Self Care Mama

self care mama

In 2017 I felt like I could well and truly say that I have self-care  under control. I have learnt how to prioritise my needs appropriately with the needs of the others in my family and how to incorporate the cost of self care into our budget in a mindful and responsible way. 

This has been a huge process over many years, and with many mistakes, but I’m glad to be at a place where I  know what I need, and be confident to make that happen when it needs to.

I totally recognise that I still have a VERY long way to go in terms of reducing my stress, limiting my angry outbursts, and  being a kinder and more gentle person, butI also recognise that this year I’ve made progress! I’ve also set up a bunch of things (listed below) that will help me on this path to being more at peace.

One of the hardest things about self care is starting, and I believe the first thing that needs to take place is a conversation with yourself about your worth, and an honest look at the most effective way you can be a good wife/mother/employee/employer/volunteer/person in general. It starts kind of life this:

angry woman

How To Initiate Self Care:

“Oh gosh, I am a terrible mother. I yell at my kids way too much. I want to chaaaange!”

Okay, so lets look at this objectively and work out why you yell – because you’ve accumulated stress that you haven’t had a chance to process or let go of. Because you’re running on empty. Because you feel like you don’t get time to pursue other things you enjoy. Because when you debrief to your spouse they think you’re complaining and they just want to fix things. Overworked, underpaid.

Okay, got it.

So honestly, the best thing to do in this situation, is to work out a way to get some time to yourself. Once you’ve talked it out  with yourself, and you’re committed and understand all the benefits (do a bit of research – I’ll post a link to a blog post with links), it’s time to take action. As you read links and do your research on the benefits of self care it’s best to share these tidbits with your loved ones (spouse, parents, friends) as you come across them. These are the people you will need to support you, and so it’s great if you’re all on the same page and they understand how important this is.

It’s An Experiment 

I love that I’ve had the freedom to explore and experiment with a range of different self care methods, and that my husband has been supportive in giving me time/space as much as he can in order for me to try things. But the truth is, a lot of what I do I have had to carve time for myself in my regular life. If you rely too heavily on needing other people’s help to look after your kids while you do self care, then you will end up with disappointment. Also, you miss a really valuable opportunity for you to both teach your children how to care for themselves, and also that self care is important for you as a mother.

Choose something you can do on your own, without help, and start there. You don’t have to be committed long term to this, but you do have to be committed to the length of the experiment – however long you make that. For example, regular massage might fit into your budget once a week for the next month. So commit to that. Then reflect and see if it’s helped, if you enjoyed it, if you’d rather spend your time some other way. Then either give it up and try something else, or find a way that you can commit to it for longer.

happy woman

Some of my favourite self care activities in 2017 include:

  • Regular massages
  • Dedicated art journaling time on the weekends (husband looks after the kiddies)
  • Art journaling in the evenings
  • Essential oil time – learning about them, reading books on them, figuring out new “recipes” and applying them
  • Meditation – just a new practice for me, and one I’ve grown more confident after reading a great book on Jewish meditation. I hope to do a book review about it soon!
  • Walking to the shops by myself
  • Shabbat
  • Gardening
  • Daily reflection, connection with the moon, and tracking my cycles
  • Regular (weekly/fortnightly) “date nights” with girlfriends. Venting totally allowed!
  • Dropping Facebook (embracing just having one social profile)

Snow Day in Atlanta – December 8th 2017

One of the great things about being strangers to the snow is that when you’re travelling in a foreign city and it ends up being a snow day, it’s really no bother to you at all! I mean, for us, going back to our airbnb, turning up the heater, and grabbing a cup of tea while we look at the window at the snow fall is just as exciting as seeing the sights of Atlanta!

The place we’re staying at here in Atlanta is nice, and the host family (we’re in a granny flat out the back) is really welcoming and friendly. Our boys loved playing with the kids in the back in the snow this afternoon, then going into their house for hot cocoa – another classic “Americanism” I am glad they could experience. Hot cocoa on a cold snowy day – seriously, it’s what kids movies are made of.

We were out and about in the morning though – walking through the park in the icy rain, wishing it would snow, grabbing coffee (cue crying toddler in the middle of the shop because she’s obsessed with drinking your coffee when you’re not looking, and that’s seriously no good), and watching the snow start from our Korean lunch place.

We loved having a snow day, and it was made even better that it was in such an unlikely place like Atlanta!

WordCamp US 2017

Hard to believe that just last weekend we were heading into WordCamp US! Luke had tons of work to do while he was there, so we didn’t see him much, but I also had a ticket and really enjoyed going to a few of the sessions (as many as possible while looking after 3 kids!). Luke’s been working on a really awesome project called Tide and it was great to see it launch at WordCamp, and be announced during State of the Word, and to be there with him through it all (even if it did mean late nights and stressful times, it also meant celebrations and congratulations. I also got pretty good at tension releasing shoulder massages!).

I thought I might highlight a few of my favourite sessions I attended, including what I learnt from them and how this will impact me going forward.

Beginner’s Guide to Contributions by Josepha Haden.

I really enjoyed this talk by Josepha and particularly enjoyed how she highlighted ways we could contribute to WordPress without having to code (because that is not currently my strong suit!). I was inspired by the idea of writing documentation, and also being involved in WordCamps. 

DESIGNING FOR DYNAMIC WORDPRESS CONTENT WITH CSS GRID, FLEXBOX (AND MORE CSS TRICKERY) by Bob Visser

This talk wasn’t so amazingly relevant to me, because of course I don’t code. But I thought it was really helpful to me to understand some of the direction the web is taking. I also feel like Luke might talk to me about something along these lines at some point in the future and now I will have some fundamentals understandings when he does!

Documentation for Developers by Katherine White

Again, I’m not a developer, but I felt like the things Katherine talked about were relevant across many fields and aspects of life, not just dev work. 

Kids and Code: The Facts and the Future by Sandy Edwards

I REALLY enjoyed this talk by Sandy. I felt really inspired as a mother in general, but especially as a homeschooling mum. I remember when I started this blog I only had a tiny Lior baby growing in my tummy, but my plans were to homeschool him, and to use my blog as a place to teach him about the internet, and writing, and all those good things. This talk really brought me back to all of that, and has inspired me to include more of this in my homeschool plan for 2018.

Sandy talked a bit about what they are doing in Kids WordCamps she has helped facilitate, and I found that to be incredibly inspiring. Perhaps it’s something I can be involved in in the future…

Raising Kids with Code by Jonathan Brinley

This was another great talk – and another inspirational one that I’m sure will affect the way I teach and parent my children in the future. Lior will by 6 in January, and I feel like he is almost at a point where he can benefit more from direct learning about code. Making logic based activities and using coding language will be a priority for me after listening to Jonathan’s talk.

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Many of you reading this will know that last year (2016) Luke & I helped organise WordCamp Sunshine Coast. That was a great experience, but I also quite enjoyed just attending the WordCamp and getting to enjoy the sessions. If you can get yourself to a WordCamp you should! Even if you’re not a developer there is always helps on offer for WordPress users, including networking opportunities (and fun after parties!).

How To Take A Break From Facebook

Whether you like it or not, you will probably find that quite a lot of your life is connected to facebook. Sometimes this is great – finding our information, connecting with people and making friends, and knowing about fun events. But sometimes it’s bad (and hard to escape!). For those of us who end up being a bit addicted to facebook and social media in general it can become important to take a little break in order to re-calibrate, and make space for bigger things.

But taking a break from facebook isn’t always easy. Earlier in the year when I had considered taking a break from facebook I wondered how I would do it. How would I know when the next homeschooling event was on? We were only newly moved to the area, so I was quite reliant on the facebook groups to meet new people and connect with homeschooling events. How will I update my blog / business’s facebook page? How would I keep up to date with other important things? How would I connect with friends? Eek!

Here’s how I did it: 

To solve most of these problems I simply made a second facebook account with no friends. With this new account I joined only the groups I desperately NEEDED to be part of.

Step 1: Log out of your current facebook account, and then create a new account.

Step 2: Choose a different profile picture (so the next step is less confusing), and make a status update that says something like “I’m taking a break from facebook, and this account is purely for keeping up to date with XYZ. Please do not contact me via this account or send me a friend request. You can contact me via [email protected] or 04….my phone number…”

Make sure it’s a public status update. Also, take a screen shot of this status and make it your cover photo, so it’s super clear for people.

Step 3: Make friends with your original facebook account, so that you can easily invite yourself to the pages you admin, or the groups you’re part of.

Step 4: Log out, and log back into your original facebook account (the ones with all the friends, and all the stuff). Accept your new friend request from yourself, and make yourself an admin of the pages you manage, and approve yourself to join the groups you need to be part of. You may need to contact a group admin and just explain what you’re doing, as a secondary account with no friends of a person who’s already part of the group is a bit sus! So just let them know that you’re taking a break from facebook, but still want to keep updated with what’s happening in the group so want to join again with your temporary account.

Step 5 (optional): Log back into your new account and check you’re part of the groups you need. Request to join them on your own if you need to.

Step 6: Deactivate your original account! Facebook hates this, and you have to just through quite a few hoops in order to deactivate it.

Now, this is just a deactivation – you can reactivate it at any time and keep your history and your friends and your photos and what not when you’re done re-setting. If you want to permanently delete it, well, that’s next level.

And there, you’re done! 

When I first did this it did not reduce the amount of times a day I went to check my facebook, but every time I went there, there was basically nothing to do or see there, and so the TIME I spent was very minimal. And boring. So basically I’ve been training my brain that facebook is a boring place. So hopefully, if I do go back, I will have learnt that 1. facebook isn’t fun and 2. I can make better use of my time.

Kids are awake, gotta run (to bed)!

Feature photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

 

Post Natal Depression Awareness Week

During the week I went on the radio to talk about my experience with post-natal depression, and how social media possibly contributes to this problem. It was a good experience, and I wanted to follow it up with some more thoughts to re-iterate what I’d said there, and also add some additional information.

For those that don’t know, I suffered post-natal depression after the birth of my first son. His birth was hard, and he suffered a dairy intolerance as a baby.  I was helpless, and hurting that my baby was hurting. I yelled and cried, and when I told the health nurse, or the GP at mine or his checkups I was repeatedly told that he was fine – he didn’t have the right symptoms for ANY sort of problem, and it was just colic. Oh, and that I was probably exaggerating things. 

// Having people not believe you because you are a first time mum is very hurtful, and certainly contributes to higher PND in first time mums //

// Find a good GP! If your GP doesn’t take your concerns seriously, or doesn’t believe you, just find a new one. Seriously. There are actually heaps of GREAT GPs out there, you just have to find them (and probably wait for an appointment!) //

After a few months of this, my thyroid totally spun out, although I didn’t know that was the problem at the time. By this stage I had discovered Lior’s dairy intolerance, and we had things mostly under control, but the damage was done. I suffered in silence for many many months after that, and at 13 months postpartum I went to a new doctor and was diagnosed with post-natal depression. Even that part of the story did go smoothly, and I was screwed over by the mental health services at the local hospital. I gave up, and Luke, Lior & I put everything we owned into storage and hung out in Israel for a while, where I found myself not only cured, healthy, happy and at peace, but also after not too long a time, pregnant again. Ha!

// Definitely not saying everyone should just pack up and move to Israel, but also… it’s a miraculous land… // 

// Holidays are great – don’t underestimate the power of changing your routine and lifestyle for a period of time //

I re-wrote the above story of my first year of motherhood, it made it sound horrific, and terrible every day, but in reality it wasn’t. I had lots of really great days, and in general I soldiered on, making the most of my life, and appreciating what a gift it was to be a mother, and to have my darling little boy. He was adorable, and lovely, and I loved spending time with him. And I think lots of people would attest to this being their reality when they experience  post-natal depression. Little things being fine, and yes to fun things, yes to laughing, yes to generally “coping”, but having a bit of a cloud hanging over you. To have the running theme of your life somehow being hardship and sadness, even though rationally you know that this is not so much the case.

// PND is different for everyone – having someone to regularly talk to is a great way to keep things in check and notice when that cloud just won’t go away. I’m sorry to tell you that this person is almost definitely not your husband, or your mum. //

As I said on the radio, if you’re a mum (new or “old”!), then finding the right tribe on social media is so important, and during my second pregnancy I found that. Finding people who’s parenting style you resonate with, and who are honest about the ups and downs of motherhood. No one wants to watch people sad and moping online, but also it’s not helpful only seeing the highlight reel.

// You might find that by being honest you actually help other people. If you’re someone who is open about their own realities, then you might make people feel safe enough to ask you for help should they need it. //

My personal manifesto for using social media is to keep things real, and being mostly positive. Sometimes, times are tough, and life is just not positive. It’s about a year ago that I got some hard core burnout from over-commiting myself, and that was actually pretty hard to share online, but I’m glad I did. I hope it helps someone else not over-commit themselves. Sharing the tired days when my baby didn’t sleep, and I am desperate for coffee – this is real life, and I share this too. Sharing the joy my kids bring me, and things they do that make me proud – this is also super important, and part of what makes a strong online community. We’re about to embark on a three week trip with 3 small children and a 20 hour transit, so if you’re keen to see the fun and also the hard of travelling with kids, definitely head over to my instagram. 🙂

// Be honest! Be vulnerable! But this is partly why having that right tribe is important. If you’re surrounded by people who like to give tons of advice when you didn’t ask for it, or judge you for give them the ol’ heave ho, and block them. Aint nobody got time for that. //

// On one of our trips both our kids weed and pood in their clothes whilst sleeping on a 12 hour flight. That was incredibly fun. Not. Hopefully nothing like that will happen on this flight!! //

I just wanted to lastly add that if you’re a husband, keep an eye on your wife. Don’t let things get so bad. If you’re a wife, even if you may have PND yourself, don’t forget your husband! I think men actually get PND in a different way, but quite frequently, it’s just not diagnosed (and they can get through it a bit easier, because they don’t have the hormonal interference. But still, a psychologist can really help. If you’re in Australia, just go talk to your GP about it, and you can most likely get a bunch of free session to see if it’s going to help you!

// Post-natal depression is not a women only issue. Men can also suffer post-natal depression. //

// Post-natal depression not only affects you, but also your spouse, baby, and other children. Seeking help is the best thin you can do, if not for yourself, then for the people you live with who are affected. //

Photo by S S on Unsplash

Homeschooling – Term 3 Culmination (Part 1)

If you missed part 1, you can read/watch it here.

In the first video I shared what we did the day before our culmination day – how we got prepared at home, and how we incorporated this theme into our homeschooling. So this next video is of the actual Carnival day!

The kids really loved being involved in this day, and while we perhaps didn’t contribute at the same level as some of the other kids, I think we did a pretty good job considering their ages, and the fact that this was really our first term being involved in something like this.

Homeschooling – Term 3 Culmination (Part 1)

Better late than never sharing this video! It was fun to make, and I look forward to doing more summary videos of our homeschooling as we finish various topics. In Queensland, Australia where we live, term 3 was from the 10th of July to the 15th of September. Our homeschool group – PB Learners focused on a carnival as our term play based learning topic, and so we went along with this on our home days as well.

Over the course of the term the children worked on their own individual and group projects which they could contribute to our end of term culmination day – a PB Learners carnival!

I have made the video below showing how we prepared for the carnival at home the day before. And later in the week I will share with you the finished culmination day! Enjoy. 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2g_17z4Eeo

Finding Flow – prayer, the beach and painting.

We love our beach days. Apart from family and friends, the beach is definitely the number one thing I miss about living on the coast. Actually probably the only other thing. And miss it I certainly do. Last weekend, as I lay on the sand watching the kids make sand castles and memories I felt so sure that this was my happy place.

I listened to a podcast about “flow” the other day. I tried to think about how that fit into my life as a mother with small children, as a homeschooling mother, as an artist, and how I could achieve it. Definitely with meditation and prayer – which go hand in hand for me, and something I do most day. Saying the Amidah in the mornings. Art journaling and painting – specifically the abstract intuitive pages. But also, the beach. The rhythm of the waves coming in and going out. The connection with nature (I am a lover of earthing), and the feeling of my skin soaking up Vitamin D. A happy place for sure, but also definitely a “flow” place, and a place of inspiration and rejuvenation. A holy place in many ways I guess!

finding your flow at the beach / family playing joyfully at the beach finding your flow at the beach / seaweed at Maroochydore finding your flow at the beach / boy playing joyfully at the beach finding your flow at the beach / boy playing joyfully at the beach finding your flow at the beach / family playing joyfully at the beach finding your flow at the beach / Mother and son finding your flow at the beach / family playing joyfully at the beach finding your flow at the beach / boy playing joyfully at the beach finding your flow at the beach / boy playing joyfully at the beach finding your flow at the beach / boy playing joyfully at the beach finding your flow at the beach / boy playing joyfully at the beach

Feeling Alive

On Friday I spent a lot of money, and I booked a bunch of flights for out family of 5 to go to America at the end of the month. We’ll be gone for 3 weeks, and Luke of course will spend most of the time working. We have to be in Nashville for WordCamp US, as that’s the work stuff Luke has on, and will do a road trip from there to see a few things around the area.

Ahava (21 months), has never been overseas before. We did a long weekend trip to Sydney earlier in the year, which was great, but that’s the only travel we’ve done with 3 kids. So I’m excited! I feel alive, for sure. Not just because I spent a whole lot of money (Luke usually books the flights and things), but because we’re travelling! I love that it’s kinda late notice (we have less than 3 weeks till we leave), and that we don’t have a solid plan. It feels very “us”, and I like that.

When Ahava was born I totally came to peace with the idea that our family holidays probably didn’t involve months in Israel, or months of  travel hoping across the globe, and that was totally fine. I loved my growing family, and was happy to compromise travel for a season while our kids grew. Part of the reason Luke & I decided to have children “young” is so that when they’re all grown up we’ll have plenty of time to travel again before we feel too old. So it’s a long season without much travel, but still, a season.

This year I planned a few Australian based holidays. We did the Sydney trip, which was great, and I had planned a few trips for 2018 that we could drive to. Really, Queensland is a beautiful state, and there is so much to see and do that we haven’t taken advantage of. It’s great. But when I booked this flight – oh man, I’m on a high! I’m so keen for this, and so grateful we have the opportunity to watch Luke do some amazing stuff while he works as well.

I guess all I wanted to say, was that I didn’t realise how much I missed international travel (never missing the flights though – ugh), until I booked something in. Also, I’m inspired to write – so it must be good for me. 🙂


Photo from Deathtostockphoto.com

Homeschool Spring Fair

Homeschool Brisbane Spring Fair: Choosing items Homeschool Brisbane Spring Fair: DIY bracelets Homeschool Brisbane Spring Fair: Fresh produce Homeschool Brisbane Spring Fair Homeschool Brisbane Spring Fair: Fairy Doors Homeschool Brisbane Spring Fair Homeschool Brisbane Spring Fair: Cupcake stall Homeschool Brisbane Spring Fair: Facepainting Homeschool Brisbane Spring Fair:

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Homeschool Brisbane Spring Fair: tiger facepainting Homeschool Brisbane Spring Fair: tiger facepainting Homeschool Brisbane Spring Fair: DIY braceletsLast term, on the first day of spring, some local homeschoolers organised a spring fair. We went along just as “buyers” as we’re still settling in to our new place, and I thought it was best if the kids experienced the fair first before having their own stall. It was a great morning, and we stayed much longer than I thought we would! I let the boys take their wallets and spend as much of their own money as they wanted. Mostly because if we’re too stingy about these things it’s not so fun, and also if they spent all their money then they could learn a lesson in earning it all back! 

The kids stalls were priced no higher than $1 per item/service, and this made it really easy and affordable. Of course, kids still needed to offer change, or make up the money using silver coins, but the price limit meant that my kids weren’t going to get ripped off, either. Parent stalls were priced at whatever the value was, but I personally think people were selling their things super cheap! I wish I’d brought more of my own money to spend!

Lucky for my boys, Ahave fell asleep on the way and continued to sleep in the pram for most of the morning, so they had my undivided attention for that time, which was lovely.

Huge shout out to my eldest child who thoughtfully chose a necklace and earrings for me. He even secretly bought the earrings as a surprise. I’d had a hard fortnight feeing disappointed with their ungratefulness and whinging, and then this happened! Gave me hope that all is not bad! And I can’t leave out my second baby who also wanted to buy me a necklace (but one is enough, you know?).

Once Ahava was awake she was totally into it too, and had her hair sprayed, and convinced her brothers to buy her things. How she does this with no words is beyond me, but she charms them for sure.

Some of our favourite stalls were:

  • DIY beaded bracelets
  • Cupcake stall
  • Lucky dip (had toys in the kids had obviously donated – was such a great idea)
  • Hair spray station
  • The tiger shop (obviously this family had been learning about or had an interest in Sumarian tigers, and everything in their shop was themed this way. They’d made little books, had made tiger tails out of wool, and had a bunch of other stuff too)