I’m Up for My Annual “Mommievaluation”

It’s the time of year for annual performance reviews at my place of work.  A chaotic time, in which we assess and assemble our successes and accomplishments over the last year, and craft the best set of words around each highlight.  After all, most if not all of this content will be used to determine merit pay increases, promotions, or the ability to pursue other opportunities to grow within the company. I take this process quite seriously, and hope to pass along sound work values and ethics to my kids one day.

As serious as I take that process for my professional development, I can’t help but ask myself  … why am I not doing the same for me, for what is the most important role of my life – the role of “mom”?

The low-hanging fruit was easy. My children are clean clothed, well-fed (less the picky eater), healthy, and are hitting their developmental milestones. They appear to be happy, well-adjusted kids.

A Year of Big Changes and Transitions

It’s been a big transition year for our family. I not only transitioned back to work after the birth of my daughter, I transitioned to a different career path altogether. Once my daughtercame along, my son transitioned to being a “big brother” and, unbeknownst to him, assumed the dual role as my “right-hand man.”   Add to that, my husband created not one but two new businesses to his already existing entrepreneurial pursuits. Whew! I’m exhausted just writing that!  We’ve had a lot to adjust to, and have demanded much from each other. If there was any opportunity to have this reflective self-evaluation, now was the time!

My “Mommievaluation”

When I decided to have this internal dialogue with myself, my “mommievalution,” I did not set out with the intention of trying to write anything out, formalize a document, or quantify my performance as a mom. I was really motivated by the fact that the kids are at the age now, when they are able to verbalize their thoughts and emotions, agreements and disagreements. This is the true definition of pure, unadulterated, uncensored “feedback” and the bulk of what I was going by, to support this self-check in exercise. What better gauge!

I have discovered that the down side to doing this is that I am my own worst critic. I talk to other moms, and am comforted to know that I am not alone here. I hate beating myself up over what I could be doing better, or how I did something “oh-so wrong.”  In the spirit of trying to keep this upbeat, I choose to put on my rose colored glasses, and focus on everything I am doing right.  Hey, you have to start somewhere right!

As Oprah would say, here is what I know for sure:

The hidden teacher inside me is proud to share that the kids are excited about learning. I make every effort to expose them to new activities and people, to be curious and to ask questions. There is nothing more hilarious than their imagination and wonder at work. I think I’ve got this one wrapped up!

Next is what takes the bulk of my mental and physical effort. It is the commitment and conscious effort to pave a path to developing good overall life skills, such as behavior, socialization, and adaptability. This is where I humble myself and say that some days are better than others, and for those “other” days, I roll with the punches, take it moment by moment, day by day. As my friend Suzanne would say, “this too shall pass.”  I still have a lot to learn here, but with the coming of each day, I am becoming more comfortable.

Finally, as these “beautiful strangers” and I sort out this thing called life, we are also forging loving and life-long relationships with each other – as mom/child and between each other as siblings. This is the evolutionary part. Under my guidance and care, my hope is to watch them grow into kind-hearted, nurturing, and caring individuals.

So … How Am I Doing?

I am so glad that I was able to engage in this self-talk! It was beneficial for me, because I really wanted to stop tormenting myself about what I could be doing better, but more importantly, focus on all of the things that I am doing right. It also provided me with some clarity, that as much as I was taking care of them, they were also taking care of me.

A few days ago, I was buckling my son into his car seat, and he asked me to reach for his bottled water. As I handed him the water,gave me a smooch on my cheek, and told me that I was “the best mama ever.” My daughter just looked over at the two of us and giggled! At the end of the day, if this is the litmus test for how well I may be filling those big shoes, I would simply reply … I’m doing pretty good. Pretty darn good. I’m starting to feel like I am getting the hang of this mom thing, and it’s been great to reflect on some of the lessons learned along the way from my own experiences, and shared experiences from others.

Someone once told me that that “being a mom will be the toughest job you will ever love”.  (I actually kept the card!) To take it a step further, the “water cooler” chat long ago was that being a mom would probably never happen for me. It pleases me no end that I have been able to defy my critics. It IS in fact the toughest job, and despite the challenges, I truly love every minute of it!

So when it’s time to give yourself a “mommievaluation” please don’t forget your glasses … that is, the rose colored ones!

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Help! I’ve Got a Bad Case of Baby Fever!

I lay in bed tonight struggling with something that I have been struggling with for more than a year now.  It’s something that I think a lot of women my age go through. At least I hope they do and I hope that someone has some great advice for me.

It’s a little something called “baby fever.”

I have two beautiful, happy, healthy, boys. They are five and nine and I could not ask for better kids. About a year ago, I mentioned to my husband that I would love to have another baby.   was not surprised by his response when he said “Yeah – maybe if we win the lottery.”  We were in no position financially to bring another baby into this world.  So I dropped it … at least for a little while.

Early this year I got a new job with much better pay and he got a promotion at work. Things were going well so I figured I would try again, but the response was the same. I started asking people for advice and talking to people who had three kids. I also talked to people who had two kids. Almost everyone that I talked to said the same thing.  “You have two beautiful, healthy, babies. Just be happy with that.”

It’s not that I’m not happy with that.  I love my children more than anything in the world and I am happy. They really are two of the best kids ever. It’s just that there is something inside of me telling me that one more would be great. I think that my youngest would be an amazing big brother and I already know that my oldest is. I feel like there is something left inside of me to give the world. I feel like I was meant to have three kids.

When my husband and I would talk about our future and having kids together it seems like we always talked about having three. So – a few weeks ago, I brought it up again. This time I told him that I didn’t want the lottery answer. I wanted to have a serious conversation about it. I don’t want to wait much longer. I already feel as though a 6 and 10 year age difference would be a lot.  If we are going to do it, it  would have to be now.

He said “absolutely not.  I do not want another baby.”  So – here I am … lying in bed wondering how women get over this little thing called “baby fever.” Anyone??

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A Relaxing Summer Ahead? Haha. Yeah, Right.

I always look forward to this time of year – when school wraps up for my son, the days are long and the pool is open. I think summer is going to be relaxing and I picture myself sitting in the sun with a big fruity drink, chatting with my girlfriends while our children play happily.

But then June actually rolls around and I find myself wondering what part of all of this chaos was the part that I was waiting for.

Maybe summer is relaxing for some people, but I’m definitely not one of them.

The end of the school year means the dreaded 2-month-long planning & coordinating process, figuring out camps and grandparent visits and vacation days for every single day of the entire summer.

It means shelling out thousands of dollars (that I don’t necessarily have) to pay for all of these programs up front.

It means that my kids, who have every toy, video game system, book, art supply and piece of outdoor sporting equipment they could ever need, will repeated tell me how bored they are.

It includes packing great big lunches every single day (because my son can’t buy lunch at camp like he does some days at school), and then listening to “Why did you pack that? So-and-so’s mom packs him nothing but brownies and soda and Cheetos. You’re so mean!”

It means carting kids back and forth to inconvenient places every day instead of just having them hop on the bus.

Summer means longer daylight, which makes my toddler’s 7:30 pm bedtime that much more challenging, and cuts into “mommy quiet time.”

It means beautiful, sunny, 85-degree days that I’ll enjoy only from my office window.

It means that when I’m not working, I’m outside with the kids longer – and ignoring my filthy house more.

It features more kids than usual around the house every day, because we’re the ones with the pool and that automatically makes my kids popular from June ’til September.

It means BBQs and gatherings where I’ll be expected to wear a bathing suit in front of people.

It means that for 3 months I’ll be subjected to Facebook photos of my non-mommy friends regularly enjoying drinks at Breakwater’s or at concerts or on vacation or wherever it is that I’d love to be if only I didn’t spend all my money on camps.

It means that I’ll see these Facebook posts and get all inspired (or as my husband would say, “obsessed”) with the idea of taking the kids to more big events more often and so then we’ll… well… plan and pack and and get someone to watch the dog and spend money and endure whining and lose favorite toys and repeatedly yell “Stop hitting your brother for 2 minutes and just smile so I can get a nice $#@%^ picture for Facebook!” and remember why we don’t do this every weekend.

It means everyone will see my daughter’s legs – which are covered with cuts and bruises because she is super-fast and has no fear of anything – and I’ll have to explain it all so people don’t think we beat her.

It means my son will go visit his dad for a few weeks, and while it will be a little less stressful for me, I’ll also be losing my built-in “mommy just needs to take a shower” toddler watcher.

It means that my kids will tan like their fathers and I will freckle like my mother.

And it means that just about every single day, when I’m broke and exhausted and my kids are running around, filthy and tired and smiling and yelling and giggling and enjoying every moment of summer, I will find myself thinking “Man, I wish summer could last forever.”

These are the smiles that make it all worth it for me

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I’m a Mean Mom…and Proud of it, Part 2

So if you haven’t read the first part of this blog post and want to know why I’m a Mean Mom, please read here. I wrote briefly about investing in your children, the realities of being a new mom, and fact that some things are non-negotiable. While I’m not a certified expert in early childhood development, I do have four children under the age of 9, and they are pretty darned smart and well adjusted. I’m positive this didn’t happen by accident.

Fear Shouldn’t Make Decisions For You

In my observation, lots of the things that parents cave on are caved on out of fear. Parents fear tantrums so they cave in and give their child whatever makes them happy at the moment, which is not necessarily what’s best for them in the long run. As a Mean Mom, I don’t cave just to make my kids happy at that moment. It sets us all up for future failure. Sure, I have my moments of weakness when I’m in public and not ready to deal with a meltdown or when traveling to visit relatives, I’ll let them watch DVDs for most of the ride (but the ride has to be 3 hours or longer in order to even think about a DVD option), but it’s easier to make the tough choices now. The more times I cave, the more spoiled and expecting my kids become. So I nip it in the bud early on. I’d prefer an immediate meltdown to a whiney brat later on.

I recognize that as a mom you have to do what works. I try not to judge, I really do. By no means am I perfect. But seriously, when I see a 5-year-old child with a pacifier in her mouth, I want to walk up, yank it out, and slap that mom. Or when I see a toddler walking around with a bottle, same sentiments. In addition to the fact that both children are too old for their respective behaviors, does the parent not realize that they are actually setting the child up for failure? Health reasons aside. Children need to learn to self-soothe and usually will when given an opportunity to do so. Five-year-old children don’t need pacifiers, and it’s clear that the parent is acting out of fear that a tantrum will ensue if the pacifier is taken away. Rip the proverbial Band-Aid off and move on. You aren’t doing anyone any favors.

Don’t Be an Enabler

Throwing your hands up isn’t gong to benefit you or your child. Children need discipline, and they thrive on it. It may sound harsh, but don’t take the path of least resistance. Some kids are picky eaters by nature (or maybe by nurture), but that shouldn’t keep you from feeding them the same meal you are feeding everyone else in the family. Your child won’t starve himself. Eventually he will eat at least part of what is given to him, unless of course you train them to do otherwise. There is no short-order cook in this house. Never has been, and there wasn’t one where I grew up, either. The motto in our house is, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” My kids will actually say it to one another if they hear a sibling complaining over something unimportant (such as which color cup their milk is in). You don’t have to like what I’m serving, but you’re going to eat it or be hungry. A close girlfriend recently told me a story about what she used to say to her daughters when they were younger. She used to tell them, “The law says I have to feed you, but it doesn’t say I have to feed you what you want.” Exactly.

Say No, and Say It Again

Don’t be afraid to say no. In my experience, it’s actually easier to say no than to say yes. If I gave in and said yes every time one of my children asked me to buy them something or help them with something they were capable of on their own, I’d be broke and exhausted. By saying no, they actually learn to respect the answers they are given and gain confidence in their ability to perform simple tasks without me. We rarely have fits in our house over things that they are told “no” to because the kids know better. They’ve learned that mommy isn’t going to change her mind because she was asked 6 times—all that does is make her angry. Mean Moms Rule. Sure, I’ll say yes, but only when I believe it’s the right time to say yes, not because I’ve been asked or pestered to death.

Give Your Kids Choices

Choices are empowering to children. You don’t need to let them make all the decisions (I think I’ve covered that already), but they do need to make some decisions as part of healthy development and confidence building. I let my children make simple choices everyday and I pick my battles. Let them choose between A and B. Do you want carrots or tomatoes in your lunch? I have one child that wants to be in control of everything, all of the time. We’ve learned with her that we can avoid 95% of her tantrums by letting her make her own choices. Some things are non-negotiable (safety, etc.). But where we can, we let her choose. She picks out her own clothes (they rarely match, but she dressed herself). You want to take your toys in the car? Pick one and it stays in the car once you get to school. Little things that in the long run don’t matter to us but really do matter to her make her feel empowered—and she’s better behaved because of it.

Safety Within Reason

I can tell you that growing up we had baby gates, outlet plugs, and locks on cabinets, but that was about it for safety gadgets in the house. There was no padding around coffee tables, toilet locks, and every protective device you could think of. These days it’s safety to the nth degree. We don’t let kids think for themselves or learn from their mistakes. Now, I’m not suggesting that you should let your toddler play in the knife drawer or drink from the toilet bowl, but I am suggesting that as a society we have gone overboard on the shear quantity of safety apparatus options.

I bought a house with a fenced-in backyard for a reason—go outside and play! Do I let my kids play in the street? No. But I absolutely let them play in the backyard unattended. Yeah, I said it. Unattended. It’s fenced in, and I can assure you if the house didn’t have a fenced-in backyard when we bought the house, we would have installed a fence. If it’s a nice summer day, maybe the window is open, but I don’t need to stand there and watch them play. If they are fighting over the swing, they can figure it out themselves. Hovering doesn’t help them develop self-confidence and common sense. In 9 years of parenting, we have not yet had a trip to the emergency room for any random accidents.

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I’m a Mean Mom … and Proud of it (Book Review of Mean Moms Rule)

I can remember distinct points during my childhood where I truly believed, at that moment, that my mom was the meanest mom conceivable. I couldn’t eat candy whenever I wanted, I had to do chores, and my parents didn’t let me buy the latest designer jeans (yep, at one point I thought I was the uncool kid because my mom wouldn’t buy me Gap jeans).

In hindsight, my mom is a genius. I can appreciate everything she ever did for us. She was a full-time teacher and didn’t take crap from my sister or me. We were loved and cared for, but not pandered to. If we didn’t like what was offered for dinner, we were free to make our own PB&J. I truly believe that I turned out to be the well-adjusted adult that I am in large part because of my mom’s parenting style.


Recently I had heard some rumblings about the book Mean Moms Rule: Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later  by Denis Schipani. Knowing that I had a Mean Mom and that I am a Mean Mom, I figured it was worth a read. I found that I really agreed with much of what Schipani writes about, and they are all things I learned from my mom. Here’s a foray into my world as a Mean Mom and what it means to me. I’ll be sharing this over a couple of blog posts because I realized as I was writing that I had enough material to write a small novel.

I’m independent and have been since a very young age (just ask my gymnastics coach that kicked me out of class at the ripe age of 3 years old because I wanted to do, and did do, something different than what the rest of the group was doing). I’m not one to follow the masses and I don’t parent a certain way because it’s cool, in vogue, or because some mommy click told me I should. I’ve always parented in a style that makes sense for me and my family, and in a way that I am certain stems from my upbringing.

Children are an Investment

As a parent and an adult that contributes positively to society, I believe that my children are an investment. They are an investment, and we want to get it right. We only get one chance. My husband and I chose to raise our children in a way that teaches them the life skills they need to be contributing citizens to society once they are adults. My kids aren’t perfect, heck no, but we work to try and teach them that they need to be good people—because it’s important to us.

Reality of Being a New Mom

Every new mom has that scary moment when they realize that they are entirely responsible for the safety and wellbeing of this little newborn life. We all come into motherhood with expectations and hard rules that we have pledged we are going to live by. And then reality sets in. We’re tired, we’re sleep deprived, and even if we have the most complacent newborn on the planet, we still struggle to get a shower in and find time to pee in peace. I swore I wasn’t going to co-sleep with our son. And guess what? We co-slept until he was about 10 weeks old—because it worked. It was the only thing that kept me sane…he slept, and I slept. The experts tell you to nap when your baby naps. My ass. I’ve yet to meet any mom that actually did that successfully. (And if you are one who did, well awesome…you had it easy). But I also recognized the reality of the situation…I didn’t want my son to be in my bed forever. So as soon as we thought he was ready, we worked on transitioning him to his crib. Is your kid still sleeping in your bed? And he’s 4 years old? Hey, I’m not going to judge. But I knew it wasn’t for me and the sooner I kicked him out, the better he—and we—would be for it. (Some people would argue I should have never co-slept at all…but I believe you have to pick your battles.)

Some Things are Non-Negotiable

My child sleeping in my bed indefinitely was one of those non-negotiable items. So was going back to work. I knew I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom. It just wasn’t for me. But I knew that, and we worked around it (even the year I had 4 children in daycare when the smart financial decision would have been to stay home). We also have a child lock on the outside of our bedroom door. From the time my kids were big enough to get out of their beds at night, we kept our door shut. I know, I’m a Mean Mom, but our room was our room and that was non-negotiable. It still is. They have to knock and wait to be asked in. Guess what? That’s exactly what happens.

My kids had a clock in their room from the time they could start to recognize numbers. Unless they were bleeding, vomiting, or dying, they didn’t look for us until the clock had a 7 on it. There’s no reason you have to be a slave to your kids. Sleeping until 7 a.m. is not unreasonable. Getting up to coddle a bored child at 4:30 in the morning is. To this day, the kids get up and do their own thing in the morning. Sometimes we have to remind them that people are still sleeping at 6:00 a.m., but not too often. They entertain themselves pretty well.

Just because you are now a mom, does not mean that you aren’t still the woman you were before you gave birth. You are still that woman and you should be. Buy stuff for yourself once in a while instead of for your child. Splurge in a girl’s night out once a month. Get a pedicure. Go to the gym. Do whatever it is that you need to do to enjoy you as you. Being a parent is redefining, but it shouldn’t erase that woman you were before. You have to be able to happy and take care of yourself in order to effectively care for your children. And you shouldn’t feel guilty for it. You deserve to take care of you. You need to take care of you.

Date your husband. Or your partner, significant other, wife, whatever. Just because you are a new mom doesn’t mean that your relationship should take a back seat. You need time to spend with that special person, just as you did before you had a baby. After all, it’s likely that time together that got you a baby in the first place. Just saying. Your relationship should be non-negotiable.

What epiphany did you have as a new mom? What things are non-negotiable for you?

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I Totally Failed the Grump Out, But I Think I Became a Better Mother

I wrote a big long post on how horrendously I failed at yesterday’s Great American Grump Out. About the anticipation, the stress, the reality and ultimately, the guilt. Full of shame and sadness, I deleted that post before it was published.

The truth is that even though I’m not a grump all the time, I am a grump more often than I realize.

This motherhood business is hard. It’s exhausting. It’s frustrating. And the additional stresses we all face (work, family, finances, school, running a few websites, whatever), just compound it.

I couldn’t keep it together. I started the day just hoping I could keep my mouth shut, even if I was meh-ing inside. By about 6 pm, after everyone seemed to push every single one of my buttons, I completely caved and I was huffing and puffing and yelling. Back to normal.

And then, after all the chaos of the evening, there were a few moments of peace. Silly faces and great big goodnight kisses from my daughter. My son’s eyes lighting up as he told me about what a great day he had, even though nothing special really happened. A few laughs with my husband.

These are the moments I’ll always remember. These are the moments I hope they will remember long after I’m gone. These are the moments that matter.

And, at least for me, this is what the Great American Grump Out was all about. It was a smack in the face, reminding me how much my stress becomes their stress. It was a lesson on self-control, empathy and true priorities.

When I’m a grump, I am stealing potential moments from the ones I love the most.

Ok, so we’re never NOT going to be a little stressed. It’s just part of the job. But we don’t have to let it build over things we can’t control or things that don’t matter.

As we approach Mother’s Day, I am reminded of how amazing my family is and how lucky I am to have them all. I am reminded of how much they love and support me, even when I’m not at my best. I am reminded of how much they give to me every single day. I’m reminded of the way they smile when I smile. I’m reminded that I’m not a perfect mom, but that I’m trying. And I’m reminded that all the stress, all the exhaustion, all the frustration – is totally worth it.

And suddenly, I don’t feel so grumpy.

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Join Us for Mom’s Night Out! – May 11, 2012

Mother’s Day is all about you, and you deserve an evening of wine, food, pampering, prizes and fun!

Join us the Friday before Mother’s Day, May 11, 2012, at Mom’s Night Out, organized & coordinated by Move You Fitness Studio in Essex.

Meet other local moms and get a little pampered!  There will be a free Move You class (line dancing, perhaps?), mini-massages, fabulous giveaways, snacks and … did I mention the wine? Plus, each mom will be entered to win a $100.00 Gift Certificate to Move You Fitness Studio!

VT Mommies will be there with information on becoming a featured author, advertising options, and of course, lots of great swag. We’ll also be unveiling some awesome new VT Mommies apparel and goodies from our soon-to-be-live online store!

In addition, you’ll get to view the latest collections from:

  • AtHome America
  • Silpada Designs
  • Lia Sophia Jewerly
  • Pampered Chef
  • Mary Kay
  • Orbit Hair Design
  • Partylite Candles
  • Tastefully Simple
  • SNG Designs
  • Thirty-One
  • Zeek Rewards (at home base business)

Each vendor will offer cash & carry items, booking specials and at the end of the night a mystery hostess name will be drawn from each vendor! We will have a variety of winners enjoying the hostess benefit from the evening!

More details to come as local vendors are booked and events are planned, so stay tuned. This is going to be a wonderful evening of fun – and it is just for moms!

To RSVP, simply go to the Mom’s Night Out event page on Facebook and click “Join.” Then mark it on your calendar, find a babysitter and get ready to laugh, move, relax and win! See you there!

If you are interested in being a vendor at this event, please contact the event coordinator, Jennie, at [email protected]

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I Didn’t Find Time to Exercise – I Made Time

I started a new job in January of this year.  Up until then I was doing Zumba two days a week and Jazzercise two – three times a week.  When I started my new job, my hours did not allow me to keep this routine.  It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I realized how much this was affecting me.  I found myself coming home from work and going straight to bed.  I found myself sleeping in later – even though I had gone to bed earlier.  I was having trouble getting out of bed in the morning.  I found myself losing patience for my kids.  I was arguing with my husband about silly things.  Finally I realized that: A) I was not exercising as much I used to, and B) I had no time to myself.  I decided that even though there was no time in my day to exercise, I needed to MAKE time!

I logged into my work email one morning and blocked off an hour each day of the week for working out.  I found a co-worker who wanted to do the same thing.  We have started going to the gym every day for one hour.  We even decided to sign up for an exercise class that our employer was offering.  It is two days a week.  Our co-workers could not believe that we could find time in our extremely hectic schedule to do it.

The secret is: we couldn’t find time, we MADE time!  We have been doing this for a little over two weeks and I have noticed such a big change!  Even my oldest son, who is nine, has noticed a change.

I pick my son up from school every day and the first thing I ask him is “how was your day?”  He usually tells me some crazy story that you would expect to hear from a third grader.  He always follows his story up by asking me the same question.  “Mom – how was your day?” he says.  The other day when he asked me, I said “my day was great!”  He was SHOCKED!  He even said “REALLY?  Your day was great?  You haven’t had a great day in a long time!”  At that moment I realized what a difference exercise makes!  Even if you feel like you don’t have time, make time!  Now that the weather is warming up, just go outside and go for a walk.  Not everyone is as lucky as me and has a fitness center at work.  Find a class that you could join whether it’s early in the morning, in the evening, on your lunch break, on the weekend, etc.  You can find a class that works for you.  Make it work for you.  It will make a difference, I promise!

Here are two of my favorite local fitness studios and their schedule of classes:

  • Jazzercise Williston Fitness Class Schedule
  • Aspire Community Studio Schedule
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Simple and Inexpensive Ways to De-Stress Yourself and Your Family

As a full-time workingwoman and mom to four kids, I can appreciate the need to de-stress. One of the most important lessons I learned early on in motherhood is that I need to take care of myself to effectively care for my family (just ask my husband). We all have stress, and when not dealt with, stress can cause a wide range of illnesses from headaches to depression. Taking time to unwind improves your mental and physical well-being. In honor of April being National Stress Awareness Month, I’m sharing some simple, cost-effective ways to de-stress yourself and your family.

Get outdoors

Take a walk or a hike, go for a run, ride your bike, or play a sport.Even if you only spend 10 minutes each day getting some fresh air and sunlight, it is still good for you! We need Vitamin D to regulate our immune system, for brain function later in life, for calcium and phosphorous absorption for healthy bones, and to improve our mood. We spend so many hours inside each day in poorly ventilated commercial office buildings breathing in pollution and recycled germs, fresh air is a welcome break, especially in the middle of the work day.

Kids need fresh air, sunlight, and exercise. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors can make kids happier, healthier, and smarter.

Read a book

Reading a book for pleasure can be a great stress relief by lowering your heart rate and relaxing your mind. You don’t have to pick a New York Times best seller or a scholarly title; any title that you pick up can help reduce stress by providing an escape of your normal daily routine. You are essentially taking a vacation of the mind.

Read to your children, too. We’ve all heard the benefits of reading to children early on in life. Even though my 8-year-old son has read the Harry Potter series on his own, he still enjoys being read to. Children who are read to at a young age will grow to see reading as an indulgence, not as a chore. Reading is fun and imaginative and enhances the relationship you have with your child. This calm and relaxing activity can also act as a de-stressor.

Add plants to your office and/or home

As I mentioned above, indoor air pollution can be problematic. Plants can help to naturally remove the toxins from the environment and clean your air. NASA research has shown that common plants help reduce indoor air pollution. Chinese Evergreen and Arrowhead Vine were both shown to help reduce systolic blood pressure in stressed-out patients in a study from Washington State University.

Have a cup of tea

Enjoying a cup of tea can significantly reduce stress levels according to a study at City University London. While tea may have its own unique soothing properties, the promise of comfort and warmth were found to be the primary reason we reach for a cup of warm tea. Just don’t drink the caffeinated kind right before bed.

Do yoga (or meditate)

Yoga has long been known for its relaxing qualities. Controlled breathing and clearing of the mind can be relaxing and stress reducing. Other benefits include increased circulation, lower blood pressure, and better overall physical fitness. Exercise of any kind can release endorphins to help you feel good naturally. There are many yoga class options here in Vermont, but you don’t have to take a yoga class to get these benefits. Visit your local library to borrow a DVD.

When my children were babies, we attended post-natal yoga classes together. The babies were engaged but relaxed. The after-school program my children attend offers yoga once a week as a choice activity, and my daughter chooses it regularly.

How do you de-stress yourself or your family? We’d love to hear from you.

For more information on the mind/stress/health connection and National Stress Awareness Month, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website.

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Meet Barby – A Busy Mom Always On The Move

A mother of two boys can make life a little hectic. Add to that a full time job and it makes life a little more hectic.

Balancing work and life with the my family can be difficult but we make it work. We are always busy on the weekends whether its a sporting event for one of the kids, a birthday party, or just taking a road trip. My husband and I make it a point to take a road trip whenever we have a free weekend. The kids love it and are wonderful travelers.

In my blog I will write about balancing work and personal life and also great spots for road trips in or around VT. ENJOY!

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