Hour of Power

Not really but I’ve stayed at home with my son for over a year now and it took me about that long to find a balance between cleaning like a madwoman when the house was a total disaster and not cleaning at all.

The problem is when I’d spend the day cleaning because the house was a wreck I would then be too tired to enjoy it, and anyone with a toddler knows how quickly your house becomes messy again. The problem with not cleaning at all was that the house quickly became unlivable. I’d look at the mess and feel my energy levels plummet.

But there had to be a balance between cleaning all day and not cleaning at all, and I found it. I got a little portable bluetooth speaker, this is what I have, it’s great, and I listen to music or podcasts in the bedroom, kitchen or wherever I am. While I listen I clean. Sometimes I purposely pick podcasts that are around an hour, sometimes I just go until the kitchen and living room are clean.

I’ve found that at first I had to time myself because I was so behind and could have spent all day cleaning but now I’m caught up and I’ve figured out a system. I realized if I keep the living room, kitchen and dining room clean everyone feels good and keeping those areas clean usually takes me about a half hour to an hour. This usually includes dishes but doesn’t include laundry, although I’ve started implementing the same strategy with laundry. If I’ve got a good audiobook or podcast I will gladly fold clothes all day!

And at the end of the day I don’t feel angry or resentful because I only dedicated an hour (or less) to keeping the house clean. Not only that but I also fee more at peace with my environment, I feel content and happy, I feel inspired because I can concentrate on something other than the horrible messy space. My husband feels happy because he doesn’t have to do as much when he comes home, maybe a few dishes from dinner, or maybe toss the toys that escaped back into Julian’s play area but that’s pretty much it.

Now here’s the other caveat, and this is something I remember from when my brother was a toddler and something my husband has struggled with. I rarely clean up Julian’s space. Why? Because I don’t want to do it after he’s gone to bed and have him think that elves will clean up after him, I also think he’s too young to understand cleaning up, and I simply don’t want to do it, especially when I see him taking things out, throwing things and messing up his play area as soon as I can tidy it. What I try to do is join him in his play area, we read and play and then he sees me tidying up but I do not compulsively clean up his books and toys, just a little here and there. Sometimes he gets what I’m doing and helps and sometimes he just continues making messes faster than I can clean.

This is fine. And do you know why? Because I’ve accepted it. I’ve tried to limit his toys, I also try to rotate through his toys so they are new and fresh, and because the other option is madness.

If you don’t mind picking up after your toddler all day, be my guest, as for me, my kitchen is clean, the floors are usually vacuumed and I’m quite content with that.

Julian's Play Area
Julian’s Play Area – Amazingly those 5 blocks have stayed in their holder for over 24 hours now. This is truly a miracle. Please note however that the area around said blocks is a complete wreck.

Boo & Julian Against the World.

Yesterday was our annual visit to the vet. As usual they weighed both dogs. Maya’s weight was the same as last year, which was a great feeling because we struggled to figure out how much to feed her to keep her healthy.

Boo on the other hand gained 6 pounds!!! I literally looked at Maya to make sure she didn’t have a paw on the scale! Now 6 pounds for boo is like 30 pounds for you or me, a healthy weight for Boo is 42 pounds, so 48 pounds is not good. And considering she’s 8 it’s a recipe for problems.

This is when I realized we now have a toddler who shares his food freely and that I need to stop giving her so many treats (when we crate her we give her a million milkbones…). In my defense, Boo’s weight had never been the problem so I was shocked.

I also decided we need to start teaching Julian that he can’t give the dogs his food. People think I’m nuts but you can set boundaries early. Justin and I wear glasses and when Julian was 4 months old he started going for them, I knew we could not have him going for our glasses so I would gently move his hand away and say no in a calm but serious tone. Justin did the same. It took maybe a week of that and Julian understood that glasses are off limits. People have even commented how nice it is that he doesn’t go for glasses, or on the rare occasion that he forgets I give him a little reminder.

I figured he’s older now and I could do the same for the food sharing issue. This morning I started telling him no and I tried to explain that we can’t share our food with the dogs because they have their own food.

This worked like a charm… by which I mean I told him no about a hundred times, after about the 50th time I started getting more upset and frustrated and then started getting mad at Boo for going for his food, which basically is like getting mad at another human for breathing oxygen.

It was a complete failure. Boo and Julian both couldn’t understand why I was being such a mean momma and Maya was scared because I had started raising my voice. The little voice deep within all finally found some volume and told me to find another way. This wasn’t working, it was only ruining our beautiful sunshine filled morning.

Everyone hated me, I hated me and furthermore this was a terrible way to start our day, so I gave up. The dogs got some egg with their morning kibble, Julian ate his eggs and blueberries and I told them all that I’d decided instead to reduce the amount of kibble Boo gets until we get her weight down.

I’m not going to stop telling Julian that it’s bad to feed the dogs when I see this behavior, but I’m not going to devote my mornings to watching them all like a hawk, when instead he can happily eat and share with the doggies and I can do dishes, make my breakfast a few feet away and listen to music or whatever podcast I’m devouring.

I guess the old adage is true, you have to pick your battles, so you win this time Julian and Boo.

I am a Badass

You may have heard of a little known book called “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero. This book propelled my journey of self discovery and total badassdom. I’ve waxed and waned over the past year since I read it but I’m back on it and I’m more inspire than ever (especially since “You are a Badass at Making Money” comes out in about 4 hours and yes I’ve preordered it and may have been counting the hours till it comes out).

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that since I’ve been back on my self improvement bandwagon I realized something, a piece of the puzzle that I’d been missing, you have to motivate every damn day. You can’t go even a day without it otherwise you set yourself back and you lose your progress.

It really is like working out, except working out is a bit more forgiving.

I’ve been listening to podcasts, reading more and trying to keep myself pumped up. It’s only been a week or so now, but I realize this is where I went wrong. In the beginning of February I fell into my winter blah’s and felt like reading all these self-improvement, mind management books were making me feel worse, when the truth was, I wasn’t resonating with the book I was reading at the time and I was sick of my same old podcasts. I didn’t need to get away from all of that stuff, I just needed new stuff to motivate me.

Anyway, I’ve found new books and podcasts to motivate me and I’m feeling good, so if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to figure out how many minutes until “You are a Badass at Making Money” comes out and I can start reading my preordered ebook.

WIDN

Whether you want a baby or not waiting for the results of a pregnancy test takes literally forever. My husband and I stood in the hotel bathroom waiting for the results anxiously and once we found out I was pregnant we were so excited, shocked, overjoyed, horrified, elated, scared, you get the point.

The first few months flew by but soon I realized I was going to have a newborn baby and honestly as much as becoming a mother excited me, I knew the newborn phase could be very dangerous. And what’s worse, we’d just gone through the winter from hell in New England and my son was due (and born) in January… I worried about the double whammy of postpartum depression and seasonal affective disorder.

Every excited parent prepares for their baby, I know my husband and I researched high chairs, carseats, cribs, sheets, linens, playpens, strollers, etc… and in addition to that we researched how to introduce your dogs to the new baby and made sure we had enough of everything (onesies, jammies, socks, blankets, bottles and so on) but on the topic of postpartum no one ever talks about preparing for that.

My midwife was great about discussing postpartum and the baby blues and at every appointment said she would always support her mothers if they ever needed anything but I wanted a plan. I thought there’s got to be some tips or tricks I could use just to make sure to keep my spirits up. I know postpartum can happen to anyone and isn’t really avoidable, but I also wanted to be ready. I didn’t formally write anything down, but along with picking out all the stuff we needed, I also prepared for my postpartum.

I started with a few tips, I started saving shows and movies on Netflix to watch during my maternity leave and then I added to it that I was mostly/only saving happy and funny shows. I knew if I started watching Fargo when I was tired, maybe feeling down and emotional that it could easily bring me down into a sad spiral.

I shared this tip and my others with a few other new moms and got some positive feedback. That led me to creating my postpartum action plan. I’m still working on it an adding to it but basically I’m thinking it’s a workbook that expecting moms can go through to plan their postpartum, or at least prepare for it, since it’s so much more than sleep deprivation, feedings and diapers.

My other project is a streamlined baby book. I got a baby book for my son and it doesn’t have space for me to share the things that I actually think are important, like baby’s first steps, first overnight trip away from home, visitors, stuff like that. There are 2 pages devoted to writing your baby’s schedule… Which is confusing because newborns don’t have a schedule and when they do develop a schedule it never lasts so I had an idea for a monthly picture and a few pages devoted to each month. BAM! Easy, streamlined, minimalist and so much better than stupid questions you don’t want to fill out when you can’t even remember your name because you’re so sleep deprived.

In a nutshell I’m pretty excited about my postpartum plan and minimalist baby book. More to come on that later.

Yoga Challenge Update – January 2017

I decided on New Years Eve that I wanted/needed to challenge myself to do yoga everyday. It was spur of the moment but I knew it was for the best. I did yoga pretty much everyday September through most of November and it felt great and I knew I needed to get back into it so what better opportunity that the new year?

I don’t make resolutions because I don’t think you have to wait for a new year to make life changing habits but this just happened to work out so I went for it. I set a few rules, I knew there would be days when I’d rather die than do a single pose and on days like that I decided even one pose would meet the quota. I also decided I would post a photo everyday on Instagram of me doing said yoga to keep me accountable.

So having said that here’s my roundup of January.

I did yoga everyday, except for January 27th. I had a horrible, awful, no good, very bad day. It was a day I decided to throw in the towel and go to bed early, without even doing some goodnight poses to keep my yoga goal. Having said that I decided to keep up with my challenge and decided I needed to get my yoga in before noon everyday. I realized my chances of doing yoga after about noon or 1 go down by about a million percent. So my bad day helped me workout what’s best for my practice and take it more seriously.

Other than that I did yoga everyday and what’s funny is that on days when I thought I forgot to do my yoga I realized I had done yoga throughout the day. I’ve started integrating poses into my daily life, aside from my actual practice. If my hip hurts I do a few hip openers, if my back hurts I do some a staff pose or a few other stretches.

I think that’s my favorite part of this challenge is that it is already changing my daily life and I do feel better, I have less aches and pains and I feel good. I’d also been having chronic wrist pain and my yoga even seems to be helping with that.

So far so good, I’m excited to keep going with my daily practice and to see what other benefits I reap from it in the next 11 months to come.

Be stronger than your strongest excuse.

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Yoga Day 5, can you see the pure joy in my worried face?

Cell Phone Ban

Cell phones have been banned from our living room as of 1/27/17.

After having a complete shit day including doctors appointments, running late, canceling a brunch, being made to feel like a drug addict/dealer/all around bad person and an escalating diaper rash I’d had enough on 1/27 and lost it.

I got Julian to bed and crawled into my bed to bawl my eyes out, which trust me, is not something I typically do.

After getting it out of my system I went downstairs to be with my husband and after about 5-10 minutes of talking we both ended up on our goddamned phones. I intended to have this conversation with him where we talked through the day, we worked through the things that were upsetting me and then we would snuggle on the couch and maybe watch a little something on Netflix before calling it a day.

But literally our phones took that from us within minutes. Within minutes I felt alone, disconnected and crappy again! I realized that I own my cell phone, not the other way around so Justin and I talked and we both acknowledged the iPhones in the room and we agreed to a phone ban.

The ban has also been extended to iPads and Kindles, unless you clear it with the other, so yesterday we were dying to know who an actor in a show was so I asked Justin if he’d mind if I looked it up, he didn’t mind and once we had the info I put my phone away. I was doing yoga in the living room and Justin wanted to read on his Kindle so he asked if that was ok with me and I agreed.

It’s still kind of weird, and honestly my hands don’t know what to do sometimes, they grasp for things because they’re so used to the phone but I know in time that will go away and I know it’s for the better because not only do Justin and I feel more connected but I realized we’re setting a way better example for our kiddo, which feels good too.

So, if you want to reclaim your life or living room from your cell phone I’d recommend the following steps:

  1. Acknowledge the phone problem with your entire family, bring your kids, spouse, dog, hamster, anyone who is affected.
  2. Have a conversation, ask them how it makes them feel when you’re on your phone while watching a movie. This will get the conversation flowing.
  3. Ask if they’d like to banish cell phones to the kitchen, dining room, mud room, bedroom, wherever.
  4. Set some ground rules. Are you allowed to read on your Kindle? If you’re dying to know the name of that one actor in that show can one of you agree to look it up? After 9pm are cell phones allowed? Can you have your cell phone out to help with homework or bills? Do you designate a time for social media?
  5. Know now that it’s going to take some adjustment, and know that you’re going to have to call people out because they’re going to forget, but do it playfully because you’re going to mess up too.

Being on your phone  doesn’t seem like a big deal but once I told Justin how alone it made me feel, he admitted he felt the same way when I was on my phone and we realized just how big an impact our phones had. We’re still reclaiming our phone freedom but so far it’s been great and I’d like to encourage you to be cognizant of your phone time.

Remember, you own your phone, not the other way around.

Water into Wine

A message keeps coming through to me lately, it’s that I need to turn my weaknesses into strengths.

Writing for me is a weakness. It’s something I’m drawn to, something that I know I need to cultivate but I keep putting it aside. When writing is added to my “to do” list it’s the last thing I work on and it always/usually gets ignored.

I know why I ignore my writing, between assuming that I’ll never be good enough, thinking I have nothing to say and my fear of judgement (specifically in written format) this isn’t easy for me, but I know the more I do it the better I’ll become and the better I’ll become the more confidence I’ll have to get my novel published.

For a long time I fought writing. I never even thought of it as an option much like most blind people don’t paint and most deaf people don’t listen to music (let alone compose it) but writing kept creeping up in the back of my head that I’ve got stories to tell, and I love figuring out how the pieces of a story fit together so here I am. Reviving my personal blog and working on the 2nd draft of my novel.

I wrote my novel last year, and casting aside my fears and doubts I let my husband read it. He has an MFA in screenwriting so he knows a few things about story and he ripped it apart. I mean that in the best possible way, his few edits exploded my story but they also felt like a guide showing me the forest for the trees. It was great, however I’ve lost some steam, which is why I’m being sent the message to continue turning my weakness into a strength.

I need this message now more than ever and each time it comes to me it feels like a smack in the forehead because it’s so true, a weakness is only that if you do nothing to fix it. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.