t know. If it were my kid I would make it up as I go, but with her I don’t know what pre-conceived notions she is coming in with. Luckily, so far so good. As far as I can tell she is still a Santa believer.

All in all, being a step mom has been wonderful. It’s like a hybrid of an aunt, teacher and parent. Some days I enjoy it thoroughly, and others I’m not sure what I got myself into. I suppose it’s not much different from parenting in general in that respect. It’s some what like watching a bad movie. You can often see the potential for things to happen, but often do not have the control or power to intercede. Luckily, I have a husband who trusts me implicitly, and values my opinions. As with anything, though, the holidays have a way of putting a magnifying glass on any difficulties we do have. We try to enter this time with flexibility and understanding. Advocating for our families needs is important, but understanding the importance of her other family is just as important. I’ve learned that every year will be different, and we will just have to make it up as we go, which often results in more fun anyway.

Merry Christmas all, best wishes to you and yours.

**Update! In July of 2017 our family welcomed a new baby, a little girl. This addition has completed our family, and we are truly thankful all of our beautiful children.

Crying it Out, With Wine

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Until about two years ago I had never heard of “Crying it Out.” In fact, if I had to define it I would have gone back to sleepless post break up nights in my mid 20’s. Me, a bottle of wine, oatmeal creme cookies and my dog crying it out together. In fact, I distinctly remember an evening of crying it out in the middle of Colemans…ah but I digress.

Fast forward to (almost) 33 and crying it out has taken on an entirely different meaning. Crying it out essentially means listening to your baby scream bloody murder until he falls asleep. Sounds miserable, doesn’t it? Well it is, but in my world the costs out weigh the benefits. You see, since day one with my precious little man I have been teaching him how to “self soothe”. AKA put himself to sleep. Why? Definitely because I want him to be a strong, independent, confident young man. Yep that’s it.

Or not. The reality is I’m an incredibly selfish human being. Sleep is VERY important to me, and I need a lot of it. If my little man can fall asleep, or back to sleep by himself then I, in turn get more sleep. Trust me, everybody benefits when I get sleep. So I, selfishly, have taught him how to figure with it himself.  At least most of the time.

Luckily, it’s been pretty easy. He caught on quickly, and for most of his life hasn’t had any issues at night. He goes to bed without an issue, and can typically easily go back to sleep if he wakes up in the middle of the night. Up until last week at least.

Cue traveling, illness and teething and all of a sudden he got used to sharing a bed with mommy. CRAP! Now he NEEDS mommy to fall asleep, and certainly can not stay asleep without her. Good for him…bad for mommy. So the last three nights we have been working on getting back into his own bed, resulting in the use of the crying it out method.

Now, in my early 30’s crying it out is so much more unpleasant, but also very rewarding. Hearing your baby scream at the top of his lungs is heartbreaking, but seeing his smiling face at 6 am because he finally got a good nights sleep is amazing. Seeing my happy boy come back from a place of tantrums and sadness is wonderful. So yes, crying it out is controversial, and yes it can be difficult.  In my world though, the benefits are priceless.

So I’ll keep using it when needed. Just like in my mid twenties though, I’ll make sure I have the company of a bottle of wine, cookies and my dog to get me through.

If you are interested in learning more about Crying It Out or Babywise you can find more information here:

https://www.babywisemom.com

**Disclaimer. This post is for entertainment value only, and is not intended to provide parenting advice.

You Should Write a Book; Jumping in With Two Feet.

Everybody has that one friend, right? The one who has the most ridiculous stories, you wonder how they could possibly be true? Well, I’m that friend.  The stories of the crazy things that happen to me are endless, and more and more (after peeing their pants from laughter) my friends tell me I should write a book.  Well, how about a blog instead?

The thing is, I wonder if I subconsciously choose challenging situations, which then result in the crazy stories.  For example, I chose to marry a man with a daughter.  Step mom stories?  Yep, I’ve got them.  I also chose to be a School Counselor…in a Middle School.  Really? I’ve got middle school stories too.  How about adding a toddler to the mix? As I write this I have a 16 month old who is discovering his personality…and some days I hope he discovers another one.  You want to commiserate in toddler hood? I’ve got those stories too.

So join me as I navigate working a demanding full time job, step momming a pre-teen and momming a toddler.  I hope on your difficult days you find company, but more important I hope you laugh at my adventures.  This will be a new challenge for me, but like everything else I supposed I’ll jump in with two feet.