Mental Health Mondays: When I Knew I’d Found My Village

Mental Health

For some, having a “tribe” or “village” comes easy. Some have been friends since they were in elementary school. Other’s slide right into a group and easily connect with them. I’m not one of those people. Feeling alone can be quite hard on your Mental Health. I know, I’ve been there.

Prior to having kids, I always said I didn’t need a big group of friends, and as long as I had a couple good friends, I was good. Then, when I had the oldest, things changed. I needed to be a part of a mom group, to go to play dates, and drink coffee while our kids played nearby.

I tried to befriend a few, each time I felt I was either chasing them away, or being judged by members within. It was a sad time. I was in the midst of Postpartum Depression, and pretending to be “okay” for those around me when inside I was dying.

There have been a couple of moms within a particular group who didn’t boot me off their Facebook pages right away, and occasionally I’d chat with them, or comment on something, but I was scared.

I remember exactly how it started this last time. Over a post I shared on Facebook that became quite the battle on my profile. It was through that post I reconnected with one of them. ¬†We set up a play date for our kids. Then we began getting together more and more with them. Add in a few other moms on down the road, and there you have it, my “village”

Within the last 10 months or so, these ladies and another couple who hang out occasionally with us have become my “village”. I have watched them look out for my kids. We have had conversations about all sorts of topics. We have laughed and had a great time & also panicked together when searching for a missing kid.

Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending a birthday party for a couple of the kids, and that is when it hit me. Being in a place by myself with 2 very different children is hard. I can’t always keep my eye on both. Watching these other moms and dads, I began to truly feel at ease as they kept an eye on and even HELPED my children.

I didn’t feel judged as though I was a bad mom. I wasn’t stressed as if I had to keep my eye on them both every single second. They managed to have an amazing time, and I did as well.

That night as I replayed the events of the day in my head, it really sunk in… I FOUND my village. I found the people who care about my family. The ones who don’t judge and instead hold their hand out to help. It felt surreal and at the same time it felt very real, and I’m very thankful I didn’t continue in hiding and give up on ever finding them.

So, here it is, don’t give up and just keep trying, just keep going. There is a “tribe” or “village” for everyone, you just have to find it ūüôā

Do you have a “village”???

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Mental Health Mondays: Transitioning Gracefully

Mental Health

As a mom of 2 little kids, I am always feeling pressured by: friends, family, society, other blogs… you name it. ¬†Seasons change, and our ability to be flexible and transition gracefully becomes evident. I was not always able to handle transition well. Somedays, I still don’t. However transition is a must in our lives at different points in time. To transition gracefully has been a major milestone in my own mental health journey.

The word transition means changing from one state or condition to another. Change is hard for so many people. We get used to things being a certain way. We like that things stay the same and are predictable. Change is hard, however there are some things you can do to help.

  1. Evaluate Where You Are Now. This is one of those things I sometimes forget. I am so busy with trying to get to where I want to go, I forget to figure out where I am currently. I’m going to use going back to school as an example for this. During the summer, where we are now, there are less rules and more fun. The atmosphere is light, and while we still have rules, they are fewer than during school. We are also having a lot of fun. We sleep in more, there is less structure, and because we all kind of do what we want, there is more cooperation.
  2. Define Where You Want (Or Need) To Be. This means making a conscious effort to decide what things you want to achieve. It means making a list and then prioritizing the list. For me, I want my kids to learn to love learning. I want them to be excited to go to preschool. I also want to increase my bond with them through teaching them and doing fun activities. These are major points on my list. Some minor points might be some things I’d like them to learn (Colors, shapes, letters, etc) however the main point are the ones I am going to work toward. For me, this means home school preschool has to be: exciting, fun, and we need to work together on projects. I can then fit in the things I want them to learn, in ways they will enjoy.
  3. Work Out A Plan.¬†This is the one everyone usually starts on. Planning and deciding what is important for the school year (or whatever you are transitioning to). However, if we evaluate first, and then define where we want to be, we might see things a bit differently. For instance, I notice that when there are fewer actual demands, there is more cooperation. Now, I know that life has demands, and we can’t get away from that, so we have to keep some demands in the picture. But, what if just for a while, instead of dumping all the demands back on your kids, you slowly added an extra one or 2, here or there. What if instead of trying to transition in a week or 2 before school started, you only added 1 new demand a week for 4-6 weeks, and then expect that with increased demand, cooperation will be lower until everyone is used to it. I also know what my main objectives are, so sitting and doing book work for an hour for a 4 year old does NOT meet those qualifications. If I was choosing that route, I know I need to find a route that will meet the qualifications and goals I set in step 2. ¬†Planning is fun, but if you haven’t done the 1st or 2nd step, you are planning blindly and likely to fail as a result.
  4. Plan A Test Run. This is so important. So often we just set out to work our plans, and then if they aren’t right, we get discouraged and give up. This is why test runs are so important. By remembering to call this a “test run” you are giving yourself permission to fail. You are acknowledging that this might not be “perfect” and that you are allowed to tweak it so that you can get it right. It also means you are still actively working on it. For us, preschool itself is a test run. I have allowed myself the grace to continuously tweak our format, schedule, and topics to get us to a place where we are meeting our main goals. The important part of a test run is to give it a time frame. So, we are going to test run throughout preschool to learn what works best with each of the kiddos in how they learn and work. Other plans may only need a week or 2 as a Test Run (I’d consider 2 weeks which makes it a habit and help you hold on to the plan longer).
  5. Allow Yourself Grace And Don’t Give Up.¬†There are a lot of times when “life happens” and your perfect plan may fall to the wayside. It is okay to fall off the plan as long as you don’t STAY off of it. Get back up, keep going, keep trying. Give yourself grace and say it’s okay if I fall off AND I can get right back on. Don’t wait for a “better” time, or the beginning of a day, week, month, or even year. Get right back on by reminding yourself that getting back on right away helps to keep the momentum going. If I have a day in the middle of the week that I am tired and the girls are cranky and I don’t school that day, it’s okay. It is also okay to either have school in the evening, or jump right back to it the next morning.

These steps can be applied to any changes you are wanting to make. A healthier lifestyle, changing jobs, or even moving.

What helps you transition???

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Birth Story: The Oldest

I realized I never actually wrote my birth stories for the blog. I’m starting with the oldest, and soon I’ll follow up with the youngest’s birth story.

***Disclaimer: This post contains vivid and somewhat scary visualizations, if you are a sensitive soul, or pregnant with your first, you may want to wait and read my youngest’s Birth Story, which is much more pleasant. You have been warned ūüėČ ****

Our Oldest's Birth Story

“It isn’t supposed to be like this. This is supposed to be the happiest time of my life, WHY am I so devestated???” It isn’t hard for me to think back to the very first day my oldest little one came into the world. I was terrified. I had NEVER had surgery, She was the reason for my first (and many more after that) blood being taken. I didn’t know what to expect, and further more, everything after they took me down for the C-Section is burned in my memory in hazy cloud-like thoughts.

We were told she would be big, REALLY big. “I’m guessing she will be every bit of 10 pounds at birth” I heard the horrifying number echo in my brain, “There is NO WAY I am pushing out a 10 pound baby” I thought. They pushed for a scheduled C-Section, then, she ended up staying breech the rest of the pregnancy, anyway.

I was okay with the idea of a C-Section, I felt like it was the safest way with “But Dad” and I being so very different in size, I was worried. What if I tear, what if she gets stuck, what if we end up having to do a C-Section anyway. This will be just an easier way of doing this, and in the end, our little girl will be here, safe and sound, and I’ll heal.

There is something about the unknown that strikes fear into just about everyone. The day arrived, and they prepped me for surgery. I was scared, but determined to be positive. The took me down to surgery and when they wheeled me in… we waited. I HATE WAITING. But, when there is something really important you are waiting on… it takes even longer and is even harder. I was beside myself with emotions, and panic began to set in as “But Dad” was ushered out of the room and I was brought into the OR by myself.

I remember them giving me the epidural, and I asked them to “Let me know when you check me” so I knew I wasn’t going to feel anything. I felt the epidural work slowly up my left side, and even slower down the right. I panicked, I felt like a ton of bricks was sitting on my chest, and I was terrified. The anesthesiologist asked if they had checked me and could bring “But Dad” back in. “Oh, yeah, we already have her open, go get him”

Those words… I tripped on my breath, “they never told me they were checking me, never asked if I felt anything, how do they know I’m not going to feel something in a different area?” I thought.

“But Dad” came in a sat next to my head. He was already in his own state of mental torment from being made to wait so long to come in. He never showed it though, he sat by my side trying to keep my mind off of everything that was going on.

“…She’s almost out” I waited to hear a cry… I waited… and waited… and waited. I held what little breath I could manage, praying, pleading to hear a cry. “Here she comes…” WAIT, WHAT??? ¬†She isn’t even out yet… what is taking so long??? I saw them pull her out and about 45 seconds later there was a cry.

“Ma’am, we’re going to give you something to help calm you down” they gave me a shot of nerve medication and I started to go into a coherent, but super relaxed state. “She’s 5 pounds 9 ounces” Wait, what??? ¬†I fought through the meds… She was supposed to be 10 pounds easy. “But Dad” went with our oldest to the nursery as I laid there, in an uneasy but physically relaxed state.

They finished putting me back together and took me to recovery. I wanted my baby, I wanted my family, instead I got nurses who were busy, talking about their plans for that weekend while I laid there unable to talk, unable to communicate, but still able to miss my family.

Recovery took forever, and I finally got to go back up to my room. They wheeled me past the nursery where they were finishing up the newborn exam. I got to see her in all her perfection. I was happy, but I was out of it.

They brought her into me within a few minutes of getting me settled, and began to try to help me with breast feeding. My tiny little baby was hooked up to a heart monitor since she had 1 heart deceleration and they wanted to monitor it. I was hooked up to cords, she was hooked up to cords, and as I frantically tried to make sense of the whole breast feeding thing, the heart monitor would beep when I’d get hung up on something, causing me to panic. After a couple of tries, I asked to have formula brought in. She needed to eat, to gain weight, and I just couldn’t handle all the stress. “But Dad” fed her, her first bottle, and… as they say… The rest is History.

Our Oldest's Birth Story

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Just an Update. Life is CRAZY.

An Update on our crazy life.

This is one of those, posts I’ve been avoiding for a while now. It’s not necessarily a “bad” post, just a tiring post. It’s the kind of post that is usually interesting to read (I love reading updates on the blogger friends I follow) but, to write it, to format the swirl of words that swish around in my head, well, it’s daunting to say the least.

So it’s been a while since we have talked about¬†real life, and I feel like there is so much going on. I’m going to be all over the place, since instead of going in chronological order, I’m just going to finish out each of our stories 1 at a time.

“But Dad”

“But Dad” has had some stuff going on health wise. We have been dealing with High blood pressure, and now he will be starting Physical Therapy for pain he has been living with most if not all of his adult life. We are also getting a sleep study done to confirm his sleep apnea and get his very own C-Pap machine. He jokes about how he hadn’t seen a doctor since he was in school (for ADD meds) and now he finally sees one and is immediately loaded up with pills and 3 other doctors. Moral of that story Take Care of Yourself While You Are Young

We also had a bout which included an ambulance ride, the Emergency Room, His family doctor and then Urgent Care. We started out thinking it was a broken rib or his gallbladder, they ruled those out, called it Pleurisy and sent him on his way. We had a follow up with the family doctor where things were looking good, only to relapse and then find out through Urgent Care that he actually has pneumonia. It’s been a crazy 3 weeks or so for us dealing with all of this. (I’ll be making a post about the importance of having emergency info ready sometime later this month).

“The Oldest”

I’m not exactly sure if I have mentioned this before, however, we have started the oldest in feeding therapy. This is interesting, and particularly rough for me at times, as it goes against a lot of how I was raised. We are noticing some improvements though, so I’ll take it, and deal with my inability to handle change on my own time, not hers.

We have also been looking into some behavior therapy options. If I’m completely honest, the older she gets, the harder I find it to justify her actions and reactions. We are starting some new parenting techniques and I will be posting about those soon as well. All in all she is doing well in preschool, and proving to be an extremely smart little girl. I’m proud of how far she has come, and am looking forward to the days we can get the emotional and social stuff figured out.

“The Youngest”

Our youngest is doing extremely well in speech therapy and she is blossoming into a little girl with a great spirit. She is picking up on emotions and empathy so quickly, and just like a sponge absorbs everything going on around her. She loves her “Tsum tsums” and is wanting to learn ballet.

She will be starting preschool in September. I’m excited and a little sad, our baby isn’t really a baby anymore (even though she will ALWAYS be my baby). I’m excited to watch her unfold into this little person with a big heart and even bigger emotions. I’m proud of her for continuing to grow and blossom even in the midst of all the attention being on her sister.

Then, there’s ME:

So, I think any moms out there know, when so much stuff is going on, we tend to forget about ourselves and get wrapped up in making sure everyone has what they need, when they need it. We have 2 weekly therapy sessions (1 for each child), 2 monthly parent teaching session (again 1 for each child), Preschool 3 days a week, and now “But Dad” will be in physical therapy twice a week for at least 6 weeks if not longer.

Some days I feel as if my head won’t stop spinning. It is CRAZY, and while I love my family and would do anything for them, I have days I just want to be left alone. After much thought and dealing with some really painful emotions, I have decided that I am going to start going back to counseling, and possibly back on meds if I can find meds that regulate me the right way.

It’s so hard, living with Bipolar for years and never knowing it, over the top emotions are what I am used to. I am finding it very difficult to give up feeling those strong emotions, however, I realize it really is what is best under our current circumstances.

So, now that THAT is out of the way, on to happier thoughts. I’m preparing to send in some posts to some big name sites *Stay tuned for the results on that* I am also still working on putting together a book of stories from people who either have, or deal with family that have mental illnesses and children with developmental delays.

All in all, it is safe to say that life is crazy, and mixed up, and at times even downright over whelming, but, we’re still here, still doing what we do, and bringing you all the ideas as to how we manage with so much craziness.

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Spring has Sprung: My Goals for the Next 3 Months

My Goals for March-May 2016

 

Today is February 28, and it is going to be 61* in North East Indiana. I’m so excited for spring, and I’m so excited for where our family is going in life as a whole. ¬†Today, with just 3 weeks until spring “officially” begins, I want to talk about my goals over the next 3 months.

There is something beautiful about all things spring. I’m addicted to thunderstorms, and the pitter-patter of rain on the roof of the trailer, I love days that are warm enough to comfortably head out-doors with the kiddos and explore the world around us, and I love seeing the new life everywhere. ¬†All of these things give me the desire to set goals for the next 3 months.

Family Goals:

So as a family, we have decided on a few goals that we would like to accomplish. ¬†These aren’t crazy over board, but definitely some things that setting goals for will help.

  1. Yard Work. ¬†Now I’m not a big fan of yard work, which is why I feel like this is an important goal to set. It’s not so much about accomplishing the yard work, but rather making our yard work for us as much as possible. ¬†With Nana being older now, I feel like we are in a much better position to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. I’d like to create an area in the yard just for the kids, and also add in an area for a rock garden (hey I am NOT a green thumb, but a garden = less yard to mow, plus it will be a nice place to sit and relax in the morning before kids get up, or in the evening after the kids are in bed).
  2. Savings Goals. Now to be totally honest, I’m a shopaholic spend to much money kinda girl. There is something so comforting about seeing other people happy and, sadly, I don’t have a money tree nearby (if any of you find one, could you point me in the direction to get one?) I was thinking about the amount of money I spent this month on things we didn’t necessarily “need” and I decided that instead of doing what I normally do to give me great feelings of satisfaction and joy, I needed a visual and set a goal. ¬†We now have 4 different “savings” goals. ¬†I’m looking forward to seeing if the blank thermometers I printed off the net can actually be enough to keep me saving for these things, I sure hope so ūüėČ
  3. Clutter Clean-up. For those of you who don’t know, I spent the first 8 years of my life living in a hoarder home. My dad was a hoarder, there is now way around that one. ¬†I’m not sure how my mom did it as long as she did. Having lived that way during my most impressionable time in my life, it is almost “normal” to just step over stuff, move stuff from one surface to the next, and just generally continue to accumulate stuff we don’t need. This spring, I plan to start working on getting 2 boxes out a week: 1 to donate and 1 to throw away. ¬†My goal is to have a house we can LIVE in and not feel BURIED by.

Personal Goals:

  1. Walking. My first personal goal is to spend at least 20 minutes a day walking in our neighborhood. I will still continue my workouts (that I haven’t messed with because everyone has been sick and then as soon as I feel better it starts over again *sigh*) but I feel like getting out of the house and being by myself for 20 minutes (or longer) a day is only going to help me in the long run. ¬†I’m also not planning to wake up any earlier, or skip something else for ME, I’m just going to pick a time when I know everyone’s needs are met, tell “But Dad” I’m going for a walk, alone, and head out the door. Hopefully writing this here will help keep me accountable ūüôā
  2. Reading. I bought 5 books last month. I found books I really wanted to read, and I know that reading is a much better way to unwind then playing my beloved jeweled game on my phone (there IS a time and place for that however). Now, it’s just getting myself into the routine of reading for a bit before bed *sigh*
  3. Freezer Cooking. ¬†Now this one may seem like it should be a “family” goal, but, if I’m honest, I would be the one who would benefit from spending 1-2 days a week and making enough dinners for the next 1-2 weeks and then storing them to be pulled out later and fixed. ¬†Getting myself on a schedule where I can shop one day, prep the next and then assemble the 3rd would be ideal, and it would eliminate the need to run and get pizza and make peanut butter and jelly 4 times a week. BIG goal right here.

The Blog:

  1. Monthly Mental Health Link Up. You will be seeing this for the first time this Friday. I’m excited to be hosting my very first link-up and it will be centered around mental health. ¬†This means if you are a blogger and would like to link up here, you are more than welcome. Post must have some sort of mental health theme, these include: sharing a story about mental illness, interviews with yourself or someone else who is dealing with a mental illness, Self care tips, posts about postpartum care and postpartum depression. Pretty much if it has to do with staying mentally healthy, or dealing with mental health issues, it’s linkable ūüôā ¬†Look for the first one this Friday.
  2. My First Book. I am really wanting to write a book of stories centering around mental health. I feel like this is a topic that isn’t talked about nearly enough, and I know that through sharing stories we can help others who are in search of help. At the moment, my plan is to do 10 stories (10 different people’s stories) per book, and if I get more than 10 that would like to share, I’ll gladly make a 2nd and/or 3rd and so on. I am also wanting to make a short book on tips from people who are living with/working with people with mental illness and also parents who have children dealing with mental illness. These are lofty goals, however, I’m really looking forward to putting my heart and soul into this project.

So there you have it, these are my Spring Goals for 2016. Looking forward to seeing what happens when I work toward these goals What are your goals for spring???

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Guest Post: Cleaning Routine For Busy Parents.

I am super excited to be bringing you all the first “guest post” on the blog. ¬†With the new year, many of us have been thinking of becoming more organized and maybe even finding a better cleaning ¬†routine. ¬†Anna Aamone, manager of a small cleaning company in London, has some great tips to getting on a cleaning schedule. ¬†Thanks Anna.

 

Cleaning Routine for Busy Parents

 

Every busy parent wishes their house was clean and tidy at all times. But organizing and cleaning take time and effort. No matter if you are a stay at home parent or a working one, you can always find a way to keep your home in good order. You just need to create a cleaning schedule and involve everyone. Let’s get it started.

 

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Make a List

 

The best way to stick to a cleaning routine is to have a list of chores for each room and day. Think about what your household responsibilities are on a daily and weekly basis and include all corresponding chores, such as cleaning the bathroom, doing the laundry, organizing, washing the windows, etc. You need to decide whether the list will be divided between you and your children/spouse and whether it’s going to be a daily chore chart.

 

If you want to know the truth, it’s best to involve everyone, even your small kids. The sooner they acquire organizing and cleaning skills, the better for you and for everyone else.

 

Furthermore, make sure to place your checklist in a reachable place. Think about whether it will be written on a piece of paper or on a erase board so you can easily edit the chores. Or do you think it will be better to print out a copy for every family member?

 

Cleaning Tips

 

Kitchen

 

The heart of the home is usually a high traffic area. Here are a few things that need your attention on the daily. The kitchen table needs cleaning and disinfecting after every meal. Dishes should be washed right away after each meal so they don’t pile up in the sink. That way, you will keep pests away. You can sweep the floor every evening to get rid of any crumbs or debris. Schedule weekly vacuuming as necessary.

 

When should you clean the kitchen? Preferably, after each meal or late in the evening when the children are asleep. Who can clean the kitchen? Dad, mom, children. Now, if your kids are still small, you want to keep an eye on them while they are doing some tasks around the kitchen. For example, when they are clearing the table, don’t let them put away sharp or breakable objects like knives and glasses.

 

Bathroom

 

To keep your bathroom spotless between cleanings, make sure to always wipe down your bathtub and shower cabin after taking a shower. Cleaning the bathroom after showering is a lot easier because the steam helps loosen dirt and grime. Besides if you wipe down bathroom surfaces after each use, you will prevent mold from growing, HouseCleaners Chelsea reminds you.

 

Who can clean the bathroom? – Mom. Now, considering that cleaning the bathroom requires the use of strong cleaners, most of which are toxic, you want your kids to steer clear of it. Besides they can’t scrub the tiles to perfection.

 

Living room

 

When it comes to daily cleaning, there are a few things to do around your living room. Start by having your children help you to put away their toys and other stuff. If they occasionally have snacks there, sweep the floor. Make sure to replace pillows occasionally. You need to keep your living room tidy in case some friends or neighbors come by unexpectedly. Dust all surfaces twice a week. You can ask your small ones to help you with that.

 

Bedroom

 

Have your whole family participate in cleaning the bedrooms. Ask them to store away their clean clothes and to toss all the dirty ones in the laundry basket. Toys should be put back in their designated place, floors should be swept or vacuumed once a week. Make sure to wash bed linens weekly.

 

Note that we are talking about basic cleaning and tidying that can be done on the daily.

 

A final tip: clean one room at a time. Take advantage of those sweet moments when your small one is napping to put things in order. Afternoons and evenings are the best times of the day to clean the house.

 

And that’s how you can keep your home tidy and clean at all times. Keep calm and don’t let things get out of hand.

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