Motherhood and You

Motherhood is all consuming, a never-ending cycle of care, but don’t let it consume you. Don’t simply become “mom”, don’t lose yourself, who you are, in caring for your children. Don’t cling to them as they start to grow up and grow away. Being a mom may be the most important hat you wear, or title you receive, (however you want to think of that), but it is not solely who/what you are.

All too often, starting almost immediately after birth, we become consumed by being a mom. By taking care of a little human being that depends solely on us for EVERYTHING (daunting, so daunting), by trying to be everything for this little being, and all too often we lose who we are in the process. We become so wrapped up in that “mom” role that we don’t take care of ourselves (a post for another day), we don’t take care of our significant other, we don’t take care of our friendships.

These things start to fall to the wayside, and it isn’t until we are a couple years in (or longer for some) that we realize that we don’t know who we are anymore. We have become a mom, the greatest blessing of all, but we’ve lost who we are in the process.

This is a normal thing that just about everyone experiences to varying levels. That isn’t to say that we can’t get back to who we are, or avoid this entirely, I’m just saying that this is a normal thing to go through. In fact, even the most prepared parents (the ones who swear that parenthood won’t change them) go through a level of this. It’s a natural instinct when we have a child that our world changes to revolve around this baby and it’s a very sweet time in our lives (postpartum depression/anxiety/and other issues aside). That doesn’t mean that it lasts forever. Our children will grow, they will mature, they will become independent and need us as parents less and less. That change is why it is important not to lose who you are when you become a parent.

How do we handle this? How do we allow motherhood/parenthood to take over our lives, and still maintain who we are?

Little things. What do you like to do in your free time? What did you like to do before you became a parent to relax?

Did you like to exercise? Find a gym that has childcare. Have your significant other take over the parenting duties for a few hours while you hit up a workout.

Did you like to read, write, watch TV, YouTube, etc.? Great! Naptime and after Bedtime are great opportunities to do these! (In fact, I squeeze a lot of my reading time during naptime and after the kids go to bed).

Did you like to shop or explore new areas? Perfect, you can do that with baby OR if you want baby free time, have your significant other or family watch the baby while you get a little break.

The main takeaway from this is not to have time away from your child, although that is needed too, but to find time within your day to do what works for YOU. What makes YOU happy. So much of motherhood is spent tending to others (and not just your own children, being a mom turns you into everyone’s mom) and it is easy to lose ourselves in that. So so easy to be swept away taking care of everyone and everything else.

If that is what fills you up and makes you happy, perfect! Do more of that. BUT don’t forget to take a little breath for yourself.

Big things. Find time for you and your significant other to have a little time together at the very least once a month. Take care of that relationship or it will fall to the wayside. Check in with each other throughout the day, send that sweet little text. Have a moment while the baby is napping. Hire a babysitter when baby is a little older to get much needed date nights in (no matter what those actually look like).

Everyone says that one day your children will go up and leave and then what will be left is you and your significant other. This is true, but what is more important is the example that you are setting for your children. From the get-go, our children learn from us. They see what a stable relationship and family looks like from us, so water your own marriage and your children will see how to water their own (when that time comes).

Make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page as situations arise so that you can be a cohesive unit. Parenthood can help your marriage thrive and grow into new heights, or it can fall to the wayside. More than likely it will ebb and flow between both (again, completely natural), but the continual watering will help everything stay on a balance to continue to go towards success and happiness.

Ultimately, motherhood is a phase of life. For those of us who are mom’s (in any form) it is an all-encompassing blessing. It never ends and takes a lot of who we are. BUT it doesn’t have to be solely who we are. We were somebody before we were “mom” and while being mom takes precedence, don’t say goodbye to who you are. She is still there, and she should be able to shine as well.

Plan With Me – May 2019

May is upon us and with it Spring is coming. We’ve got some mighty travel plans in May, I’ve got a short readathon, and with the weather changing we are planning a couple of outdoor adventures. Since the month is turning out to be a busy one, and since my planning style has ever so slightly changed, I figured I would do a little Plan With Me.

I’ve talked about my own personal planning style before which is using a physical planner. I prefer to be able to write things out and see them in a physical format in front of me, rather than using an electronic calendar or notebook.

I always find it fun to see how others plan out their time, be it monthly or daily, and I find it gives me new ideas to apply to my own planning. The last time I did a planning post, I was using the Day Designer planner that had a monthly and daily layout. I still really like the Day Designer as a system, but I wanted something a little more “freestyle” for my planning. Somewhere that I could just write notes throughout the day without lines and such.

I did a little searching and found the Hobonichi planners. This is a Japanese company and they offer many different styles. The style that I used is the Hobonichi cousin and I have two notebooks, one for January to June and the second from July to December. I like that this planning system is similar to bullet journaling, but I don’t have to fill out any monthly/weekly/daily options.

So, on to my current planning set up…

Here’s the monthly view:

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Within the month I use colored highlighters (Mildliner) to highlight my posting schedule. I use Blue for A Cuppa Cosy and Orange for my other blog, The Cosy Book Shoppe. Then I use various highlighters to indicate when my husband is off of work or will be gone, or if we are planning an adventure. I like the highlighter look as it gives it a bit of a “cleaner” look to my monthly layout. As someone who wants to quickly look at a month and see what is going on on a specific day within seconds, the highlighters have been a lifesaver. Within the highlighted line I will write in black pen (Pentel EnerGel Needle Tip – .3) what specifically the post, or the trip, or the notation is. Below that I’ll write any appts, important dates, or things to note. I use the sidebar to track my reading through the month, and the bottom sections to track travel and spending.

This planner does come with a weekly outlook, which I like to use for meal planning and as a good breakdown for our week. I mark out my days and times and track my walking and daily reading. This gives me a good chance to look at my week, see where my time is going, and fit in any adventures we want to take during the week. I continue my color coordination in my weekly layout as well using the Pigma Micron Pens.

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Then we get to the day layout. This is a day on one page and has a spot for a time breakdown, a small to do list, and a large area to write on. I do a time breakdown, a water/tea tracker, I extend the to do list a couple more boxes, and use the free space to mind map/brain dump throughout my day. I’ve included a glimpse at some of the past days that give a pretty good look at these spaces. Some days are filled up, others are still pretty empty. I don’t always need to use the daily page and some days I’ll use it as a memory device to remind myself of what we did for a later journal entry or blog post (this is very typical when we travel long weekends).

So, that is my planning set up currently! I’ve been really enjoying the Hobonichi and I think it is what I’ll continue on with for the rest of this year and maybe even next year. Do you use a paper planner? How do you plan?

Round The Kettle Ep. 12: A Piece of Life Advice

Happy May and welcome back to Round The Kettle. I took a little bit off of Round the Kettle during April as the end of the month ended up getting much busier and much more tiring. I also had a bit of a moment in April and I really just needed to step away for a minute. I always want to transparent and honest, show the bad alongside all the good, but I felt like I wasn’t really in a good space to do that without it becoming…too much, so I just stepped back. Sometimes that is the better option.

So, how are you? Did you have a good April? Are you ready for May?

I do want to touch on one aspect that I want to share about. There were a couple days in April (before our weekend trip to Amsterdam) that I was just struggling. Struggling with being in a hotel with, at the time, no end date in sight, both boys starting to act up out of sheer boredom and me just getting frustrated with EVERYTHING. It wasn’t that I needed a break, or we needed to get out more, or anything, I just needed to vent. I just needed to unload all of the things that were building up in my head, in my body, all the tension that I was holding on to…all while trying to just stay as positive as I could. There is so much good that outways the little bit that’s bad. It’s tough to face that inner turmoil of wanting to focus on the positive, of needing to focus on that, but getting bogged down when the one thing that you can’t do much about is the bad bit.

Have you ever had that conflict? Where you felt like you shouldn’t complain because there is so much good, so much to be thankful for, but sometimes you just need to?

Finally, I broke down to my nearest and dearest friend. I said all the things that I was feeling and then I cried. I cried for a long time. I wanted to feel better, to get back to that positive mindset that I have, to look at all the good and be thankful for what we had, instead of focusing on everything that was driving me nuts.

You know what she said to me?

Its OK sometimes to say to yourself this sucks. Its not the same as wallowing in it but its good to let yourself have the right to those feelings sometimes..PNG

She followed that up with a couple other gems, but what stood out to me was this one:

“Just let yourself have a moment of, this (right here) sucks, but this (over here) is good”

And something about both of these things really just connected with me. Something clicked and while I still took a little bit in the afternoon and took a minute to just cry and be in that “this sucks” headspace for a little longer, I felt a lot better. I was able to get through the rest of that week, get to our weekend getaway and come back feeling so refreshed.

So, let my nearest and dearest’s advice to me, be advice to you as well (she’s amazing).

And now, I’m ready to conquer May AND conquer the rest of our hotel stay (more on that much much later in the month hopefully).

May is going to be one of those busy in the best kind of ways months for us. We’ve got a lot of travel planned and not a lot of rest and relaxation planned. I can’t wait to share all of our travel with you for the latter end of the month, as well as some planning and fashion posts as well. I’ve also been trying to “future plan” as we are coming up on the end of another quarter, the mid year point, and realistically just an overall very busy time for us.

I want to take a moment to ask you, what do you like reading? What posts have you enjoyed? Are there any posts that you would like to see in the coming months? What do you like that I talk about the most? This will help me pare down some of the posts and ideas that I have in mind and really have posts that you enjoy.

How Do We Handle The What If

You know that little voice in the back of your head? The little one that only comes out at times when you least need it. The one that offers negative opinions, snide comments and criticisms. That little voice is a right old arsehole (yep-went there) and we all have one.

So, let’s put a little scenario together. You have just made a rather big life decision. You’ve decided to…I don’t know…start a podcast or a blog (because this has to be believable/realistic, but not purchase related). You’ve written your first blog post or recorded your first podcast and have everything set to upload and publish. Everything is done it is just a matter for the day to come that everyone can read or listen to your words.

That little voice creeps in…”What if no one reads it”…”What if someone listens and doesn’t like what I have to say”…”What if they expect more from me than I can deliver”…”What if I am absolute rubbish at this”…And on and on it goes.

How do we handle that? What brings this little voice on?

Is it a lack of self confidence? A desire to please people? A fear of failure? Is it caring a little too much about what people think of us?

Is it all of the above?

I like to think that I am a fairly confident person, that while I want to help people and make them happy, I can’t and not everyone will like me. I’m ok with all of that. I like to think that I’ve overcome a lot of my fear of failure (which I can talk about separately if you’d like). Yet, I still deal with that little “What If Arsehole”. “She’s” a rude voice right in the back of my head that has me questioning myself from time to time.

How do I handle “her”? I don’t. “She” asks me questions like the above all the time. I overthink decisions, I second guess myself, and on occasion “she” has gotten the best of me. I would say 80% of the time I just try to ignore “her”. I try to push further because most of the time “she” comes out when I am on the right track. When I am getting ready to do something awesome (if I can say that), but every once in a while “she” does win. This is a time when I don’t have an answer.

I’m wondering if you have an answer or how you handle your “What If Arsehole”. Where do you think “she” comes from? How do you tackle the self doubt? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

A Little Post About Friendship Groups/Tribes/Villages/Whatever You Want To Call It

I originally titled this blog post “I Don’t Have a Group, and That’s OK” and while that is the overall narrative of my post I felt like it did a disservice to the friendships that I am forming and do have, the people that I would consider a friend “group”…so I adjusted it J

How many times have you heard “Find Your Tribe” or, “My Mom Group”, or really anything along the lines of find your people? I’m betting it’s a lot. Our society is hyper focused on grouping people together. It’s nothing new, it’s always been something that we’ve done whether it be in a positive or negative light. Since social media has become such a large part of our lives it has become even more prominent. You’ve got your followers, your circle of people in your corner of the internet. You find “influencers” talking about how great their tribe is. You find salesman talking about how you can join their team, so great to be part of a team, yada yada yada.

They speak about these teams/groups/villages/whatever you want to call them as if they need to be large numbers. As if you need to surround yourself with many people, all who have your back and all that you would call your friend.

But do you really need that large amount? Do you really need them all to be local?

***Let me say this first- I do believe that it takes a village at times. I do believe that having friends nearby, in your area is essential. I believe that you should always have one or two people in your area that you can count on. If anything, just for your sanity. ***

I don’t think so. I personally don’t want to have a large friend group. I have a select amount of friends (and I don’t say that in a snobbish way AT ALL) that I talk to quite a bit. These are people that I would call in a pinch, that I can tell anything to, that I can count on at any point in time. It is a very SMALL amount. I don’t consider it a group as we are all different and my friendships with each person are different (but the same), but they are my friends. I cherish their friendships and hold them close.

That’s not to say I am not a friendly person. I’ll say hello and have a conversation with almost anyone. I’m talking about friendship, true friendship- that is what I limit. To me, and I think to most people, it doesn’t matter if you know 50 people, if you can’t talk to them, confide in them, trust them, then it doesn’t help.

That may be a harsh way of putting things, but in this I am blunt. Maybe that’s because I’ve people assume that I am not friendly or don’t have a lot of friends. Maybe it’s because I constantly see people bending over backwards to make (and call) everyone they meet friends. I find that that popularity contest that we all felt in Highschool is still VERY prevalent in adulthood.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it is better to focus on quality rather than quantity. That’s what I do and what I would encourage you to do as well.

Tips for Working From Home

I worked from home with part time hours for a smidge over 3 years. During that time I learned quite a few things, both about myself and about creating a work/life balance. I don’t consider myself an expert in any of this, but I figured I would share some of the things that I learned over the past few years in case it could help someone else.

Working from home is a bit of a unique struggle because you want to set boundaries, a time/space for your job that is separate from your everyday life. A lot of times, when that physical space of the office is in our own home, you feel as though you are always at work. Boundaries are much more likely to get muddled or not exist at all. You may feel as though you are never not at work, or like you cannot disconnect from your job.

I learned the hard way on how to make working from home work for me and from time to time I struggled with those boundaries. But, I’ve made it through and I’m hopeful that if want to work from home, you can too!

Tip #1: Create a space that is able to be separate from your home for your office.This may seem like common sense, an office or a desk set up in a quiet corner of your home, but this is probably one of the hardest tips to stick with. When you have that space, you ONLY do work in THAT SPACE. You do not do work in other area’s of your house and you do not bring “non work” into that space. This space would also preferably have a door or some way of sectioning it off from the rest of your house. Think of it this way, when you work in an office, the best part of the day is being able to leave the office and leave your work behind for the evening, right? So, why would you not want to create that same illusion at home. In our previous home, our office was downstairs and was cordoned off by both stairs and a baby fence (as there were times when I would have to contain a child while working).

A note on creating your office space: You do want to make sure the space is welcoming and set up the way you want and need. Make it a nice space that you want to work, not somewhere where you feel like you dread going to. Natural light is a big help, as is small pieces of home décor.

Tip #2: Have specific times set aside as work time.Now, this tip only matters if you have flexible hours, but I wanted to touch on it as I found this was another thing that really helped me and is a hard one to stick with. It’s the same concept as the separate space in your home. You need to have certain hours that are set aside each day (they don’t necessarily have to be the same hours everyday, but should be the same week to week, e.g. M/W/F 8-12, T/TH 1-5) and those are the only hours that you do work during. Now obviously if there is an emergency or something that comes up that changes (as it would in a normal work environment), but the important fact is that you have the stability of hours. You work during those hours and when it is not those hours, you are not working. This is good not only for yourself, but for your coworkers as well (if applicable).

Tip #3: Get Dressed.If you’ve been around here long enough, you know all about this tip. This is a tip that I just apply to life in general, but is even more important when you are working from home. You are not going to feel the same motivation and high productivity level while working if you are in your pajamas or sweat pants that you will if you take a little bit of time in the morning to put on jeans or slacks and a nice top. There is just some sort of way that we all feel when we are in sweatpants that we don’t feel when we are in actual clothes. If you want, you can change into sweats after you’ve finished working to “signal” to yourself that the workday is over and you can relax.

Tip #4: Take breaks, eat your lunch somewhere else, get outside. This is an important one because a lot of times when we work from home, we don’t take the breaks that we need to. We need to get away from the desk, away from the computer (or phone) and out into the world. Realistically, this tip applies if you are working in an office as well. Do not take lunch at your desk, do not skip out on breaks, make sure you are stretching your body out throughout the day. If you don’t, you’ll either feel much more tired come the end of the day or you will be a little bit more short tempered in stressful situations. Take a step away, that is what lunch and breaks are meant for.

Tip #5: Take time off.Another one that feels like a no brainer, but it so hard to do. Here’s the thing, when we are working from home it is actually much harder to take time off than you would think. You’re office is right down the hall and since you are in the comfort of your own home, it is easier to work through a sickness or through a time where maybe you shouldn’t be working. It can turn into a problem and while I wouldn’t say take time off all the time, make sure that you are taking vacation time and if you are sick, take a sick day if you can. Don’t over work yourself simply because you work from home and it’s “easy” with no commute.

Those are my top tips for working from home. If you hadn’t noticed the theme, it is mostly to treat working from home much the same way that you would treat working in an office. You need to have a set space, set hours, and the ability to take breaks. The hardest thing about working from home is that instead of going to and from an office, having a separate space from your home, you are simply walking down the hall (or down some stairs) and there you are. It is so much harder to feel disconnected from work when it is just right there. It can be done though, it just takes patience and discipline as you figure out what works for you.  I hope that these tips will help you if you work from home!

Round the Kettle Ep. 11- Just a set of Homebodies and No “Home”

Happy Sunday! How are you? How have the past couple weeks been treating you?

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We’ve been a go, go, going it seems like and while I love to have a home/sweats/movie/books day once a week. I don’t think we actually have in a couple weeks. I think it is really important both for us as parents, as well as for our children that we have downtime. I’m not talking about just naptime/quiet time (because Colton has started napping less and less), but I’m talking a full day of not running anywhere, not having a schedule, just relaxing and going with the day. One where we can go for a walk if we really want to and the weather allows it, but it isn’t something that we shoot for (a walk being the only reason we would leave). I LOVE this idea and it really helps us decompress and relax and makes all the rest of the traveling and go go going not so…hectic feeling. We are homebodies at heart and having that day (and really the evenings) to balance out the rest is perfect.

That is, until I remember that we are still in a hotel, with a limited number of toys and activities and I wind up spending the whole morning telling the kids that they can’t wrestle, run around, climb on everything, or scream. Then our little decompress day looks a whole lot different. Haha. My peaceful morning goes out the window.

It’s not really so bad as all that, but it is definitely not as peaceful as I would hope. These types of days will look much different when we have a house, all the toys and space for the boys, and everything else that we would like.

Of course, everything will look different when we have a house.

Now, I want to make something very clear- I am not complaining per se. We are very blessed to be able to be in the situation that we are in (one I know many many would dream of) and we are loving our time here in Germany. It has been a true dream come true and some days still very much feels like a dream and not reality. BUT hotel living is hard. It’s hard with two very active toddlers who need the down/home time just as much as we do. It’s hard when you want to decorate and have your own sense of “home”, but can’t. It’s hard when you see pieces of home décor that you would love to have, but you don’t have a home for them yet. It’s hard to not have everything that you would like to for your kids and they are bored. It’s hard when you want to cook a full dinner, but aren’t able to.

All of that sounded a whole lot like complaining. And maybe in a way I am, but it’s been almost 2 months and it’s wearing a little thin. I feel like I’ve had such a good head and attitude about this. There isn’t a whole lot that I can do to change this situation and I’ve always said that if you cannot change the situation (which on occasion does happen), then you have to change your attitude about the situation. I’ve kept that positive attitude up, and to clarify- I still am incredible happy, blessed and positive, but some days I break. And in an effort to be transparent and honest, I am sharing that with you. I’ve always said that life is not sunshine and daisies (because it isn’t), but people are scared to show that not sunshine side. Here I am, showing you our not so sunshine side, all first world problems and all.

Do you know this feeling? Have you dealt with an extended hotel or small living space with children? Even without children? Share in the comments below! Or are you struggling with something now? Something that you want to vent about? Share! Nothing is too trivial.

That was a bit of a downer of a post, so let’s do a high note for the ending? We had a little local bazaar here over the past couple of days. There were a lot of vendors selling a variety of goods, cheese & meats, alcohol, rugs, wood work, and my new personal addiction…polish pottery. Now I haven’t been much in the world of polish pottery, this was actually my first “exposure” to it and let me just say, I’m in love. There was so much to choose from, so many beautiful designs to see and I wanted to buy ALL OF IT. I kid you not, there was one design, a new one they just released, that was only available in a couple of pieces. I picked up what I could of it and thankfully they didn’t have anymore options because I would have bought the lot in that design. Overall, the bazaar was a really awesome event.

Have you ever owned/seen/purchased and Polish Pottery? What do you think of it?

Bazaars, Open Air Markets, Farmers Markets, etc., are my favorite ways to shop. I find that you can find some of the most unique items by shopping a) locally, and b) through an event that has vendors from all over. Luckily it seems like the Germans (and really Europeans) really understand this concept because this stuff happens ALL THE TIME.

I’m in heaven here, between the landscape, the history, the people, the food, the shopping, it’s all been wonderful. I may struggle from time to time over our hotel/housing situation, but that is a short term struggle. We are hopeful that we will get a house soon and then the only negative (at this point) will be no more.