Happy New Year! Whew, what a trip around the sun! Where parenting is concerned, this is the year we battled with the toddler’s transition from 2 to 3 (not for the faint of heart) and survived my transition to a part-time work-at-home/stay-at-home mom (also not for the faint of heart!). While I love a new year and a chance for a fresh start, I ponder whether such a thing really exists in motherhood. Am I alone in this thinking? I feel like I’m a work-in-progress all year long these days. No need for resolutions on Jan. 1 – I basically make them every day of my life, resolving to be more patient, more present, more productive, more ALL THE THINGS we want to be while maybe, just maybe, having a little time to take care of ourselves.
In words I very often call upon from Texas singer/songwriter, Bob Schneider, “Sometimes I feel like Superman, sometimes I’m just recuperating.”
So, with that said, I don’t really have any resolutions for the new year, but there are plenty of things I’ve been working on, and I share a couple of biggies – self care and SLEEP – here in case it helps you in your quest to achieve more Superwoman days.
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Fitting in “me” time has been one of my biggest challenges as a mom, and the transition from working full time exacerbated it because it took a while for me to build my freelance income and start to feel comfortable spending money again. Not that self care has to cost, but much of it does. Here is some of what I’m doing, free and not!
- Reading. I love to read, and squeeze it in wherever I can, which is usually at bedtime, which means I’m often falling asleep a few pages in. Thrillers are my favorite, but I want to work some inspirational works into the mix this year. On my list: Maria Shriver’s I’ve Been Thinking and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. What motivational books do you recommend?
- Fitness. I quit my pricey Pilates reformer classes because I just couldn’t justify the cost, nor could I find the time to get away for an hour-long class. I’m home two days a week with the toddler, and the three days when she’s in school are dedicated work days, so I really struggled with where to fit in time for fitness, but I knew it was making an impact on everything – my stress, my energy, my mood, my sleep, my self image, etc. I tried waking up early to run, which worked until I was derailed with a foot injury and sleep issues (see below for more on that). Finally, I reluctantly pulled my old spin bike out of the closet a few months ago and committed to spending the first 30 minutes of my workdays on the bike. Getting started was the hardest part, but it has been a workout reunion made in Heaven! I can totally handle a 30-minute commitment in my house three times a week, and I forgot how energizing the music and the workout made me feel. On my non-workout days, I try to squeeze in some hand weights or this morning yoga sequence a dear friend created especially for moms and yoga novices like me. Get it in wherever you can – it does not have to be an hour at the gym to make an impact!
- Travel. We had some great vacations this year. We took the toddler, who loves the beach, to the Carribean for the first time, and visited my hubby’s family on the East Coast. I also took my first girls’ weekend away since becoming a mom, hitting the Texas wine country with some girlfriends. It can be really hard to make yourself step away from it all (it only took me three-and-a-half years), but it was good for my soul for sure. Next up: the hubby and I need to commit to more date nights, and perhaps a getaway for just the two of us.
- Products. I splurged and invested in a nice natural deodorant, and I became so obsessed that I am now an affiliate for Primally Pure. I asked for a Pony-O ponytail holder for Christmas, and I’ve fallen back in love with the bun or ponytail my hair goes in six out of seven days of the week. I scored some amazing, buttery soft leggings from Spiritual Gangster (not an ad, I got mine at Marshall’s!), and I’m now on a hardcore hunt for the best activewear (suggestions, please!). I have mostly converted to Origins for all of my skincare, which has worked wonders for sensitive skin, redness, Rosacea, etc. (again, not an ad, I just really, really love their stuff).
I don’t even know what to say about this terrible sleep cycle I got into last year. Except it was terrible. And it had nothing to do with kids. I just started waking up at 3 or 4 a.m. and not falling back asleep until it was almost time to get up, which meant a really groggy and cranky mom when the toddler woke at 7:30 a.m. There were days when I just wanted to cry over my sleep, or lack thereof. But it’s finally getting better! Here are some tips I picked up in my search for better sleep:
- Consider your blood sugar. This was my game changer. I have known blood sugar issues, having been diagnosed with insulin resistance after our miscarriages, but I never thought about blood sugar and sleep. I kept hearing that consistently waking at a certain time can very often be the result of a mid-sleep blood sugar crash. Sure enough, my waking was happening like clockwork about eight hours after dinner. A snack before bedtime has helped me tremendously! I started with a few slices of fruit and a handful of almonds (I read that kiwi is especially sleep-inducing), but lately I’ve just been doing a spoonful of Nutzo Paleo-friendly nut butter (nom nom nom). Seriously helpful for me!
- Spend your first 15 minutes upon waking outside in the sunlight (if possible). Supposed to help get your circadian rhythm back on track.
- Keep a bedside journal. I actually don’t do this, but it’s a valid suggestion that kept coming up this year in my struggle. If your mind is busy in the middle of the night, writing it down might do the trick to release it and allow you to sleep in peace.
- Do your research before considering sleep aids. I fully understand the need for a sleep aid, and I frequently rely on them as well. But many people resort to melatonin because it’s considered a “natural” remedy. Remember that melatonin is a HORMONE, and if you’re like me, you probably don’t need any additional hormone disruption.
On those days when I feel like I’m “just recuperating,” whether due to a bad night’s sleep or whatever stress I may be feeling, I’m trying really hard to give myself a break. Even when we can’t be Superwoman, we are working hard and loving fiercely, mamas, and that’s what matters most.