What is Hygge, and Why Moms Need to Know About It

What is Hygge, and Why Moms Need to Know About It

For many of us, Winter is fastly approaching, bringing with it a feeling hibernation. Time to snuggle in and get cozy, and get acquainted with what is Hygge.

My kids and I love spending time outdoors. We like hiking and playing in our backyard. When the weather is nice, we go for nightly family walks with my husband. But right now, we are starting to let go of those habits in favor of embracing indoor life as the days grow shorter and colder. We’re embracing Hygge.

What is Hygge?

Hygge is a Danish word that doesn’t have an exact translation to English, but the word basically means cozy, or a sense of coziness. (though technically they stole the word from Norway)

Think chestnuts roasting on an open fire, comfy pj’s, hot chocolate in hand, and the softest blanket keeping you toasty as you read your favorite book. That’s Hygge.

How do you pronounce Hygge?

It looks like it should be “hig” to use anglophones, but really it is pronounced “hew-guh.”

Why is Hygge popular?

I’ve been seeing the word “hygge” pop up all over the place from Pinterest to bullet journal tutorials on YouTube, and had to dig into what it’s all about. Apparently I missed it when it was trending a few years ago, but the concept has seriously helped me put my finger on something I was missing now.

Over the last few years, there’s been a big surge in popularity of minimalism, simplicity, and scaling back thanks to the meteoric rise of people like Marie Kondō.

But one thing I’ve noticed in a lot of the minimalist communities, articles, and videos I’ve seen is a lack of one thing. A sense of charm that extends beyond the physical and into our more emotional and mental spaces.

It’s not just about de-cluttering or simplicity, but rather finding comfort, whatever that might mean for you. Hygge to me has a feeling of nostalgia and release mixed together. Like a hug from an old friend.

How do you live Hygge?

According to Danish writer, Laura Byager, “Hygge is effortless comfort; it has no element of performance. It is absence of all pretence and worry.”

Byager laments the fact that the idea of Hygge was taken over by marketers to sell people stuff. Acquiring more things isn’t really the point.

Instead, Hygge feels to me like it dovetails nicely with another concept I’ve been exploring for myself, which is the idea of depth vs. width, and instead of always buying more, deciding to make do with what I have.

With that in mind, I’ve come up with a list of 3 things I’m going to be focusing on over the Winter to try to develop a sense of Hygge in my own life with kids.

1. Learn to say no

December feels like it was conflicting feelings. On the one hand, it’s cold and dark, making it perfect for hibernation. On the other, there are a ton of family and social obligations for many due to the holidays.

While being with friends and family can bring so much joy, it can also mean stress.

That’s why it is key to learn to say no to the things that don’t light you (or your family) up. Are there parties and functions you go to out of obligation that don’t really make you feel all warm and cozy on the inside?

What if you skipped them? Said no?

It can be hard to change the way you do things after following the same traditions for years, but if those traditions aren’t really adding to your sense of joy, then why keep them as traditions?

Consider scaling back.

And this means saying no to yourself too!

I have always had eyes bigger than my stomach, bit off more than I could chew, and never known when to say when.

That’s changing as I get older and become clearer on what I truly love and makes me feel good. However, I have a tendency to underestimate the work something will take and overestimate my stamina.

That means I will push to do ALL the things on my Christmas bucket list even if it means more stress and less joy than if I only did 5-10 of them.

When you are also a mom and have to add kids into the mix, especially small ones, trying to do #allthethings is even more time consuming and stressful.

2. Go inside

Cold weather means spending more time indoors, but this also means going inside yourself. Going deep within to discover what is most true for you.

If the question to what is hygge can be boiled down to coziness, then this is getting cozy with your soul.

To embrace simple pleasures, you have to get really clear on what your mind, body, and soul find pleasurable.

Commercials on TV, perfectly curated IG feeds, other moms who seem to have it all together… these things can create hunger inside of us that isn’t real. They aren’t truly us on a deep level. They are manufactured envy and desire that don’t reflect the truth inside.

If hygge is about removing artifice and enjoying activities that reach the layers of us under the surface, then a period of shedding those layers and getting comfortable in our skin and our true desires is necessary.

3. Be present with the kids

Being stuck inside a lot during the cold months of the year can lead to a bit of cabin fever. We start reaching for distractions to take our mind off of well… boredom.

I know that I personally tend to get caught up on Facebook and other social media and spend way to much time with my head in my phone.

While I don’t think that tech and screen time is quite as terrible as some paint it, I also want to have a balanced and healthy relationship with everything in my life so I can model that balance with my kids.

How can I try to monitor or control the amount of screen time my kids are getting if I can’t even control my own tech usage?

This isn’t meant to be a diatribe about tech, but rather a reminder that all this time cooped up inside with the little ones can be challenging.

It requires mindfulness to really let go of all the things we usually use as a distraction from truly being present with ourselves and our children.

But from what I gather about hygge, it is about engaging in activities that allow us to just feel really good. Distractions can sometimes be a quick sojourn from the day-to-day and give us a little variety. (I’m currently binging the Crown and it is divine.)

BUT those are little pieces of the picture. Like how chocolate should only be a small portion of a healthy diet. Too much and it loses the appeal. It’s no longer special. Same with the little distractions we engage in.

For some distractions like social media, there are simple steps you can take to limit them, like banning social websites on your phone and deleting all the apps. Others you might have to get more creative.

The most effective way I’ve found of limiting distractions from being mindful and present is to crowd them out. So I find fun activities and things to do with my kids. These make me feel more present and connected to them, like painting or playing a game.

It’s a work in progress defining what is hygge for me and how I will incorporate the idea into my life. What about you? Do you embrace hygge? Share how in the comments!

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How to Put Yourself First When You’re a Mom

How to Put Yourself First When You’re a Mom

Moms do it all. Supermoms. Take care of everyone and all their needs. There’s just one thing moms aren’t so great at it… it’s learning how to put yourself first when you’re a mom.

How often do you pine for some alone time, but then it never quite pans out how you hoped? You finally get a few minutes alone, but you can’t enjoy it. It’s one thing to say it and another to figure out how to put yourself first when you’re a mom.

Something is nagging at you. It’s the mom guilt. Are the kids ok? Will they be mad at me because I’m spending time away from them? Is that babysitter really responsible enough? Are they missing me?

Tons of thoughts can flash through your mind, and it’s enough to prevent us from even taking rare breaks from momming to care for ourselves.

We also desperately want to figure out how to make sure we do get some time for ourselves. So here are three ways you can get past the momguilt and learn how to put yourself first when you’re a mom. 

1. Remind yourself WHY

Do I need to convince you that you need and deserve time for yourself? That you need to rest, restore, refuel, recharge?

Let’s go back to the oxygen mask theory so many discuss for a hot second.

When you are on an airplane, they instruct you that in case of emergency you should put on your own oxygen mask first before helping anyone else. The logic is simple. If you can’t breathe and end up passing out, you will not be able to help anyone. This is the same for moms.

Let me throw some stats at you now.

Moms on average get 17 minutes of alone time a day. That’s it. 

While there may be some men out there that struggle with getting alone time, it is clear that as moms we are so far in the hole with not getting enough alone time. (If you want to save some time, check out my favorite time saving products for moms here.)

We all know we need to take care of ourselves, but we look at it like it’s a luxury. Like a new car or a bigger house. It would be nice, but it’s not a necessity.

I’m here to tell you, it is. Failing to take care of yourself will have negative consequences for you AND your family. If you do not prioritize self-care and continue to allow yourself to be worn down by always prioritizing the needs of others over you, you will:

Be in poorer health – We know this already, right? If you don’t take care of yourself you’re more likely to be out of shape, eat bad foods, not sleep well, and the list goes on. We want to spend as much time as possible with our kids now, but if we are not taking good care of ourselves then we may not be around when they are older. Don’t we want to be in good shape when our grandkids are here to spoil?  

Be a worse mom – You know when you’re doing it. When your fuse is just so short that if your kid does one more thing you’re gonna flip? Then you inevitably end up yelling at them or your spouse? If you don’t take the time to get your mind right, you’re not good for anyone. Don’t you want to maximize the quality of the time you have with your kids? I’m sure they would prefer a well rested and happy mommy vs. a mombie, right? You know what a mombie is I’m sure, we’ve all experienced. If not, give it a google and peruse the multitude of memes. 

Let’s be real too. We are modeling the behavior we want our children to adopt. Do we want to teach them that it is ok to put yourself last? To always be exhausted and never take the time to enjoy life? To always be holding on by a thread?

No, of course not. We want them to learn to live life to it’s fullest, and that means sometimes you need to make your plate a little less full. 

Lose your sense of self – This is a tough one. You’ve seen all the memes about #momlife. How it’s messy hair, leggings, coffee, and Target? Well, it is totally true (at least for me). But it can cause some monotony in life. All of a sudden you look up and wonder, what happened to that spunky girl who kicked ass at pool and drank I.P.A.’s like they were water?  

So perhaps it’s not pool and beer for you, but I’m sure many of your priorities and habits have changed since having kids. In many ways, that’s a great thing! As a mom, I shouldn’t be out playing pool and drinking beer every night.

However, I do once in a while want to reconnect with the person that I was then. Yes, I am different now. More grown-up. More responsible, and generally an all-around better person. But there is still a piece of me that is a carefree and wild girl. Maybe instead of going out all the time I need to just pick one night of the week where my husband puts the baby to bed and I pour myself a glass of wine and listen to some classic rock on our back porch. 

For each of us, this is going to be different because we are all so unique. But what are a few things that you can do to reconnect with your pre-baby self? Choose them and prioritize them.

Here’s the truth. Don’t you want your kids to know the real you? I certainly do, and if I lose touch with her completely, they never will. 

So figure out YOUR WHY. What is driving you to get your alone time and why it is so important to you. If you can remember the reasons you need to learn how to put yourself first, then you will start being able to do it with more ease.

2. Don’t Fight the Mom Guilt

Feeling your feelings is key to being an emotionally mature and healthy person.

I will tell you that this is not easy and I spent a lot of time in therapy learning how to do it, but it is so important.

How often do we push our feelings down because we don’t have the time or energy to deal with them?

Yes, self-care is partially about physically resting so we can tackle the job of mom, but the most important piece is really your emotional well being.

That means that in an attempt to get alone time and put yourself first, you can’t just stomp down any guilty feelings you have for finally taking a stand for your own well being.

It is totally normal and natural for you to feel some twinges of guilt or even shame when you change things up.

This Friday, my husband and I are planning a night away from the kids, and I already feel these little pangs of guilt for leaving them with their grandmother just for one single night.

Instead of ignoring it, or just distracting myself with other obsessive thoughts, I let myself consider those feelings of guilt. I let myself just feel how it feels to accept the idea that I am guilty of something… then I just kind of let it go and think about whether those feelings are valid or if they’re based on some irrational fears.

At this point, let me take a few moments to tell you that you don’t HAVE to make big plans to leave your kids overnight, or even for long stretches of time.

This isn’t about you following some prescribed notions of what it means to put yourself first. YOU get to determine that, like we said above, this is about YOUR WHY, and what is best for you.

So if your mama bear instincts are truly telling you that you shouldn’t leave your children for some reason, then feel into that and see if it’s true.

But if you ignore your feelings that will only lead to more and more guilt and shame.

3. People can only shame you if you let them

Truth time. Some people are going to give you a hard time because you choose to figure out how to put yourself first.

It’s hard, but you have to find a way to deal with it.

There’s this misconception that in order to be a good mom, your kids need to be your #1 priority every single second of your life, and if it’s not then you’re a terrible person.

The truth is that in order to be a good mom, you need to put yourself first. You need to do your best to rest up to be 100%.

The people who will judge you for taking care of yourself are people who just don’t understand that. So don’t let them get under your skin. Feel pity for them because in terms of parenting they either don’t have kids and don’t get it, or they just haven’t learned this fact yet and are miserable. 

And here’s the thing… if you are sure of your own worth and value, then no one else’s opinion matters all that much. Perhaps your partners, a few close friends, and family members might be go-to people whose opinion you value, but for the most part, who the hell cares what Karen from the kids’ soccer team thinks about you?

You know what else? Although mom-shaming is totally a thing, many times we are preemptively shaming ourselves. Like we make up these stories in our heads about what other moms will say about us and then play that story on repeat until we metaphorically beat the fight out of ourselves.

So stop that.

It’s just like that Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Well, no one can shame you without your consent, even yourself.

Next time you catch yourself in one of those shame loops. Just stop. Once you start noticing it, you can pull yourself out pretty easily.

It isn’t our nature as moms to put yourself first, but it CAN be done. The most resistance will be from yourself and learning how to put yourself first might not come easily, but you can do it mama!

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6 Types of Self Care Moms Need to Know About

6 Types of Self Care Moms Need to Know About

Did you know there are different types of self care? Yeah… me neither. But identifying them is actually REALLY important to understand how to take care of your whole being.

There are 6 types of self-care, in general. Some will claim 5, and some 7, but for me, this list feels intuitively correct. I based this list on my research and just what I’ve found works best for me and my own personal self care practices.

For a long time I thought about self care from a mostly physical perspective. You know, bubbles baths, massages, etc. But as time went on I felt like that didn’t really resonate for me and my needs. At first, I wanted to throw the whole concept of self care away as something shallow and made up even.

But I couldn’t shake the reality that something just wasn’t adding up for me. I just felt bad. Even when life was going well, something just always felt off.

When I put 2+2 together to equal 4, I realized that I had been neglecting entire areas of self care because I really just didn’t even know they existed under the umbrella of self care.

I’ll share more from personal experience on what the types of self care mean in real life, but first let’s start listing and defining them.

1. Physical Self Care

This to me means taking care of your physical needs. Physical self care is all about ensuring that your body is working properly.

It’s similar to the way you take care of your car. Take it to the shop, get the oil changed, rotate the tires, clear out any garbage, wipe down the surfaces, sweep up those crumbs on the floor, and then take it through the car wash. Did I mention making sure it’s properly fueled up?

Your body is your vehicle in this life, and you should take at least as good of care of your body as your car. Physical self care is one of the most obvious and basic types of self care, but so many times is still neglected.

Examples of physical self care:

  • Exercise, like taking a walk, doing yoga, or going to the gym
  • Eating healthy, lots of fruits and veggies, drink lots of water
  • Taking a shower, washing your hair, having a skincare routine

2. Emotional Self Care

To put it basically, this is all about feeling your feelings and honoring them.

Sounds simple, right?

Not so fast. This is something so many people struggle with nowadays because being emotional and being connected to your feelings isn’t really seen as something to cultivate in our society.

Instead, we are many times taught to push our feelings down for many reasons, including survival and trauma. At some point in our life our experiences taught us it was safer to not feel.

Those instincts might have served us once, but now as adults it is usually harmful, leading to depression and anxiety. Of the types of self care, this one can be the hardest to navigate without help.

Examples of Emotional Self Care

  • Therapy (I love BetterHelp for virtual counselling)
  • Learning how to do shadow work
  • Identify ways to help you let your feelings out like watching a sappy movie

3. Social Self Care

As a mom, life can become so isolated. I spend most of my time with tiny humans, and the only person I regularly interact with is my husband.

The internet and social media do allow us to connect more frequently than we would without it, but sometimes that also leads to us replacing real social interaction with a cheap imitation.

Practicing social self care is know yourself and how much social interaction you need to feel whole. Perhaps one outing a month is enough, or maybe you need drinks with the girls every Thursday night.

The key is to know yourself, but also push yourself a little to get out of the funk that can happen when we become too isolated and lonely.

Examples of Social Self Care

  • Going out with friends
  • Meeting up with a new hobby group
  • Have a date night

4. Mental Self Care

Time to exercise your brain. Get creative. Learn something new.

When I was a kid, I loved to try out new skills and hobbies all the time. One thing I did was learn calligraphy, but kind of forgot about it way back in about 1996.

With the trendiness and popularity of hand lettering I figured it was time to pick it back up, and I have to say that just the few days I’ve spent doodling around in a notebook has been incredibly rewarding!

This is about caring for that part of you that is your mind, whether that is about your logical mind or creative mind.

Examples of Mental Self Care

  • Play Sudoku or do a crossword puzzle
  • Pick up a new hobby
  • Paint, draw, sing, take photos, be creative

5. Practical Self Care

This is one of my favorite types of self care to talk about right now!

The reason the idea of practical self care and learning how to master it is fascinating to me because to be honest… I suck at it.

For a wide range of reasons, I am not so great at doing the super practical things I need to ensure that I am happy, healthy, and prosperous. For example, I neglected going to the dentist so long that a simple cavity turned into a root canal.

I’ve been late on paying bills for absolutely no reason and overdrawn bank accounts just because I am missing the gene that makes me awesome at adulting.

BUT, just like any skill, it CAN be learned.

The first step though is just getting it on your radar and making the intention to be more proactive and responsible when it comes to your practical self care as one of the types of self care.

Examples of Self Care

  • Making a doctor appointment
  • Paying your bills
  • Remembering to sign up for health insurance

6. Spiritual Self Care

At first, I wasn’t really sure how this differed from emotional self care, but then I realized what it is.

Emotional self care is about connecting to your own feelings.

Spiritual self care is about connecting to something greater than yourself.

You don’t have to be super religious to include this as one of the types of self care you practice. In fact, you could be an atheist and keep this in your repertoire.

This isn’t about having any specific spiritual practice, but rather figuring out what works best for you to help you feel more connected to God, Goddess, Source, Universe, Nature, Science… whatever you feel helps you feel at peace in a place that connects you to the rest of the world as a whole.

Examples of Spiritual Self Care:

  • Meditation, prayer, ritual
  • Going to church, temple, a walk in the woods
  • Look at the night sky, or stand on the edge of the ocean

Make the types of self care work for you

Each person, including you, is an individual. We all have unique needs and sets of life circumstances. What helps one person might not help the other.

But I would challenge you to look at these areas and determine what they mean to you. How can you create practices and rituals with these types of self care in mind so you can live your best life?

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My Mom Morning Routine with 3 Kids Under 5

My Mom Morning Routine with 3 Kids Under 5

Need to revamp your mom morning routine with kids? I did too. After being stressed all the time, I decided to cultivate a more peaceful morning vibe, and so far it’s working.

My mom morning routine with kids has never been something I structured much. I am a very go with the flow kind of mom who follows my children’s lead so that I am creating their routines and schedules around where they are in their development and preferences.

So when I decided to make some slight changes to what we were doing in the mornings, I didn’t make and big sweeping changes that would shake my children’s sense of security and rhythm.

Instead, I focused on myself. While my kids are part of my mom morning routine, I didn’t start us on this routine with them in mind, but rather with me in mind.

Because a happy mom is a happy family, and a less stressed mom means more fun for kids. If I’m more at peace from the start of the day, then I’m less likely to turn into a mom monster by bedtime.

Let me walk you through some of the most important aspects of my routine. These are the things that are game-changers to me that lead to more peaceful mornings with my kids. (And we still get all the things we need done!)

And just a couple disclaimers. First, I have added affiliate links to this post, so if you want to check out a product I love and purchase through my link, I get a small commission at no cost to you.

Also, this is our ideal morning. This happens about half the time. The other half things go off the rails. So don’t think I am perfect and have it all together every single day. That just isn’t true. Many days, I’m a hot mess.

Self-Care Comes First

I might do a quick diaper check on my twins when we first wake up in the morning and get downstairs, but once I’m sure there won’t be any poop or pee leaking around my house, I focus on myself for just a few minutes.

First, I turn on my light therapy lamp. It’s currently the week of Halloween here in the Northeast US, and as we get deeper in fall, approaching winter, the days are shorter. In fact, some mornings we wake up and it’s still dark out.

I tend to fall victim to seasonal affective disorder, and so getting my light lamp on right away is part of what I’m doing to help combat it this year. The rest of my morning self-care routine is in an attempt to stave it off as well as just my general propensity to fall into depressive cycles no matter the season.

Once the lamp is on, I grab a full glass of water and my vitamins. I make sure to drink the entire glass so I can kick off the day hydrated. There are tons of benefits to starting your day with water instead of coffee right away, and I can vouch that they are true from my anecdotal experience.

The vitamins I’m currently taking are a prenatal (because I’m still nursing), Vitamin D, Vitamin B Complex, and Calcium Magnesium. I explain why I chose these vitamins in this blog post.

Only after I do these things, do I start making my coffee.

I used to use a Keurig, but I hated all the waste it created, both financially and environmentally. For a while, I used the reusable cups that fit into the Keurig. I was able to make that work, but I didn’t LOVE it.

Eventually, I made the switch to french press coffee, and OMG my life is so much better. The process of making the coffee, from putting the kettle on the stove and hearing it whistle when it’s ready to the smell of the freshly ground beans just feels luxurious.

The Keurig was very utilitarian, and that’s cool, but the french press just makes me feel like my coffee is special. Not to mention, it is the most delicious coffee you can make.

Kids Time

So what have the kids been doing while I’ve been doing my little self-care mom morning routine? Playing!

If all went well the night before, which is an odds of about 50/50, then the living room and kitchen are mostly tidy and they can dive into re-messifying it.

An empty space with toys displayed on the shelf (Montessori style) is super enticing to my kids, and for the most part, they can entertain themselves for pretty long stretches. Of course, I am literally in the same room with them so they are not “alone,” but they are playing independently (or with each other).

An important note on the toys. 97% of the toys we have are quiet. They make NO noise. I tend to favor wooden or eco-friendly toys when possible, though we still have a good bit of plastic toys as well.

Beyond the fact that quiet toys mean more peaceful mornings with kids, it also allows them to use their own imagination and creativity much more than other toys.

Some days we do our self-care routine and playtime in silence. No TV or anything except the occasional squeal of a playing kid. Most days though, I turn on Spotify on a Disney playlist and we rock out to some tunes.

When one of my kids is sick or it was a really rough night I will turn an actual show or YouTube on TV, but I really avoid this in the morning.

My kids are generally in the best moods in the morning and happiest to play quietly without any additional entertainment or complaint. The goal for me is to keep the TV off (besides music) until afternoon when my daughter can watch something as my twins nap.

Breakfast!

After I finish the self-care part of my mom morning routine with kids, I start getting breakfast ready for the kids while they play.

We go through phases of what we eat for breakfast. We had a good month or two there when we had pancakes for breakfast nearly every single day. Made from scratch no less!

My daughter usually helps me in the kitchen whether that is with measuring and mixing up pancakes, making popcorn in the airpopper, or even cutting up the fruit with a crinkle cutter!

She is 4, turning 5 soon, and food preparation is an essential part of her homeschool/preschool. I like to focus on practical skills, art, and play right now.

Once breakfast is ready I call them all into the kitchen area and I sing them a little morning song that my boys love. This is the song. It just seems to be like the official start of the day. We are totally awake and ready to start the day with some delicious food.

More Me Time

I do intermittent fasting, so I don’t usually eat breakfast with the kids. I do the 16:8 method, which basically means I stop eating around 7-8pm at night and then skip breakfast and have my first meal around 11-12pm.

My main reason for this is that I just feel better when I don’t eat breakfast doing and am not usually hungry for breakfast. I also have found it helps with the couple patches of psoriasis I have.

I’m not a nutritionist or recommending everyone do this, it is just what seems to make me feel the best and have the most energy. Instead of eating, I get to drinking my coffee and having some quiet time to myself as the kids dig in. Though I am flexible here. If my husband wakes up before me and makes his famous chocolate chip pancakes or cinnamon sugar donuts, you bet I’ll be indulging!

At this point, I’ll usually do some work, read the news, even read a book, or do some budgeting. Whatever catches my attention that morning. Sometimes I even set a 5-minute timer and clean up the living room if we didn’t get to it the night before.

But this isn’t supposed to be hardcore work time. I do get stuff done a lot, but it’s at my own pace and as I feel like it. Sometimes that means sitting with my coffee and scrolling Instagram, and sometimes it means wiping down every surface in the kitchen, sweeping the floor and mopping. I go with how I feel.

Time to Go Outside

I am really committed to getting my kids outside every day that I can. We don’t get out for long periods every single day, but my goal is to be out 3 hours a day! To get 3 hours of outdoor play in each day means I try to get at least one of those hours in during the morning.

This one of my favorite aspects of my mom morning routine with kids.

Some experts recommend kids have at least 3 hours of undirected play outside each and every day. I am convinced of the benefits of being outside for my kids because more time outside usually means better sleep, fewer tantrums, and better appetites.

But again… this is part of my own self-care.

As much as I believe this is good for my children, I KNOW it is just as good for me. Even if it is as simple as taking what’s left of my french press out onto the back porch while the kids swing and slide on our play equipment, I feel so much more grounded and like myself when I have time outside.

If my husband is up and ready when it’s time to go outside and he doesn’t have immediate work, we go for walk as a family around the neighborhood. This is one of my favorite times. Being outside with my favorite people, and I know how lucky I am that this is my life.

Somedays we have activities or outings scheduled first thing in the morning and outdoor time has to wait. For example, on Mondays we have ballet and Thursdays my boys have speech therapy in our home. So on those days, we go outside in the afternoon.

But somedays we are able to go hiking in the woods or for walks in a park with other moms, and that is always awesome too.

For Christmas, I just got my boys some Oaki waterproof rain suits so the elements won’t be a reason for us to miss time outside.

This is a Mom Morning Routine with Kids, NOT a Schedule

So at this point in our day, we are usually starting to get towards 10-11 am, which means my twins are ready for a nap.

But I want to take a minute to note something you might have observed. I don’t have specific times that all of this goes down. Unless we have a scheduled activity or event, the mornings are very free-flowing and easy-going.

Peaceful. Calm. Relaxing… besides the occasional toddler fight over a toy.

Since each of my kids were born, I have never put them on a schedule. Instead, I follow their lead. I watch their cues and respond accordingly. We don’t feed on a schedule we feed on demand. We don’t have a scheduled time for bed, we follow cues on when they are sleepy, and we eat when they show signs of hunger.

After the first few weeks, babies will typically find their own rhythm, their own routine. Once that happens, I just adjust our life accordingly. I might try to nudge them towards one time or another as needed, maybe pushing naps a little longer by 20-30 minutes, sometimes an hour, but I try to stick to what their little bodies want to do naturally.

So many of us are not used to being able to follow our own body’s intuitive cues that we think we need to over-schedule our children’s lives too. But I’ve found when I am able to just tap into all of our needs and follow the signs our bodies give, things go so much more smoothly.

Our mornings generally begin around 6-7 am when my twins wake up. Sometimes I let them play at the foot of my bed for a little while with whatever toy I have in the room for them with some Mickey Mouse on.

If I’m super tired, I’ll let them do this for 30 minutes to an hour until I can drag my sleepy butt out of bed. I don’t really sleep during this time, just relax and try to enjoy my cozy bed a little longer.

But by no later than 7:30 usually we are downstairs and into the mom morning routine I outlined above.

To reiterate one more time, it isn’t a schedule, it’s a flowing morning routine with kids.

Just the Right Amount of Structure

The reason morning routines with kids are so nice is because kids do tend to do well with some amount of structure, as do adults. Though they also need their own time to move slowly when needed, to explore, and to just be kids.

A schedule that is too structured or too regimented can take away a lot of the whimsical and playful feeling of being a kid. Our kids grow up so fast nowadays, that if we can at least in our mornings protect this feeling of freedom, then it can go a long way.

I realize that a lot of moms out there have school drop-offs to do, work to get to, and activities scheduled every day.

So I would challenge you to consider how you can incorporate this spirit of peace and free-flowing time with your children. Is there something you can cut out? Can you focus on having one day a week, on the weekend perhaps? Can you embrace the old school tradition of a sabbath? A day of rest where you have no plans and can embrace some self-care routines and free play with the kids?

There are a ton of ways to can bring the spirit of a lazy and peaceful morning routine into your life if you think outside the box.

But back to structure.

There is ONE trick that I use to give us some structure during our morning routine.

That’s the list.

My daughter has a list of things that she needs to do every day before she can watch TV, her iPad, or before we can go do any fun activities or trips.

It’s not long, and if she focuses on it, she can be done with it within 15 minutes or so, but she can also take her time with it if she likes. Her list includes:

  • Get dressed
  • Brush teeth
  • Change the date on the calendar
  • Do a small writing assignment like a page of letter tracing
  • Practice her piano
  • Put any clean clothes away
  • Tidy her room

Now, she is 4. I don’t expect perfection with this like putting her clothes away or cleaning her room. Sometimes I just set a timer for 4 minutes and she has to work on it for those 4 minutes and when the buzzer goes off she can be done, but it’s fun to see how much she can accomplish during that time!

And many times there are no clothes to put away and her room is still tidy, so it isn’t even a task she has to do each day. I do know these are things she is totally capable of, and I want cleaning up after herself to just be a natural part of her life. Nothing I have to cajole or bribe her to do. So it’s just part of the morning routine.

As she does her list I generally follow along with her as she does this list, which usually happens somewhere between when we have breakfast and go outside, though sometimes she starts as soon as we get up, and sometimes she waits until my twins are napping.

But most of the time I follow the same routine with the boys as what she is following on her list after they’ve finished breakfast. When she picks out her clothes, she goes into her brothers’ room and grabs them some clothes and brings them to me. I change them, brush their teeth, and we all go over the calendar together before she does her reading and piano.

While she does her reading and piano I play a game with the boys or read them a book. The morning routine with kids is pretty flexible, but I do try to get some reading for some quality time with the boys. They looove books.

What I Don’t Do

I don’t get up before my kids.

Tons of moms and experts recommend waking up early and having some time for personal development, or time to be productive. But I just can’t.

My twins are still nursing through the night and wake up around 6 am, so I would have to get about 7 hours of sleep that is interrupted at least every 2 hours through the night and wake up by 5 am to get that extra hour of time to myself in the morning.

Maybe some day it will work for me, but right now, I need the sleep more than I need anything else.

That’s why I also make sure that I have time for myself throughout the day, even if it is in short 5-minute snippets while the kids are happily playing together.

I also structure our entire life in a way that makes me happy. Of course as a mom I have to follow my kids’ needs and ensure they are happy and cared for too, but I don’t see why I shouldn’t cultivate a life that merges all of our needs into a cohesive routine that works.

It’s not perfect, and there are days when the kids take up all my time. Then there are days when I turn on Mickey Mouse all damn day so I can get a few minutes of peace. But it all evens out in the end and I have more good days than bad, and it all starts out with the mom morning routine. A routine that centers self-care even though it is a morning routine with kids.

What about you? What is part of your mom morning routine, and your morning routine with kids? Share in the comments!

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I’m Tired of Being a Stressed Out Mom

I’m Tired of Being a Stressed Out Mom

I never expected to fulfill the stressed out mom stereotype. The picture in my mind was of an earth goddess mama who was super zen and could calm any nerves with a whiff of some essential oils… but I was so wrong.

I’m the stressed out mom even though my life is good.

I love being a mom. I have help and support. All my needs are met. My life circumstances are about as good as they can be, and 99% of the world would probably love to live the life I’m lucky enough to have.

And yet, as I type this I am kind of holding myself back from having a good cry, but really I’m too tired to cry.

I got an OK amount of sleep last night, though “ok” means I only had to get up 3-5 times with my twins who still don’t sleep through the night.

Every time I think we are about to get a good night’s sleep, something like teething pops up to ruin it all.

And every time I feel like we are settling into a routine that works well for us, it changes.

When you’re a mom, even the change in seasons with the shift in the amount of daylight can bring havoc to your perfectly choreographed day.

Over the summer we were in sync. Things were never perfect, but we had a rhythm to our days that created a structure we could all depend on. Since fall began, I just haven’t been able to reestablish the same sense of normalcy in our day-to-day life.

To some extent, I am able to go with the flow, but I also tend to get stressed out a bit when things don’t go as planned. Combine that with my tendency to battle with seasonal affective disorder as the sunlight fades in the fall, and I’ve been a big ball of stressed out mom lately.

Did I mention my twins just turned two?

My firstborn we an angel as I look back on it now. She was just so easy. The tantrums were minimal and always over something expected, like saying no to a toy in Target. I felt prepared to deal with her mood shifts.

But I swear she didn’t tantrum much then so that she could store it up and let it all out at the age of 4 going on 5.

The mood swings now are like if I were having the very worst bout of PMS of my life and the entire world suddenly ran out of coffee, wine, and chocolate.

Then my one twin literally squeals any single time his needs aren’t met immediately, and my sweet little Baby B, the quiet twin, gets separation anxiety if I try to take a poop alone.

Most of the time I take it in stride. I am able to just keep on trucking with life. I can let it go… Call me Elsa.

But some days, it all piles up and it makes me want to just go hide in a corner of my house cuddled up in a blanket somewhere they can’t find me. We all have days like this right?

On one hand I just have to admit to myself it’s ok if I’m a stressed out mom because this job is so hard, but then I also wonder, is this really how motherhood is meant to be?

Does it HAVE to be this hard, or are somehow choosing to me the stressed out mom. What if I stopped assuming that this had to hard and instead just let it be easy?

Perhaps, instead of focusing on these stressful days I also need to take a broader view of my life.

I am the mom of three kids, twin toddlers, and a preschooler. This is hard. Lots of moms tell me they don’t know how I do it and are kind of amazed at how well I handle these kids. I’m trying to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and just embrace the fact that even if I’m not the perfect mom, I’m definitely a pretty damn good one.

The thing I’m thinking about as I type these thoughts out is that I don’t want to be the stressed out mom. Maybe even making the judgment of myself that I am a “good” mom is part of the problem.

Instead of trying to be a good mom, I can just be a mom who shows up every day and does her best.

I can be the mom who is able to hold the emotional space my daughter needs to let her wild tantrums out.

I can be the mom who is patient with my older twin as he tries to find the language to tell me what he needs, but get frustrated when the words fail him.

Or I can find a way to help my younger twin feel safe when I have to leave the room for a few minutes.

The paradox or the conundrum here is that doing those things are hard right now because of the stress, and it is those very things that stress me out (along with normal adulting stuff).

So how do I create more space in my life to allow these difficult aspects of parenting to be part of my experience without pushing me over the edge into stressed out mom territory?

 

I am going to get really clear on my priorities and my boundaries.

Today was a great day for the most part, but there is one thing I would change even though it pains me to say it.

I go out on hikes and walks with other moms of small children as part of a group I am in. Today was a day where we go to an adorable little coffee shop with the best scones ever, then walk to a park my kids love and let them play.

It’s so awesome to get outside, get coffee, let the kids run off some energy, AND actually be social with other moms. I love it.

But there’s a problem. My daughter has a music class on the same day at a time that means we have to rush from our park/coffee date right to music, and many times we are late.

So I have to make the call here, which is more important to me, and to my daughter?

Ultimately I am going to go to the music class. As much as I love the park dates, in the long run, I think knowing how to play the piano and sing will bring her so much joy that I want to make sure she sticks with it. Plus, she really enjoys the class, and it is teaching her discipline in having to practice.

That means giving up something I really enjoy and look forward to, but ultimately that sacrifice will lead to much less stress for me since we can have slow mornings and just enjoy being together as a family on those days instead of scurrying all over trying to be on time.

When I first had kids, I swore I wouldn’t be one of those stressed out moms whose kids are overscheduled with unnecessary activities. I wore this in the same breath as I swore my kids wouldn’t be picky eaters. (insert laughing/crying emoji)

But guess whose kids have activities every morning Monday through Thursday? Yep. Me.

Let me be clear, these are good problems to have. We are blessed and lucky.

Though the fact that we have a lot of scheduled activities means I need to be more frugal with my time in other parts of the week. That means sometimes those extra play dates or trips to the library just can’t happen.

I have to put a limit on what I’m going to do instead of wanting to again, fulfill this picture in my mind of a perfect mom who never gets tired, and whose kids never get cranky when their nap is late.

As I type this all out, I feel like a whiney and ungrateful bitch who acts like her biggest problem is that her daughter is doing music AND ballet. OMG. What a tough life to have, right?

Perhaps that criticism is me being mean to myself and not showing myself any self-love, but maybe it’s fair too.

Maybe I need some more gratitude to combat stressed out mom.

The best antidote I’ve found to feeling like a stressed out mom, and also becoming fixated on all these stupid details in life that don’t matter that much is gratitude (and perspective).

There are different ways to feel gratitude and to practice gratitude.

You can go about starting a gratitude journal where you write down a few things that you appreciated about that day, and that’s great. There are plenty of studies to show that this is helpful in life, and leads to more happiness.

But I want to instead find a way to cultivate a feeling of gratitude all the time. Like to just live in a state of gratitude.

Contemplate that, what would it be like to live in a state of gratitude? To instead of picking our heads up out of the sand of motherhood to notice how grateful we are from time-to-time, we are able to feel that gratitude as our default.

This is a tough task in a lot of ways because life is not set up for us to feel this way.

Even if you think about how you have been marketed to by brands wanting to sell you their stuff since the time you popped out of your own mother’s womb.

Their goal is to make you feel like you don’t have enough, you aren’t enough, and in order to be enough, you have to buy their stuff.

So is it any wonder that after 32 years of that message being drummed into my brain, I find cultivating gratitude harder than fixating on the lack in my life?

The question is, how do I go about creating this sense of gratitude in my life on a regular basis?

Maybe it is this simple: figure out what makes me feel grateful and do more of that. Figure out what makes me feel stressed and reduce the amount of that.

Because as hard as parenting is. As hard as dealing with the screaming and tantrums and hard decisions are, I can manage that when I’m not also juggling 5000 other balls.

Getting minimalist with my time… back to priorities again.

I don’t want to just be a “good” parent. I don’t want to just be even a “perfect” parent. I want to be a happy one.

I want my kids to look back on their childhood and feel happy. To feel like they were raised in a loving environment of people who might not have been perfect, but they tried their best and apologized when they screwed up.

I want them to remember laughing and running and playing and coloring and imagining.

I don’t want their childhood to be a cluster of memories of mommy and daddy being stressed out because we had our plates too full.

Over the last few years, I’ve been doing my best to cultivate a life of minimalism.

While this includes minimizing possessions and clutter, I’ve started thinking about minimizing what I spend my time on and the things that get my attention.

Since I only have a limited amount of time each day, and a huge chunk of that is taken up by the numerous tasks associated with being a parent and an adult… like you know making breakfast and tidying up… I am focusing on completely ignoring things that don’t feel like they add to my overall wellbeing.

A super simple place to start for me was to start limited my time on social media.

How often do you have a few spare minutes in your day so you flip open your phone and scroll FB or IG? Then that turns into 20 minutes and you don’t know where your time went?

Look, I think a good Facebook scrolling binge can actually be therapeutic and self-care even. It is also one of the few places moms can find community in a world where we have fewer options for cultivating our village.

But, using social media in an intentional way is not the same as finding yourself trapped in mindless binges OR just popping in for short snippets throughout the day.

Not only is it draining your time and energy while you have your attention there, but then the ideas and thoughts of all those people’s statuses seep into your brain.

It’s easy to lose your momentum and gratitude and positivity for the day by reading one shitty comment or post. I’m not advocating for isolating yourself, but just be mindful of where you are placing your energy.

When you finish a quick check of social media, do you feel better or worse? Gratitude or filled with neediness?

Pay attention to those feelings and change accordingly.

That’s what minimalism is all about for me. Reducing the things that don’t add value or happiness to my life, and increasing the things that do when I can.

The thing I’ve also noticed when minimizing the demands on my time is that there is discomfort there. Because when I don’t have the distraction of activities or a phone in my hand, I am forced to become present again.

Learning to be in the present moment.

I’ve been working on becoming present for years now, ever since a therapist recommended a book by Eckhart Tolle.

After years of practicing mindfulness and meditation, I am just now beginning to scratch the surface of what it really means to live in the present moment.

The reason a lot of us don’t live in the present moment and are instead trapped in thoughts of the past, anxiety about the future, devices, activities, and other distractions is that when you first start becoming present it is not fun or comfortable.

We create distractions in our life in order to avoid discomfort, mostly feelings that arise. But the thing is that unless we feel those feelings and allow them to be seen, they will find other ways to force themselves out.

When our feelings aren’t tended to they can burst out as anger, or fester as anxiety. But when we don’t tend to our feelings we definitely tend to become that stressed out mom.

And as much as we talk about self-care, and I love talking about self-care, this is something we don’t dig into enough.

I’ve tried focusing on the practical aspects of self-care like taking vitamins and staying hydrated. That’s important and necessary.

I’ve tried focusing on the girls’ nights and mani/pedi’s and bubble baths. Those are awesome too.

But the greatest and most important act of self-care is truly learning to take care of our own emotional needs, which begins with actually feeling and identifying those emotions.

When I am most disconnected from my feelings, that’s when I become the stressed out mom, which is why beyond the most basic necessities of living, focusing on being present and cultivating gratitude are becoming my biggest priorities.

Do Twins Run in Families?

Do Twins Run in Families?

As a twinmom, people always ask if there are twins in the family. It's common knowledge, but how do twins run in families? We’ve all heard twins run in families, but few people really know why, how, or if twins are genetic. So let's answer the question, if and why do...

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20 Mom Memes We Can Totally Relate To

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15 Quotes for Following Your Dreams

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25 Christmas Bucket List Ideas for Moms

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I’m That Mom Who Doesn’t Know How to Be Alone

I’m That Mom Who Doesn’t Know How to Be Alone

I used to laugh at those moms who said they wouldn’t know what to do with alone time if they got… and now I’m one of them.

After years of being waist-deep in diapers and breastmilk, my cousin and I decided to implement a quarterly moms’ night away.

So this morning I got packed up and headed out right before my husband put my twins down for their nap.

It’s October and our plan is to go to a Witches and Wizards Festival and pub crawl. We are total nerds who also love Halloween and dressing up. The last quarterly adventure was the Ren Faire’s Celtic weekend.

My cousin is working until late afternoon, so until them… I’m on my own! No kids and nothing to do.

Then why did I end up following my same old routine of going to Target to pick up a few things and then a drive-thru Starbucks for a grande salted caramel mocha frap?

I sat in my car deciding what the hell I was going to do for a few hours alone with absolutely nothing to do, and I felt completely untethered. But not in a “Yes! I’m so free!” kind of way. More of a disoriented and confused way.

Alone time is something I am not accustomed to anymore.

Sure I spend time alone at home or out running the usual errands. But this time I had zero to do besides exactly what I wanted.

So what do I really want to do when I have nothing to do?

I had no idea.

Luckily I was able to check into the hotel room I score for us a few hours early. It’s nice. A suite in a pretty standard hotel. Not fancy, but not a budget place either.

And now as I type this I sit at the hotel bar with a nice glass of bubbly contemplating who I am now.

 

I wasn’t always like this…

Before having kids I traveled a lot for work. I was a social justice organizer and would spend my time bopping around from city to city to work on different campaigns to help workers gain better pay and benefits. I believed in what I was doing and loved the travel.

When I had my first kid it all changed though. I just didn’t love it anymore, and my lack of focus and passion ended up in me getting fired, which then caused me to devolve in a complete identity crisis where I questioned my value as a human being.

The thing is that no matter how much we deserve any and all credit for being moms, which is the hardest job ever, our society still places a ton of value on how much money you can make. If you don’t make money, society as a whole doesn’t see you as nearly as valuable as if you did.

Beyond the need for us to pay bills and have some left over to spoil our little ones, this I believe is part of the reason so many moms are also striving to be mompreneurs. Because somewhere deep down, we feel like just being a mom isn’t enough.

And that feeling of not enough is rooted in a feeling of just not being enough as a person regardless of what we do, whether we work, stay at home, or some combo of both.

While capitalism has some benefits, there is a dark side… or perhaps many shadowy dark places we tend to ignore.

This small window of no responsibility and nowhere to hide from myself has me contemplating how I feel about myself devoid of any other old besides just being me.

I sip my rosé, sink into this stereotype of a mom who has lost herself in motherhood, and just feel how that feels.

And you know what? I think… so what?

So what if I am totally lost in a world of crayons, snuggles, nursery rhymes, picky eating, potty training, and tantrums.

Maybe I don’t have to award any value to the job I do or to who I am as a person. Maybe I can just be. Maybe I can just enjoy. Maybe I can just embrace the fact that there will be times where I don’t recognize myself. Maybe I can just be a human.

Not even Morgan. Just a person whose identity is and will always be in constant flux. And that is ok. Why do I need to define who I am anyway?

I am a person, a woman, a soul. There is no definition that can fully define who I am. There is no role that fully encompasses my being.

At times it is helpful for me to examine my life through the lens of a specific role, but right now, I’m just going to embrace the most basic level of humanness I can.

I’ll drink this rosé, eat the Caesar salad and fries that just got delivered to my perch at the end of the bar. Then I’ll go put on makeup for the first time in what feels like forever and play the role of a badass witch tonight.

I’ll have fun. I’ll live life.

There will be times for introspection again, but perhaps these little spaces of confusion and in-between-ness are nice places to just stop and smell the roses with no expectations.

A little mom alone time to just be before re-entering the chaos of motherhood again.

Do Twins Run in Families?

Do Twins Run in Families?

As a twinmom, people always ask if there are twins in the family. It's common knowledge, but how do twins run in families? We’ve all heard twins run in families, but few people really know why, how, or if twins are genetic. So let's answer the question, if and why do...

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…and Now I’m a Dance Mom (No One Warned Me How Intense it Is!)

Today was my 5-year-old daughter’s very first dance recital, ever. I was not prepared. When she started soccer, I was not prepared emotionally for it, but this time, I was pretty well armed for all the feels. Especially when it came to realize how much she’s growing...

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100 Word of the Year Ideas to Live Your Best MomLife

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20 Mom Memes We Can Totally Relate To

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15 Quotes for Following Your Dreams

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Stomach Bug? Try a Smoothie for Flu that’s Toddler Approved

Stomach Bug? Try a Smoothie for Flu that’s Toddler Approved

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What is Hygge, and Why Moms Need to Know About It

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5 Things I’ve Learned from 5 Years of Motherhood

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25 Christmas Bucket List Ideas for Moms

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