How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Mothers

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Parenting | 0 comments

We all know at least one of those mothers. You know who I’m talking about. The moms who somehow complete all of their daily tasks with beautifully groomed hair and perfect makeup (not a stain or messy ponytail in sight). They’re always on time for everything. They bring delicious homemade brownies to the bake sale. And they’re usually perfectly nice which makes it all more infuriating.

“The dishes are clean, my hair is perfect, and I have a nonexistent waist. Ha ha ha!”

Meanwhile, my version of being a so-called “housewife” looks more like this:

Coffee

What I’ve come to realize is, however, is that for all their seeming “perfection, these “Stepford Wives” are still just people. And just because I don’t see them lose their cool in the carpool lane or scrubbing paint off their walls, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. In fact, given their role as “mothers,” it’s pretty much guaranteed that their lives are no where near as glamorous as they seem and I can never know the daily struggles they face.

(Unless they’re robots.)

But you’re no robot, which means you’ll never live up to your own (or society’s) utterly unrealistic expectations placed on you.  Many of us have this unhealthy but often practiced habit of comparing themselves to other women. We have a tendency to compare ourselves to others not only physically, but also when it comes to our abilities as wives and mothers as well. The fact is, though, we all have talents that lie in different areas.  Some mothers work in a corporate environment, while for other moms the management of their home is a full-time job in itself. Some women like to pamper themselves with manicures and others find playing tennis more relaxing.

In these cases, there is no better or worse: there is only different.

Anyway, here are some important steps you can take to stop comparing yourself to other mothers and to accept yourself as the wonderful, flawed mom you are.

Admit your parenting mistakes

Be willing to admit to your parenting mistakes. We’ve all made them. It can be mortifying or even painful to think back to the moment in time where the mistake was made. You realize in hindsight that there were better options. Dwelling on regrets, however, is not conducive to healthy thinking or progress. Your goal should be to acknowledge your failures but to learn from them and move forward.

If you have more than one child, it’s pretty likely that when it comes to raising your little ones you handled things differently the second time around than you did with your firstborn. If anyone asked, you’d have an entire list of things you would do differently. You would have chosen to breastfeed longer or if you could go back you would have ensured that your child was involved in more activities. Or maybe you are always late to soccer practice because you can’t seem to get out of the house in time. Maybe, you imagined things going so smoothly but your finances didn’t allow for it. Whatever the reason, acknowledge the choices you’ve made.

Moving on

It is never too late to correct or build on mistakes or to change bad habits. You can’t change the past but you can learn from it.

You can learn a lot from your child. Pay attention to your child’s behavior and the way they interact with their peers. Are they having fun and connecting with others? Do you recognize some of your own bad habits showing up when you observe your child? If you’ve been openly expressing your anger and maybe even a few choice words in your child’s presence, don’t be surprised if they begin to mimic this behavior. If you run into this problem, address it right away.

If it will make you feel more confident, try setting aside ten more minutes in the morning to put on a little makeup. I’m not saying to change your priorities, but recognize the little habits that make you feel good about yourself and devote more time to them. Whether you spend that time pampering yourself or reading or exercising or watching trashy TV, reward yourself and watch your attitude improve.

I’m not saying that you need to be perfect and become a “Stepford Wife” because, to be honest, that sounds miserable. But recognize the areas of your life that can change and accept the wonderfully chaotic aspects of life that keep parenting entertaining.

The bottom line

We all have things we want to change about ourselves and it is hard to stop comparing ourselves to other moms. But by being the best mom you can be, recognizing areas of improvement, accepting our shortcomings, and realizing that NO ONE has it all together, we can be much happier people.

Peace, love, and health,

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Image Source: Happy Housewife

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Achoooo! 5 Ways to Keep Your Kids Occupied When You’re Sick

Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in Parenting | 0 comments

I felt a bit under the weather last week.

And by “under the weather” I mean I was bedridden and looked something like this:

Sick

The weird part about it is that I never get sick. And when I do, I am one to suck it up and continue about my day. But this flu/cold/plague was been the worst I’ve felt in a long, long time.

Anyway, whilst their mother was feverish and coughing and out-of-commission, my girls were running free around the household. I quickly realized this was a terrible idea and came up with some ideas to keep them occupied while mommy slept the day away like a hungover college student.

Here are some ways you can keep your kids occupied next time you get sick.

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1. Create an activity table.

Kids need various stimulants to keep their focus, so have a table in your home become a diverse activity center. At this activity table, have coloring utensils and pages, puzzles, picture books, toy laptops, stickers, stencils, play dough or clay, and similar arts and crafts items on it. Let your kids’ imagination run wild with all the arts and crafts tools available to them.

2. Set up a play date with a friend.

If you’re unable to play with your child when you’re sick, you can set up a play date with children from other families you trust. You can also have a close relative entertain your child.

3. Set up an indoor cinema.

Gather your kids’ favorite movies or television programs on DVDs or video tapes and have a movie day. Before heading to bed to rest, take the time to decorate your television room area with sleeping bags, pillows, stuffed animals, and other comforting items to help your kids relax while watching their favorite movies or shows. You can also set up a refreshments table for them to have snacks available to them while they watch.

4. Have a color scavenger hunt. 

Write different colors on small slips of paper and place them in a small bag. Get your child to pick out a paper slip in the bag and have them find five items in your house that has the color written on the slip. Be sure to keep the colors limited to safe and appropriate items for kids to find.

5. Let them listen to audio books.

Get kids’ books in an audio version and let your kids occupy themselves with it. While your children listen to the reader, they can develop their reading skills while reading along in the book.

Your turn: What do you do when your kids are sick? Share in the comments!

Peace, love, and (almost-back-to) health,

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Building Bridges to Stay Connected

Posted by on Oct 28, 2013 in Parenting | 0 comments

I’M BAAAACK! For all of those who were wondering where I disappeared to, my family has been super busy moving. It’s been a long few months, but we’re getting settled. In light of our recent move with two small children, I decided to shed some light on maintaining friendships and how to break the news to your kids.

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How to Help Your Children Cope with Moving and How to Maintain Long Distance Friendships

Packing up and moving your family to a new place can be an overwhelming experience, especially for the kids – I know because I moved around…a lot.  Whether you met in grade school, high school, college, or some other time in life – the chances are high that physical distance has come between you and some of your closet friends.  Some people find it difficult enough to maintain friendships with people in the same town.  So how are these people supposed to survive hundreds, if not thousands, of miles between them to stay close friends?

As adults and parents, we ask ourselves if it’s possible to maintain long distance friendships, but what about our children’s relationships?  Yes.  It is possible. Meredith and I have been best friends for over 20 years, and we haven’t lived in the same place for 18 years.  Thanks to our parents, we were given the opportunity to learn the difficult art of nourishing our friendship over a long distance.  If your family, or a close family friend, are moving away, here is the secret to helping your child maintain their friendships separated by time and physical space.

Breaking the News

I will never forget when my parents broke the news to my sister and I that we were moving to Greece at the end of the school year.  At the time, we were living in Singapore, a small, thriving country located in Southeast Asia.  As we had been attending the American School there for three years, our family was accustomed to traveling back and forth to the States to visit family and friends every summer and winter break.

Being part of the military, my family was part of a close and safe community in Singapore, and we were comfortable.  I met my best friend, Meredith, in kindergarten the previous year, and our parents became close friends and spent a lot of time together.  When my parents told us that we were moving, Charlie, my sister, and I had two very different reactions.  Remember, kids thrive on familiarity and routine.  When your family decides to move, relocating to a new place can be a traumatic experience, and may be hard for your kids to understand at first.

Gently break the news to your kids six to eight months in advance prior to the moving day.  This will give them ample time to process and prepare for the upcoming life change.

Dealing with Reactions

Your children will respond emotionally to the news, and that’s a good thing.  They will display a mix of emotions from sad, mad, and lonely to anxious, excited, and eager over the next few months.  Don’t try to talk them out of what they’re feeling.  Instead, address and validate their emotions, and allow your children to emote about the unfairness of it all.

Acknowledge your children’s concerns and feelings by being with them when they cry, scream, worry, or when they become excited about moving.  This exemplifies to them of your support.  Instead of your kids isolating themselves from your before, during, and after the moving process, create a safe environment and ask them what you can do to make their transition easier.  Reiterate to yourself and to your kids that the family will benefit from moving, and will give each of you more outlets to grow, change, and express themselves successfully.

Staying Connected

When moving day finally arrived, I remember feeling excited and sad at the same time.  My increased play dates and time spent with Meredith only strengthened our bond, solidifying us as best friends for the rest of our lives.  As a rising second grader moving to Greece with her family, my parents were sure to collect all of Meredith’s information needed in order to stay in touch.

  • Contact Information: To maintain close friendships after the move, it is a requirement that you, as the parent, make the necessary effort to keep your children’s friendships strong and connected to one another.
  • Time Difference: Depending on your family’s new location, identify the time difference and new time zone to prevent contacting friends at inconvenient times.
  • Commit: Like all relationships, friendships require both parties to make a commitment to each other.  If you’re not willing to make the effort to stay connected with someone whom you care about from the beginning, then the chances of the two of you maintaining a friendship significantly decreases.
  • Digital Connections: Thanks to modern day technology, there are a variety of ways to stay in touch with each other.  Social media platforms, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter to name a few, are perfect solutions to staying connected with each other.  The better the friend, the more variety in their efforts to stay involved in your life.
  • Take Notes: When talking to each other on the phone, you will need to work extra hard to remember what your friend is doing and saying.  So take notes by writing it down in a notebook.  Remembering the details and people’s names is a great way to show your friend that you care, you are paying attention, and you’re still a part of their life.
  • Annual Trips: Talk to the parents of your child’s best friend and try and plan an annual trip to see each other.  There’s nothing better than spending quality face time with your best friend.  It gives your child something to look forward to every year, allowing them to nourish their friendships.  Take a lot of pictures to capture memories in the making.
  • Snail Mail:  There’s something special about hand written letters, post cards, mixed CDs, and – of course – stamps.  Staying connected and in touch with each other is easy, but to keep your friendship unique and personal, invest the time to disconnect from technology and reconnect by sending each other pictures, letters, cards – your options are limitless.  Encourage your child to be creative, they’ll thank you when they are older – I promise.
  • Bad Days: As your child gets older, encourage them to confide and connect with their best friend.  Reassure them that just because they are in a long distance friendship, they don’t need to only share the good news.  When they experience something bad, tell them to lean on their friend – that’s what friends are there for.  Great friends are present during the good and bad days; help maintain their long distance friendship.
  • Accept Change: Don’t expect your child’s friendships to be the same once they’ve moved, but reassure them that even though they do not live in the same place, their friendship is still there, and always will be for as long as they want it to be.
  • Be Honest:  Promote to your children to keep lines of communication with their long distance friendships open as much as possible.  Not only will it encourage the bond to deepen, it will prevent any resentment from festering and building between them as the years pass.

Helping your child maintain long distance relationships with their friends requires a conscious effort.  Thanks to our parents, Meredith and I have managed to stay best friends throughout the years despite the distance between us.  As we got older, nourishing our friendship became second nature; a reassuring security that saved us.  Flash forward 23 years, Meredith and I finally live in the same city, raising our children together; our friendship couldn’t be stronger.  It’s very rare to cultivate and nurture a long distance friendship, but if you are willing to do it, it’s not impossible and it is completely worth it.

So now that our move is done, I’ll be back to posting regularly here… I’ve missed you all!

Peace, love, and health,

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That One Time I Lost My Mind and Tried to Give Up Coffee…

Posted by on Sep 6, 2013 in Nutrition | 0 comments

Yes, you read that title correctly.

I, a true connoisseur and fervent lover of coffee and all the happiness it gives me, tried to give up beautiful coffee.

(Quick kids! Get in the minivan because clearly the apocalypse is upon us!)

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Now, what in tarnation is my explanation for this tomfoolery?

For giving up a hot, oh-so-delicious cup of joe? The elixir of the gods?

Honestly? I have no earthly idea.

Clearly, I temporarily lost my mind or was possessed by some sort of anti-caffeine demon.

Regardless, I gave it a go… and promptly poured myself a cup by 10 AM.

(Yes, I lasted approximately 3 hours.)

I considered going for a decaf. That way, I could enjoy the taste and smell of coffee without pumping caffeine into my system. But then I remembered:

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So, with coffee in hand, I can say I have finally gotten back to my senses. Coffee is my main splurge–water is the only other thing I drink on a regular basis and I eat well. I think it’s important to have one food or drink that your really enjoy having or else we would all go insane on carrot sticks and celery. Besides, remember my blog post on the many Benefits of Drinking Coffee? Exactly.

But I do think I need to cut back on the amount of caffeine I consume. Luckily, I have never been one for too much creamer or sugar, so usually I just take my coffee with a splash of skim milk. Regardless of calories or fat content, however, I think that 3 cups a day is too much.

So, I’m going to be trying to cut back to one cup a day because, honestly, sipping on coffee in the morning is one of my absolute favorite times of day and I’m not quite ready to go caffeine-free just yet.

This counts as one cup, right?

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I kid, I kid…

(Sort of.)

In other news! I have a killer new article called “Why Readers Make Better Lovers” on Life Hack that you should go check out and share with every single person you know. Capiche? 

Peace, love, and health,

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Guest Post: Get the Most Out of Your Exercise Equipment

Posted by on Sep 4, 2013 in Exercise | 0 comments

Hello, wonderful people!

Today I’m doing something a little bit different (don’t panic!). Katherine Flowers has written me a super informative post on different exercise equipment and complementary exercises to make sure you get the most out of your machines. I definitely learned something and hopefully you will too! 

Peace, love, and health,

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Get the Most Out of Your Exercise Equipment

by Katherine Flowers

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People want to lose weight—whether that is because they have become concerned at the health risks associated with being overweight or have just had a baby and want to get their figure back. Whatever the reason, good workout routines are now essential to getting the most out of your exercise regime.

Losing weight is achieved by a combination of healthy eating (moderation, people!) and exercise–but how do you go about the latter? Many people just take to the streets and jog before going to work or when they return home from a hard day in the office. Others turn to exercise machines. While they may appear easy to use, injuries are all too common. Here, I hope to help you to have a better understanding of which cardio exercise machines are best suited to your exercise goals.

Here are some of the most suitable machines and how to use them:

1) Treadmill

The treadmill needs little introduction, as it is probably the most frequently seen machine in gyms and (arguably!) the most used.  It is extremely versatile in so much as you can vary the incline as well as the speed at which you are walking, jogging or running. It can be used by everyone from marathon runners to exercise newbies.

Potential Payoff: The treadmill is capable of helping you burn about 17 calories every minute.

Recommended Workout: Choose a speed of around 2 minutes per mile less than the speed that you normally run outdoors. Do this for 2 minutes with the incline at 1%. After that, increase the incline to 4% for a further 2 minutes. Follow this process by raising the incline by 2% every 2 minutes until the treadmill has got to an elevation of 10%. After that, you should come back down the scale by 1% each time for every 2 minutes until the 20 minute period has elapsed.

treadmill

2) Stationary Bike

The stationary bike is another traditional fixture of the gym. It can help increase endorphins and improve energy levels. To use it correctly, you should cycle for about 5 minutes and then raise your bottom off the seat and pedal in the same way that you would if you were climbing a hill for a period of 1 minute.

Potential Payoff: The stationary bike is capable of helping you burn about 14 calories every minute.

Recommended Workout: A good workout is to cycle at around 95% of the maximum effort you would normally ride at for a period of 90 seconds and then reduce your speed to about 40% of normal effort. Using the same levels, do them again over 60 seconds and 30 seconds. Once you have completed the last 30 second period of recovery, you should cycle to 70% of your maximum effort for a period of 4 minutes. This should be repeated once again.

3) Elliptical Trainer

Elliptical trainers are believed to produce similar cardiovascular benefits as a treadmill machine but without having the same effect on your joints. They make an ideal piece of equipment if you particularly enjoy running and need to stay in shape but without having to face up to the pressure that running on treadmills places on your hips, knees and ankles.

Potential Payoff: The elliptical trainer is capable of helping you burn about 13 calories every minute.

Recommended Workout: Alternate between high resistance levels and high speed levels. In doing so, you should then be capable of working for an extended period of time at a relatively greater intensity.

After warming up, you can heighten the resistance level of the elliptical trainer until you reach a point where you have reached an 80% striding rate of your maximum output. Following a period of 2 minutes, you should reduce the level of resistance to the point it was at when you were warming up but you should heighten the rate of your stride, meaning that you are still achieving the 80% striding rate of your maximum output. Continue alternating in this way for a period of 20 minutes.

4) Rowing Machine

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The rowing machine is well known for its capability to provide a good all-around work out. This is because you are using numerous muscles in different parts of your body, including your arms, legs and stomach.

It is important you use the rowing machine correctly. When you are in the back stroke, you need to make sure your knees are both just about straight prior to the squeezing together of your shoulder blades. At this point, you should pull the handle towards your sternum. Whilst doing this, it is important that your back remains naturally arched throughout the process. Good posture is key.

Potential Payoff: The rowing machine is able to burn around 11 calories every minute.

Recommended Workout: Set the resistance at level four on the rowing machine and then undertake a series of 10, 15 and 20 powerful strokes, pulling the handle with as much force and as quickly as possible towards you. Between the power strokes, you should spend a minute making easy strokes of around half of the power you were using. Continue to follow this routine for 20 minutes.

The Bottom Line

It’s a good idea to switch up your exercise routine by trying out different machines (this can help you get out of a weight loss plateau!). By giving different equipment a go, you provide variety within your schedule, don’t get bored as easily and your body gets a balanced workout. Hopefully, this information will provide you with some assistance in choosing the best cardio exercise machines at the gym or for your home to help you lose weight and improve your overall fitness.

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Jump Rope, Kick Butt

Posted by on Aug 21, 2013 in Exercise | 0 comments

jump rope

Are you looking for a simple but oh-so-effective workout that you can do pretty much anywhere? Well, jump roping is just about perfect for that.

That’s right, you can occasionally avoid crowded gyms and those girls who sprint five miles and get off the treadmill looking flawless.

"Ahaha, just finished my workout! Looking flawless as usual!"

“Whew, just finished my workout! Good thing I have this towel for all my nonexistent sweat.”

No, really, I sort of hate them.

(And totally wish I was one of them.)

When I get off the treadmill, I’m looking for the nearest place to collapse:

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Well, good news! Jumping rope is one of the most basic and calorie-slaying forms of exercise that you can do right in your home. Plus, Adriana Lima swears by it.

(Disclaimer: jump roping won’t necessarily turn you into a Victoria’s Secret model, but it will give you one kick-butt workout.)

Pick The Right Rope

First things first, all ropes are not created equal. The first step in having a successful jump rope workout is to find the jump rope that is best for you.

Each jump rope serves a different purpose; a beaded jump rope for example, is probably better suited for double-dutchers on the playground (just saying).  If you want a more intense workout, you can purchase a jump rope with weights—but if you are new to jump roping or working out in general, it’s better to start with the basic, no-frills one to prevent injury.

The Benefits of Jumping Rope

One reason why jump roping is so effective is that it requires the use of several muscles throughout your entire body. By putting all these muscles to work, you burn a lot of calories. Intense jumping rope has the potential to burn up to 1000 calories per hour. Along with calorie loss, jumping rope is beneficial to your heart and lung health.

(For people with concerns about the impact the exercise will have on their joints, it may surprise them to know that when jumping is done correctly, it can have lesser impact than jogging.)

Begin by finding the proper surface. Opt for wood surfaces or workout mats to avoid doing any damage to your body (avoid jump roping on carpet!). Also, remember to stay on your toes—do not come down on your heels. Also, it’s not about jumping high; in fact, you should not jump higher than about one inch off the floor.  Many people who are new to this workout make the mistake of jumping higher than what is required. Keep your hands by your sides and tighten your core for increased effectiveness.

Using a jump rope has some serious benefits. They’re cheap, portable, can be used indoors or outside, and don’t require a lot of space. Jump roping also burns a lot of calories and can (gasp!) actually be fun. Plus, it’s a workout your whole family can get in on.

Now that’s kick butt.

Peace, love, and health,

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My Girls are Back in School and I’m… Bored?

Posted by on Aug 13, 2013 in Parenting | 2 comments

Lunch bags full, backpacks packed, pencils sharpened, shoes tied.

Both my girls headed were more-than-ready to head back to school yesterday. Both had big smiles, even bigger bows, and not a single tear in sight. I have to admit, watching them walk into school tugged at my heartstrings. Sigh, when did I become such a sap?

It seems like for most of my girl friends, a new school year makes them feel like this:

But I’m more like:

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I know going to school, making friends, and getting an education is important and yadayadayada but I really wasn’t ready for summer to be over and, honestly, not having the girls home has been so… boring.

I’m not scrubbing marker off the walls or whipping up snacks or driving them to the pool. I don’t need to keep Maddie out of the craft drawer or stop Ella from running after her sister.

I HAVE SO MUCH MORE FREE TIME.

I’m not trying to complain–I do work from home as a nutrition consultant and it’s nice to have more time to get my work finished. But I got oddly used to working in the midst of a nice little bit of noise and chaos. Now, the house seems so quiet.

What about you guys–are you happy school has started? Or are you also finding yourself a little bored?

Peace, love, and health,

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The Healthiest Fruit You’ve Never Heard Of: Lychee

Posted by on Aug 1, 2013 in Nutrition | 0 comments

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Kind of weird looking, right?

This alien-looking fruit is called a lychee (or litchi), meaning “gift for a joyful life” in Chinese. Found in several Asian countries (particularly China), it has a sweet, grape-like taste that makes it a popular option in desserts.

It also happens to be one healthy little sucker.

The lychee is jam-packed full of heart-healthy polyphenols and is suspected to have cancer-preventing benefits. It also is low in calories, contains no saturated fats, and is a good source of Vitamin C, potassium, and copper. Not bad for a fruit whose name you probably can’t even pronounce.

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They are a summer fruit, so you’ll probably have some difficulty finding them out of season. When you first look at them, they look a little daunting. Start by removing the thick outer covering, to reveal the yummy, fleshy fruit. Then, carefully remove the big black pit from the center and voila! You have a delectable, sweet little treat. They are fantastic on their own, or I like to grill them with other grilled veggies for a touch of sweetness.

Interesting History: The lychee fruit is a Chinese symbol of love and romance, mainly attributed to it’s sweet smell. Legend has it that the 8th century Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty would send his guards hundreds of miles to find the fruit so he could use it to woo beautiful women. How’s that for a powerful fruit?

Peace, love, and health,

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