“Me” Time: Keeping Your Sense of Self as a Mother.

When you have children, “me” time is essential! I write a lot about how important it is for children to have “outbreath,” independent play time, but this is something that we must do as well. When your children are occupied or napping, it is so tempting to use that time to do dishes or laundry because there is always so much to do. When it is only you caring for your many children who have different schedules, you mat not feel like you can have any down time at all!

But here are a few tricks I’ve gained from experience and from other mothers to squeeze even 5 minutes of “me” time in on the busiest of days:

Trading “me” hours with your spouse: This is especially important when you have a newborn, as the job is literally around the clock. Giving your spouse and yourself an hour break during the day to shower, walk, read, paint etc. can really help your sanity!

Naps!: When your children are napping, this is a great time to rest, but we may forget because of our responsibilities. I make sure that as soon as my child falls asleep, I get rest before I start working.

Rest while they play: When the children are occupied with an activity this is a great time to occupy yourself with some good ‘work’ that is also a rejuvenating activity, like knitting or gardening.

Take a ‘time in’ rest: Lay on the couch with your children and cuddle, or lay on the floor by them and do breathing exercises. This may not seem like a break because you are still engaging your children, but by resting our bodies, our mind may feel rested as well.

Gym Daycare: This is essential for me as it allows me an hour of time to care for my body while I my son would play with other children while in good hands. For young children, it is important to find a gym care that has one primary caregiver with experience with infants and toddlers, and unfortunately, that can be tricky. But if you have access to this, USE IT and you will be grateful. Most YMCA’s offer such quality of care, click here to find a Y near you.

Hire a Mommy’s Helper: As previously stated, my gym care has been shut down so I am currently in search of a local high schooler with great recommendations to come to my house and help out for a few hours a week. Here is a GREAT guide on how to find the right kind of part-time helper for you family.

Use your family: Grand parents and Aunts and Uncles and any other family LOVE to see your children! So let them and be grateful. Take a break while your children get spoiled and everybody wins!

Put your little one in a safe place: This is one that I use when we are having a really bad day, you know what I mean. Like when my son won’t nap and is fussy all day or when he was a newborn and cried SO MUCH. I will explain to him that “Mommy is having a hard time and so are you. I think we would both benefit from a break so mommy is going to put you in your crib for some quit time and then go have a rest for (5-20) minutes.” He may not be very happy about this but I find that after this break I am in a better emotional place and we both benefit from it. This is kind of like my reset button.

When you do have time for a little break during the day or after your children go to sleep at night, there are many things you can do to recharge your sense of self. So what activities can be really rejuvenating? Here are some things that help me:

Exercise: Anything from yoga to walking to vigorous strength training can be a serious recharge.

Simple Meditation: This is so important for me and often the first kind of break I turn to, it’s not very in-depth either! I just lay on my back and breath deeply into my belly. Often I might even drift off to sleep which is even better! Here is a brief guide on how to do a basic meditation.

Creative Activities: Writing, gardening, knitting and sometimes painting are my creative outlets so I make sure I have time for these.

Eating! I actually forget to eat all the time, so sitting and having a good meal in peace in quiet is a real treat.

Social Time: From calling a friend for 5 minutes to going out for drinks and dancing with your girlfriends can be reminder that you are, in fact, a grown up person with an identity.

Intimacy: This is SO important for your marriage! If spontaneity has flown out the window after having children, schedule time for intimacy, preferably right when the kids got to sleep so that you still have a little bit of energy. Here is a great post on how to feel sexy as a mom, as it is a common feeling for new moms to lose this part of themselves. But you CAN be a mother goddess and sex goddess.

It may feel like taking time for yourself is a purely selfish activity, especially when your children don’t like it; but by making “me” time a priority, you are not only giving yourself what you need, but you are giving your children a better, happier mother. So please share your own experiences on this topic as it’s always good to have more ideas on how to get that “me” time that we all need and deserve.

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Holding Baby with your Heart: No Babywearing Required!

To begin, I would not describe myself as a babywearer, but I do wear my 9 month old from time to time. For instance, it is much more convenient than a stroller when going in and out of shops. It is also a necessity when I garden in the front of my house, as he would crawl away and get into the less baby friendly plants I have there. When he was a newborn I held and wore him quite a bit for my own comfort, but I always made sure that he had time on his back on his own to move his body. I recently read an article suggesting that babies NEED to be worn in a carrier for the first 9 months of their lives; I do not agree with. I do not agree that we are neglecting our babies basic needs if we give them time on their own, in fact, I believe that we ARE meeting their needs when we allow independence to freely move their new bodies and experience the new world on their own.

“Young babies need both to be held and to be able to move freely in their cribs. Often parents believe holding is good, being left alone in a crib is not. I believe babies need both. There are sound physiological reasons why a newborn should not be held all of the time. To begin with, he must adapt to his new capabilities outside of the womb, by kicking, stretching, curling and uncurling his body. IN a crib (or playpen) he can do this at will-and with ease.” ~Magda Gerber

The thing that got to me a bit in this article was how it criticizes the idea that infants CAN be happy alone in a crib or on a blanket. Some babies, such as mine, were OVER stimulated being held by us all the time. When we finally listened to him instead of listening to parenting methods and books, we found that he thrived from having time to himself. That being said, she does point out a lot of positive things about what babies need. She speaks of the simplicity and quiet that newborns need and the importance of touch in infancy and childhood. I think that it is good to have this information for balance; between giving them physical and emotional attention as well then letting them have some space to themselves. Wear your baby from time to time if that is what you like, but perhaps think of the benefit even tiny newborns might receive from even 5 minute intervals of time alone (in a safe place) on their backs to move on their own accord. Lisa Sunbury articulates nicely: “Ideally, young babies are placed on their back not just for sleep, but for play time as well, because this is the position that most supports their bodies, and in which they are most relaxed, and free to move.”

I believe that Elizabeth, the author of this article, does make a good point, babies DO need a more womb-like protection for the first year (or more) of their lives. But this does not necessarily have to mean a physical womb-like protection. There is a kind of ‘holding’ we can do as mothers and caretakers that takes place in our hearts and minds; we can create an atmosphere for the child that is filled with the warmth and protection they need. When my son is out on his own in the space around me, I am always ‘holding’ him with me; in the way I move and the songs I sing and even in my quiet meditative thoughts (when I can keep them calm and tame that is). In Anthroposphy, the image of the Madonna and child is a meditation for how we relate to young children. I interpret this as creating a peaceful and spiritual ambiance for the child as well as a protective, loving presence in our actions and our thoughts. Even in how we work with our environment and objects within by carefully handling everything with slow, patient movements to imbue the entire space with peace and calm.

Magda spoke of how when we sit and observe our children in their triumphs and challenges, sharing in their discovery of their unfolding world, this is how we give them the quality time they need. On one of Janet Lansbury’s blog posts, she writes about how “wants nothing” quality time “can encompass a wide range of experiences, but all we are asked to do is pay attention and have no agenda of our own. It can mean being quietly available as a baby explores patterns of light on a blanket beneath him, or standing nearby while he has a screaming meltdown because he cannot have another cookie. It may be trickier to see the benefit for parents and caregivers in this latter scenario, but it is clarity. When we pay full attention to our child for intervals each day, no matter what the tone of our exchange or the outcome is, we are giving him the quality time he needs. We are doing our job.”

It is in these quiet movements of reflective observation that we can connect with these new beings. We can create a “womb-like” and spiritual environment for our little ones and create connection through observation. It is with these two things in mind that I spent my time with young children as a teacher and now with my son as a mother.

If you do choose to wear you baby around a lot, spine safety for the infant must be taken into account, as well as proper posture for the wearer. There are certain carriers and positions that could be harmful for your child, such as forward facing positions and unsupportive/uncomfortable slings and wraps. I think baby-wearing is a matter of ones own choice, it works for some and that is fine but when physically holding your baby around the clock doesn’t work for you anymore, that is just fine as well and you will both benefit from some space.

Felted Flowers – Perfect Activity for Little Ones

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and I have been working on these felted flowers with some of the children I work with. This is a simple activity that even the littlest of children can do (though my 9 month old ‘helped’ mostly by chewing on them.) Not only is this a great gift idea, there are many benefits to young children engaging in sensory activities with natural materials.

Supplies Needed: 

Wool Roving – Can be purchsed at most yarn stores. If you live in Seattle, Weaving Works is the best place that I have found .

Muffin Tins

Natural Soap – You can use Dish Soap or a Castille Soap (like Dr. Bronners)

Directions:

First you roll up the roving and place it into the tins, much like you would roll a cinnamon roll in a little spiral. You can do one color or multiple layers.

Add a tiny bit of soap and water. You want it to be fairly soapy in the beginning.

The felting process begins with a patting motion. Gently pat the soapy felt down into the pins until they feel fairly felted. You can do the whole process with this patting motion, flipping the flower a few times to get both sides. After this is done you can felt them in your palms a little bit to give them a more rounded look, they felt fast this way so check often.

(This is my son helping, he liked the sound the pan made on the cement when he hit it. He receives all of the benefits of playing with the wool and the pan, the product will come when he is older. Art with children is mostly about the process anyways.)

Now you have some lovely little flowers to use for pins, bracelets, additions to clothing or any other creative ideas you can think of.

Please comment if I have left out any information or if you have any fun additions to this activity. Enjoy!