Work-family-life balance: myth or reality?

As a parent, I often wonder if work-family-life balance exists.  It’s no joke when I say I feel like I am a chicken running around without a head.  From the start of my day to the end, I don’t stop.  Ever.   Lately my days have been commencing at about 5:30 am and I am lucky to be in bed at 11:00 pm the earliest. My days typically consist of me preparing the kids’ outfits and bags before I head out to work, planning their schedules around mine and trying to stay on top of chores and meals. All while working a full-time job…and have some sort of relationship with my spouse (I didn’t forget about you!)

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I often wonder how other parents do it.  How do they manage to get their kids to their activities on time? When do they have time to fit in a workout between kids and work?  Do they get any sleep?  Do they clean their house or do they hire someone to do it?  Do they have any help? I find myself exhausted on most days. Between the kids waking up in the middle of the night, trying to get them to sleep on time, all while trying to be a good employee at work, I’ve been finding it difficult. Lately I’ve been having a hard time trying to manage it all. It got to a point where I even doubted that balance actually existed.

Until one day it hit me.

I had to change my expectations.

You read that correctly. Change my expectations. Not lower them.

I had to stop for a moment and reevaluate what my goals and priorities were. That started by changing my mindset on life. I had to accept that my life is different now than before kids and that little things like going to the gym for an hour every day was not realistic. I accepted I won’t have my 20-something year old body anymore. I accepted that my house and car won’t be in pristine condition.

I had to create what was realistic for my life in this very moment, which is motherhood.

I found that making little modifications to my life style helped immensely, namely diet and sleep. I realized that between work and my kids, it’s not possible for me to get to the gym every single day, so there are other ways to stay active, like take the kids out for a walk or play with them outside. My husband and I alternate nights on which we go to the gym and it works for us. I also made some modifications to my diet that I found helped a lot.

Another aspect to achieving balance is prioritizing what is important and what can wait. Picking up the toys in the basement can wait (kids will throw it again tomorrow anyways). Putting the laundry away tonight can wait for tomorrow (I am better off reading a book to myself or getting an extra hour of sleep). We created a cleaning schedule at home so for instance, the kitchen and family room is tidied up every night and the washrooms are cleaned weekly. I realized that making things that are valuable for my time such as going for walks with the kids or having a date night with my spouse also helps me attain a sense of balance. Some of my favourite things to do are taking the kids to the park or a local Chapters, or unwinding over a glass of wine after a busy week with my husband, or having a girls’ night out. The point is, making time for things that make you happy should be number one priority. Not picking up those toys for the one millionth time.

Some days are trying and yes that will always be there. But I’m slowly letting go this idea of “perfect” motherhood, body, household and so on. Overall, I really do believe that achieving work-family-life balance is possible, you just have to make it happen.

 

 

Memories of Montreal

It feels like yesterday I was getting ready and packing for my first trip in 4 years….alone. Yes, you read this correctly.  Alone.  Alone meaning  sans husband, sans kids.  I went to Montreal for my best friend’s bachelorette.  Looking back, the timing couldn’t have been better as we were in the midst of moving and I desperately just needed a break from the demands of being wife, employee, mother, planner, referee, cook, nurse, janitor, artist and so on.

I remember the excitement of going to the airport.  Yes, the airport.  For the first time in years, I got to sit and enjoy a cappuccino uninterrupted and to make it even sweeter it was free (I flew out of Billy Bishop airport).  I felt like I was 25 again and jet setting as I once used to.  It was exciting yet at the same time I couldn’t help but feel so guilty.  Was it wrong to feel solace knowing I wouldn’t have someone crying or whining towards me? I knew my husband would have a hard time with the kids, especially my oldest who is quite spirited.  But, I also told myself, he can survive.  If I do everyday, so can he for one weekend.

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This particular weekend was absolutely beautiful.  It was Canada Day weekend, World Cup excitement was in the air and I was going to be with my best friends.  I remember arriving to our air b&b situated in the trendy Plateau area of Montreal.  Our apartment felt quite Parisian with a bit of Montreal flair.   We had a lovely balcony that overlooked the street.  Everyone was excited to party but I was mostly excited to sleep uninterrupted!

Going out, I had mixed feelings,  I felt as if I could go out like nothing has changed from before.  But at the same time, I felt a little out of place, as if everything about me was screaming “mom.”  Over the course of the weekend,  I found that I just kept talking about my kids, over and over again and that I missed them too much.  I had to mentally remind myself that this was my break from everything and to just relax and let loose.  But it was hard to not feel that way.  On the other token, I got to do something that I haven’t done in years and that was having some serious girl time:  shopping and dining out!  I will proudly admit that I did have that mimosa for breakfast along with my omelette, and it was pretty damn good.

My highlight that weekend was of course watching the Croatia versus Russia game.  We walked around the streets of Montreal with our Croatian jerseys on.  The six of us went into a pub, sat and cheered our Vatreni on over some sparkling wine.  Croatia dominated the game and won in overtime.  People from all over came up to us, cheered with us and even gave us hugs and congratulated us for our win.  Montrealers were definitely feeling World Cup fever and relished that moment with us.

Old Montreal is my favourite part of the city and we couldn’t have ended the weekend on a better note than enjoying brunch at Terrasse Nelligan, overlooking the St. Lawrence River.  For a moment in time, I felt like I was somewhere in Europe again, the sun shining, while we indulged in crepes and omelettes. For the first time in a while, I felt more like me.  At this moment, I came to the realization that I really did need this weekend and that my husband needed this time to be alone with the boys.  Towards the end, I was able to let go any sense of “guilt” for not being there or for being “selfish” to having two days of my own.  In motherhood, sometimes we get lost on striving to be the perfect mom, trying to be perfect for our kids and our spouses and so on.  Its kind of like being lost in translation.

Although I went to celebrate my best friend’s bachelorette, this weekend gave me the greatest gift of all:  it gave me an opportunity to feel more like the old Natalie again….but not the old one, rather just a small reminder of the Natalie that was always there.

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Our view of the St. Lawrence River…photo cred moi

Perhaps its time to plan another girls weekend getaway….

Snow days and busy, busy bumblebees (aka toddlers and preschoolers)

The past few weeks we’ve had some wild weather here in Southwestern Ontario and for the first time in years, local school boards have cancelled school due to inclement weather conditions. The weather has been so bad that everything from government offices to your local coffee shop have been closed. I personally don’t remember there being this many snow days when I was a kid, but I’m glad that the boards did declare today a snow day because safety comes first.

It’s been nice having that extra day off with the kids. Getting an extra hour of sleep, watching some movies and staying in pj’s until noon is awesome. That’s all great and dandy, but if your kids are like mine, they get bored, easily.

I’ve learned with time that kids at the toddler and kindergarten age need structure. They thrive on it. They also want your attention and want to interact with you and their peers. Over time I’ve learned that simple activities can intrigue even the youngest of minds. I thought I’d share with you some of my kids’ favourite snow-day activities.

A little disclaimer: I’m not a parenting expert or an educator. I’m just a mom who is speaking from her own experience on what works with her kids. Keep in mind too that it’s never perfect and sometimes they don’t want to participate in the activity, but the point is to give them the opportunity and try.

1. Create in the kitchen: I started this with my oldest when he was about 3 years old as I noticed he was always following me in the kitchen. It’s usually something simple, like sprinkle cheese on a pizza or mixing pancake batter. Today they helped me prepare soup by placing all the ingredients in the pot. It’s a simple activity which is easy, a little messy and lots of fun.

2. Building: my kids love Mega Blocks, train tracks, Lego Duplo and Magformers. For instance, I’ll bring out a bin of Lego Duplo and place it on the coffee table and see what they do with it. Even if they just play for 5 or 10 minutes building things, then that’s great! This too gets messy but the idea is to present them with something and see if they roll with it! Today my boys made a farm with stables until my youngest started to chuck the Lego.

3. Worksheets, colouring books, Boogie Boards: yes! I’m old school and love worksheets. My oldest is in jk and is starting to learn how to write and enjoys the worksheets with traceable letters. You can find them at Costco in the books section or online via Pinterest. Colouring books are great too and inexpensive. Boogie Boards are also a great alternative to traditional paper and crayon because they are erasable and clean (say goodbye crayon marks!)

4. Reading: this one is pretty self-explanatory, but reading is so important for child development. Research has shown that reading to children early on promotes imagination, establishes concentration, and exposes children to literacy and language. For me, it’s a great time to bond with my kids. I was an avid reader growing up and it’s my hope that my kids enjoy reading too. Experts recommend that parents read to kindergarten age children for at least 20 minutes a day. What we’ve done is included it in their bedtime routine. My kids are really into Dr. Seuss at the moment so we went through “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” a few times today. The point is, pick up a book and read.

5. Flash cards: this one is pretty self-explanatory but flash cards are a great way to engage with kids and teach them how to count, how to recite their ABC’s and recognize colours and words. My boys also enjoy Brainquest, which is a quiz-type or flash card. Again, even if you get 5 or 10 minutes out of it, it’s great!

6. Last but not least- play in the snow! If it’s not too cold and it’s safe to play outside, take the opportunity to build a snowman or make some snow angels with your kids and create winter memories for years to come. Following that, hot chocolate is in order!

I hope these are things you will consider to do with your little ones for the next snow day.

New Year, same old you….but improved

My take on resolutions and what I am doing differently…for once

As soon as that bell drops, you hear talk of new year’s resolutions. Some view the new year as an opportunity to make change for something- be it personal, physical or financial. For others its a time to set a goal (or goals) to further better themselves.

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I’ve often found myself thinking that resolutions are not achievable because we never follow through with them. We always hear “this will be my year to lose weight” or “I want to start a new job” but those extra few pounds end up hanging on or we are still sitting at our old desks.

How do I know this? Well, way back when, I too used to make resolutions. Losing weight was always a big one on my list, but after a few weeks into making my resolution, I would go back into my old ways. Eventually, I would give up and lose sight of my goal. I became cynical and vowed never to make a resolution again. I found them to be useless as I never stuck with them.

The past few months I spent a lot of time soul searching about what’s important to me and what truly matters in life. I believe that in today’s society we are exposed to too much vanity and consumerism that it made me question what I think is real and what is truly valuable. It then dawned upon me – instead of making a resolution – why not make a commitment to better myself?

Some commitments I made to better myself for 2019 are:

1. To spend less time on the phone: we don’t realize how much time we waste on our phones. Don’t get me wrong, I love browsing through friends pictures on Instagram or looking up recipes on Pinterest, but we really need to put our phones down and spend more time talking to one another and being sociable. It’s also a huge distraction. At home, we have already implemented a rule to keep our phones to the side unless we need to make or take a phone call. As we’ve become more self-conscious of how much screen time we expose ourselves and our children, we forget what real conversations are like. We end up spending way too much time comparing ourselves to others, because everything on social media is real, right? The point is to develop a healthy balance of screen time versus me/family/friend time.

2. To stop being so self-critical of myself: it’s true. We are our own toughest critics. I often tell others to not be so hard on themselves yet I am the hardest towards myself. I am trying to accept me for me and to accept that not everything will be picture perfect. I’m trying to tell myself that I am doing a good job trying to keep a good balance of everything.  I will admit, achieving this notion of self-acceptance will be very challenging and please know that I am “working on it.”

3. To take the focus away on appearance and move it towards health: it’s not about the number on the scale (or dress size for that matter,) its about how you feel. My goal this year is to stay healthy and make the time for myself.  This goal is more realistic as opposed to the “I am going to lose 10 lbs this year” one.  Whether it’s running around outside with the kids, or going to spin class, the point is to take some time every day for physical activity.  Preventative health is so important for both mental and physical health so why not start now?  I love the feeling after a good workout, it makes me feel well-rounded and balanced.   Also, I am trying to be more aware of what I’m consuming. Generally speaking, I do eat healthy, but I do splurge now and then (ummm donuts) and I have to remind myself that it’s okay to do so, but, as they say, everything in moderation.

4.  To be more thankful:  we so often take for granted what we already have and we get so wound up in day-to-day life that we forget what really counts.  I am making a commitment this year to be thankful everyday for what I already have.  From the roof over my head, to those smiles that look at me everyday, I am so grateful.  I think it’s so important to step back and take a moment to reflect on the things that actually count.

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Walking through a vineyard at Seavey Vinyards (Napa Valley, 2018)

These are my commitments to myself for this year. What are yours?

Weathering the storm: my top picks for winter 2018-19

Weather got you down? Not enough sunshine to help you get through this winter? Well here are my top picks in skin care and cosmetics to help you brace winter 2018-19!

Burt’s Bees Wax Almond & Milk Handcream

Hands down, this is by far the most amazing hand cream I have ever tried. I get really dry and cracked hands during winter and this product is a life saver. Really, a little bit goes a long way with this one. It has a very hard texture, almost wax-like, but once you apply it to your hands it melts like butter, seriously. It’s very moisturizing even on the coldest of days. Retails for about $13.00 CDN.

Kosmea Australia Certified Organic Rosehip Oil

Someone once told me try rose hip oil as an alternative to expensive serums. Rosehip oil is meant to stop the signs of early aging, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and scars and help reduce sun damage. Within days of starting this product, I noticed a huge difference in my skin- it looks brighter and more vibrant. Even some of my acne scars started to fade. I love this specific formula made by Kosmea for its pleasant smell as opposed to other rose hip oil products that have a stronger smell. This product goes for about $14.90 CDN for a 10 ml bottle.

Revlon Kiss Balm/Beauty Treats Sugar Lip Scrub

This duo is a must to battle chapped lips during winter. I get super chappy lips to the point I need to use a scrub to get rid of all the dead skin cells. Look no further than to the Sugar Lip Scrub, available at Ardene. After I scrub my lips, I lather Revlon’s Kiss Balm with coconut oil. It acts as a nice barrier between myself and the cold. It also has 20 SPF so it’s great for summer time too. Plus it has a super silky finish that’s superb!

Beauty Treats Sugar Lip Scrub retails for about $6.00 and the Revlon Kiss Balm is about $5.00.

Considering Christmas is only a few days away I couldn’t help but share my favourite shades and cosmetics for the winter season.

For my day-to-day make-up, I keep it simple and like to wear a nice BB cream that is hydrating and gives minimal coverage. L’Oreal has a product that does just that- Magic Beautifier BB Cream. It’s super affordable too, retailing at about $19.00 CDN.

On the other hand, if I am going out for dinner or if I have an event, then I’ll go for a foundation that has a bit more coverage that lasts longer. Lancome’s Teint Idole is by far my all time favourite foundation. Why? Because it gives your skin the right amount of coverage without feeling too heavy. It’s hydrating and it has SPF 15. Talk about a winning combo! This foundation is so good, it feels like silk! It costs about $57.00 CDN.

Lately I’ve been really feeling the Roller Lash Mascara by Benefit ($30 approximately). I really like it’s curved brush and the bristles get to every lash. It leaves my lashes looking nice and long, and gives the effect that I curled them, without any clumps.

Can’t you tell that I love MAC? I love the quality of their products and that they literally stay on your face all day long. During winter, I am drawn towards darker shades such as burgundy and plum. This pallette by MAC, Burgundy Times Nine, retails for about $42.00 and has a lovely combination of both matte and shimmer shadows in my favourite winter colours. I also love MAC’s Mineralize Blush in Sweet Enough, which gives nice coverage and colour. This specific shade gives a nice rosy colour to your cheeks. This product retails for about $33.00 CDN. Finally, I am obsessed with Creamsheen Lipstick in Party Line. This colour is great for a holiday party, or when I just feel like wearing dark lipstick. This gem retails for about $23.00 CDN.

Our first DIY project: Christmas Mini Session

Every year since the kids were born, I would take them to a professional photographer for their annual Christmas card photo.  This year, most photographers booked up well in advance (as early as late September) for any mini-Christmas photo session.   We had an amazing photographer back in London, Ontario and since moving to the GTA, I haven’t found someone that I love as much as I did back in London.   As I was struggling to find any photographer (for a decent price) my husband suggested that we do it ourselves.  I thought….why not?!  I was up for the challenge.

I did some research, mostly on Pinterest, and the first thing I learned that the mini-session required some sort of theme.   Originally we were going to do it in our backyard as its very wide with lots of beautiful trees, but daylight is limited during this time of year.  So I thought, why not incorporate a theme of red and gold around our fireplace?   I already had some decor from last Christmas (the trees and pillows) and the rest I picked up from Homesense.  I found a beautiful argyle blanket, wooden present boxes and a banner.   We dressed our boys in red plaid shirts and voila!  We had our mini session.
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The other key is to have a decent camera, although most cellphones today have pretty good ones in them.  Fortunately, we have a pretty decent camera (a Rebel Canon) and I used my husband’s MAC to edit the photos afterwards.

It was fun and it lasted about 10 minutes.  The key to get kids to cooperate during a photo session is to make sure that they are well-rested and fed, so we did ours after dinner.   From experience I learned that a mini session will not work if your child is tired, cranky or hungry.  We played some Christmas music in the background and had fun.  Really, all we wanted was one decent photo for their Christmas card this year and they all ended up being phenomenal.  I am really glad that they turned out well and this is perhaps a new Christmas tradition that we will continue in our new home.

The wrath of those nasty daycare illnesses

One parents experience 

These past two weeks our household went through a variety of illnesses- pink eye, ear infection, gastrointestinal virus, and pneumonia to name a few.   It got so bad to the point that our youngest was admitted to hospital due to severe pneumonia.  Thankfully, we got there on time and things are on the mend now.  These past two weeks have been extremely challenging on us.  Having my youngest son in hospital triggered so many memories of my oldest’s time in the NICU.  It is awful to see your child in pain and as parents, all we wanted to do was to take it away and make him feel better.   However, thanks to an amazing paediatrician who sent us to hospital and a great support system at home, we got back on track.  As soon as we got admitted, my son was hooked up to an IV and things started to get better.  As quickly as his pneumonia came, it also quickly started to disappear when the antibiotics started to take it’s course.

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As soon as October comes around, we try to “mentally” prepare for another brutal cold and flu season.  You would think that after a few years of being in daycare we would be better prepared, or immune to say the least. We prepare as best as we can:  giving our kids proper nutrition, and taking daily multivitamins.  We practice good hand-washing and hygiene at home and put the kids to bed early.  We even get the flu shot yearly, as my oldest was preemie and his immune system was compromised for a while.   However, when your child is in daycare, they catch different bugs, no matter how well-prepared you are.  Research has shown that children get sick on average of 8 to 12 times a year, at an average of 10 days per illness.   So in laymen’s terms that means that they are pretty much sick for 6 months of the year!

Last year we thought we experienced it all- hand, food and mouth disease, strep and so on.  We were hopeful that their tiny bodies developed a better immune system for this upcoming cold and flu season, but boy were we wrong!  

It started with my youngest developing an upper respiratory virus and was at home for 7 days; then my oldest and I had a gastrointestinal bug for a few days.  Then my husband caught a nasty virus and eye infection.  Then my oldest got sick again with fever which ended up being bronchitis and an ear infection.   Then my youngest developed pneumonia and in less than 24 hours he was in hospital.   It was an awful feeling but we got to the right place at the right time, and here we are, on the mend, all healthier and happier.

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Although it was challenging, as my husband was on call and I was trying to manage things at work, we were able to work things out.  When your child, or children get sick, my advice is as follows:

Have a support system in place:  
I was fortunate enough to be granted time off from work to watch my kids. We also had lots of help from my in-laws.  I am grateful to have a good support system around when times like this happen and that’s important, especially when your little ones get sick.   Have an emergency list at home of family and friends who are available to help when your child gets sick; especially if you have more than one child at home.  It’s nice to have someone available to help run out and grab some groceries or watch one of your children at home if you have to take one to the doctor’s office or hospital.

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Proper nutrition and sleep:
This is key- any person, let alone a child, is healthier when they eat and sleep well.  Try and encourage good eating habits at home and set a bedtime routine.   I also stock up on homemade chicken soup and keep some broth in the freezer in the event a fever is brewing as it has lots of nutrients.   Not only is good nutrition and sleep good for children, but it’s  beneficial for you as well.  I got sick a lot last year because I was not sleeping enough, despite eating well and exercising regularly.  Some things like laundry just have to take the back burner because sleep is more important.  Research backs that up!

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Keep a list
Keep a list of important phone numbers such as your family doctor (or child’s paediatrician) handy in the event you need to make an appointment for a sudden illness.     I have our doctor’s office phone number stored in my phonebook and also in my Outlook.  Know where your nearest urgent care centre, walk-in clinic or hospital is if you have an emergency.   Also keep handy a list of important phone numbers such as family members, friends, or neighbours in the event an emergency takes place.  

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Practice good hygiene 
This is common sense, but good hand washing and sanitizing will prevent the spreading of illnesses.  If you are sick, stay home from work or school as illness can spread easily.   I also like to wash linens and towels weekly.

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In a cruel way, it’s ironic that a respirologist’s family all developed pulmonary illnesses, including himself.  However, we survived.  We hope this is the end of those nasty daycare illnesses….for now.

 

 

For the love of coffee: A look at Commonwealth Coffee Company

This past week I’ve been in London, Ontario for work. During my down time, I’ve been going around town, checking out the restaurant and cafe scene. I can’t help but notice that a lot of new restaurants and cafes have popped up. This is very positive for London. The city has been going through some major renovations, including road work throughout the downtown core. Fanshawe College’s renovation of the old Kingsmill department store is complete and boasts a state-of-the-art culinary school. South London has lots of new updates as well: including a modern, brand new YMCA and lots of commercial developments as you go down Wonderland Road South.

During my break, I came across Commonwealth Coffee Company by fluke. I was greeted by a sign that read “coffee is always a good idea.” I knew I had to pop in.

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When I walked inside Commonwealth Coffee Company, I was pleasantly surprised! This place is tres chic and sadly my pictures don’t do this place justice. The staff was super friendly and made my cappuccino just right. The staff advised me that the cafe opened up about a year ago.

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I could have easily spent my whole afternoon here. This seems like a great place to get together with a girlfriend or to go on a date. In addition, this place would have been an ideal location for working on my blog. There are definitely lots of reasons to come back here! In a city that boasts amazing coffee houses- Fireroasters and Black Walnut to name a few, Commonwealth Coffee Company definetly adds some flair to the mix!

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Setting my fitness goals straight: body image, mental and physical health in a social media world

It’s tough being a mom in today’s society. With all the magazines, YouTube blogs and Instagram accounts, mothers today are receiving mixed messages as to how they should look post-baby. Countless before and after pictures, diet plans, fashion trends are confusing messages to young moms, especially to those who just gave birth. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading blogs and forums on these topics. These sites are great ways for us to draw inspiration, obtain ideas and receive support on a wide array of issues. But sometimes they also add this extra pressure of “oh I am not thin enough,” “oh I have let myself go,” or “how does she and her kids look so perfect and collected?”

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It is interesting to note that since I linked my blog to an Instagram account, I received countless likes from various fitness accounts. Again, don’t get me wrong, I love the collaboration and support, especially for fitness, but also at what point is this kind of obsessive? What kind of message are sending to ourselves? The point is, when we talk about post-partum fitness, I think we need to take the focus away from appearance and more towards about mental, physical health and well-being.

Growing up, I enjoyed playing sports recreationally (although I wasn’t that talented!) I never really had any fitness goals but I just enjoyed being active and partaking in outdoor activities: soccer, swimming and cross country to name a few.

When I started university, I took my health seriously and started working out regularly. I even watched my carb intake. I gained more confidence and started to worry less and less about my image. I found it to be a great stress reliever and it helped me deal with severe PMS. Studies back this finding up as well. Around the time of my wedding up until I got pregnant, I was probably in the best shape of my life: I attended BodyPump classes and ran regularly. I was also sleeping 8 hours a night.

After the birth of my first child, I let my fitness slide. As my oldest was born nearly three months prematurely, I sort forgot about myself and dedicated everything I could to him, which was okay! My body just needed a break from everything that it’s been through. However, after a long hiatus, I obtained the courage to go back to the gym. I did it because I felt sluggish and just wanted some more energy again. Things were starting to feel good and I was slowly getting back to myself….then I got pregnant again. However, this time I was high risk, which meant my physicial activity was limited to just walking. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was placed on strict bed rest. I gained well over 50 lbs. But I was okay with that, because my goal was to bring baby safely, no matter what (and he did come safely!)

As I had a C-section with my second, I waited until my 6 week follow-up to obtain medical clearance for working out. When I was given to go ahead to exercise, I slowly got back into the swing of things. I started with taking the kids out on walks with the double stroller. As time went on, I started the Bikini Body Mommy challenge as I was able to do that from home. It was nice because it eased me back into the gym and helped me slowly gain some confidence back.

At about 1.5 years post-partum from baby number two, things started to plateau. I started to feel discouraged because I envisioned my body would eventually return to my 20-something year old self and it just wasn’t. I got frustrated. I started comparing myself to others and asking myself why I haven’t fit into that old dress yet or why some things were hanging. I don’t know why I felt that way, but I knew that I didn’t want to feel like that anymore. The only way I was able to overcome that awful feeling was to change my mindset on what I was trying to achieve from working out.

Then one day, it just clicked: I had the wrong fitness goal in mind. I always thought when I wanted to workout, the goal was to “look” a certain way, but I realized what I want and what I am are two different things. It took some time, but I realized I was working out for the wrong reasons.

I then let go of the idea that working out is to look a certain way, rather, the reason why I work out is to be a healthy, energetic, happy mom, wife and overall person!

Today, I have accepted the fact that my body will never be the same again, and I am so okay with that. Why? Because it brought two beautiful and healthy children into the world. I gave myself some closure and donated my old clothes and bought new ones. I learned that it’s not about a number on the scale, or what size dress I wear, but how I feel about myself. It’s about confidence and feeling good about yourself. There are also so many other benefits to exercise as well, namely for preventative health. For me personally, exercise is a great stress reliever and gives me that extra boost that coffee won’t. It keeps me balanced after a hectic day at the office and home.

So if you are like me and reading this, know you are beautiful, know that you are wanted and know that if you do workout, do it for you! Whatever it is that makes you happy- walking, fitness classes, rock climbing, bike riding, dancing, do it for your mental health and not for what society thinks you should work out for.

My top fitness picks:

I like some variety when it comes to physical exercise as I get bored easily. The idea of just doing something stationary, like running on a treadmill for instance, does not appeal to me. I try to exercise 3-4 times a week, if I can. Here are some of my favourite exercise routines and applications:

-BodyPump, RPM cycling, Jillian Michaels Shred via virtual fitness (available at GoodLife Fitness Clubs.)

-Nike Training Club application (it’s a free app on your phone. I love it because you can do a lot of the routines at home!)

-Nice long walks with the kids.

Taming the rollercoaster ride of parenthood

Doesn’t parenthood ever feel like a long, rollercoaster ride? Some days go so very smoothly and other days you feel completely derailed? Any parent can tell you that parenthood comes with its challenges, but that the rewards trump them all. I won’t dispute that fact. But sometimes I just can’t help but feel overwhelmed. Currently, my 2 year old does not want to go to sleep on time, despite being very tired and my oldest is still adjusting to junior kindergarten. My boys are very active throughout the day and sometimes I feel as if I am just holding the fort down.

adult alone anxious black and white
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Lately, my days are spent running around, from 6:30 am until 11:30 pm. I just don’t stop. Ever. I keep trying different things to keep my stress levels at bay- going to the gym, trying to eat better, trying to sleep earlier, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen, or that I am not consistent. Its so much easier to just crash right? Sometimes I try and be a supermom and do it all – work, cook, clean, raise two little boys, take them to their activities, all while trying to take care of myself and have some type of relationship with my husband.

Sometimes I am conflicted: Am I making excuses for myself or am I truly at a roadblock?

I often wonder- how do people do it? Do others feel as tired as I do? Am I doing something wrong here? Sometimes I feel guilty for not working out or eating properly because its so much easier to have that glass of wine at the end of a long week than go to spin class. Sometimes I feel like there’s just not enough time throughout the day and that other tasks are more important, such as preparing lunches, cleaning, laundry…. With that being said, I am not trying to throw a pity party for myself. Instead, I am trying to tell myself its okay to feel like this and its okay to try to step back and regroup. Perhaps I am at a crossroads in my life and trying to accept myself for who I am and tell myself that its okay to feel this way and know that I am doing my best.

When I was young, my parents made it seem easy, or maybe, it just felt like that because I was after all, a small kid. I often wonder, did my mom feel overwhelmed like myself? Were my parents ever worn-out and tired? I don’t remember them being this way, rather, I remember them as loving parents who did their best to raise my brother and I. They gave me a wonderful childhood which I am so ever grateful for. My hope is that one day my children will look back at my husband and I and say that we did a good job too.