Feel the Glow
A Busy Mother’s Journal on Positive Living, Fitness/Nutrition, and all things Beautiful
I’ve seen the term “mom guilt” used many times, but it’s more than a term to many mothers; it’s a very real thing. This guilt can come in many forms for many reasons, and it seems I experience it, in one way or another, on a nearly daily basis. Sometimes the guilt is experienced in smaller, shorter doses… but sometimes it’s a more consistent and lasting feeling that goes on for days, months, or years. This blog article is dedicated to the particular type of mom guilt that has weighed on me the heaviest: Working Mom Guilt.
My days are either busy, very busy, or completely, insanely, unmanageably busy (though this may just be a difference in my perception). By the time I pick up my boys from daycare in the evening and get them home (typically around 6PM), fed, bathed, and ready for bed (between 7:30-8PM) I realize that I have very little time to relax and spend time with them. Even during our nightly story reading by my son’s bed, I admit to having thoughts like, “Once he falls asleep, I need to get the laundry in the dryer, clean up the kitchen, check my email, etc.” And here comes the guilt..
I’ve started to examine why I feel so badly about this never-ending sense of duty and, more so, the consequential deficiency of quality time with my boys. I believe that there are many outside (societal) influences that contribute to this. Let’s consider how the “perfect” woman/mother has been portrayed in our society over the past half-century or so. The role of the ideal women in the 1950s may look rather constrictive to many young women today because she was expected to stay home and take care of the kids… all the while, keeping the house clean and having dinner on the table by the time her husband got home. As we all know, times have changed. More women are getting higher education/better jobs and, therefore, have more independence. Now what? Well, there are even more societal expectations of women and many are now filling the role of mother, housewife, and career woman.
I’m not saying this movement is a bad thing… in fact, quite the opposite. I bask in my own power and freedom to “do it all” and I couldn’t see it any other way. I do not judge women who are able to and choose to stay home with their children; I have a tremendous amount of respect for stay-at-home mothers. I know I’m often more worn out after staying home with my boys all weekend than I am from working my 9-5, Monday-Friday job – motherhood is both rewarding but demanding! But for those of us who have to work, or just choose to work, I’ve compiled a list of things to think about when those “working mom guilty feelings” start creeping in:
1. YOU ARE SETTING AN AMAZING EXAMPLE. As a mother, you need to remember that you are one of your child’s primary role models. Your child may take a completely different route than you with his/her own life, but at least you’re showing them how to work for what they want.
2. CHILDREN CAN STILL FLOURISH WITHOUT HAVING MOM 24/7. It helps to remind myself that I am a product of a “working mom” household. I don’t recall ever feeling resentment toward my own mother for this reason; rather, I remember looking up to her as the one who took care of me and would always take care of me. I remember seeing my mother exhausted and overwhelmed (rightfully so, with 5 children), but she had more patience than anyone I’ve ever known. Whenever I start thinking that my boys will resent me for working, I remember my own mother and how I felt about her. She did everything for us and she did everything out of love. So, that’s not too bad… right? 🙂
3. YOUR CHILDREN LEARN TO BE INDEPENDENT. I know it hurts to think about the amount of time you’re away from them, but remember that they’re building up their own self-confidence in your absence. They know you’re leaving, but they also know you’ll always come back. They’ll also look forward to you coming back, so they can amaze you with the things they’ve learned to do on their own. My boys are only 3 and 1, and I’m finding myself amazed all the time by the things they’re learning to do.
4. NO “I’M-THE-CENTER-OF-THE-UNIVERSE” ATTITUDES. Very young children are all egocentric – but they don’t know any better. It’s my job as a parent to make sure that infantile (yet innocent) “me-me-me” attitude does not extend past its acceptable time period. It’s good for children to realize that they are not the center of the universe because, to put it bluntly, they’re not – just as I’m not, you’re not… no one is. I love my boys deeply and unconditionally; but it’s for this reason that I don’t want them growing up thinking that they can always get what they want and precisely when they want it.
5. NO ONE IS PERFECT. This is a phrase I both love and hate. I feel like I set unreasonably high expectations of myself, which is both a blessing and a curse. From my perspective, it’s difficult to accept that I really can’t do everything all the time – but this is reality. I’ve found it helps to try looking at myself from my boys’ perspectives instead. Chances are pretty good that your children aren’t being nearly as hard on you as you’re being hard on you.
6. HAPPY MOMS HAVE HAPPY CHILDREN. Let’s be honest: your life shouldn’t come to a shrieking halt after you have kids and you’re not selfish if you enjoy working. Finding balance between your family and your work is the key. If you feel guilty because you’ve been spending too much time working or doing chores, let them go for awhile and spend some extra time with your family. Trust and respect your own feelings. Remember that when you’re happy your children are going to feel that happiness radiate – and they will be happy too.
I hope that you have found some of these thoughts helpful and encouraging. I think at the end of the day, whether you’re a working mother or a stay-at-home mom, we should always keep this in mind:
Children are master imitators and our most important job of all is to give them something beautiful to imitate!
Take care 🙂
One of the many challenges parents of toddlers and young children face is dealing with picky eaters. Personally, my 1-year old is a fantastic eater (that is, whenever he’s not testing the Universal Law of Gravitation by throwing his food on the floor); he eats, or at least tries, pretty much any food I put in front of him. On the other hand, my 3-year old has been picky from the very start and it seems he’s only getting pickier as time goes by – sometimes, my problem is that he doesn’t want to eat anything at all! Parents like me worry that their children might not be getting sufficient nutrients for their growing bodies. I decided to share a few tips and suggestions to get your little one(s) eating more nutrient-rich foods and, for those times you really do need the crackers and cookies, look to my article 4 Healthier Snack Alternatives for Kids for a few more options.
Treat Picky Eaters with Patience
Young children will often turn up their noses to new foods. Children find security in the familiar, and so it’s natural for them to resist change. This includes food choices. Youngsters are comfortable with the foods they enjoy, such as macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets, and if left to their own devices, would live solely on these foods. I think my son would live off Goldfish crackers if given the choice but, of course, I’m deeply bothered by the GMOs, dyes, and lack of nutritional value. Remember, however, that as children are regularly exposed to healthy foods, they will eventually try them… but this may take some time. Some children have to be exposed to unfamiliar foods a dozen or more times before they’ll take a bite.
Involve Picky Eaters in Choosing Foods
When food shopping, children should be permitted to choose some of the fruits and vegetables. Children between the ages of two and five are beginning to be more independent and will love the feeling of control this gives them. If possible, children should also be involved in meal preparation, for example, mixing ingredients in a bowl. They may be more apt to try foods they helped to prepare. Also, placing bowls of cut fruits and vegetables in places where children can easily reach them might prompt them to try a piece.
Mix Healthy Foods with Foods Picky Eaters Enjoy
Most kids like condiments, such as ketchup, mustard, or salad dressing. Let them dip their green beans in one of their favorite condiments. Another idea is to pour melted cheese over broccoli. I know it’s not the ideal situation, but I’d rather my son eat vegetables with cheese or ranch dressing, than no vegetables at all. Eh, I pick my battles.
Make It Fun for Picky Eaters
Children’s work is play, so it’s always a good idea to put fun into the mix. Kids love guessing games. While blindfolded, they can guess the names of fruits and vegetables based on their different shapes and textures. Also, they could make up silly songs about fruits and vegetables. Kids are very creative when it comes to having fun, so they should be encouraged to make up their own games. My boyfriend and I also involved my picky eater with planting the seeds for our garden (peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, etc.), which really grabbed his interest and attention. I’m hoping that his involvement in the process and watching the plants grow will encourage him to actually eat the food the garden produces.
Overall, I think patience and creativity are the keys. If you have any other tips/ideas that have worked with your picky eater, please leave me a comment below!
Take care 🙂
With increasing research about the detrimental effects of sugar and artificial sweeteners, many people are searching for a substitute that satisfies the craving for something sweet. Raw organic honey is gaining new popularity for its ability to provide sweetness to desserts and snacks without the chemical dangers of artificial sweeteners or the risk of inflammation from refined sugar. Sweet and satisfying, this unprocessed, organic form of honey is a nice source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and may help treat several health concerns.
Honey in History
Honey has been used since ancient times for both its medicinal qualities and its sweetening properties. Beekeeping to produce honey has been going on since very early in mankind’s history. In Ancient Egypt, they used honey to heal wounds and as an embalming fluid. It was considered so valuable that it was used as a currency at one time. The Ancient Greeks used honey to reduce fatigue and prevent aging. The Germanic tribes began using honey to ferment mead and beers during medieval times. It continued to gain in popularity and became more widely available to ordinary people throughout the early 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Today, honey can be found in supermarkets and farmers markets around the country and around the world.
Uses for Honey
Honey’s healing properties have been put to the test in medical studies and have been proven effective for wound care due to its antibacterial properties. Unprocessed honey contains hydrogen peroxide and phenolic acids, which help kill various bacteria. A particular kind of honey, called manuka honey, is now being marketed for this purpose.
Honey can also be used as a cough suppressant. It has natural expectorant properties that help to break up mucous and relieve coughing. A number of studies have shown that buckwheat honey surpasses dextromethorphan, a component used in commercial cough syrups, in its effectiveness to relieve coughing; it can be particularly effective for calming night-time coughs.
Honey can also be used to relieve stuffiness and congestion from allergies triggered by pollen, by a process called immunotherapy. Just as a vaccine introduces an inactive/killed virus into the body to aid in immunity to the virus, honey contains many of the same spores that cause seasonal allergies. By introducing these spores in small amounts, allergy sufferers may find that they become more accustomed to their presence resulting in less severe allergic reactions. Many people find that just taking a small amount of local raw honey daily helps to keep their allergies in check.
Types of Honey
Most people are familiar with the different colors of honey, lighter or darker. Darker honey is thought to have more antioxidant properties. Overall there are over 300 different types of honey, although not all are readily available.
· Manuka honey – This is a thick, viscous honey that has been found to be particularly helpful in treating wounds.
· Clover honey – This type of honey has mild, slightly flowery flavor and is light in color.
· Bamboo honey – This type of honey comes from the Japanese knotwood plant, an invasive weed. It is a dark honey with a mild flavor.
· Wildflower honey – Derived from a variety of wildflowers which are blooming during the summer months. It’s a thicker, darker honey and the taste varies from year to year based on which flowers were in bloom.
· Buckwheat honey – Buckwheat honey has a pungent, molasses flavor and dark color.
· Goldenrod honey – Goldenrod honey may be light to medium in color and has rich, flavorful taste.
· Orange Blossom honey – This type of honey is made from the blossoms of orange trees and has light flavor with citrusy undertones.
· Tupelo honey – Tupelo honey is made from the tupelo tree flowers, which produce a light amber product with mild flavor.
Honey in Recipes
You can use honey in wide range of dishes, from salad dressings to main dishes or desserts. Honey is about twice as sweet as sugar, so you should adjust your recipe accordingly. Because honey has a higher percentage of water, you should reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by one-fifth. Experts advise cooks to reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit when baking with honey.
Medical experts warn never to give honey to a child under the age of one year. The botulinum toxin may be carried into the honey on particles of dust and can cause serious health effects on infants because they are not able to fight the botulism infection.
Diabetics should be aware that, although honey is less processed than refined sugar, it is still a sugar and can have dramatic and possibly detrimental effects on their blood sugar.
I always prefer homemade to pre-made, pre-packaged junk, but let’s be realistic: your kids are going to want candy, cookies, crackers, etc. Understandably so… I crave these things on occasion as well. While I do want snacks handy to grab and go, I cringe at the thought of my kids eating Cheetos and Ding Dongs; so I created a list of some alternative store-bought (or, in my case, online-bought) snacks for those times you either need something quick or just want a healthier alternative to the popular no-nutritional-value snacks (eh hem… Cheetos and Ding Dongs):
1. Clif Kid Z Bars. These organic bars are low-fat, made with whole grains, and contain 12 essential vitamins and minerals. They contain no hydrogenated oils, no high fructose corn syrup, no preservatives, no artificial flavors or colors. (these are available in most grocery stores including Publix, Target, and Walmart; most drugstores; and, if you’re like me and love buying everything online, Amazon)
2. Quinn Popcorn. Have you heard all of those warnings about the chemicals in microwave popcorn? This stuff contains NO diacetyl (commonly used for artificial butter flavor – read about its danger here), no preservatives, and no artificial ingredients. It contains GMO-free organic popcorn kernels; it’s made with expeller pressed oils (no hydrogeneated oils, no trans fat). Even the bag is cleaner, which contains no harmful PFOAs. If you prefer microwaving your popcorn over popping it on the stove-top yourself, this is a much cleaner version and comes in a variety of flavors (including Butter & Sea Salt, Parmesan & Rosemary, Hickory Smoked Cheddar, Vermont Maple & Sea Salt + more). (also available on Amazon)
3. Late July. This organic brand produces a variety of crackers and tortilla chips. They are USDA-certified-organic and contain no trans fats or hydrogenated oils. They also taste great and my boys love them! They’re a fantastic alternative to Tostitos and Cheez-its, in my opinion. (available at Whole Foods, Amazon)
4. Lucy’s Cookies. If you’re going to eat cookies, you may as well eliminate as much of the extra “junk” as possible. These cookies are kosher certified, vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free. Lucy’s cookies were created by a medical doctor whose child has severe food allergies so her cookies contain no peanuts, tree nuts, milk, or eggs and are baked in a carefully controlled facility in the US. (Amazon)
I’d like to add that the very BEST way to eliminate unwanted ingredients in your children’s food is to cook and bake from scratch. This list is just meant to help out on those busier days when you don’t have much time to spend in the kitchen! The life of a working mother…
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” -Anaïs Nin
Inner strength is difficult to for me to define because it means so many things to me. I think that building inner strength is a life-long journey, as we will continually encounter ups and downs throughout our lives. I see inner strength shine through in a person’s ability to be honest with others and themselves, and to rise above bad situations. Inner strength gives us the capacity to defend and stand by our values, to persevere and learn from our experiences, and to never stop improving. I believe that inner strength is not just apparent in troubling circumstances themselves, but also how we come out of those experiences – do you come out bitter and bruised, or do you see it as an obstacle conquered… becoming a better version of yourself? Do you learn from your experiences? Do you find the positive in your situations, even if it’s just that you became stronger?
Quotes on Inner Strength and Courage:
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” -Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” – Edward Abbey
“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” -Babe Ruth
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.” -Marie Curie
“Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.” – Robert Kiyosaki
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’” – Mary Anne Radmacher
“Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.” -Rumi
“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” -Maya Angelou
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” -Albert Camus
“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” -Mahatma Gandhi
“I think that we are like stars. Something happens to burst us open; but when we burst open and think we are dying; we’re actually turning into a supernova. And then when we look at ourselves again, we see that we’re suddenly more beautiful than we ever were before!” -C. JoyBell C.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” -Nelson Mandela
And my very favorite:
“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.” – Ayn Rand
Hooping was one of my favorite exercises after my pregnancies. Not only is hooping an enjoyable and fun exercise, but it also has many amazing health benefits:
1. BURN FAT AND TONE MUSCLE: Hooping can be a very effective cardio workout that will burn calories quickly (up to 400-600 calories per hour). Because it is such a fun activity, relative to an ordinary treadmill or elliptical workout, it doesn’t feel like you’re doing much work – but you are! Hooping actually incorporates your abdominal muscles as well as your glutes, thighs, and lower back. It can even tone your arms and shoulders if you decide to step up your routine with arm/hand hooping. Studies have also shown that hooping is an effective way to burn visceral fat (the worst kind!) which is deep within the abdominal cavity. Visceral fat is also linked to metabolic disturbances and shows an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and many other dangerous health conditions.
2. INCREASED FLEXIBILITY AND COORDINATION: The rhythmic, oscillatory nature of hooping helps mobilize your joints, especially in your spine. The is especially beneficial because it helps realign your spine and increase blood flow to that region (this is particularly soothing for those who sit at a desk all day!). The overall result is improved flexibility of the spine and released tension in the lower back. Regular practice will give you increased vitality and can even help prevent backaches and injury. You will experience increased coordination as well because hooping requires a level of timing, rhythm, and a sense of center – this will also build with practice as you start to feel more and more “natural” with your hoop.
3. IMPROVED MOOD AND CONCENTRATION: Hula hooping is fun and, because it’s also exercise, causes a healthy release of feel-good endorphins. This is a great way to improve your mood in the short-term (instant gratification), but hooping can also liven your state of mind in the long-term as well. Hooping, over time, will help you develop a heightened sense of body awareness and see yourself in a more positive light. Because hooping will increase your fitness and improve your body shape, you will naturally feel happier and more confident. Hooping does require concentration and practice, and you may find that this focus will carry over into other areas of your life as well.
If you’re serious about hooping, I definitely recommend using a large weighted hoop (mine is 42″ and 2 lbs) because they provide more resistance and shape your body more quickly – they are also much easier to keep around your waist. Small light-weight child hoops do not work well for adults. The weighted hoop will most likely cause some bruising at first, but once your body is used to hooping this will no longer occur (I only bruised my first two times). Once you feel you’ve mastered waist-hooping, you can try incorporating your arms as well for some extra fun and calorie-burn!
While hooping can be great for anyone, I truly think it’s a perfect exercise for postpartum mothers. It’s a low-impact aerobic exercise which helps strengthen the core – a common concern for many new mothers. It’s a great way to slowly ease back into working out regularly. If you’re a new mother, please make sure you get the green light from your doctor to exercise before you begin. I actually made this mistake after my second baby because I was so anxious to get moving again, and trust me even if you feel you’re okay to do it, you may not be.
Did I mention that hooping is a great excuse to soak up some sunshine too? GO OUTDOORS WITH IT – just find some space, turn on your favorite music, and give it a try! You’ll notice beautiful changes in your mind and body in no time.