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Parenting

In Lifestyle, Parenting on
June 9, 2019

The Phrase No Parent Wants to Hear – “Mom I’m in the Talent Show!”

It’s the words no parent wants to hear.

“Mom I am in the talent show!”

I mean I guess if you have a child prodigy that can sing and dance like Michael Jackson or play the piano like Beethoven or crush through wood planks like Chuck Norris – awesome. The talent show is for your child. But these words scared me. My kid isn’t talented.

And before you get all Sesame Street on me telling me every child has their own talents blah blah blah -hear me out. I know my kid is talented just not in a “I will be the next America’s Got Talent star” kind of way. And I remember how mean kids can be.

And then he drops this bomb on us…

It’s an original song. About Bulbasaur the least appreciated Pokemon.

See the source image

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When Pets Aren’t Just Pets, They’re Family

In the summer of 2000, my boyfriend at the time, now my husband and I were living together and I convinced him (begrudgingly) to get a puppy. I had been on the Humane Societies website and saw that they had four American Eskimo puppies. I fell absolutely in love with a photo of one, then named Indy. I went to meet him all by myself. He was the runt of the litter. All ears and we named him Buddy.

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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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10 Questions with Dr. Stephanie Liu

Each month, we play 10 questions with one of the Alberta’s most interesting mamas. This month we hear from Dr. Stephanie Liu who completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Calgary and subsequently completed a Masters of Science in Clinical Nutrition at Columbia University in New York City. Her medical school and residency in Family Medicine were completed at the University of Alberta. Currently, she practices community family medicine and acute care at the University of Alberta Hospital.

Five months ago, she started Lifeofdrmom.com, a website providing families with medically credible parenting and health advice. Dr. Liu is wife to Graeme, an ENT surgeon and mommy to Madi, her sweet and spunky toddler.

1. What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job at the University of Alberta Hospital?

I practice inpatient family medicine at the University of Alberta Hospital and have a community family medicine practice in south west Edmonton. I love both inpatient and community medicine and find them both very rewarding for different reasons. In my  community family practice, I am fortunate to develop a long term relationship with my patients over months and years. The physician-patient relationship is so important to ensure that patients can meet their long term health related goals. In inpatient family medicine, it is extremely rewarding to help a patient return home to their friends and family after a critical illness.  In both settings, I work with an amazing interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals

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In Parenting on
May 6, 2019

When The Kids Get Sick

Some might not put the disgusting childhood illness known as hand foot and mouth disease and mini vacation in the same sentence, but here I am. We live somewhere in between being minimalist and slow living, yet a busy season of life really picked up this past year and I feel like from the beginning of school to now has gone by in a flash. We are busier than we have been over the past year and trying to take things slow has gotten so much harder, not just with the extra activities, but feeling the outside “do it all” pressure from the outside world creeping in as well. 

I do often get caught up in the mundaneness of the stay at home mom life. The kids play with the same toys each day, the schedule doesn’t vary too much except for adding random outings here and there in between appointments and preschool, and I find myself checking my Facebook News feed to have nothing change every hour (or 5 times an hour) which is more often than I’d like. 

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In Parenting, Random Thoughts on
April 8, 2019

The Helicopter Vortex

A few weeks ago my husband asked if I was going to arrange for our six year old daughter to play with her friend, Ava. It had been awhile since their last playdate. I sighed and responded that it was on my list of things to do, but I was kind of hesitating. When he asked why, I had a hard time putting it in to words. It wasn’t that I don’t love Ava, she is a great kid, and it isn’t that I don’t enjoy her mother, because she is actually a really good friend of mine. It came down to the fact that her mother is a helicopter parent and the sheer act of having a playdate with her meant that I was going to have to enter the Helicopter Vortex. I was going to have to over-parent my daughter.

Have you ever felt this before? Or ever been in a situation where you find yourself altering your parenting style to match more closely to whomever you are with? I call this the Helicopter Vortex and it is exhausting and confusing and guilt-inducing all at once. To be fair,  I have found that it doesn’t just swing one way either. I have also fallen into a few interesting Free-range Fiascos too.

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In Lifestyle, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
April 5, 2019

5 Shows on Netflix You Won’t Feel Bad Letting Your Children Watch

The terrible “mom guilt” sets in when we let our children watch TV. There’s that “don’t use TV as a babysitter” concept that we hear all over the place. While the moment to limit screen time is definitely for the best interest of our children some TV time doesn’t have to be all bad.  

I’m one of those moms that hugely controls what her children watch. Although both my children (even my 3 year old) knows how to navigate Netlflix. Although Netflix has a HUGE selection of all sorts of shows and movies for children to watch, I have carefully chosen shows for my children to watch. Shows they love that also have some educational value to them. I’m an elementary school teacher. Learning all day, every day is just in my blood.

To make your life easier, I wanted to share a list of 5 shows your children can watch without you having to worry or feel any sort of mom guilt.

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In Lifestyle, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
April 1, 2019

EFFICIENCY OBSESSED MOM

I have a confession. I am obsessed with doing everything efficiently and fast.

Prior to becoming a mom, I thought I had a pretty good handle on things. I felt like I was making good use of my time and getting lots done in the 24 hours I had. Often I would get asked how I have time to get so many things done. I always answer, I just find the time to do it.

After becoming a mom, I felt like I had less than 24 hours each day (which I knew was untrue) to get everything done and to keep a small human being living. I felt like I had a million of things to do in a short amount of time and things were only being partially done due to interruptions and starting tasks after my daughter went to bed. Obviously, this wasn’t sustainable and I needed to make some adjustments. Here are some adjustments I made:

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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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