Why you should reject the “OMG I AM SO BUSY” Busy Mom Mindset

d

In my professional job at a Canadian University, I design and give seminars on a variety of topics that help students be successful at University.  It’s one one my favourite parts of the job and it has some selfish benefits – I get to learn and experiment with these principles in my own life before I share with clients.  I get to read books and research and then teach principles to others, that help me, too.

At this year’s class of 2020 induction the University brought in NYT best selling author, Psychologist & TED Talker extraordinaire Kelly McGonical speak to the class of 2020 on her new book, The Upside of Stress.

At its core, this amazing book is really about how to reframe stress and use the power of our own perspective and our own mindset, to reframe stress into a good thing. Chock-full of anecdotes and research, The Upside of Stress demonstrates the power of mind over body – and mind over life.

Those Books that Make a Difference

Often, the books that resonate with us the most, are the books that simply frame in English language, some kind of principle we’ve understood or known all along, but couldn’t fully frame. I think that’s why the book did so well.  The Upside of Stress hit home in so many ways. I only wish I had read it when I was in undergraduate studies myself.  It would have saved me so much self-imposed “I’m soooo busy!” drama.

I didn’t figure out my stress stuff until the age of 30, when I experienced really heavy stress.

In the spirit of this book, and the approach McGonigal takes on reframing stress, I wanted to talk about how we can re-interpret stress & the cult of “busy” in the journey of motherhood. We can’t change events or circumstances, but we can work on how we viewtalk about and decide to interpret things.

 

Mom 1 to Mom 2:  Hey…are you a member of the cult?

Mom 1:  wtf?

Mom 2:  The cult of busy of course! WE ARE SOOOO BUSY! (takes off chasing toddler)

 

Whenever I mention to people that I have two small children (toddler and 1.5 year old) the first thing they do is shake their heads and say “oh, that’s busy.”  I often don’t even mention that I have children because I don’t want to induce such worry!

Sometimes I get “oh my god, you must be so busy” with a shake of the head, other times, slightly more worringly, it is with genuine concern / resignation.  I catch myself thinking  “oh?” and sort of start to doubt myself, like I should be more stressed than I am.  Maybe I’m not working hard enough?  Am I not doing something right as a parent?  Because I feel actually ok? Am I being a horrible parent because I’m obviously taking time out of parenthood to work on some business goals and people don’t do that?  Oh yes, they creep in.  As much as I keep them out, they creep in when someone looks at me with an alarmed look on their face with the mention of two children under three.

The problem is, I kind of don’t want their perspective.

If bought into this whole “my life is so horribly busy and I work so hard and I am exhausted and omg” it would be a bit of a disaster.  I would have immersed myself in the cult of busy. I’d probably be on a really high SSRI dosage.  I’d be in counselling.  I’d be struggling to deal with the left curve balls that sometimes get thrown my way.

It’s a devious cult, this cult of “busy” and it is hard to emerge from because it takes over the way you see things.  It’s a mindset.

If my mindset is like this:  MY LIFE IS MAXED OUT, I AM SO BUSY AS A MOM HOLY SHIT, I definitely would not be giving myself the mental space for anything else to happen, ever.  Because I’d be red-lining on everything, all the time. I wouldn’t have done any of the things I’d done on mat leave, or started any businesses or projects.

It led me to wonder, how come everybody says “you must be so busy.”

Why?  There’s tons of influences. In coaching we call it societal discourse.  It’s the hum of conversation around a topic that seems to be widespread.

First, it might be a cultural thing.  There’s a sort of pride, achievement in saying how busy you are.  If you are busy you must be super productive and successful.  I must be super productive and successful.  Therefore I must be busy. That’s the underlying assumption that occurs out there in the world when you have a lot on the go.  The ego likes that.  Then it doubles down when you are a Mom, because we have this weird guilt thing where we feel like we have to justify our very existence with double the hard work, right?

Some people are genuinely maxed out with life, and that’s totally cool.  I’m not judging.  But I write this post to help others who want to “catch” themselves in the mindset and take the edge off of it, because I think a lot of opportunity opens up with just a shift in mindset.

Where else does this whole busy mom thing come from?

There’s movies about the harried, flustered Mum.  Commercials that want you to think you are busy because then you’ll need their product.  Capitalist society wants you to be busy and stressed, because then they have solutions for you for only $10.99.

Moms are always portrayed as stressed and frazzled, aren’t they?  Everywhere we go, everything we see.  And it’s kind of our fault.  We don’t look up from our phones to pay attention to a mom calmly playing with their kids in the park – we only notice the exceptions.  They’re more interesting.  The 5 minutes in the day where the kid has gone bat shit crazy, and is about to take down a shelf at the grocery aisle, with Mum valiantly trying to save the kid from himself.  But we don’t notice the quiet moments – not the other 1440 minutes where they are doing well and things are calm.

The exceptions become the norm, then media and society immerses us in that norm.

 

Because of reading books like McGonical’s – books from different people with different mindsets, who all experience the same things we do yet see them in a different way –  I discovered that there is more to it.  There are people out there who achieve amazing things as parents, and they think differently.

The key is if we want to be something, or do something, we need to study those who are successful at it, and look at their mindsets.  

We are not resigned to this fate of busy, harried, stressed out moms.  We can be busy, yes but we can be in control and cooly, calmly and pleasantly say no if we need to, or yes if it’s a priority. We can choose yes or no and make our lives as busy, or quiet, as we want to.

The luxury of choice also extends to our own minds.  We have the luxury of making a choice of whether to believe we are busy or not.  With two under three, I decided that I was not busy; I still had time.  And with that time, I could pursue goals and dreams and projects and priorities.

Sure, free time was compressed from 3 hours (luxurious evenings pre-children) to 1 hour (while children or napping, or while I am on lunch break at work.)  but I still had an hour free time each day in some form or another.  Free time is free time.  I sat down and looked at my week, and where the gaps of free time happened (6-7am, lunchtime at work, and 8-9:30pm) and decided what my most deeply held goals and values / priorities were. A crystal clear priority plan I still have on my iPhone notes when I need to remind myself what I want to say “YES” to, and as a source of strength when I have to say “NO” to things.

In this or that hour of free time, there went the goals and projects.  Writing a childrens’ book.  Running an Etsy store.  Reading and learning.  Finishing my coach training and launching a coaching business.  But they weren’t OMG JUST MORE SHIT TO DO.

These were all consciously chosen and pursued dreams and goals that I looked at as my idea of fun on free time.  I wanted to do these.  That’s just me. That’s what I define as enjoyable and rewarding.  Others may be Netflix or catching up on laundry, that’s okay too!  But do you tell yourself “AAAAGH!” or “COOL, IT WILL BE NICE TO SWITCH IT UP AND DO THIS INSTEAD.”

Is your approach an “ I HAVE TO” approach or a “I WANT TO” approach?

I don’t mean to be a jerk but I do mean to give a cold hard dose of reality with this post –  if you came back and said to me NO SERIOUSLY I HAVE NO FREE TIME I would debate that. I would want to see a week’s breakdown of your life, and I would ask you about your mindset.  I would ask you about what you said yes to, what you said no to. I’d ask you to put “yes and no” in the box according to what you said when that opportunity came up.

What qualifies in your life as free time?  What activities are you designating as “I have to” and  as “I want to.”

Let’s take this external event, I’ll show you an “I have to” and “I want to” mindset.

g

Deciding to take the kids to the library.  Two different experiences.

Mum 1:  Agh I have to get them out of the house and this is my to do today.  It’s just one more thing on this massive list of things I am supposed to get done today. Work work work! Busy busy busy! I have to get this done!

Mum 2:  Ah awesome, with this hour I’m going to decide to take the kiddos over to the library, that’s a treat for us, a fun excursion and a break from the day’s routines. I want to do this !

SAME external life event for both moms.  Two TOTALLY different ways of perceiving it. No wonder when you come across people in the library everyone is in a totally different state of mind; look at how different their beliefs can be.

Mum 1 is living in the  “holy shit I’m so busy / stressed” narrative. Mum 1 feels that everything is outside of her external control and she’s just dragging herself along.  Mum 2 is living in a more in-control narrative that doesn’t see everything as obligations and duties.  Mum 2 is operating by choice.  They may both have busy lives and the same schedules, but they have different mindsets and ways of perceiving the situation.

What do you think Mum 1 and Mum 2’s lifestyles look like?  Do their thoughts serve them well?  Do their mindsets move them closer to goals they have?

 

 

When you wake up in the morning and you have a particularly big day of activities coming up – whether you work or stay at home, do you feel that anxious energy and think “I JUST WANT TO STAY IN BED OMG LIFE IS SO OVERWHELMING AND THIS IS JUST CRAZY”  Or do you feel that anxious energy and think “cool, this is a little tingle of excitement and anticipation getting me ready to execute a big day!”

The brain quite literally  changes its wiring and neural pathways to accommodate your thinking patterns.  Each time  you choose to think a certain way, you are either reinforcing the pathways present – or helping the brain to reshape itself and habitually think a different way.

If you start reading books by all of these cool women who have kids and have achieved awesome things, youll notice that most them tend to go through the exact same scenarios that we moms do – but they frame it differently.  They make the choice to think things, and form their brains in ways that will help them toward their goals. You as a mama know how quickly time passes, so think about what you want to achieve.  Whether you use it or not, time will pass.  You already know this better than anyone, as you sit with your baby and think “where did the time go?!”

If you want to join the cult of busy and the stress narrative, that’s your choice but ask if it serves you and gets you towards your goals.  There’s an alternative that will help you take on new things and grow.  You just have to choose it.

xo

 

Carinad.jpg

 

Extra reading *and viewing

 

Amazon link:  https://www.amazon.ca/Upside-Stress-Why-Good-You/dp/1583335617

McGonical’s online course through Stanford University http://online.stanford.edu/course/upside-stress

Kelly’s personal website http://kellymcgonigal.com/

 

How to Have a Great Maternity Leave – Listen to Podcasts (Like Tim Ferriss and Tony Robbins)

IMG_7535

As usual, listening to the Tim Ferris podcast this morning blew my mind wide open.  Sure, it could have been the bulletproof coffee too, but the combination of the two are magical on a morning commute.  Especially when he has Tony Robbins on.

Like me, Tony Robbins is a life coach, albeit a very experienced and world famous one. 🙂

If you haven’t heard his work, maybe check out his TED talk, “Why We Do What We Do” with more than seventeen million views (!)

Early in the podcast, Tony asks Tim an important question.

Usually I just sit and listen to the podcast, but the moment he asked this question,

I was off in another world, contemplating my 34 years of life up to that point.

I love it when Tim Ferris is stumped on his own podcast =)  There was some serious contemplative silence on the podcast.

(insert suspenseful silence here.)

When I work with a client and they don’t answer, are stumped or say “I don’t know” it is so exciting. In coaching this is gold.  

One of the main goals of a professional coach is to help the client dig deeper, discover and become aware of things they were previously unaware of.  It’s like walking into a dark cave, but this time, you have a flashlight, and as you shine it into the dark, you see pictographs on the wall, stalactites and stalagmites, perhaps the sparkle of some crystal formations.

All of a sudden the story of the cave, and everything about the cave has changed.  Your perception of the cave and your expectations of it have totally changed.  And now, your experience and actions inside the cave are going to change.  Instead of afraid at the entrance, you are immersed in exploration and wonder at the natural world.  Because of a flashlight.

Life is a bit like this, too.  These are “ah hah” moments which are precipitated by powerful questions.  Which is why Tony is so good at what he does.

Magura cave, Bulgaria
Rock formation inside the cave Magura near, Belogradchik, Bulgaria – Image from Colourbox

 

A coach like Tony Robbins shows you how to pick up the flashlight and switch it on, and as you explore the cave, and undergo discovery, adventure, and reassessment of everything you thought you knew, the coach is there, at your back.

 

So back to the podcast…

What was the question that stumped Tim Ferriss?

Tony asked “whose love did you crave growing up

 I thought about this in my own life.  As should you.

My Mum was love itself.  I don’t remember craving it from her, but like Tim, I do remember craving love from my dad.

 

Next, Tony asked this gem.

 “Who did you have to be for your parent, to have his respect/love.” 

“gut reaction, no filter…”

 

This takes a while to answer because it is deep in our subconscious.  We’ve never consciously thought about it.  Ah hah.  Here’s a dark cave.  And Tony’s question is the flashlight that has just been handed to you to shine into that dark abyss.

I don’t mind sharing my personal  life here, if it helps you examine your own questions.  And I admire Tim for going there with Tony live, on a podcast.

In my interpretation, I had to be brilliant, intellectually of high calibre, and also athletic, to  have my dad’s respect / love.  

I think back to childhood, I remember the pride and recognition I received from my dad on my first black diamond ski run, his frustration at my slower learning curve, disappointment when I was cut from teams in my teens or when I cried on said ski runs.  The hard pushes beyond my comfort zones in athletic activities,  and his focus on learning, pushing higher, doing better in mathematics, homework and study time, bring home good grades, the hours spent at the dining room table trying to grasp math and counting coins.  Lots of pushing.  hard.  To be extraordinarily talented was to be loved.

He wasn’t around much from the age of 11 onward, but I do remember all of those phone conversations, the first thing I’d bring up was sports and academics, in a bid for his love and attention, which with an absent father, was so craved.

What about you?  Think about what you needed to be for the parent whose love you craved?

Then Tony asked, what about your other parent?   What did you have to be?

Tim, like myself, felt like he didn’t need to be anything with his Mum.  He could just be himself and she embraced and encouraged it.  Same boat with me. The love was there, unconditional, no strings attached, but most importantly, my mum rolled with who I was and encouraged it.

 

Why do these questions matter so much now that we are parents? 

Because we are in the journey of learning about and thinking about the love we express to our children, and how to nurture and encourage them. These questions make us realize that we carry things with us forward into the present day, that were established long ago in the past.  We have the power to become of aware of them, and change them if they do not serve us.

Until 2010 I unconsciously struggled with the impact that my father left on me.  Hard driving, hard pushing to achieve, and show him I am smart. I can do this. A masters degree, no doubt completed in part as one final attempt to get some love and acceptance which I so craved from him (we have an estranged relationship.)   Now I can just accept that pushing myself so hard in grad studies and the difficult journey in 2007-2010 was in part, due to this dynamic in early childhood. I was able to let this go after 2010 through a heck of a lot of self reflection and exploration, but Tony beautifully encapsulated and explained it today and finally gave me a better framework with which to understand the process.  He also made me much more mindful of what I want to do with my own children, and the importance of unconditional love and celebration, and encouragement of who they are instead of who I would love for them to be.

I’m going to guess there’s at least a few people, like me, who are winging this parenting thing and learning as they go, and what a beautiful lesson this morning that I stumbled on by chance as I drove to work.

We go through this world carrying a master assessment.  Our interpretation of our life.  Our story.  It’s like a filter through which everything, every event and situation, flows.  Even our parenting decisions.

To be a great parent, is to know ourselves, and be aware of that which was previously automatic, unconscious.  So that we can make the decision to either continue, or upgrade.

Aside from googling random shit on parenting, poops, and feeding, we can ask ourselves:

Where do our master stories begin? Where do we start to craft our view of the world? What influenced it?

The earliest place is in the home and in our earliest interpretations of love and recognition from our parents.

You are born a blank slate (though my spiritual beliefs include the journey of the soul through various lives) – I like Tony’s words:  “You are born wide open.”

A beautiful, wide open human, open to experiences and learning.  There is no filter yet. Babies and children are simple, pure human beings, operating with pure emotion and authenticity, from day one. Their world is their family and the love surrounding them.

I see this every day in my professional work coaching students.  They walk into my office with a proverbial suitcase rolling behind them.  Before I even work with them on study skills, as a coach I work to unpack and understand the master story they walk in with.

 

Just like the body learning motor patterning (like learning to catch a ball,) we begin emotional patterning. We see and interpret things, craft a master story and then walk with it the rest of our lives. Sometimes it serves us well, sometimes it no longer serves us and we desire change.

I love this idea.  It is beautiful.  

It’s not even an idea, I’d say it is a truth.  

As we think about how we express our love to our children (when, where and how)

we can begin to think about the imprinting that is going on.  What are we passing on? How are we modelling love to them.

It’s such a tricky balance between passing on great morals, values and shaping them into good people, but also embracing and encouraging who they are.  Allowing them to be them selves and the best version of themselves.   That’s why parenting is so diverse!

Ask yourself the questions above.

I’ve said from day one that maternity leave, and parenthood cracks you wide open and you are in a state of deep learning.  There is no more powerful time in your life to explore, understand and reconfigure.

Which brings me to close this long form blog post.

With your child, are you working to model them, or are you working to embrace and let them go with who they are?  It’s a fine balance between passing on great values, morals and shaping them into good people, but also embracing who they are and providing a font of unconditional love.

What The Grief of Losing Your Mum is Like – 2.5 Years Down the Road

You probably read the title of this post and thought “oh my gosh, that is tragic.”  If you yourself are in the journey, please know that I am approaching this post with a sense of gentleness & deep empathy, as well as authenticity. I believe in adding another voice to the dialogue out there & I can only do that by being 100% myself.

I want to share some silver linings of this difficult process, and give you a bit of my own hope and the strength I have found in the darkest moments of this human experience.

I hope this will touch you and give you a bit of strength to carry on your journey. If you have already been on this journey and have come out the other side, I hope it will give you a feeling of solidarity, knowing others have walked it too…and maybe as you continue to question how senseless your loss was, you can also begin to make some sense of it, and sprinkle in some some glimmers of hope.  This is what it is like for me, 2.5 years after being a cancer care giver and losing my mum when I was 6 months pregnant (aka this greatest shit storm of the “shit storms of life”!)

Some days I feel I can write, other days I just can’t.   Today I felt like something was telling me to write, so I am.  Quietly as both babies sleep, with a tea, I am sitting here typing.

I am glad I acted upon my hunch.

 

WHAT IS GRIEF LIKE 2 YEARS ONWARD FROM YOUR LOSS?

I feel like all I can do is list a few observations here.  Everyone is just so different with their timelines, so please don’t use this to benchmark.  But I hope it gives you peace.

-I miss my Mum EVERY damn day, it makes my heart ache. I think about her on average 10-15 times a day, mostly during activities with my babies I know she’d enjoy.  But it’s a strange thing.  I feel it, I think it, I acknowledge it, and it fades away.  Depending on my self care (see below) it fades away on its own, or with a grief burst.  But the aching is manageable.  There was a time when the grief felt like my heart was torn out, but it was a short stage in the grief process.  This one is a longer stage, but it is more manageable for sure.  I feel that carrying this level of grief, I can have a wonderful, loving, happy quality of life and live with gratitude.  Mostly for the reasons  below.

-My daughter’s health – physical, emotional, mental was not affected in any way being in my womb during such a stressful time in life.  She is a beautiful, happy, balanced child full of light, love and laughter.  Please don’t let anyone EVER tell you that your baby will be affected. 

-As an old soul in a new human body, my daughter had the honour of meeting and feeling other souls concluding their earthly journey.  At chemotherapy, I walked around and visited with patients.  There were many women there.  Young, old.  I happily let each of them touch my belly and say hello to my daughter, and it was beautiful.  It is one of the most cherished memories I have from chemotherapy.

There was one moment in chemotherapy I will never forget. An patient once told me that she felt great comfort greeting the little spirit in my belly, because she symbolized the infinite circle of life – as one life ends, another begins.  She said their spirits were just passing by and saying hello to each other in an infinite universal journey, and that they’d see each other again.  It sent chills down my back.

-I walk with a still pool of sadness in me.  Most days I do not notice it, but I know it is there, quietly sitting in my inner garden.  It used to be an overwhelming, choppy LAKE of sadness, but now it is just a still pool.  Every now and then, a rock is thrown into the pool, and the ripples cause tears.  I call my occasional tears “grief bursts” and I’ve learnt to be 100% okay with them and absolutely embrace them, even in public.  I will just tell someone “I lost my mum and I’m missing her right now, this is my grief coming out.”  The last big one I had was in December, as I was flying to London Heathrow on the Air Canada flight my Mum and I always used to take. As we flew over tower bridge, I lost it. Rather than hiding, mumbling I was okay, like I would have before, I simply said “my Mum and I used to take this flight every year and look for tower bridge as we arrived.  I lost her a few years ago.”  Why bother hiding something that is simply being human?

-Your emotional intelligence and emotional range, including empathy, will become so much more enhanced.  This is a gift, because from this moment forward, you will be a gift to everyone who has the honour of knowing you.  They will feel your love.  Because you know how to silently transmit it now with just a look, or your presence.

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”  ~  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

-The grief bursts are about once every 2-3 weeks and most often are triggered by myself just being tired or run down, and then a trigger happening, like seeing an oxygen tank, a woman who looks like my mum, or one of her favourite songs coming on or seeing my friends with their own mums.

-Self care and grief go hand in hand.  When my self-care is low, my grief bursts are more frequent and more intense.  For example, when my self care is low, ColdPlay’s Paradise (funeral song) sets me off.  A few weeks ago that song had me pulled over on the highway sobbing my heart out.

When my self-care is high, Cold Play’s Paradise makes me smile and I am struck with a fond memory.  That happened today, in the middle of toys r us, where my mum used to love taking me on a weekend.  And today, I smiled, bought my daughter a toy and said “thank you mum.”

-Your grief will always be a beautiful barometer of self care, and (hopefully) you will take better care of yourself than before, because you are more aware of how self care impacts your mental, physical and emotional health.

-Every moment outside of those ripples, of those grief bursts, I am generally joyful and full of gratitude.

My appreciation of life, health, and happy moments is 1000x stronger than they were before losing my Mum.  Loss intensifies sadness but it also intensifies happiness and gratitude for life.

Trust me on this one. 

  

 

 

Protecting your Fortress – Life Coaching Techniques to Help New Moms Retain Self-Identity and Confidence

  

As I write this post I have a large, imposing fortress sitting on a hill top in my mind.  And inside that fortress I am sitting, blissfully happen, ALONE and not BEING TOUCHED OR CRAWLED ON BY ANYONE.
Can you tell I’m PMS-ing a bit today?  My poor, sweet husband wanted a cuddle last night. I wanted TO NOT BE TOUCHED BY ANYONE OR ANYTHING including the cats.  I was done.

Which brings me to today’s topic.  It’s really about defending your fortress.  Your last bastion of solitude from what I call the slow creep.

As mamas, the slow creep is something we have to be super mindful of.  Each part of the slow creep seems innocent in itself.  But x365 days of mat leave, making choices over and over again, each one you make sets a precedent – and enough times, will set a pattern.  

 

It leads to us feeling guilty and checking our i phone at the gym or not leaving until everything seems peaceful and perfect at the house.

(The slow creep is “I’m just going to pause my workout to answer this question / solve this problem I just got texted about.”)

It leads to us choosing the “easier” option – not going out, not bothering to dress up, skipping the makeup that day, eating cereal instead of a balanced meal. 

(The slow creep is “I’m going to change back into my runners to walk with the stroller later, there’s no point in bothering with a different outfit.”)

It leads to us not even being able to go to the bathroom or shower alone.

(The slow creep is answering a question from someone from behind the door.)

It leads to us doing the bulk of housework or chores.  

(The slow creep is “ugh, I just want this done NOW so I’m just going to do it myself.” )

It leads to us slowly losing our self confidence.

(The slow creep is that one morning where you think “I haven’t done that in __years/months since I had my baby, I won’t be any good now!”)

It leads to us slowly losing a sense of our own self-identity.

(The slow creep is that one night where you don’t bother going out with some girlfriends because you just don’t feel like it.)

 

Sounds pretty sinister, right?  

The problem with the slow creep is that it is each seemingly innocent moment that we are not always conscious of.  Those have a huge compounding effect over the duration of a year, and set precedents, set patterns.

One day you are in the bathroom.  Your 2 year old is being especially cute and you let her in, just once to watch you do your hair and makeup. *This is the slow creep.

One day you are in the bathroom.  Your husband opens the door and your baby comes crawling in, hanging on to your leg while you are trying to pee.  *This is the slow creep.

One day you are in the bathroom, your husband has a question and asks you through the door. You answer.  *This is the slow creep.

Each time is innocent enough to say “yes” or let it happen right?  But now three humans can do it.  And you are just one person.

A precedent has been established.  

You are now accessible whilst in the bathroom, to three people.  

This is an example RIGHT out of my book.  Last week I realized, of all things, I at least deserve to take FIVE MINUTES to complete basic bodily functions in privacy.  I got annoyed at myself because I had fully let it happen each time somebody wanted something from me.  I didn’t defend my fortress from the slow creep.

I cracked down. I reinforced my moment to myself physically with the lock on the door and in words, with a request:  “This is one time I need to not be interrupted. I give a lot of myself all day to all of you, and this is a time you will have to be without me”  (ok, the words I used for my two year old were a lot simpler than that!)

 

THE CHILDREN EXAMPLE

It’s the weekend.  Or maybe a week day if your husband does shift work.  He’s not working. One of your two children has a playdate.

You decide to take both, you might as well since you are going out. *This is the slow creep.

What precedent / pattern / routine are you setting up if you always offer / settle for taking and managing both kids and your husband gets the downtime?

This is one I also have to work on.  If my husband has specifically requested some downtime, no problem, I will take both.  But I don’t want to set up the precedent that both kids all the time is my responsibility.  I frequently have to remind myself of what we have agreed is 100% equal in our books and what would / would not lead to a pattern of resentment settling in

For me, I would feel great resentment if it became a pattern – if he was kid-free all the time, by my own doing –  by settling for just taking both kids “because I might as well.”

(-please note this is in our own family’s situation, other people may have a different balance point that works for them.)

 

Have a think about it.  Has there been anything that slowly, innocently enough, has seemed to have faded away.  What is important to you, that you should put in your fortress and defend with words and actions from the slow creep?  What does the slow creep mean to you?

 

Freeing Yourself From Other Moms’ Judgements

 

What you’ll learn in this article: Learn the three reasons people are so judgemental.  Why moms can be so intense.  A powerful perspective to help release the power of others’ opinions, and a technique you can use every time someone (unhelpfully) lets you know what they think without you giving them permission.  Oh, and a short blurb on how to politely decline “feedback” from someone.

Let’s Get Started!

Today on the Great Maternity Leave I wanted to offer some life coaching that I do with clients.  But more importantly, this was an important area for development for myself as I went through my own coach training & personal transformation during my first maternity leave.

This post today is about helping you break free from giving other people power over you.  It is about breaking free from the powerful pressures of conformity.  It is not letting your voice or your unique style be shut down.  It is about no longer being afraid to strike out on your own path and to respectfully decline to take in another person’s judgement.

 

THIS IS WHAT DAY TO DAY LIFE IS LIKE

 

You are walking along a path.  Along the path, hundreds of people are standing, giving you their opinions of where you should step on the path, how you should do it, how far you should travel, what you should be afraid of, what might happen, what might go wrong, their own advice, what you should wear, trying to give you goods to carry, saddling you with extra baggage.  etc. etc.

IMG_1672.JPG

 

There are two options.  You could smile politely at them and ignore them, continue walking, enjoying your path, light and unburdened.  Or you could keep stopping, and letting those people load your arms up with more stuff, load your mind up with their fears, their doubts, and take on their opinions.

In the process, you lose track of what path you were on, become confused, and start doubting your journey.  Eventually you can’t even remember the destination.  You are going around in circles, surrounded by people trying to have their voice heard.  I’d imagine it’s like being a celebrity in a media scrum on the red carpet.  Hey! You!  Listen to me! NO! ME!  Turn this way!

 

When it comes to us in this motherhood journey, THIS happens.

SO MUCH.

 

When we open ourselves up to others, we inevitably open ourselves up to (their) opinions and judgements.

I also believe that opinions are so intense on the motherhood journey because (most) of them come from a place of love, and moms are very passionate about children and babies.   Vereeeee passionate.

But really, this post deals with any type of judgement.

 

THE 3 REASONS PEOPLE ARE JUDGY:

1.)  Because some people think that “communication” and “conversation” means giving and receiving advice rather than just listening and only offering advice if it is asked for.

2.) Many people spend their entire day in a state of judgement, assessing what others are doing, talking about others. It becomes a habitual way of thinking, perhaps started in early age.  It becomes a sport for these people.

3.)  If a person does not have growth, aspirations, and excitement in their own lives, they focus on what is going on in others’ lives.

Think about playing in the park with your child.  If you are busy running around the equipment, engaged with them, you have no time or interest for judging.  Your focus is in the present moment.

But the person sitting on the bench watching what you are doing is not engaged and busy.  Their focus is turned outward to what other people are doing.

IMG_1676.JPG

**But we have ALL been there, sitting on the bench, quietly watching another parent playing with their child and silently coming up with judgements.  We are not perfect.  It is an active effort and commitment not to live in that place.

 

MY GOAL WITH THIS POST TODAY:

With a baby, we are asking for advice and discussing parenthood quite frequently, so the doors are wide open. And I am sure you will agree that the judgements come rolling in, whether you gave permission or not.  

 

I want to help you become confident and strong in the face of those judgements that come in via words, the grapevine, a comment on your facebook or a “look ” you get at the park.  I’ll discuss some perspectives that help + some strategies.

 

The Chef in the Kitchen Example.

IMG_1673.JPG

You are your own best expert.  You have spent 24/7 around your child.  You know every nuance of their behaviour and know their soul. You created and housed their body.  You instinctively and intellectually know their needs. When somebody gives you unwelcome advice or judgements, think of it this way:

It is like they are at a restaurant, then walk into the kitchen and tell the chef how to make his or her own meals.  That sounds crazy doesn’t it?

So does adopting another person’s views of how you should be a mother / wife / woman.

 

We Have Been Trained to Dispense & Accept Judgements Since a Young Age

In school, we (ideally) develop critical thought and hone in on our ability to choose from multiple sources of information, assess each one for evidence & applicability, and then select the information that sits with us best.

Choose. Assess. Select.

We are doing this fairly competently by our 20s.  Especially if we are in post-secondary education.

So why aren’t we able to do this with people’s unhelpful judgements?  Why do we keep taking it personally?   

They hold a lot of power over us, because from an early age we were trained to care what people thought of us.  We were told what to be, how to act, who to be, how to talk, how to think, even sometimes what degree we should pursue. We were trained to depend on other peoples’ judgements of us.  If you did what people wanted you to do, you were good.

If you did not do what people wanted you to do, you were bad.

It takes a long time to unravel that thinking pattern and it is a constant process.  

You will always have to work at it.  But here are some tools that will help.  

 

 

THE BOOK-UNDER-THE-ARM TECHNIQUE:

Imagine that everybody is walking with a thick book under their arm at ALL times.  Seriously, for the rest of the day, I want you to imagine that book is right there, under each person’s arms.

And when they begin to talk to you, they pull that book out from under their arm and turn to a chapter and begin referencing it.  Let your minds’ eye see them doing that.

Wtf, Carina. 

Let me explain now:

Imagine your child is totally melting down and they just offered their (rather unhelpful) opinion on the situation and your parenting.

When that person begins to offer their “opinion” or “judgement” what they are doing, is opening their own life book and referencing their own chapter on that topic.

How did they write their own chapter on a child having a tantrum & what to do:

-The unique family & family culture that they grew up within.

-The unique decade, year, sociopolitical situation, geographical location, country they grew up within.

-The unique culture that they come from.

-How they saw others in their generation dealing with tantrums.

-How they remember being dealt with during a tantrum.

-Their educational background (degree, school system.)

-The unique view of gender roles that they have (by family, culture, etc.)

-The parenting methods that were popular at their time + the few books out of the 100s out there that they happened to read.

 

Wow.  You are different from them on every single one of these points, right?  

Here’s an image to nail this point home.

 

 

IMG_1679

This lady comes from a totally unique, different reference point and perspective from you.

So why would you want to follow HER chapter in HER book? Why would you let her have so much power over you?  Even if she is a friend or a family member?

 

You’ve already got your own book to reference and it applies to your life much better than someone else’s book.

 

Remember, it is up to you to give permission to someone to make their judgement. They cannot offer it if you do not give them permission.

“Thanks ,but I’ve got a system that is working great for me right now, let’s chat about something else.” 

And if it comes out of them before you can stop it, just let it wash over you with the above techniques and perspectives.

 

xo

 

Carina

 

 

 

I Didn’t Want Kids, But I Had Them. The Questions I Wanted To Ask When Deciding.

 

What you will learn: I talk about not being into kids, and then what it was like being surprised with pregnancy – and some of the most helpful things that helped me come to terms with it (and my personal hangups.)

Its fun being “that” person that didn’t want them and now wants three, ha ha ha.  I hope you enjoy my honest article.

Reading Time:  5 minutes

When you get to your early 30s and start facing the reality of your biology and thinking about your future, you dive deep into your inner worlds of introspection.  It’s difficult. And intensely private.  Which is ironic, because whether you are going to have kids suddenly becomes everyone’s business at 30 and people start talking to you about it – or at least dropping hint bombs.

At 25 I started dreading the whole kids question because I wasn’t feeling it – and still was not into the idea at 30 when I got pregnant, so I took on a defensive shell.

 

First, Ask Yourself Honestly What “Story” Are You In?

Looking back I was a vocal member of the “I don’t like children” tribe.  I always complained about kid photos on Facebook and even deleted a few people who were particularly enthusiastic.  I feel awful about that now.  I missed out on some really wonderful little peoples’ early lives because I was committed to this “I’m not into kids” story I had for myself.  I rallied against events where there were infants or toddlers.  I made a point of not going to baby showers.  As I said, I feel awful about this now!

I had lots of hangups with parents –  it seemed like everyone sat around and stared at the child rather than had adult conversation.  I remember one Christmas everyone sat staring at this one child and nobody was having a conversation.  I tried engaging someone in a topic totally unrelated to children and it circled back to children.  At most events with children present,  I would huddle with the guys and avoid baby / children talk.  I couldn’t understand why all of a sudden nobody could talk about other things.  But the guys weren’t as bad, so I stuck with them.

The quotes on motherhood didn’t make my fallopian tubes curl up into little swirly hearts and my ovaries pop.  If I’m being honest, they made me throw up in my mouth a little.  I just didn’t respond to the “overwhelming love” of a baby.  I’m not a touchy feely type.

I prefer logic and evidence.  I feel like I was in trouble right from the start, as the discussing of the benefits of children is very love-and emotion-oriented in our female world.   In MBTI terms, there is a lot of F.  I’m a T.  I began wondering if that meant I was truly ill-equipped and a bad fit for being a parent.

I even made a point of avoiding babies.  Every time I saw one swaddled up in a blanket it might as well have been a Sith Lord staring back at me with unseeing eyes.  People who tried to get me into a conversation about families, babies and parenting were probably thwarted by my awkwardness and obvious discomfort.

As 28-29 approached, I realized biology would force some decisions.

How I Started Exploring the Question:

It was in secret.  I would grab a coffee and sneak off to Chapters where I’d read books on whether or not to have kids, like Maybe Baby, which helped me because of the diversity of its entries (baby forums are NOT diverse in opinions.)

I also read a ton of those forum posts and got myself in too deep. I’m actually a bit disappointed that when you google significant questions around becoming a parent, forums are often the first results you get.  They are not the most neutral place to go.

I also started a list of my hangups around having kids, and what fears and perceptions I had.  One by one, I started chipping away at them and deconstructing them.

 

Take a Look at What You Are Googling

Did you know that counter-terrorism specialists can tell how far “radicalized” an individual is based on forensic analysis of their computer and what they have been googling?  Turns out, our googling can reveal some powerful information.

“Should I have kids or not?”  I cannot tell you how many times I typed these words into my chrome browser between 2010-2012. I also googled “What is so great about children”  “the benefits of having children” and “the cons of having children”  “do children make you less happy” and “why children suck” –  I was genuinely on the fence about having children. Leaning toward no.  My search terms changed the further I got into exploration.  “Children ending career” “unhappiness and parenting” “are people happier with children” “will I sacrifice my career” “why I didn’t have kids.”  “Why do women change when they have kids.” Those were some my later googles.  You can see where I was at mentally.

This ambivalence was further intensified by my Facebook newsfeed.  “20 (shit) things nobody told you about having children” or “5 things mothers regret” or “10 terrible things about giving birth which will traumatize you to read.”  “Five biggest mistakes parents make.”  These articles are “click bait” – exploiting fear because they know people will read them.  It’s like the news.  The news reports on sensational, scary things because people will watch those stories.   Take a look at Today’s Parent Magazine and there will be some kind of element of fear parents have on the front cover.  Go ahead.  I guarantee it.

There’s also an awful lot of martyrdom and self sacrifice in the online dialogue around motherhood.

Some of those articles are hilarious to read now that I have kids but oh man were they rough when I was debating still.  The internet is the worst resource / place for advice when you are debating a big decision, because only the “extreme” versions of either option go viral and make it to your social feeds. 

Then, if I managed to find a good article, it was waaaaaaay too touchy feely squishy for me. No straightup, rational, clear headed assessments.

It was extremes:  Dark foreboding articles inducing fear or gushing articles on feelings.  I actually started trying to find mens’ blogs on the decision because I felt their writing would better fulfill my way of analyzing things.

My gut was 75% no, 25% yes.  And getting pushed more toward the “No” every time I read an article about how challenging // isolating // terrible // painful // sacrificial being a parent is.   I had my hangups about children and the more I read, the more North American online parenting culture made me feel like I would lose all of my life, self identity and ability to travel. WTF!  Basically all of my fears compounded.

The Mistake I Made from the Start

My mistake was thinking that other people’s versions of parenthood would become my version of parenthood. On the internet, it’s clear that everybody wants  you to do things the way they do things.  Especially Moms.  If you don’t do what they do, watch out!

Parenting / mom groups online are a microcosm of society, really – there is always in-group pressure from society at large – in any topic.  The group wants you to be like them, do like them and think like them.  If you don’t, you are an outsider.  And that’s a scary path to take.

 

One of the BEST Things You Can Do is a Few Counselling or Therapy Sessions to Explore your Decisions and Feelings About Having Children and Becoming a Parent.

Working with a counsellor/therapist/psychologist/coach helps you deconstruct all of the “internalizing” you are doing in your attempts to “preview” being a parent, and figure out who you are in all of that external chatter.  Which pieces you’d like to take up, and which you should ignore and throw out.

When I found out I was pregnant, I signed up for counselling.

Best thing I ever did.

 

By working with a Psychologist, I was able to :

-Understand exactly what my hangups were about being a parent

-What it was about having a child that would get me and my personality type excited – (because the talk that was out there wasn’t getting me excited.)

-The models of parenting I liked and didn’t like.

-Understanding our cultural background:  The types of parenting that are subconsciously pushed on us by media, society at large, etc.

-Why and how I could create my own model of parenting.

-How to work with fear.

-How to embrace love and bonding.

-How to design a version of motherhood that worked for me and get clear on my values and what excites me.

6 sessions.  Covered through my work’s professional assistance plan and insurance health plan.  In hindsight, knowing what I got from it, I would have paid $200 per hour to do it.  $1200 to revolutionize my thinking, come to peace with myself, and address my mindset was WELL worth it.  

 

The Universe Has a Sense of Humour

It turns out, at the age of 30, my decision was made for me with a surprise pregnancy at the worst possible timing in terms of life events.   My husband had just received word he was starting the Fire Department’s Intensive Training Academy, and my Mum had just received word that her terminal stage IV lung cancer had metastisized to the brain, greatly shortening our timeline.  This is a big reason why I got my butt to a psychologist.  That’s a lot of shit to deal with, and I knew it.

2013 I was taking care of the two most important people in my life.  My intellectual capacity was maxed out helping with studying fire exam material and testing my husband.  My emotional capacity was maxed out in caregiving for my mum.  Layer onto that hyperemesis the entire pregnancy and it was a really, really shit time.  I was the most enthusiastic parent-to-be you have EVER met.

But there’s something I need to tell you.

In 2013, I had my daughter, and then in 2015 I had my son.  In 2016 I am sitting here telling you that I would have another in a heartbeat.

That is a RADICAL shift in my thinking, and in my life plans.  So I want to bring to you the perspective of a “logical” type who has great respect for both paths.  Life is damn great with kids, and it is damn great without. I was forced into the first option before I was ready, so this post is really great for people who have decided to just “go for it” despite fears and hangups.

So let’s get to the meat of this post.

What does a 32 year old female who loves her career, has a bazillion interests outside of family and parenting, and doesn’t strongly identify with the deep maternal “feels” of motherhood have to say, about not wanting kids then having them?

And what questions would I personally have wanted answered in a less cray-cray-way?

Am I happier with kids?  

If I am being totally, 100% objective:

My answer is yes.  I smile and laugh far, far, far more times in a day than I ever did before children.  I experience the pure emotion of happiness, laughter and enthusiasm / engagement constantly throughout the day.  I have more fun moments in a day than before I had children.

Yes my days are punctuated with frustration, anger, sadness and these versions are more intense than when I had them pre-kids, but they are by far the minority in my emotional range.  I would not say those emotions occur more if I was to sit down and chart every day.  The pro emotions outweigh the negative by far. I am a positive person who creates her own reality, and it continued with kids; that wasn’t affected.  However, not every parent would agree with me.

Did I feel the Bond?

Not straightaway with my daughter. I did not feel the overwhelming love, so I was highly skeptical of this concept.  However, it kicked in around with her when she was 4 months old.  My son, instant.

I have a feeling I may be flamed for this in the comments, but I WISH someone had explained this to me in these terms:  If you have ever owned a puppy or kitten, you know you are just overwhelmed by the cuteness and mega obsessed?  Your own kid does that to you.  It is called the kitten effect.  It’s like having a puppy or a kitten that NEVER grows up into a dog or cat.  Yes, THAT awesome!   You just look at your kid and the “aawwwwww” takes over.  That is most of my day.  However there are moments of suck.  But remember, overall great, small punctuations of suck.

 

Did I change once I had kids?

In terms of my personality? No.  I’m still social. I’m still me. I still leave the house and do fun interesting things, with fun interesting people, that have nothing to do with children. When I am kid free, my conversations try to remain kid free too.  That’s my thang.

I am still just as motivated to wear makeup, go to the gym, do social things.  It takes me about 15-20 extra minutes to plan events logistically because I plan for the kids’ care.

If anything, it improved me a bit. I’m more in touch with my feelings, more empathetic and warm overall.  It also boosted my motivation to go do fun things.  I’m an ENTP – so my “thing” as a parent is defined as letting them explore / adventure / learn.  This is perfect.  I have THREE buddies to explore the world with now.

 

Did Kids Make Me Broke?

Nah.  People bitch a lot about the cost of diapers, wipes and food.  It will cost you $150 a month-ish.  But my perspective is this: Why bitch about something you need to help a human being survive? Just get over it.  I broke down the cost of diapers and you know what, I am VERY happy paying 25 cents each diaper to not have my kid poo on me and approx. $1 to feed him each time.

 

Did having kids ruin chances for international travel? (Because that is NOT cool)

International travel is a BIG DEAL to me.   Guess what? We did 6 flights in the first year of our daughter’s life. Because it is a big deal to me. Here’s the interesting thing, too.  Because we had to plan logistics and our activities a bit more, we did more activities and cool things on our trips than we did when it was just us two, husband and wife.  The best trip back to England (out of 15-20 trips in my life time) was in 2013 with a 6 month old. NO jokes.  Having a little one requires you to commit and follow through and plan things out.  You see more, do more, experience more, you just modify the geographical range of your explorations and have a home base to work from.  The rest, no problem.

Did this impact my career?

No.  If you want your job back, in Canada the law is such that you will be given your job back. In fact, my work ethic, motivation and enjoyment of my job has greatly increased.  It provides a nice counter balance to the new additional areas of my life (parenting.)

Sitting alone at a computer with a coffee, once seen as mundane, is pleasurable now. In fact, I think a new mum is one of the best employees a company can have. They are productivity goddesses IMHO. I also stress less about minor things at work and handle everything with a positive can-do attitude.

Did my lifestyle change? 

I still workout. I still see friends, I still wear makeup and decent clothes.  I still have goals, ambitions, passions. I do all of this because I still want to!  My old lifestyle is still there.  And  I have a second awesome lifestyle layered on top of it.   I italicized that.  Layered on top. My old life style is there. With a cherry on top.  It didn’t go anywhere.

I have three iCalendars on my iPhone:  1.) “My Life” 2.) Childcare, and 3.) Ideas for events around town for the kids But you must proactively work on this. It’s far too easy to let a few things slip and default to letting your partner go out instead of you.

Am I more stressed out?

No.  Parenting and maternity leave is a different (and refreshing) pace of life.  You live 100% in the present moment.  There’s no time for past or future, you’re just dealing with now.  Granted, the now is usually involving keeping a small, uncoordinated human alive.

Lots of time feeding a baby – but reframe it – It’s 20 minutes of built-in meditation time every day, when close my eyes, sit in a quiet room and  I rock a sleepy baby to sleep.

When do you have time in your old life to close your eyes, chill and rock slowly back and forth in a chair?

You Give Less of a Fuck About Daily Minutiae

I have to decide what’s worth a battle and what is not. I give less of a fuck about many, many things I cared a lot about before kids. I care about keeping a small human alive and mostly meltdown free. Much more clarity and insight.

When you hear dialogue about parents freaking out at their kids / being stressed I think it’s misleading.  If you see / read about parents melting down, argueing, etc. I would say it’s not about stress, it’s about emotional intensity in the moment meeting some level of unpreparedness or “off-ness” in the parent – for whatever reason, be it fatigue, everything happening at once, or hanger.  It’s not just a kid melting down that sucks, it has to be paired with you being a little off, too.  If you engage in self-care, the kid will meltdown but you are in a better place to cope and what from what, in coaching, we call “gentle irreverence.” 

I wouldn’t say that it is about your life being more stressful.  It’s just that you deal with a human who is a ball of pure emotion and sometimes you absorb it, and sometimes you are super tired / hungry / impatient so it kind of explodes in your face.  And it lasts maybe 10 minutes.  Then it’s over.    I’ve had hangry fights in foreign countries with my husband, too. And there were no kids involved.  Because we were both off and faced with an unexpected situation or thrown off.

Did you lose your identity? 

Eff no, and every article I read makes me feel like I am either going to change into a resentful & tired Mum, or hyper-driven helicopter parent whose life revolves around the kid and completing amazing feats of domestic goddess-ness. It’s just so extreme. There’s no medium place in the “examples” online.

Seek out people who share the same values as yours and are living a lifestyle you aspire to. Stop reading/following/listening to all of the other stuff.

The various “parental identities” are in your face all the time.  Filter it.

But What About the First 3 Months?

Pre-child identities do take a back seat in the 4th trimester (first 3 months) it’s honestly just figuring out this extra layer on your life and you’re super whacked.  But it begins to come back gradually.

 

You do hear the bad stories that put you off:  Your self identity and confidence can fade away.  It will happen if you intentionally work at it. And that’s why I started the GML.

I fight hard (sometimes it involves real fights too!) to maintain a sense of self outside of parenting, hence my restless pursuit of other hobbies and prioritizing time for myself.  This includes gym time, blog writing time, jewellery making time, friends time and just straight up “fuck off and leave me alone” time. Aka nap time.

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this blog article it is this.

THE BIGGEST LIE ABOUT HAVING KIDS IS THAT YOU “LOSE” YOUR OLD LIFE.

THE BIGGEST TRUTH ABOUT HAVING KIDS IS THAT YOU ADD A NEW “LAYER” ONTO YOUR OLD LIFE.  YOUR OLD LIFE IS STILL THERE IF YOU WANT IT TO BE.

AND YOU GET TO DECIDE EXACTLY WHAT THAT NEW LAYER WILL BE LIKE.

 

Do you like children overall now?

Yes, yes I do!  I’m a pretty rational logical person. Having a kid actually taught me to be less of a robot and “feel” more. I’m grateful to all the little people in my life for that.

I’m 1000% less awkward around them.  But I still like sitting and having adult conversation about non-children things, while the children run around and entertain themselves.  Again, not for everybody – but that’s how I roll.

Obviously, I don’t like feeling the lows – like sadness or fear or frustration. But that doesn’t happen more than it did pre-kids because I work hard on self-care so that I can handle those moments with gentle irreverence.

Kids opened up joy, happiness, all that squishy stuff.  But I still don’t really hang out in that “domain.”

Lululemon has a *controversial* quote on their manifesto that goes a bit like this “Children are the orgasm of life; you do not know how awesome they are until you have one.”

This people is the absolute, 100% truth.  I’m honestly glad the universe derailed my no-children plans.  No regrets here. So glad it happened for me.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right. – Henry Ford.

 

If you love your life sans children, cool. Awesome.  Rock it! Have a fucking amazing life, because you will! I think there are so many people with AMAZING talents and things to share with the world, who really need to focus on that in their life path. And I’m so glad more people have the courage to say no to kids and follow their gift and share it. I am a HUGE supporter of these women.

If you are debating children.  Cool. Awesome.  Take a risk and step into the unknown if you fancy. Have a fucking amazing life, because you will!  And all that talk about “reliving your childhood” is everything people say it will be. 🙂

I, “don’t like children” Carina, am sitting here in my lounge with a huge coffee, on 5 hours of sleep, with a toddler and a baby, telling you I love it.  And I’d have another.  Whaaaaaaaat?

Life's was awesome before, and I can say it was upgraded after. :)
Life’s was awesome before, and I can say it was upgraded after. 🙂

The Great Maternity Leave Projects: Take the Lone Wolf Approach to Workouts

Reading time:  4 minutes

Why you should read this:  You will walk away with a newfound appreciation of why you should workout alone + increase your odds of “Getting it done.”

 

So often we hear about overcoming the isolation of maternity leave by doing things with friends, family, acquaintances, etc. but I am strongly in favour of the lone wolf approach for one thing in particular:  Getting your workout groove back on.

Both maternity leaves I have been known for getting back on the workout groove quickly & easily (nutrition is another thing lol) and it is because I always, always take the lone wolf approach to working out.  Then, workouts or activities with friends are cherries on top.

Today I am going to use super, duper simple math to explain it.

Let’s Create your Equation

Take me. I am “1.”   I want to workout.

Write it down.  1.  You are #1.

Obstacle Assessment.  

In my world I am very aware of the obstacles that get in the way.  Here are common things that top me from going out for out for a run or workout.

1.)  I just ate

2.) Lots of things on my to do list that day

3.)  I “feel” tired

4.)  Too logistically complicated (handing off 2x kids their nap schedules etc.)

What are the big ones for you? How many are there that regularly trip you up?

The Equation

We are going to turn this into a fraction.

Here is me. Let’s call me “1.”

My likelihood of working out can be reduced by “4” common obstacles in my world.

So let’s write that as an equation. 1/4

 

Where on Earth are you Going With This Carina?!

Stay with me, seriously, it’s EASY math. Nothing overwhelming.

A lot of us rely on friends to boost / motivate / get us up and moving.

This is why this is a really bad strategy on mat leave:

Your friend also has obstacles that come up in her day.  Let’s take a few.

  1.  Younger baby with erratic nap times / moods
  2. She too is pretty exhausted
  3. How body is feeling (C-Section)
  4. Baby feedings schedule

So put hers into a fraction as well.   1/4.

1 person’s likelihood of working out reduced by 4 obstacles that come up.

 

So… let’s say that you both manage to set up a date and time to workout.  Lingering in the background is your equation, 1/4 and her equation 1/4.  Since both of you are meeting at the same time and place to work out (a feat in itself with babies) there are now eight things that may crop up as an obstacle.

So now, we are looking at the probability of a “friends workout” reduced by eight different obstacles.  Not a good equation for a workout.  You want to do everything in your power to reduce that equation!

As soon as you add people with their own lives + schedules + babies into the picture, your probability of working out dramatically goes down.  It’s too risky a way to get back on the workout train.

You must learn to fall in love with working out on your own, and get your own thing going. Then, when things do workout and your friends join you, it is the absolute cherry on top – an enjoyable boost.  Working out with friends is the best.  So have it as something occasional you look forward to!

 

Use Instagram as a Personal Trainer

Instagram has some AWESOME accounts set up by fit mums (yes, you will have to see 6 packs 1 year post partum lol) that use home objects + home workouts.

I use it all the time for creative ideas.  You can even do a challenge where you have to do whatever comes up on your instagram feed when you have some downtime.  

You do have to get past the super spammy nature of their accounts because they are all hustling e-books and guides… so just ignore the comments and focus on getting creative ideas from the videos for microworkouts.

@Home_squats

@girlyexercises

@Home.Exercises

@busymomgetsfit

I talked before about filtering your social media so that all incoming information is set up to support the goals you have; this is a great way to try out this practice! Set up healthy eating, fitness, motivational quotes, etc. so that all of these motivators are rolling in.

Any searching on google will return you lots of programs, plans, ideas for example Jamie Eason’s Post-Pregnancy 12 week program.  I didn’t buy / download this one but at 6 months post partum I started using a lot of the movements.    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jamie-eason-post-pregnancy-trainer.html

So there we go, embrace your inner lone wolf (you kinda feel like one anyways on maternity leave lol) and hit those workouts.

Set up yourself up for a probability of success + create your own workout power.

Don’t wait for others, or rely on others to boost you.

Strength and lasting motivation come from the inside.