#Chase2015: Finding Balance

The older I get, the more I realize that life truly is a balancing act. We are always balancing work life with home life, healthy eating with “cheat days,” or hours at the gym with “couch potato status.” Now that I’m a mom, I’m also juggling kid time with chore time, mommy/daddy time with sleep, and my list goes on. However, despite this circus act, I have resolved to make a change in my life. And even if it doesn’t end up being a physical change, I have resolved to make an attitude change, but more on that later.

#Chase2015: Finding Balance

First off, if you have been reading our blog for the last couple months, you will have seen my posts about completing the Whole30 challenge and the diet changes we made in the months following it. Here we are in September, and for the most part we still eat a diet that avoids grains, legumes, dairy, and sugar. We love the way we look, and feel, but when it comes down to it, eating this way is just plain pricey. If you’re like us, and most other young adults these days, student loans are in repayment and money is tight. Throw a couple kids in there and a mommy who stays home, and pennies get squeezed a little tighter. So we have found a balance for our diet; if we have dairy or grains, we try to stick to one serving in a day. That not only helps stretch our budget, but it also keeps those grains in moderation for us. Sugar is limited to when we go out or the weekends when we get a craving for something sweet. Peanut butter is one thing we have made a firm decision on though: it is definitely a staple in our house. And we love it.

Secondly, I have been trying harder to really be present with my kids lately. By that I mean, putting down the phone and staying off the phone/iPad/computer unless absolutely necessary or its nap time, being selective with what chores really need to be done while kids are awake, scaling back my DIY hobbies, and making simpler dinners that don’t take one-two hours to prepare. One day I realized that I wasn’t truly giving my kids the attention they need and deserve, instead I was saying “hang on a minute” way too often as I searched Pinterest for another recipe or toddler activity, or checked another status on Facebook.

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Writing all this makes me feel like such a horrid mommy, but if you are a mommy then you know exactly how it goes. When you spend all day and every day with little ones who can’t communicate at your level, it’s all too easy to get enveloped in worlds (aka internet or texts) that actually do. I thought about what my kids would remember me as when they were older and realized that if I was honest, it would be a mommy who was always distracted with other things.

I don’t want to be that mommy. I want to be involved and interested in my kids’ lives! I want to be remembered as a mommy who took time to look at the bug that was on the windowsill instead of saying “uh-huh, that’s cool honey” with my nose buried in my phone. So my first step to being the “new” mommy I desire, was to take Facebook off as one of the tabs in my browser. This way, when I open my browser, I’m not immediately sucked into reading about a friend’s adventure that leads me to a distant cousin’s wife’s brother’s fiance’s bridal shower pictures (know what I mean?).

The third area is balancing my personal time; what do I do when it’s just me? I don’t get a lot of time to myself but there are moments for sure. I’m aiming to include a small work out into my days a couple times a week, and my husband usually wants to join so that doubles as “hubby” time too. I also have joined a MOPS group which so far has been wonderful for my overall well-being. It’s quite amazing what some adult time can do for a mommy’s brain. I have been more focused on getting chores done in a timely manner so that I do have bigger chunks of time that I can choose to do what I want with. I am a big crafter/sewer and so that is usually what I spend my time doing. However, lately I have been striving to reduce stress in my life. And sadly, a lot of my unfinished craft projects cause me stress because I’m trying to “schedule” them into my personal time to get them done. I have been learning to say “no” a lot more and have been reaping the benefits of not feeling rushed or stressed all the time.

Overall, I have been striving to change my attitude towards all aspects in my life. If a day doesn’t go as planned, it’s okay; life will go on, and I can try again the next day. My house is a mess? It’s alright; we LIVE here. Baby didn’t sleep well last night so now mommy is tired and toddler is asking for milk….again….and again…and again….? I choose joy. I am choosing to smile and to live a life full of joy and involvement and free from “mommy guilt.” “Mommy guilt,” if you didn’t know, is this ugly thing that makes you feel bad that you didn’t give your child the perfect lunch, or have the house sparkling clean when daddy comes home and you’re been chasing 2 -year-olds all day. It is also a nasty weed that will grow and grow if you don’t catch it before long and deal with it. Avoid it like the plague.

I want to live a life of purpose, one that is filled with things I chose to do, instead of things I ended up doing because I wasn’t paying attention. What about you? What things have you found a balance for/need to balance in your life? Let’s make the rest of 2015 a great one, and learn to balance our lives. No one is perfect, so lets stop expecting perfection from ourselves and live with joy.

For All the New Mommies

I have tons of friends having babies, more than ever before. And it has prompted thoughts about being a new mom again. I have done the infant stage 3 times and I can tell you I am not an expert by any means. Anyone who says they are an expert is lying to themselves. No one knows exactly how every baby is going to respond to every situation. Those of us who have been there can give advice and suggestions, but we can only speak from our experience. There are a few pieces of advice I have found that every mom has been in agreement thus far.

Cry. You are exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. Your hormones are out of control. You are going to reach a breaking point and no matter how much you love your baby you are going to lose it. It’s okay. We’ve all been there. Cry. Have one of those deep from the gut ugly cries. Do it anytime you need. The middle of the day when you can’t get baby to eat or sleep or stop crying. The middle of the night when you are trying to figure out when the last time you slept more than an hour in a row. I have cried at all these times, it doesn’t make you weak. It makes you a mom.

Take a minute to yourself to just breathe. I know you are thinking ‘…when can I find time to myself?’ This is especially difficult when you have more than 1 baby. It doesn’t have to be long or far away. But step outside, by yourself at least once a day. Even if it’s just on the porch. Just sit or stand for a minute and breathe. Don’t think about the things you need to get done or what comes next in baby’s schedule. Just thank God for the day. That’s it. Just breathe and be.

Let your house go for as long as you need. I promise anyone who comes to visit could care less if you have dirty dishes or laundry. They want to see your baby and you (more so the baby). They don’t care it your floors have been mopped or your toilet has a ring. And if they do, don’t invite them over again. But do take people up on their offer to help. Let someone do your laundry, clean the bathroom, or make dinner. I promise at some point you will be able to do it all, but with a newborn it’s not worth trying.

Remember this most of all. You are doing fine. There is no right or wrong to this parenting thing. Breastfed or bottle fed. Swaddle…no swaddle. Stay at home mom or working mom. Cloth diaper or disposable. It doesn’t matter. Love your baby and you are doing it right.

All the pictures are the first ones of me with my new babies. I may not look great, but I was happy as could be.

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Getting Crafty

I am not crafty. I’m just not. I try. I try really hard. Art class was never my favorite. I still cannot cut a perfect circle. I have half finished scrapbooks and supplies for well intentioned projects that just never seem to happen. But I also have 2 little girls who like to draw, color, paint, and make crafts. So while I may not be the best at it, I still try.

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Recently I decided I want to finally get working on decorating some unfinished places in our house. This includes the kid/guest bathroom. I don’t have a “theme” or design in place but I want it to be colorful and fun (and cheap). So I thought it would be fun to let the girls use some fun right colors to paint on some canvas I had and then I would write Bible verses on them. While doing this I thought back to all the other projects I have done with the girls and realized some things I had to remember and I think is important to all craft/art attempting parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends to small children to remember.

1. Let go of what you think this is going to look like. My girls are 3 and 4, and both have a mind of their own. They want to do what they want. And truthfully they create much more beautiful things when I let go of my perfect image of what it “should” look like if I just step back and watch. There are times I give direction, but if I can I try to let them figure it out. (My only requirement this time was that they could have a gray filled canvas. Somehow they mix all the colors together and I turns into this yucky muddy gray color, and it drives me crazy. Weird, I know.)
2. If possible do it outside. Or cover your floor, chairs, table, anything you don’t want glue, sparkles, marker or glitter on.
3. Get all supplies out and ready before calling them over to do the project.
4. Remember they are going to get messier than you thought. Seriously, Brynn ended up with paint in her hair. But it all washes out and didn’t hurt a thing.
5. Tell them it is beautiful, hang it up, and let them show it off. We have very little art bought in a store in our house. I can’t find anything I like. But we do have drawings, paintings, and crafts hanging. And in this stage in our life, that’s the kind of art we enjoy. And it gives the girls a big self esteem boost to see their paintings hanging in their bathroom.

And for those who are curious I discovered this week that I am not a treadmill fan. I would much rather pound the pavement and endure the hills than deal with running and getting nowhere! But I did run 1.3 continuous miles on it, so maybe it has some benefits.

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