It’s a School Night.

Sunday night means school tomorrow.  Obviously not actual school, but when our weekends are finished and we tuck our kids into bed on Sunday nights we always remind them its school tomorrow.  Ever since we have started to do some “school at home” it has allowed us to get into more of a routine and have some sense of normalcy.

With the Pandemic and so many changes to our life school has been something we miss.  All three kids miss seeing teachers and friends.  They are missing the routines for sure but also the things that they were working towards.  Grace, my four year old, talks a lot about her new school for Kindergarten, her uniform and all the things she has coming up.  It has definitely been an eye opener to how many events we will be missing over the course of just a few months (uniform try on day, parent info night, Preschool Grad to name a few).  In the scheme of things I realize how small and trivial these things are but to my four year old they are big things.  We are navigating new times, without being able to answer questions about what the near future will look like.  This can be scary and emotional for all of us.

 

School has been a hot topic, and rightfully so, with many parents and families. It has also been a tough situation for so many people.  We have just one school age child, and he’s only in Kindergarten.  Our other two kids are preschool age.  On top of them being so young, we are also in a very unique situation where I am a full time mom and my husband works shift work and is home during the day.

We do not have to struggle with trying to work from home, or balance teaching our kids with our work, or even share technology between all of us.  We have enough iPads/ computers and Fraser is still leaving the house to go into work. I cannot imagine the challenges families are facing during what is already a stressful time.  I am beyond grateful for all of these things.  I know we are very fortunate to be in the situation we are for so many reasons including the ages of our kids, the support we have from our school, the set up we have at home for home learning and more.  That being said we definitely don’t have it perfect, we have our own set of challenges.  My son has Autism and normally has many supports and programs.  We are transitioning to enter Grade 1 and leave a lot of the programs he has had through his toddler years, there was a plan to help make this shift from his therapies to school gradual which will not be happening as we are not able to attend any of these programs currently.  In addition it is so great to have my husband home during the day but he is still working so he is overtired trying to help with the kids and continue to work at night, plus with us trying to still continue with some learning (school and therapies) it means I am spending time doing that… less time to do household stuff which still needs to get done (meals, laundry, maintenance, etc).  I guess our worries are “good” ones to have.  We aren’t worried about our home, food or the necessities but I guess my point is that it still isn’t easy.

I thought I would share some of the things that we have learnt over the past 6 or so weeks and some of the things that are working for us.  I am understanding and empathetic of every situation and realize not everyone is in a situation where these would be relevant.  I appreciate that.  If there is one thing we should all be learning right now is that there is no right answer and what works for one, might not work for others.  I just thought I would share what is working for us.

1)  DETERMINE LEARNING PRIORITIES OR EXPECTATIONS. What do you want your child/children to come out of this having learned?  What are your goals?

This is one of those questions that we are asked often with Rowen.  When you have a child with special needs you are constantly goal setting and at first it is strange and unknown but then you learn to set goals that are age appropriate and seem almost second nature for kids to learn but, for Rowen, are things we make a conscious effort to teach.  It can include things like learning how to initiate play, play with others or independently, win and loose, take turns, etc.  

Goals can vary so much from child to child, and family to family.  For us during the pandemic and “schooling from home” I want my kids to learn about emotions, disappointment, flexibility and gratitude.   I also want them to learn a bit about global responsibilities and being part of a community as well as giving back or helping others and how we can do that.  However I hope we can learn more than these big life lessons.

I want to try and support my son to be able to maintain all the skills he has built through kindergarten thus far.  So keep up with his reading, maintain some routines,  fine motor skills and writing, do some desk work, follow instructions and concentrate on a worksheet.  Although these things might seem small or that they can be picked back up again whenever we do return to school, they are goals we have worked hard to reach over the last few months and even years.  When we do not practice and apply skills we have learned they can be forgotten and I would hate to fall back when we have worked so hard to get to where we are.

By defining what our goals were I have been able to make adaptions to our day depending on our moods, weather, other things that are going on in the house, etc   I love this because it gives me a guide to check against.  For example if we are having a moody day and Rowen isn’t cooperating I can look through his class activities and decide do these need to be done or can we “skip” them and still achieve my goal for Rowens learning.  Most times we are good to “skip” and then I do not have to beat myself up or force him to do stuff just to get it done.

2)  CONSISTENCY IS KEY.  So this could look different but for us it is making sure we are up, fed and dressed by 9am for Rowens first class meet.  Prior to having this option we were sleeping in a lot, rarely getting dressed and never starting our “work” before 10am at the earliest.  There was nothing wrong with this but by giving ourselves a bit more of an expectation it has helped us start our day off better.  We also have determine the morning as “school” time and then noon-ish is lunch and the afternoon is free for whatever we like. This has helped to establish again expectations   It hasn’t meant every day is great but it has made it easier for me to enforce and be a but more dedicated to school work.

3)  BE PREPARED.  I have found it is huge if I prepare stuff the night before. The kids are usually very excited to come out and the morning and see what stations I have set up for them or even for Rowen just to come see todays To Do list and know what he has to get done.   I think it gives me a bit more credit with them and they trust I have a plan (even when I don’t)

4). BREAK UP YOUR DAY.  Take breaks.  We sometimes call them body breaks and will set timers for a 15 minute jump in the tramp or a quick swing.  It might even just be a snack break (recess and lunch shouldn’t be forgotten).  We made some fun body break cards that Rowen could pull out and it would tell him somethings to do (10 push ups, dance like a robot, etc).

These are just a few of the things that we are trying hard to implement and follow to help make our days the best they can be.  We are looking forward to a time when we get to return to our programs but for now we will continue to work on what we can.

Keep learning.  Keep washing your hands.  Keep your head up!

 

 

 

Distance Diaries

Life sure can surprise you when you are least expecting it. This Pandemic has been an eye opener in many areas of our lives, and so I want to share what we have learnt as a family about our lives.

Before I share this I think I need to preface it by saying it is not lost on me how serious this virus is and the long term effects it will have on families, businesses and the world. That being said I have made a more conscious effort to avoid the news as well as following along with the updates too closely for my own mental health and sanity. In reality our family has been so fortunate to not yet have major impacts because of these changes happening in the world. My husband still goes to work, my family is all safe and healthy and we have not had too many additional stresses or worries because of the pandemic. I think one thing I have learnt about myself is I cannot take on too much outside stress. For me to stay happy and healthy I need to focus on gratitude and what is happening within my world. I also have realized no matter who you are or where you are, the pandemic has impacted you, so while I say we have not been majorly impacted of course our lives have changed and with change comes some stress.

The first lesson that happened fairly quickly into all this social distancing was the realization of how well prepared and stocked our house was. Fraser might look at it as proof that I have a shopping problem but I like to think I was just prepared. It really was “fun” to stay home for the first couple weeks. We had “sleepovers”, movie nights, tons of crafts, game nights and lots of creative ways of keeping busy. I immediately realized that previous to pandemic I would often find the things that I didn’t like about our house before realizing how fortunate we were. We have an amazing backyard, lots of outside space, my husband has a big shop for him to tinker in, we have lots of technology available to us and I have a very stocked craft cupboard. A shift in my attitude is that I am now more appreciative of the house we have. I think what I realized is that our home is our safe place, it is not a punishment to stay home but a privilege.

That quickly lead to my second realization, without the stress of social interactions I was experiencing way less anxiety… perhaps this means I am an introvert. I think I discovered that a lot of my anxiety comes from all the social stuff, and that staying home is where I am most comfortable. It doesn’t mean I think it is healthy to stay at home forever, but I think post pandemic I will make more of an effort to spend more time at home and be okay with that. Too often I said yes to too much because I thought it was the right thing for everyone else but now I know that the kids and family are okay if we stay home!

Photo by Shelby Rose Photography #distancediaries

I also discovered that we love to travel. Quickly into our isolation we decided to cancel our Hawaii trip scheduled for April. This was really upsetting for many reasons (including it was our first trip without kids, cancelling it meant it was the first time in 4 years we would not get to Hawaii our happy place and we were missing a friends wedding). Part of me was so grateful that we had made the decision before everything got crazy. I was envisioning being stuck in a different country away from our kids or worse getting sick and racking up a giant medical bill. So, although we are sad about the missing the trip I am grateful we have been able to travel before pandemic and that we will hopefully be able to travel after again. I realize now, 6 weeks into isolating, that I do love my home and staying in. However I also love getting to travel and plan trips with our family. We are still trying to be hopeful we will get to do our annual end of summer camping trip with some friends, Tofino in September and surprise the kids at Christmas with the New Year in Maui… but my gut is saying these are more like dreams! So with this news it has us all a little bummed. The kids have talked a lot about Hawaii and Disneyland (two of their favourite places) and it has got me realizing how fortunate we are to have taken them on so many amazing vacations, near and far. I also realize that these vacations are things they cherish so once it is safe we will continue to prioritize our family vacations. There are times I have felt so guilty for this being something I am sad about when I know there are others that have maybe never been on a family vacation or save many years to be able to do one big vacation. I also find myself thinking how privileged I am to be worried about when my next vacation will be when there are families dealing with way bigger issues like worrying about housing, food, money, childcare or their businesses and jobs. With this in mind I am trying to see this as an opportunity for gratitude. I think I always appreciated our vacations but I defiantly took them for granted, the next time we get to go away I will make sure to appreciate it!

A really cool realization has been the lack of screen time we have seen since isolation has started. I keep hearing and seeing that people are resorting to screens to entertain their kids but we have found kinda the opposite in our house. We are screen people and I am a little embarrassed to say we have an iPad for each child and we are fairly relaxed about “rules”. However since the pandemic and really the start of “back to school at home” we haven’t needed to let the kids use the iPads or screens. We do school in the morning and it is using screens for zoom calls, class meets and to watch videos that correspond with their lessons. After that the day is spent with play. With all the sunshine we have had the kids have been busy outside gardening, playing in the sandbox, jumping on the tramp, getting creative with sidewalk chalk, riding their scooters, water fights and the list goes on. I have learnt that our kids can play independently, are good at pretend play and have lots of toys considering my desire to purge regularly! Overall we have some very happy kids and I am proud of the way they are handling these “new norms”. Even my own screen usage is down. I will comment we have days where we resort to giving screens or turning on the tv but I just feel like we all have days we need to just veg out.

One huge realization I have is the support system and people we have in our life. I had always known we were fortunate to have family close by and that our friends are the best of the best. I had a good feeling about the team we have built to support us with Rowen and of course we have loved the school we chose to send the kids too. Pandemic has pushed every one of these people and supports to new levels, and I can honestly say they have all gone above and beyond. The amount of creative ways these people have adapted and continued to support us and our kids is unbelievable. Our family has continuously surprised us with Birthday parades, Easter goody crafts and activities, worksheets and new desk deliveries, homemade goodies, cards and of course FaceTimes or porch distancing visits. Our teachers and support staff have dropped off indoor shoes, muddy buddies, schoolwork packages and more. They are continuing to teach and support with regular correspondence and tons of communication. They have offered loaning out equipment if we do not have enough or the right stuff and really come up with some creative ways to continue therapy from home. I’m not sure we will ever be able to thank all these people are the way they have impacted the experience our whole family is having through this pandemic. It has meant that in a time that is scary and unsure we have some light and laughter. We have some consistency with our kids and we are all adapting. It has made our jobs as parents easier but it has also shown our kids that these people aren’t leaving us, they are here despite being unable to physically be here.

Photo by Shelby Rose Photography #distancediaries

I think when I really sit down and look at these last 6 weeks and how surreal it has all been I feel nothing but gratitude. As of today we are all still happy and healthy. That is all I could wish for in times like that. I know that our family will look forward to a post pandemic life but it will not be the one we had before. Our life is forever changed and I think that is okay. My sister just taught me about “we people and me people” and I am proud to see the way our friends and family are showing up as “we people”. It has got me thinking about how we teach our kids to help others and what we are doing to help others. I am finding some small and some bigger ways we can help out our community… and it has left me feeling a little bit better in a time when we can so easily be brought down. I think if we can do anything during these strange and sad times it is find ways to spread joy and judge less!

“That” Family

I was recently told that I was one of “those” Moms, and we were one of “those” families that look like they have it all together and are doing it all! I was shocked and I guess a little flattered. If you know me, then you know we are not one of “those” families. I quickly corrected this vision of our family by stating all of the things we struggle with. However as I thought about it later, I realized for every area I am “failing” in I have an area I am doing pretty great in too! I think the reality of parenting (in our case three young kids) is that you have to make choices and prioritize what you want for their childhood and what you can live with or without.

Most days are a struggle, we usually always have two parents at home all day to manage all three kids and I do not take all three out (particularly for errands) alone. I despise making meals, and rarely do it regularly. I used to be a clean freak and now I struggle to maintain as clean of a bathroom as possible because I need at least one clean room and that’s the smallest (plus come on, who wants a dirty bathroom). I try to continuously run laundry but have yet to ever fully catch up, and its more out of necessity (kids need clean clothes, mom ran out of underwear, Rowen has no more uniforms left, etc). We are always outnumbered and try our best to enjoy our often challenging days.

Families are funny things, I love to brag about mine because lets face it they are pretty great… but the behind the scenes and the everyday can be tough. Some days are great and smooth and amazing, but some days just aren’t. Plus no family is what it seems, or so I am learning. We have learnt that you cannot expect anything from family, you can work hard at creating what you want but it is not a given. Parents can disappoint you, siblings can be best friends or the opposite, kids can surprise you and family can go above and beyond when you really need it and least expect it. Family can be more than people who are blood related. We are lucky in our life to have created a large group of diverse people we call our family, a mixture of blood relatives and by choice family.

I thought I would ask the kids what family meant to them, and these were the answers I got… Grace says “Families take pictures together, hmmm maybe not the dogs. Families are together.” Rowens answer was “A family is when the kids are with their Mom and Dad, that is what a family is called.” Eleanor says “Families are like colours, some people are in my family like Elsa and Anna.” So, I guess we might work on that? Lol, a good start to them learning what a family is.

We are a “typical” family, we can be loud, we scream at our kids or react in ways we aren’t proud of, we can be messy and stressed and all that life stuff! But amongst all the crazy we are happy and healthy and love each other. The kids have a warm bed, food to eat, clothes to wear and parents that love them and support them. Usually the bed and clothes are clean, sometimes they wear warm enough clothes, we try to make the food nutritious but we always love them. Most of all we try to take advantage of the time we can spend with them and make it count when we can.

So, if you scroll my instagram and see us having fun know that was one minute of amazing… there were a million other minutes of all sorts of different things.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, is our super crazy day. It starts with school drop off, every child is at school Tuesday mornings but at three different schools. So Rowen is in Richmond for 9am, Grace at Lil’ Saints in Ladner at 8:45 and of course Eleanor in Beach Grove for 9am. Fraser is taking a pottery class downtown and it starts at 10am. Eleanor needs to be picked up for 11:30 in Tsawwassen. Rowen is picked up in Richmond at noon, and of course there are weeks like last week where I had an 11am meeting with his therapists to go over his goals and progress, and then off to take Row to Sacred Heart so he can finish the afternoon at school At least the afternoon slows down just school pick ups and swimming lessons… just a typical day???

I wouldn’t change it, I absolutely love that I am able to pick up and drop off my kids, meet and chat with their teachers and therapists and get involved with school and any other programs. I am proud that Fraser decided to take a class he has been interested in for a while and made time for himself and despite it being a busy day I am so glad we do swim lessons because our kids love it and it is such a great end to our day. It is not lost on me the privilege it is to be able to do this for them. However it all comes with a cost, there is no one way to raise a family and there is no right way to do it, no matter how badly I wish there was.

I think what I realize is I will continue to do me, I will parent for the kids and family I have and do the best I can. I will be grateful for the choices and life we have and try to find the bright side of our situation. I will also give myself some grace for the tough moments, days, weeks and times. I want to try to remember this when enviously watching another family do it differently. It is so easy to see someone else’s life and think it is easier or better, but I think that is rarely the case. It is just different.

So whatever your family looks like, and however you spend your days I hope it was a great one! Happy Family Day.

A Decade of Lessons.

Time is a crazy thing, I am often unaware of it passing and then its gone. 2020 is fast approaching and with that comes all the excitement and promises of a fresh new year and decade as well as the reviews and playbacks of the past year and decade.

I have been thinking lots about how fast (and slow) 10 years goes. The first thing that came to mind for me was the loss the last 10 years has brought with it. I personally have lost two very important and influential people in my life this decade. My aunt was near the beginning of the decade and my uncle near the end. I have also watched friends lose parents and even had some of my peers pass away over the last 10 years. It has been hard, continues to come in waves and never truly goes away or gets easier. Every time I have a success, milestone, holiday or challenge I miss and wish I could talk to my Uncle and Aunt. However it has also taught me that life can and does go on, we can still have successes and happiness despite feeling immense sadness and things are always changing, so appreciate the now and those in your life today as one day they won’t be there.

The last 10 years has also taught me to really enjoy the moments because they go so fast. I had 3 little babies so close together and now my youngest is 2, some days this is astonishing to me as I can clearly remember moments of my first pregnancy as if it were yesterday. Then there are those times when I am chatting with a few moms and they are all talking about feeding their babies, nap schedules or some baby related milestone and I cannot remember them. I think to myself, it couldn’t have been that long ago… it actually flew by! I remember how as a new Mom I used to feel like days would go past without me really “accomplishing” anything and I would look forward to my kids getting older and more independent. However now I realize these moments go by and you will never get them back, they will never be that small again and it goes so so so fast. So even in the trying and hard moments I remember nothing lasts and try to find the joy in some of those moments.

Another lesson the last ten years has taught me is that if you are unhappy or living a life you do not want you have the power to change it. Life has so many choices, we just have to be brave enough to make them. It is okay to change your mind, it is good to grow and not all choices are easy but after it is all said and done they hopefully lead to a happier version of your life. 10 years ago my goals were different, my job was different, finances, family dynamics, etc. I am so proud of the choices I have made over the last 10 years and although they were not all happy or easy they have lead me to a life I love and continue to be grateful for everyday. The best goal I can have for the next 10 years is that all these things will change again… my job continues to evolve and I am able to add to it, our finances will continue to improve, goals will evolve and change and more!

You cannot undo the past, you cannot plan for the future… you can live in the present! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn from your past or try to work towards goals in the future it just means don’t over think it cause because circumstances and people change and I have had amazing things come from being open to changing my “plans”. Ask anyone who knew me 10 years ago about wanting kids and you will most defiantly hear that I didn’t want them, even in my late 20’s. Talk to me today and my 3 amazing and beautiful kids (who I most defiantly wanted) were the best decision I made, continue to teach me and give my life so much more joy! Be flexible and adaptable, knowing that things can change has given me hope when I needed it and has also forced me to dream a little bigger!

Dream Big. It’s as easy and hard as that! For our family this has come into play in so many aspects of our life. We have dreamt big in terms of our house and the changes we wanted to make and have slowly been making. However it has also given us a new appreciation for knowing our priority isn’t our house, sure we like having something clean and maintained but we don’t have to have all the things we want to be happy. Dreaming Big has also helped us to go from no vacations to falling in love with experiences and working hard to make travel a part of our lives. I can remember taking our first “big” family vacation to Hawaii for 10 days, in the middle of a renovation, with two kids under two and pregnant with our third and sitting on the beach saying imagine if we could stay for a month!!! For the following two years we took our three kids for 5 weeks each year. It was amazing. I love the experiences the last 10 years have brought and cannot wait to see what the next 10 will bring for us.

With all of this in mind I welcome a new decade and will work at enjoying the now.

Priorities and choices.

I love these comparisons. So often we make the excuse of not having the time or money as a reason we can’t do something. My Mom loves to remind us everything is about choices. As much as I am grateful and know how fortunate I have been in my life I also know there are lots of things I make choices on and prioritize to do that allows us to lead the life we live.

I think in today’s world life is extremely expensive and the demands we place on ourselves are hard to manage. However if we really go back to basics, look at our lives and prioritize what we want out of our life I wonder how we would live a little differently.

Investing in yourself could mean so many things to so many people. It has been something I have been thinking lots about lately, I turned 35 this month and as I watch my family and those around me age I have been thinking lots about our family’s health and what that means.

Fraser and I have been working at watching what we eat and how active we are. But of course with those changes come choices (and expenses). Do we eat organic? Where is our meat coming from? What kind of activities do we want to do and do we need equipment. His knee hurts and I have been having sore feet. So knee brace, and time to think new runners, better shoes and of course orthotics would help! The list goes on.

Along with healthy food and activities we cannot forgot another important concept of adequate sleep… I know what you are thinking. Fraser is a shift worker and survives on very little sleep and I have three kids who all wake up periodically through out the night and often co-sleep with us. We are parents, what young family do you know who gets enough sleep with little kids? I am here to tell you with a bit of work on our part we are all sleeping better and more! This has not been easy for either one of us, but we both use our alarms on our phones. I set an alarm one an hour before I want to go to bed to remind me to turn off the TV, get off my phone and turn the lights down a bit. Fraser is working hard at watching the time, especially with these brighter nights and making sure he gets to bed at a reasonable hour. The crazy and cool thing about sleep is that when you get more of it you feel more energized during the day and are able to accomplish more in less time! Plus it is one of those investments that is hard and takes some discipline but is completely free from monetary cost (at least for us it is).

This is what I consider investing in ourselves. We are really focused on improving our health but also our energy and mental well being. With lots of these improvements comes a price tag, and like most things with our family it is a balancing act of prioritizing what we want most and what we can do without. I can’t give advice on budgeting as quite frankly I am just no good at it but what I can say is although at the time it might not feel good spending money on these types of things when I start to see benefits in the long term, and sometimes these benefits include saving money (like when we start to cook more at home and we spend less eating out) it is very rewarding.

I was chatting with my Naturopath and then lead to a conversation with my Mom around this topic. It was about how we often know what we should do to lead healthy lifestyles but we don’t. For example people visit a medical Doctor and don’t follow through or even listen to their advice. However lots of times when we pay for something whether it is medical advice from an Naturopath, natural vitamins not covered by our extended medical or even workout classes we are more likely to follow through (even if we don’t want to) because it has a monetary cost associated with it. In some ways this is sad that we won’t work for other costs like detoriating mental health, loss in the longevity in life or even declining physical well being. Truth be told I am very guilty of this, if I pay for something I will more likely follow through with it. I am not sure if it is because of the cost or because I don’t want to listen to Fraser complain and nag about the cost and me not following through. Whatever it is I am glad to have something to motivate me to lead a healthier and in turn happier life, and hold me accountable.

Why wait until we are sick to pay anything for a cure, wait until we are overweight and would pay big bucks for weight loss, wait to age and then start spending on anti-aging. We could prevent instead of fix, doesn’t that make more sense?

I think your “investment” in yourself will look different at different stages and times in your life. Depending on what you are going through and what is feasible for you.

For us, right now we as a family have chosen to invest our time into driving Rowen to his programs, and participating in workshops or parent training, we have invested in private school for the kids and swimming as well as some summer activities. Activities for us have been low on our list of priorities as we love free time and time spent together as a family, so we invest in our family vacations more than extra curricular (although I see this being something that may change in the future as the kids grow and need or want different things).

I am investing time and money into trying to figure out and regulate my hormones so I can be the healthiest version of myself (balance… I still wanna have fun!) and also have more energy. So far having a hormone test done and trying to change diet as well as adding in vitamins and supplements has made a big difference. I love seeing a Naturopath and love the Clinic I go to because it has other disciplines that can all work together (Massage Therapy, Pedorthist).

Fraser is investing time into his health by working on his sleep, eating habits (with the help of a structured program to get us started back on healthy habits) and is getting back into his baseball for summer (social and a bit of physical).

We are also investing in our financial health. We are working hard at living within our means and not carrying debt (so this has impacted a lot of our other decisions). For example no new vehicle and when we do decide to upgrade it has to be something we can buy outright without payments. We like the freedom of low monthly payments or minimal monthly payments so adding one doesn’t make sense or help give us financial health. Plus this is obviously good for our mental health, less debt means less stress and that’s huge!

I think a big lesson in all of this is to remember you are you, and you don’t have to be like anyone else. It is easy to get caught up in the moment or to want what others have but the thing is you can not have it all. So by prioritizing together what we want it helps us to help each other during tough moments make good decisions and to keep our decisions in line with our values.

I hope that whatever stage of life you are in, you find value in investing in yourself. It may look different to everyone but hopefully you are doing it! I would love to hear how you do that, or any things you’ve found super helpful!!! I always love sharing my successes.

RESOURCES:

Collaborative Wellness

Dr Lisa Ghent| Naturopath

Hormone testing, regulating periods, increasing energy and thyroid help (but she does much more)

Kaely Brittliffe| RMT

Regular massage, and some Craniosacral work!

Casey Bjorum| Pedorthist

New orthotics and advice for new shoes!

The Run Inn

Great selection of runners, casual shoes and of course Birkenstock’s! ***plus works with Casey and you can save a little $$$ if you go to her first.

UGI, Buffy Babies Fitness

Fast and feels good to get your sweat on, childcare available too!!!

Beach Body on Demand

New for me is home workouts, I love the online community and coaches… plus find the convenience amazing and can’t believe the improvement in strength I’m noticing.

Emma Lea Farms

Berries, Cherries, Potatoes, Honey and more… Plus SPCA certified beef. We love knowing where our food comes from.

Backroads Farm Market

Again… knowing where your food comes from and in season fresh produce.

Jarrys

Love shopping local, and they have the best selection of more natural products (great variety for baking!).

SUPPORTed Parenting.

We are far from perfect parents and even farther from the parents I thought we would be, but I gotta say I love learning and improving at this parenting gig as we grow with our kids.

Here is the thing, when we had Rowen diagnosed about a year and a half ago and we were presented with so many opportunities for help we jumped at the chance to have advice at figuring out how to best support Rowen. What I don’t think I realized is how important support is for everyone and anyone, including us as parents.

This past week has had me missing my Uncle and thinking about what a big part he had in supporting us as we were growing up (and even into our adult years). He always loved to say he didn’t get to where he was without help. I admired him and all his accomplishments and realize now how right he was. No one can be successful without the right supports.

So, as we are nearing our first child entering Kindergarten and have ended his preschool years it has me thinking ahead to new ways we can support him in this new chapter.

Rowen, like many children, takes time to warm up to new routines, people and places and does better in smaller groups or with someone there to feel connection with. This is what I call a support, making sure we prepare him the best we can and give him the things we know make him most comfortable in his next chapter.

For most of his preschool years he had a support worker, who in the beginning was helping him with a lot, and towards the end of the year was able to back away and have Row do most things independently. The thing about support in any form is that it doesn’t mean you are incompetent or that you are less then someone else, it just means you learn and work differently. How amazing would it be if we all had the right support in place, the things we would all accomplish and feel.

I guess I am just super grateful that in the stage of life we are in right now we have enough time and a little bit of money to be able to provide Rowen, really all of our kids, with the support we think will help them to succeed.

Support can look different for everyone but I will speak to the support we are providing Rowen with. I will admit that providing Rowen with the support we felt is best has come at a cost, so we have had to trade off things to be able to accommodate some of these choices. The thing is life is about compromise and priorities and having kids is no different, just part of growing up and parenting!

So, first in regards to Kindergarten, this has been a scary step for me as I have always dreaded my kids going into Elementary school. I think part of my fears came around knowing it could be a tough transition for Rowen and we had already struggled with preschool and really a lot of programs with him. Plus the fact that it is fairly routine and means being organized in the morning and giving up our sporadic fun days. However I am incredibly proud of my son for making such progress that we are entering Elementary School with his peers.

Support to transition to Kindergarten actually started months ago and has included having “extra” preschool mornings where he has gone in and joined his class at activities at his Elementary School. I love that his preschool offers this and does Kinder-buddies, where the kids are actually in there future classrooms with there future teachers and playing with the older kids. They also do Grade 6 buddies and finally they do Hymn in the gym with the whole class, so they have experienced a sort of assembly. I think this is unique to our school as our preschool and elementary school are somewhat connected, and are also private. However I wish more schools were able to do some form of this for transitioning kids moving from preschool to elementary school as this is such a natural transition and gives the kids time in a really comfortable way to adapt.

Recently we ordered Rowens uniforms so he has time to touch, see and try them on and get used to the idea that this is what he will wear to school.

The biggest thing that I am super impressed by and really excited about is the parent night we attended. This was a huge support to me, that now means I am better able to support Rowen. We were given individual packages with specific activities to each child based on an assessment they did with the Kindergarten teacher. These activities are things we can do through out the summer to get him ready for Kindergarten. His package also included a picture book showing Rowen his actual classroom, school, teacher, principal, sensory room, gym, gym teacher and really anyone he will see regularly. It was amazing. In addition we have met the teacher he will have, the classes are already assigned and he was paired up with one of his favourite friends as another support to help make them both feel comfortable. Rowen will have a full time support worker who in the beginning will make sure to meet Rowen at the school door each day and we are arriving a little later than the rest of the school to avoid the big crowds and loud noises, this was the schools suggestion and one I appreciate so much. Plus, his modified entry schedule has already been give to us for the first week of school and is specific to him and his needs including accommodating his other program he attends.

I think the fact that Rowen is able to have a full time support worker through his first year of school is really going to be a game changer for us. Rowen is an big emotions guys and supporting him can not only be a full time job but it can also be exhausting and draining. I cannot imagine an Kindergarten teacher being able to manage all the kids in her class and give Row the attention he sometimes needs.

These all seem like simple ideas but I know that these simple ideas are not always the case when it comes to school and that you have to be proactive and assertive to get some of these things. I am so grateful for the ease this is making starting Kindergarten as we all know with kids there are already so many unknowns and surprises. I appreciate the support our school is already giving us and Rowen and can not wait to see what else is to come.

We are also so well supported in his other programs, OT and ABA are always helping us with stuff at home or coming up with ways we can support Rowen to attend school stuff that he might find difficult, birthday parties and the latest is joining a Rugby team. Sometimes the support we give Rowen is just sitting with him at these events and letting him know we are there for him if he needs us and we can just watch until he wants to take part. I am amazed at how this technique has recently allowed us to participate in Sports Day, to walk across the stage at his little graduation and then sit up with his peers and sing some songs, and so much more.

For other parents who are in the trenches and struggling with whatever life is thrown you remember you do not have to be in this alone, always ask for help when you need it! Support is more than just for our kids and it is amazing what is accomplished when we are all supported. We all get frustrated or have big expectations but do not forget how little our children are and try to adjust our expectations or give them some support… maybe its giving them more time, or an extra hug or knowing they don’t have to do everything independently at first, they are still learning. Every child is different, so they will have different needs but trust your extinct no one knows your child better than you!

Riding B#@$%

The motorcycle has always been fun for me, but that was before we were responsible for 3 little kids. Everything changes with kids, and one big change is the way I view the world. I used to love riding, I was proud of getting my bike license and looked forward to getting on the bike.

Now the idea of leaving our kids both on the back of the same motorcycle can be terrifying. If you have ever been on a bike you know the feeling of being exposed. No one gets on and rides and doesn’t know the risks, accidents can and do happen.

Plus before kids I owned and rode my own bike, when I took on the new title of Mom I decided to sell the bike knowing it might be a while before we would get out enough to make it worthwhile. This has meant when we do get out for a ride I’m on the back. Now for those of you that know me it might not come as a surprise that I like to be in control. Riding on the back means I give up my control and trust in my driver.

Sunday was a planned ride with a group of our friends and family. A friend had told us about the Bikers for Autism group and their Shuck It Forward Event and we had got together a group for a fun day out for a great cause. Obviously this event was near and dear to our hearts as we have a son with Autism. Without fundraisers like this, public education initiatives and amazing supports and therapy I am not sure where we would be as a family or how well Rowen would have grown over this last year and a half.

Here is the really cool thing, because we have such amazing supports in place and Rowen has worked so hard we are able to take date days out and not worry about how our kids (particularly Row) will do. Plus our day doesn’t revolve around discussing the future of our kids or our concerns about them. We can truly go out and enjoy ourselves knowing our kids are safe and happy and when we get home they will all be there.

Despite all this it doesn’t mean I just hop on the bike and let my hair down without a care in the world. As we were making our way through the tunnel and I was focusing on my music and breathing I realized that I needed to relax or my nervous energy would impact Fraser, who was riding with a passenger, driving downtown to a place we had never been and leading a group of others bikers. So I decided to trust in my partner, breath and listen to the music, slow my mind down and just enjoy the moment.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our feelings or emotions we can miss what is right in front of us. In front of me was a beautiful blue sky, snow capped mountains, alone time with my hubby and good friends plus yummy food and great drinks at a beautiful patio downtown. It is so easy to get caught up or be rushing to whatever is next to miss the right now. As I near my 35th year around the sun I am trying to find ways to slow moments down and enjoy this time right now. I am trying not to stress when we are late or things didn’t go as planned.

It’s funny how hard and easy this idea can be. It got me thinking about parenthood and even marriage and learning to trust in each other. Much like riding on the back of the motorcycle and trusting Fraser to drive while he trusted me to co-pilot and google map our route, we are learning to trust each other in parenthood. It is a constant struggle with wanting control over every decision and knowing how important it is for my sanity and for the greater good of our whole family to share these decisions, responsibilities and control of parenthood with my husband.

Before I turned 30 learning to ride a motorcycles was on my “30 before 30” List and was a challenge I set for myself. I realize I still love it but the challenge is different now that we are parents… and as I near 35, getting closer to 40 I start to think about things I want to accomplish before my next decade approaches. I realize parenting is a big challenge, and just when you think you might have got a handle on something a new thing pops up… my kids are a constant challenge. So my biggest goal is to continue to work together with Fraser, trust in each other and share our responsibilities and know that not every day will be easy or perfect but if we slow down and take time to enjoy it we might surprise ourselves. To continue to check in with our feelings to help keep each other calm but also to help teach our kids how to manage our emotions.

I think my biggest lesson is every day is different and we might feel like we got it one day and the next day might be a huge struggle, that is human nature and no one is perfect. Plus we have a fresh start anytime we want it, so don’t let one action define your whole path! It’s okay to ride B#$@& sometimes, I don’t always have to be the driver. I’m gonna try to take time and enjoy the scenery!

90,000 Reasons to be Passionate about your Work.

I believe in doing things with passion. I also believe the people you surround yourself with are reflections of you and should share some of your beliefs or goals. So, although my friends and family may not all have the same background, parenting styles, schedules, money management, political beliefs I think we share some common values.

What ties me to my people? I think honesty and integrity, selflessness and caring for others, family and respect especially in regards to prioritizing people and experiences over stuff are just some of the values that bond my friendships with people.

That being said over the last little bit I have noticed a common trait in my girlfriends that has not only left me feeling fairly inspired but super proud of them and all their accomplishments! My tribe is one of diverse careers, ranging from entrepreneurs, government employees, corporate boss babes to stay at home moms and more. Some even wear more than one of these hats and do it with ease making it look much easier than I know it is. I have discovered what I think it is that makes them so inspiring and so good at their jobs and its Passion!

I am lucky enough to have the full time job of CEO of the Farlow House. This means I manage 3 kids schedules and 1 busy longshoremen’s finances, household, social calendar and more. In addition this full time gig I also have been working part time and sporadically at my girlfriends family farm Emma Lea. I love being at the farm and getting to see everything they do as well as meet new people and share this special place with the community. It is a pretty great job and one I totally value. Last year we were asked to take 40 locals on a tour of the farm and tell a little bit about what we do. Katie (my boss, good friend and one of the farmers) was phenomenal at this. She blew me away with her ability to simplify something very complex and explain in in such a condensed version, within half an hour, people could really get a feel for how special and how much work and love goes into the farm. Not only did I learn some new things about how the farm runs and what cool voluntary programs we participate in as a member of the farming community, I also got to see my boss and friend show and share her passion for the farm and her job. I hate calling it her job because when you hear her speak it doesn’t sound like a job at all but more of a privilege and a choice. One thing that makes the farm unique to me and became evident with Kates tour was how the farm, although a business with a bottom line, was also a place that wanted to be known for employing people fairly and with integrity, treating animals ethically, and contributing to a greater good. I think when businesses or people go above and beyond what is expected and make decisions with more than just money in mind it is really something special.

I left the farm tours and started to think about other friends and their careers, does everyone do such amazing things… Then later I was out getting the kids haircut by our hairstylist, as well as good friend and I saw more passion for a job. I know she loves what she does and she is great at it (you just have to search the community facebook pages and hear all the recommendations or watch her in the salon to know). The thing is getting your hair cut can be emotional for lots of people. My son has ASD and sometimes struggles to sit in the chair (as do many kids) and she does every cut with patience and love. Plus she knows just how to turn a crappy day into a great one and help transform my mama pony into a beautiful hairstyle worthy of the magazines. She is a hard working mom herself, yet still manages to volunteer her time and talents whenever she can for the many charity events her salon takes place in including fundraisers out at Emma Lea. She is continually working towards bettering herself with workshops and training and recently advanced to a higher level of stylist. This girl cuts hair with passion and style all her own and being one of my youngest friends (only by a few years) she does it with so much confidence and class for someone who just turned 30. She is super passionate and super inspiring in her work life, reminding me that you can be a busy and great mom still working on building and advancing a career all your own. It is a great reminder and example.

I am super lucky to have at least a dozen examples like this of friends and family who inspire with their careers and I think that is something super special. The reality is most people have to work, and most people spend a lot of time over their lifetime at their jobs. With that in mind shouldn’t we have some passion in what we do and enjoy our time at our job. I think it is unrealistic to say you will always love your job or only do things you can do with passion because sometimes a job is a job and we do what we have to do. But hopefully it is short term while you work towards something you love. If you are like us and have kids I think there is no better example to show then your kids seeing and hearing about your job in a positive light. Imagine facing a future knowing you will have to enter a workforce and hearing your parents talking with dislike about their own careers.

I think of one of my friends who has three kids like us and not only went back to school while having kids but also started her own home based business as a mortgage broker. It meant leaving a very reliable and good job for something risky and unsure. She is super passionate and continually challenging herself and building her business. As hard as I see it is for her working from home with three little kids she is setting such a great example for her girls, and she definitely is a good example of a career woman wearing many hats… I mean she manages her own business but also raises three beautiful girls, did I mention she is a Sparks leader? Like this lady knows no limits.

Like I said the list goes on and on, we are so fortunate to have many inspiring friends. I feel incredibly blessed to have at least a dozen or more examples of friends and family who have passion for their careers and excel at their jobs. It is not often you get to see friends and family in their workplace, doing their magic but if you take time to ask about work and what they do you might be surprised at the answers (good or bad) and you might be surprised at the passion people can have for sometimes overlooked jobs.

My sister works for Children’s, Women’s and VGH Hospitals and she has the coolest job but it isn’t one easily explained or one that I can even understand. She encourages and supports parents and patients to get informed and become active in making their healthcare decisions. To hear her speak about her job and even the learning and stats she does on some really tough illnesses like mental health and cancer in kids is really amazing. She is always doing extra learning, courses or acting on boards to learn more in her field and be a better support to her patients, plus she is enthusiastic and passionate about what she does.

I think so often we think to be passionate you need to have a glamorous or cool job or job title but I completely disagree, I think its about attitude and the way you share your stories. The people who inspire me are enthusiastic, always learning, knowledgeable in their fields and most important they show passion for whatever it is they are doing.

I hope our kids can see us do our jobs with passion and enthusiasm and that whatever they decide to do in this lifetime it is something they enjoy doing. The best thing I think we can do to encourage that is to set the examples ourselves. So, if you are getting ready to go to bed tonight and setting your alarm to get up and go to a job you feel less than thrilled to have may be its time to ask yourself what would make it better? How can you light a little fire and get a little excitement to get up and go?

Realistic Expectations

I was raised Catholic. It is funny to say now as most people don’t consider me very “Catholic” and I wonder what that means. However the religion isn’t the point in this story it is the fact that every Sunday my Mom would take three girls to mass usually alone and every Tuesday we would go to Catechism (Bible Study). It was expected that we would dress up for Church, sit nicely through Mass and of course listen and behave.

There were so many expectations and as far as I can remember and even as far as my mom is concerned the three of us were fairly good at meeting expectations, especially when we were younger.

Fast forward to today. Easter Sunday and I decided to attempt Church with Grace, Rowen finds out and says he wants to come too. I am immediately nervous as I know for him an hour long Mass that is most likely very busy and potentially loud isn’t his optimum environment. I am also nervous thinking about everyone around me and their expectations of me and my kids.

Then I remember it doesn’t matter what other people expect as long as I know what to expect and what I am willing to tolerate. I didn’t expect to be able to stay for the whole mass, I didn’t expect my kids to be silent or even to sit still but to be respectful. We opted to go into the “crying room” which meant the kids could walk around a bit and make noise without disrupting the whole church. I also didn’t expect Rowen to dress up, I think he looked nice (no sweat pants) but he didn’t have a dress shirt. I wanted him to be comfortable, as well as Grace of course but she loves dressing up.

I was nervous to take my kids to Mass and had been avoiding it for a while, or chickening out whenever it actually came around to it. The kids are attending the school at our Church and will be participating in religion as well as all the regular school curriculum. I think it is important for me that they know about the Church we belong to and that they are able to sit through Mass, go to special occasion Masses (or more if they choose). I know that by adjusting my expectations I am not disappointed in today, but I actually am happy with todays achievement. Making it to Mass and sitting through part of it, plus leaving without any major incident is an achievement to me.

We made it half an hour so halfway through the service, the kids were fairly quiet and played nicely with the other kids in the room. Rowen knew and interacted so nicely with a couple of his classmates from school and Grace genuinely seemed interested and happy to be at church.

What I have been learning is I am more disappointed when my expectations are unreasonable then when I do not have expectations and wait to see how things go.

Friday night we took the kids to the pool, which is not always my favourite thing as we are two adults responsible for three very brave and confident toddler swimmers. If you have ever taken one child to the pool you will understand they go in and they are off, so when you have three kids all swimming in different directions it is hard to be close enough to catch them when they start to drown (because usually mine do). Fraser thinks I exaggerate but it feels like that is what is happening. However Friday night I suggested swimming knowing how badly my kids have been asking to go back to Hawaii and the pool… since I couldn’t do that I figured lets hit up the leisure center. I had no expectations but gotta say the night was perfect. The kids had almost the whole pool to themselves. The lifeguards were great and we were able to “save” our kids and stay close enough to them. Best part was everyone came home exhausted and went to bed easy.

Saturday we attempted to scooter and bike ride to a park and meet up with my sister and nieces. My kids don’t have the best road safety or fear of traffic so it is always scary when taking them anywhere on the road. Plus they also aren’t made to walk or ride places that often so I wasn’t sure about the distance. Without any expectations for how the day would go it went fantastic.

I think sometimes we place all these expectations on our life and our kids that are completely unreasonable and then we are so focused on making sure they happen the way we expect we don’t allow things to naturally unfold. Saturday was a perfect example because we kinda let the kids take the lead on what they wanted to do and for how long and it turned out better than I could have imagined. The other thing is instead of focusing on the unmet expectations I am able to focus on enjoying the moment and having fun.

I ran into a friend of ours with a son Eleanor’s age on Saturday while we were at the park and he mentioned they had just been at a organized sports class for his 3 year old. His first comment was that the instructors had these expectations for the kids that were totally not happening at all and that they just kept teaching. It took me back to our first dance class we had where the teacher, although nice, was very young and no kids of her own. Her expectations of the kids who at the time were only two was so far from their capability. It was interesting to me to see someone’s expectations be so different too, mine were literally to have something to get us out of the house and to have fun, dance literally meant dance around to me. It was Graces first experience dancing in a lessons as well as my first class with my two year old. Halfway through the class I stopped taking Grace because I was so disappointed in the class and I felt like we were not meeting the teachers expectations every class and it was just frustrating. The crazy thing is, had she looked around and even asked what everyone wanted out of the class I bet she could have easily adapted and had a class full of happy two year olds. Expectations can really alter our experiences and how much joy or lack of joy we get out of them.

I think it is unreasonable to say you can live your life without expectations, but I think whenever you can keep them in check! Or adjust them when you realize something isn’t what you thought it would be. You are not disappointing anyone other than maybe yourself. It is also good to remember expectations can change especially when life changes… your disposable income or financial status could change, the age and ability of your kids changes, your work schedule and free time changes through out your life as well as so many other things.

One area I have always had expectation with our kids in is extra curricular. I love all the fun activities, gymnastics, dance, lacrosse, art class. You name it, I wanted our kids to do it all. Especially while they are young, let them try everything. Now we have a son in a three day a week Autism program in Richmond and two of our kids in two days a week of preschool. It is a lot of driving and we are somewhere Monday to Friday sometimes more than one commitment a day. It doesn’t sound like much but for 2,3 and 4 year olds that is a lot (even to a 34 year old it feels like a lot). I can honestly say I have had to majorly adjust my expectations. It is something I have to do regularly, because I get caught up in what all the other families and kids are all signed up for and then my darling husband reminds me we are not all the other families. We are us, we like sleeping in and being lazy on Sundays, we like spur of the moment road trips or day trips, we don’t want to force our kids to play things they aren’t interested in and we have to look at what is best for our family of five not just one person out of the whole family. I also know that at 2, 3 and 4 years old they are not “falling behind” by missing a couple of years in a team sport. My expectations isn’t to raise Olympic or professional athletes, it is actually to encourage balance between all the demands of life, to allow choice and show that everyone has different interests and strengths and really to allow our kids to lead us into the areas they are interested in. I hope they will all play some team sport at any level, it does not have to be extreme or competitive I just think it is a good opportunity to build social skills and learn life lessons like winning and loosing.

Basically the reoccurring theme in my weekend has been one of adjusting and constantly reviewing your expectations. Not just expectations you have for yourself, which are super important, but your expectations of others. I know when I have these big expectations of others it can be crushing to me when they are not met but sometimes I haven’t even told the other person and the expectation is so unreasonable it couldn’t have even happened, so it was more like a dream than an expectation.

I challenge you to care less what other people think, and try to live in the moment and enjoy things as they come instead of getting too worked up in expectations (when you can), and to judge less because we never know another persons story and situation.

Cheers,
Carly

Living a life we love, managing stress and coping with anxiety

So, my first 30 years were the years I didn’t know how to manage my stress. I often felt overwhelmed, suffered from chronic headaches as well as feelings of depression and anxiety. Everything from relationships to money to work to any sort of responsibility would be stressful for me.

Today, I rarely get a headache and now instead of having them caused by emotional stress they are usually brought on by forgetting to eat, too much sun and not enough water or on occasion cheap wine or one too many drinks!

I have recently been really wondering what was so stressful before that isn’t so stressful now? Like seriously I am now responsible for three tiny humans, I should be more stressed. I am realizing though, with life experience you gain confidence, hopefully some coping mechanisms for anxiety and stress and of course the ability to recognize and ask for help.

I think there are a few things for me that lead to stress and the feeling of being out of control.

  • Overwhelm. Always saying yes to everything. With the best intentions but I struggled to set realistic goals.
  • Avoidance. Ignoring issues past or present. Not communicating and afraid to make changes. Avoiding confrontation or difficult conversations.
  • Caring too much about appearances and what others think, instead of prioritizing myself. Doing things to make others happy instead of being true to myself.

I think often people see my blog or even a picture I post or an instagram story and are happy to believe that my life is pretty good and I have it really easy. I agree my life is really good, but a really good life still takes hard work and compromise and everything comes with a price tag. As for having it easy, I think grass is always greener on the other side. We have chosen to try and see the bright side and the best in our situation. It doesn’t always work, but for the most part I think we have created a life we are happy with and really are living our best life.

I have been told “you make it look all sunshine and butterflies”. It has really got me thinking, and it has reminded me that I shouldn’t care what other people think. This is so much easier said then done. It is far from sunshine and butterflies we have lots of challenging moments. However it also has got me thinking about what has changed in my life that I feel less stress than I ever did. The truth is I don’t believe anyone lives a stress free life however I do believe that it is all in how we deal with our stress and choose to live our lives that impact our quality of life.

For me personally a lot of my typical stresses are gone but a lot are gone because of choices and actions I took.

Schedule. First I make a big effort at using our calendar and scheduling in everyone’s stuff (Fraser’s ball, Rowens ABA, kids activities, parties, family social stuff, work, etc). Then when things come up we can check the calendar and try to avoid over scheduling. This sometimes means saying no or prioritizing. It has taken us a while to get to this point but I found we were so busy some days or weeks running from thing to thing that no one was having any fun and I was super stressed. We like to be flexible and plan as we go but having a bit of a schedule to work from has really helped to alleviate stress. This has also helped us to see improvements in the kids behaviour. When they are over scheduled we see more behaviours that we don’t love, which is a good sign to slow things down or take a day off. I also have realized that although I use a calendar and plan ahead, on a busy week it is best to take one day at a time. That has been a huge stress reliever.

Rituals. These are hard to think of but they are things we do to keep peace and order. They feel good to everyone because we know what to expect and they are calming. I have worked really hard at trying to not only have rituals with the kids but for myself. Prior to kids Fraser and I loved being sporadic but now with three kids we see the benefits to having some routine and rituals in our life. For me these rituals include things like journaling, moon circles, using oils, meditation, taking time to work on the farm once a week and girls nights. For the kids some things are our bedtime rituals (bath, reading, talking about our day and what is happening tomorrow, etc), baking with the kids and even our dance parties (which weren’t always popular with Rowen but we found a way to include him). I think these help to feel safe, in control and just regroup without surprises or unknown.

***Side Bar on rituals is that I have just established a plan with the help of my naturopath of a few things to do to try and get back on track and one of her suggestions was setting an hour, 10pm-11pm, where I do the same things every night to prepare for bed. Similar to how we do for our kids bedtime. I love this reminder of how important these rituals are!

Setting Boundaries. This has been something that has been difficult and caused some upset amongst some family but we are learning to set our boundaries. What I am learning about boundaries is that even workplaces and friendships can benefit from boundaries. I love knowing what other people expect and want and when things are clear it eliminates a lot of stress. Setting boundaries often can avoid feeling like you are being taken advantage of or even getting into awkward or difficult situations. Some examples for us of boundaries that were difficult to set but helped eliminate stress were things like limiting our visitors every time we had a new baby, declining some Christmas family activities because it was overwhelming (limiting how much we do right around the holiday), trying to leave Sunday as a family day, and really being clear about how we like the kids being treated and raised.

Practice Self Care. I am really proud of how well Fraser respects this and is really good at acknowledging when I need some me time. He will often notice if I am nearing a breaking point and suggest I go out for some solo time. He also is good at taking time to go work on a project solo or go to ball, just be on his own. I wouldn’t have ever believed this would take persuasion as I have always been great at self care. However once you have kids things change it is almost like I feel guilty sometimes taking time for me. I do think the more you practice self care the easier it gets because you realize you come back refreshed and ready to take more on!

Self care for me is often taking time away from the family and doing some of my rituals. Self care is even something as simple as working outside of the house, its funny to say that but having three young kiddos has meant we made the choice to have me at home. It was a team decision and a lot of it was it just made financial sense but it was also logistically for the lifestyle we wanted (kids activities, Fraser and I being able to see each other, parent participation in things, etc) that it made sense for us. As nice as it is that I am able to stay at home we both know it would be nice if I could work a little, unfortunately working a little means hiring some more help, having Fraser help out a bit and just more scheduling… I realize that self care is a priority and we make it work but it is a bit of work to take the time for me.

I think that you do not have to eat the same meals every Monday night, do the same thing every Tuesday morning, etc to create routines in your life. I know my resistance to creating these healthy habits was loosing spontaneity but that isn’t true at all. These are just ways to help manage stress and anxiety. Everyone is different and sometimes it takes a bit to figure out what will work for you but I encourage you to try. Often we know what we need to do but we just need a push to get there so whatever that push looks like for you… maybe it’s having an accountability partner, hiring a coach, seeing your naturopath or maybe its as simple as a checklist. Whatever it looks like take the time to do it! Living with less stress and anxiety usually means you get to live with a whole lot more of other stuff!