Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer update

While I was a working mom, I dreamt of what it would be like to be a SAHM, especially during the summers. I'm sure many working moms can identify with this. You can probably identify with the guilt I felt dropping them off at daycare, whether or not I had to work. Even working part-time, I had to pay for full-time daycare because of my irregular shift-work schedule. I felt especially guilty in the summers, thinking that we should be out having family adventures and lots of fun.

Well, now I'm a SAHM and I can tell you two things: it is both WONDERFUL and CHALLENGING. And I found something odd has happened. My mommy guilt has used to be that I felt guilty about NOT being home...and now I feel guilty that I'm not GOOD enough for them at home. 

Does anyone else feel this way? Some days I feel like I did it right. I limited their screen time, got everyone some exercise, had some healthy food, did some art projects, practiced some speech with my son and reading with my daughter and gave each kid some individual attention, cleaned the house and did all the laundry. But, that certainly doesn't all happen every day. I have to moderate my guilt with the realization that I can't do it all.

But there have been some big benefits to staying home with my kids:
I can design their activities however I want....and skip a swim lesson or dance class whenever we feel like it.
I have the flexibility to just be present with my kids.
We have the time to work on that Summer Wish List I wrote about before. (here)
I am relaxed enough to have some chasing a rainbow or visiting grandma's house or hunting for the perfect snow cone.
I have time for the holidays/birthdays/BBQs/etc. that I used to miss when working.

The main challenges:
Not having enough time to fill my own bucket. (I would love more time to myself, more time to exercise, and to find some kind of career outlet.)
Dealing with sibling fighting.
Balancing the right amount of activities with boredom (I feel like they need to sit with boredom in order to figure out how to self-soothe, use imagination, and get comfortable with down time.)
Limiting screen time!

Overall, it's been a fun and active summer, but I think we are all ready for a regular school schedule.
I hope you all enjoy the last few weeks of summer 2015!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

You matter

I was recently given an assignment in my fitness class. I was asked to write a love letter to myself. (Obviously this class is much more than just a fitness class!)

This was the prompt:

"Dear Self,
You are ____."

I had to think about this for a few days. It was hard to know where to start! Writing a letter to myself felt very awkward, since I had never done it before.

Once I got started, I wondered how to write it. Should it be funny? Serious? Detailed? Superficial? Deep? (Keeping in mind that I had to read this letter to other people.)

After a few drafts I figured out what felt best: honest, brief, serious.

I have been pondering some questions since doing this exercise. Why was it so hard to speak kindly to myself? Why did it feel so awkward to be positive? Wouldn't I be kind, positive and encouraging to my friends? So why can't I be those things to myself?

Why is it so easy to be negative?

Why is our default self talk so negative?

Perhaps your inner self talk is naturally positive. How great! But do a simple Google search about negative self talk and you see plenty of results. I think many of us (mainly women) have some negative chatter in our head.

I read that this negative self talk can come from our childhood. Perhaps we were told we weren't good enough by a parent, teacher, or friend. I don't recall, personally, having this done to me. So where did it come from? I think we are all "pre-set" for a certain amount of anxiety. I would consider myself to be on the higher end of the anxiety scale. That anxiety and self-criticism usually serves as motivation to move forward, to make needed changes. But many times, the critic is just there, without any specific purpose. Why does the phrase "I'm so stupid" keep popping into my head, even though I know I am not stupid? Is it based on past failures? Fear of the future? Has it been ingrained because being self-deprecating is a "relatable" characteristic? 

I guess I don't know for sure why the self-criticism is there. But since having to write that love letter, I want to make sure I reduce the criticism and boost the positivity. Here's a good article on some steps YOU can take to do the same. Thinking positive

Not only do I want to help myself, but I want to do whatever I can to help my kids. Would I ever want them to think poorly of themselves, feel stupid, unnoticed, or unlovable? Another article on the Huff Post mentioned that we, as parents, become our kids' inner voice. That statement is huge. How I talk to my kids now, becomes their own inner voice for the rest of their lives. I can influence whether it is a positive one or a harsh one, simply by choosing my words carefully. It is such an important reminder to teach/show children kindness, resilience and determination. Link is here.

What would you include in your letter? Is it easy to write? Try to silence the inner critic with positivity and see what happens. Can you change that voice over time? I'll check back with you on this in a future post!