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Health

5 Strategies to Reduce the Stress of Motherhood

By Victoria Smith

Stress is on the rise, particularly with women. But, I don’t need to tell you that, do I? Intuitively, we feel overwhelmed. From acting as a perpetual chauffeur to coordinating play dates, or from healthy meal planning to juggling sick days and attempting to work from home, motherhood is stressful. Here’s the deal, though, it can be less stressful when you have the right tools, strategies and mindset in place.

Before we get into five strategies that you can implement immediately, we need to start with mindset. If you think your day is going to be stressful, it will, because that’s how you’ve primed your brain. You’ve given it the signal to find evidence of stress wherever you look. To counter this, what I want you to do is start every day by setting an intention. Believe me, I know that if you wake with the kids, it can be hard to find a moment for that, so a fall back can be to write out your intention and set it next to your alarm clock. What should that intention be? I put it back to you – how would you like your day to go? For example, my daily intention is to show up as an engaged parent, wife and friend, and a Rockstar entrepreneur. Yours could be to a search for gratitude. Or to be mindful. The intention is personal to your needs and desires, but set one and start each day reminding yourself of it. Only then will the following strategies take real effect.

1. Stop comparing yourself to other moms

It is so easy to get into a shame-spiral of how you are performing as a mother when your friends or Insta-community are throwing Pinterest-perfect parties for a two year-old. Or maybe you pick
up your child from daycare only to find out that they’ve bitten another child – of course it would be the most well-behaved child of the seemingly put together momma. We are all on our own  motherhood journeys. We all have our own past, our own challenges, and our own beliefs to grapple with. Just because you do things differently doesn’t mean you’re doing them worse. First step if you find yourself in this comparison black hole? Take a social media break. If the comparison is coming from in-person interactions, before each encounter remind yourself that you are doing the best with what you have, and your kids are well-loved. Because at the end of the day, your child won’t care about the perfect party or baked goods or that they were potty trained a year before all the other kids. They’ll remember time spent one-on-one with you, the cuddles and bedtime stories. Presence and love matter most.

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In Health, Lifestyle, Uncategorized on
May 13, 2019

Vision Health: What You NEED to Know!

Eye health has always been a huge priority in my family. My mom, as a young adult, was diagnosed with an eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. Over the last 20 some years her vision has progressively declined and she is now legally blind. There is no cure for this, but thankfully clinical trials are ongoing. Advances and new discoveries over the years in all areas of eye health have made early detection of serious eye diseases possible. Regular eye exams by a licensed Optometrist are essential for everyone, regardless of family history.

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I got it from my Mama- My Experience with 23 and Me

dna testing

Last Black Friday Amazon had a door crasher deal on genetic kits from 23 and Me. My husband and I thought it would be fun to do, so we ordered the kits. They arrived in record time in small little reusable boxes. November and December came and went and the kits sat on the kitchen island, getting shuffled around whenever we tidied up. I’m not sure why it took so long for us to actually send our DNA in. Maybe we were subconsciously sabotaging it, afraid for what might show up in the results. Or, maybe we were just busy. Whatever the case, they sat around for about 6 months before we finally got around to it.

The Process

The 23 and Me kit is really simple. You spit in a tube that is provided with the kit, register your kit number online, seal up the spit in the returnable box and drop it in the mail. We procrastinated on something that literally took 5 minutes. Once the lab received our samples we both were sent an email making us aware that they were beginning to process our samples. Throughout the process we were kept up to date via email and our individual and online accounts.

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In Health, Parenting, Random Thoughts, Working Mama on
April 27, 2019

Get Outside and Walk

Walk anyone?

We recently shared a blog about Edmonton’s River Valley being the best running spot in Canada.

Now, maybe you don’t run but what about a walk?

I’ve been making a habit of going for a walk with a friend every weekend I can. Alberta is an hiking, walking, running playground. We’ve even got some suggestions for you here.

Here’s why I head outside – with a friend!

  • Ummm nature is beautiful.
  • Sunshine and fresh air are good for you!
  • Exercise! Walking will lower your risk of heart disease and stroke – Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada  
  • I sleep better – probably both the fresh air and the exercise!
  • It’s FREE….well, we do usually buy a cup of joe to take with us.
  • It is good for my emotional well being. We spend the whole time talking, venting, catching up – it feels like a form of therapy.

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Beyond Traditional Therapies For One And All

Beyond Traditional Therapies For One And All

Being an athlete myself for most of my life, loving science and math for as long as I can remember, and growing up in a family that did whatever it takes no matter what has definitely contributed to my strong advocacy for Breanna’s treatments and how I view her future. Luckily I married a man who is on the same page as me. From our experience with receiving Breanna’s diagnosis, there isn’t someone who takes you on to the next step. It’s like you and your child are held over the edge of a deep body of water and both dropped in at the same time. You’re left to save yourself and your child without extra measures while trying to get to safety. I feel that my past and passion for learning has at least partially helped set us up for success. It also helps when you meet people along the way who are similar in tenacity and it makes research time far more efficient!

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In Health, Lifestyle, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
March 29, 2019

Parenting in a Panic

I’m going to be straight up honest with you.

I had a panic attack this morning waking up to my children. My youngest miracle is three and hates sleep. I often say he will grow up into a fine entrepreneur since he has no concept of time. I can count on him being in my room between 2 and 5 a.m. every day. When he comes in, so does his older brother, who has a radar go off every time he senses his brother is getting iPad time he isn’t.

When this happens they are like two beta fish in a tank fighting over a kernel of food. These are the days I hold a deep disdain for the high and mighty “we don’t do a lot of iPad time” horse I seem to ride on.

This morning at 4 a.m. I woke up to my youngest and the first thing I felt was a stabbing pain in my chest. I could feel the attack starting. I set him up with an iPad and tried to settle myself down. Convincing myself it was only because I was disturbed in the middle of a sleep that my body had panicked.

An hour later both children are screaming and fighting. One wants oatmeal, one wants pancakes, no wait cereal, no wait toast. But it won’t be done fast enough so can I make them a snack before I make them breakfast? Also:

HE…HAS…MY….TOOOOOYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

My one son runs upstairs with the other toy, the chase begins.

I haven’t gone to the washroom yet and the list begins in my head. It’s the list I know I’ll forget, the list of everything important that needs to get done today. It’s not the list that gets me, it’s the fact that I know after 32 years of life, that this is the “didn’t do” list, not the “to do list.”

E-mail dings. I have a bride interested in my wedding packages but how much would it be to travel to B.C and would that be something I am up for?

OMG what an amazing opportunity, I’ll just message her back rea….

MOMMMMYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.

My kid lets out the 911 scream.

Did he fall from the bunk? Is he bleeding from the head? Did he find one of our animals deceased? I’m terrified, my chest stabs in pain. He can’t find his tiger, not just any tiger, his favorite one.

5 deep breathes.

I get a message “Did you register Maverick in Kindergarten?” My heart pangs again.

Oh right. My baby is going to Kindergarten in two weeks and every time I try to think about it, tears well up in my eyes. I message my best friend as I cry, looking for some solace.

My 3-year-old escapes out the front door. I had a chain lock on it but they busted it last week. The three-year-old lets all the animals out just as the neighbours are having cement poured.

Thinking a walk and some fresh air will cure this anxiety and chest pain, I manage to get everyone dressed and out the door.

The coffee shop is packed and my claustrophobia kicks in. I start taking deep breaths but each breath is more painful than the last.

Am I having a heart attack? Maybe this isn’t anxiety. Maybe this is the real deal.

People with anxiety are known not only for having their medical issues dismissed to anxiety, but also dismiss it themselves. Often times I will delay going into the doctor for weeks. There was a time in my life I almost died from a virus thinking I had the flu and anxiety. Another time a nurse didn’t believe me that I was in active labour and said she just thought it was my “anxiety” and didn’t request the epidural.

I purchase some drinks and a coffee, a medicinal coffee in my mind, and leave as quickly as I can.

As I anxiously watch my kids play balancing act and “how high can I jump?” in the park, I start wondering whether I’m honestly having a heart attack and contemplate calling an ambulance. I’ll just google this symp….

My son gets stung by a wasp on his hand, for the second time in as many days.

He is screaming, and I’m worried. I breathe in and it hurts. I pick him up and the weight of him exasperates the pain. I have to put him down, it hurts too much. We abandon our drinks, including my freshly purchased coffee.

I carry him all the way home, all 42 pounds of him as I worry and struggle to breathe. We get home and my chest hurts badly.

I pull out the iPad, maybe I can kick this panic attack with a quick 10-minute meditation.

The kids are fighting, and they’re hungry, and they want to play outside, and can my oldest make his own cereal, can my youngest *insert jibber jabber request*. Also, MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY.

My chest aches.

Five things I’m grateful for

Five deep breaths

Pain

Tears

Mommy…

Mommy…

Mommy.

Is the day over yet?

It’s 11 a.m.

This is the life of a Mom with generalized anxiety disorder. What does this mean? It means I am worried about everything, and I always have been. I remember being a child and constantly being told I needed to calm down, not worry, learn to soothe. I had no idea why everyone else wasn’t in a constant state of panic and I was. I remember looking at my Mother after another failed doctors appointment. She was telling me “It’s your anxiety. You need to calm down and stop worrying” and with every bit of sincerity asked “How? How do I do this? Please teach me.”

I have two children now who I love more than anything and a business I have foraged from making my own path to my wildest dreams. I need my own business because my anxiety can make working a 9-5 job detrimental to my health. I carry the weight of mistakes so harshly that I have been known to lose my hair, suffer from chronic vomiting, and panic attacks. Most days, my over thinking will have me at the top of my class in thoughts per minute and common sense. I can analyze situations like nobody’s business and I’m usually two steps ahead of the game.

However, some days I can not see the positives in this diagnoses, and it hits me how real it actually is. The actual physical pain is very similar to when I had pneumonia. It feels like I’ve pulled all the muscles in my chest. I am exhausted. It is now dinner time as I write this, but it might as well be the middle of the night. I have been in flight and fight mode so long I can no longer judge whether situations are safe or unsafe and I am saturated with fear and panic after 12 hours of this. Thoughts are unfiltered and emotionless. I’m just so tired.

As a Mom with anxiety, I could write several books on what life is like for me that is different from others. I remember asking a good friend “How do you plan a birthday party? Aren’t you scared you’re going to forget someone and hurt their feelings?” “No,” was all she replied. Life for any parent is anxious and overwhelming but for someone who has any sort of anxiety disorder, some days can actually feel like parenting is killing you.

If you are a Mom dealing with anxiety I want you to know you are not alone. It can seem like everyone around you is not seeing the same flaming to the ground world you are, and I understand this feeling.

If your today was exactly like mine, just know that the best thing is, tomorrow is a new day and this feeling will pass.

Tomorrow your anxiety may do great things for you!

1. Keep you from getting scammed. Someone with anxiety can see the loopholes in a scammer almost instantly.

2. Be great conversationalists. We are quick thinkers!

3. Be an amazing detective! Whether on the hunt for the perfect car or sleuthing for your bestie, someone with anxiety can deduce several facts as quick as a computer as well as find creative ways to research what they need.

4. Make you grateful. Someone with anxiety knows the worst outcome of every situation, and often times it is us you will find breathing out the most sighs of relief. Every day is a good day when the fear of doom doesn’t actuate, am I right?

5. Make you an amazing risk taker! When your brain has somehow fear mongered you into thinking the outside is a death trap, even walking outside can feel like climbing a mountain. Someone with anxiety is always overcoming a fear one way or another. Especially parents! Every single time we “allow” our kids out of our sight, we are overcoming our greatest fears, so bravo and encore!

6. Make you quick on your feet. Maybe you do something for work that requires you to be a quick decision maker, or maybe you have two active preschoolers as I do. Either way, anxiety is going to give you heightened reaction time! I can not tell you how many times I’ve heard “Wow, great catch!” or “Whoa, save of the day!”

Try to remember while you’re swirling in the tornado that the storm is temporary.

If you can’t see the light than your only job is to hold on. Hold on to whatever you can and breathe as much as you can. The kids will sleep eventually. If it doesn’t get better, talk to someone. Ask for help. Maybe someone who knows what you’re going through, or a professional. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice things in your budget for your time. You are just as important and can not pour from an empty cup. Also, call a spade a spade. If you are having a panic attack, say it out loud. You wouldn’t believe the freedom of just saying it. And remember, it isn’t all bad.

You’re going to be great. Maybe not today but you will be, and remember, you are not alone.

Kayleigh is a professional photographer, writer, boy mom, and entrepreneur. You can see more of Kayleigh’s work at www.16seasons.ca on Facebook  or on Instagram

Twirling Red Dress Photo: www.everlastphotography.ca

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Worry Dolls – What Are They and Why Do You Need To Get Some Right Now?

Lately we’ve been talking about worrying in our house. About how it’s ok to feel worried and how everyone worries about different things but that doesn’t mean that it’s less important.

My one son just tried out for a sports team for the first time and was anxious.

My other son has weekly spelling tests at school that he wants to do well on. And by well he means he wants 100% EVERY time so he works hard at it but he worries.

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In Health, Lifestyle, Parenting on
January 28, 2019

6 Meal Planning Hacks for People Who Hate Meal Planning

So the whole meal planning deal is just not something that I am not especially good at or enjoy. My reasons are: I like cooking on the fly and being adaptable, sometimes it’s just not a good day for soup, or salad, or tacos (wait, it’s always a good day for tacos), I can be really cheap, and I can also be really lazy or busy so some days we just eat Tim Horton’s Chili or Lipton Noodle Soup. In spite of those reasons, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve which make me feel proud – they are healthy, save money, save time, and prevent waste but don’t require me to be overly organized or stick to plans.

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In Health, Lifestyle, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
January 27, 2019

How I’m Coping with Grief and Injustice

The past year and a half since my 5-month-old nephew was killed when his house was set on fire has been the most difficult I’ve experienced.

Before this, I’d only grieved loved ones who had died from natural causes. The journey of grief is long and difficult. Time helps a bit, of course, but you never know what will trigger a memory, and that pang of emptiness springs up again.

But with Hunter’s death, there’s the whole other side. The criminal injustice side. When 2 individuals were arrested shortly after the fire, there was a sense of relief. Something would be done. Then, charges were dropped. More charges were dropped. Then we were told that the remaining charges against this one individual would likely result in very little jail time, and a few years of probation. The only voice we had was through our Victim Impact Statements, which we waited to read in court. 3 times, the court hearing was postponed from the original date set in July until we finally read them in court in December. This sentencing hearing did not result in a sentence as the judge wanted more time to deliberate, so the outcome wasn’t decided upon until a few days ago.

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In Edmonton, Health, Style, Working Mama on
January 26, 2019

SkirtsAfire Festival is coming to YEG!

SkirtsAfire Festival in Edmonton is self-described as “diverse and daring”. When you visit the festival be prepared to be immersed in powerful, beautiful, engaging performances, exhibits and workshops in Theatre, Poetry, Spoken Word, Design, Art, Dance, Cabaret, Music, Comedy, Yoga, and more.

We have taken in their 2017 & 2018 MainStage Productions. In 2018, The Romeo Initiative, written by Trina Davies was half romantic comedy, half spy thriller, and all entertainment.

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