Author Archives: Maybe I'll Shower Today

About Maybe I'll Shower Today

Mother of two boys looking to find balance between caring for herself and her children. Contact me at maybeillshowertoday at gmail dot com.

woman in blue shirt talking to a young man in white shirt

Trauma expert shares advice on talking to kids about global events

Thanks to social media and a 24-hour news cycle, our children have greater access to global news than any prior generation. And while we as parents can do our best to shield them from learning about uncomfortable topics, we can’t hide them from everything. Kids are curious and turn to us for honest answers. At the same time, they expect us to keep them safe. With the right approach, we can help our kids better understand difficult topics and create a culture of trust in our homes.

Guiding people through difficult topics is a specialty of Gina Moffa, LCSW. Gina specializes in trauma and grief therapy and has worked with thousands of people, including Holocaust survivors through her work at 92Y, an international non-profit. She also runs a private practice in New York City where she helps clients of all ages process difficult experiences and emotions.

I spoke with Gina via email to gain her insights on how families can help our children make sense of difficult world events. Regardless of your views, we can all agree that news of war, climate disasters and world hunger impact our children’s well-being.

There Is No “Best” Age To Start Talking About Current Events

There is no “appropriate age” for kids to start learning about global events, says Gina. How much exposure a child has to the news will determine the type of questions they may have and how we as their caregivers should respond. She explains that a child who grows up in a home where the news is always on, will not only be aware of the news, but will be paying attention to how their parents respond to the information.

For these children, Gina recommends having an age appropriate conversation about what is happening and to emphasize our role in keeping them safe. At the same time, she says it is important to encourage our children to feel comfortable coming to us with any feelings, fears or questions.

You Don’t Have To Have All The Answers

Even those of us who spend hours reading about a topic will still lack the understanding to answer every question our children might have. Rather than brush our kids off or worse, give them false information, Gina urges us to be honest. She says the best thing to do when we don’t know the answer is to simply say, “I don’t know the answer to that, but as soon as I do, I will let you know and we can talk more about it.” 

Consider Your Child’s Mental Health When Discussing Difficult Topics

Children process information differently, and for kids with certain mental health diagnoses, learning about global events can increase stress and anxiety. For children with high anxiety, for example, Gina says that you will want to bolster a sense of safety with them first. For these children, she recommends giving them only the information they absolutely need to know and starting and ending the conversation with an affirmation of their safety and wellbeing.

Choose An Appropriate Time To Talk With Your Kids

Choosing the time of day to talk to our kids about sensitive topics is also important. She suggests avoiding discussing events before bed, unless they bring up questions at the time. On those cases she reiterated the importance of emphasizing our role in ensuring our kids feel safe.

To help foster a safe space for talking about scary subjects, Gina suggests making a time in the day that encourages our kids to feel comfortable speaking with us. She suggests creating an environment that helps our kids feel present, have time to process the information and ask questions.

Be Proactive With Social Media

Despite our best efforts, our children are exposed to sensitive content. Limiting social media helps, however we can’t control everything our kids see (especially when they are outside the home).

Rather than dismissing or minimizing what our kids see on social media, we should keep an open dialogue. Gina says the best way is to ask them about what they saw and how they felt when they saw it.

She reiterates the importance of reminding our kids they are safe and says to keep encouraging them to ask questions.

Share Your Thoughts With Your Children

Parents want to shield their children from harm. We tend to keep our worries from our kids, thinking it will protect them. However, as we know, kids are smart and intuitive. They sense when things aren’t right, or when we are upset.

Instead of hiding our feelings, Gina urges parents to be open with their kids. She notes that most kids won’t share their feelings if doing so isn’t modeled by an adult. She says offering your thoughts and feelings (as appropriate) on what’s happening in the world will encourage our kids to do the same.

Model Effective Self Care

Not long before writing this article, I deleted the social media off of my phone for about a week. I found the content to be disturbing, and I was receiving unkind messages. I have since re-installed the apps, and have been more mindful of my usage. I know I can delete them anytime if my mental health is starting to slide.

This is just one example of self care I take to mitigate the emotional impact of difficult world events. Gina notes that this doesn’t mean we or our kids need to ignore current events. She says our kids will see how we are taking care of ourselves and look to us for guidance.

Find Ways To Help

In the face of global tragedy, we often feel helpless. Solving the world’s problems seems like an insurmountable task. Our kids may feel the same. Gina advises joining with your children to do something tangible to support a cause. This could include pressing that online donation button together, or gathering goods for a drive as a family. Helping our children feel like they are part of the solution can make them feel less overwhelmed.

Remind Kids That It Is Not Their Job To “Fix” Everything

In Judaism, we have a phrase called, “tikkun olam.” This phrase translates to healing the world, and we are taught from a young age about its importance. I agree that we should model positive actions toward making the world better. I also agree that we should include our children in our efforts.

However, as Gina explains, we need to remind our children that it is not their job to “solve” every world issue. She adds that we can tell our children that adults are working to resolve many of these issues on a global scale. We can encourage them to do small things that have a huge impact. Gina notes that through family and community activity, our kids can gain some agency over their fear about what is happening in the world.

Gina Moffa, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in New York City. In the field for 17 years, Moffa has helped thousands of people seeking treatment for grief and trauma. This includes work with Holocaust survivors at 92Y, an international non-profit, as well as being a clinical director for Mt. Sinai Hospital Outpatient Program specializing in addictions. She received her master’s degree in social work with a specialty in trauma from New York University.

Moffa has extensive training in grief work, trauma, cognitive therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, internal family systems therapy, and mindfulness-based relapse prevention for substance use disorder, as well as depression.

Moffa maintains a full private practice on the upper west side of Manhattan. The majority of her practice consists of people seeking support and guidance for a major loss in their life, whether through death, divorce, or an unwanted life transition. One of Moffa’s clinical passions is helping people to navigate their healing from loss and grief in a way that empowers them to find a new sense of fearlessness, understanding, and meaning in the face of unpredictable grief.

sad boy in gray sweater sitting on the floor

Educator shares bullying prevention tips

By Samantha Childs

Whether it is nasty comments shared across the cafeteria table, or targeted humiliation campaigns on social media, bullying is everywhere. Author and educator, Samantha Childs, shares her personal experience of being both a child who was tormented for her physical features and one who poked fun at another.

Samantha’s Story

“Egghead! Egghead!” The whispered words hit the back of my head, neck, and ears like the snap of rubber bands on bare skin. 

I was 13 years old, at a new middle school, and the only girl in the all-boys study hall. 

I stared down at my textbook and notebook in front of me, watching as the words before me became an illegible word soup. My heart pounded in my ears and I silently plead with the universe, “No.”

The Teasing Continued

“Egghead! Egghead! Egghead! Egghead! Egghead.” The chanting spread, like a wildfire. Like joy. Every boy chanted that biting word. It jumped from desk to desk, from mouth to mouth. The whole class was there – even the shy blond boy who was my crush. And they were all chanting at me.

The bravest thing I could muster was to lift my eyes from my desk, to the face of the teacher in front of the room. But he would not look back. 

I must deserve it, I told myself. The only way the world made sense was if I deserved to be treated this way. My forehead was big, and that made me unlovable. Something had to be deeply wrong with me for everyone to dislike me. The boys chanting, my old friends abandoning me, the girls and boys ignoring me. It had to be me. I felt ashamed for existing. 

Middle school can be rough

(Image Alt Text: child sits crossed-legged with hands over eyes surrounded by children pointing and laughing at them)

The Pain Of Being Bullied Can Last A Lifetime

My heart aches for that younger me. And I still hear her voice in my ear, worrying that others won’t like her or telling me that she doesn’t think she is good enough. (I hear it even now writing this article.) Sometimes we take the bullies with us, internally, because we think it’s keeping us safe, and in check. We don’t want to be caught off guard again. The fall – and even more, the shock of the fall – hurt too much the first time. 

Bullying leaves such a lasting effect, I think because it unearths a core fear within us that we aren’t lovable. This fear can spring up into our lives in so many countless annoying ways, wanting to be seen and healed. In my own life, I’ve found that with almost every problem I have, when I dig deep enough, that is the little gem I find: the fear that I am unlovable. And I say gem because, behind that fear, when we rub it off like dirt, is the beautiful truth that the fear isn’t real – it’s just a fear – and that we are all lovable, exactly as we are. Even thirteen-year-old me and her big forehead and tear brimmed eyes.

Bullying Affects Everyone

After I wrote a children’s book about bullying, so many people told me their own personal stories. While experiencing bullying feels so isolating when it happens to you, the truth is that bullying touches all lives, jabbing its boney finger right into our ribcages. Ouch. Some had been bullied. Some had bullied. Some had witnessed it.  Most, if we are honest with ourselves, I think have experienced bullying from each of those viewpoints. This is not always comfortable to admit. But it is ok. We are lovable, foibles and all.

I once told a classmate that she had very long toes. (Interestingly, I also have very long toes.) The whole class started laughing with such fervor. I felt stunned – and also, like a bully. The laughing was too strong. I have thought about this and felt badly about it for decades. I wish I could take back my comment, not because I intended it to be mean – it was more careless – but because I didn’t like it being attached to the laughter that followed it. And I didn’t like that small feeling of power and acceptance that I felt while they laughed. I wanted it – to be loved and accepted, especially at that time in my life when I was ignored and bullied everyday- but I didn’t want it that way. Girl with the beautiful toes, I am so sorry. 

How To Prevent Bullying

Now, I am frequently asked for advice on bullying, especially for parents raising children in a world where bullying now occurs both on the playground and in the digital realms as well. Here are a few things that come to mind:

Set An Example

Think about how you speak when you are behind closed doors with your family. When you are saying critical things about others (even celebrities) your children are listening. When you stand up for others, even just in conversations, your children are listening. 

Read Books About Bullying

Read children’s books about bullying and talk about them afterwards. How would you have felt if you were bullied? What could you have done to get help? What could you do if you saw someone bullying? Could you make the situation better or worse? Why do you think that people bully others? Make it fun and not feel like a lecture!

Let Your Child Know They Are Loved

In every way, let your child know that they don’t have to be perfect (or anywhere near it) to be loved. They are lovable exactly as they are, always. Tell them this with words. With books. With actions. And let them know that they can come to you, no matter what, and that you will help them. Shame is often a huge deterrent in kids not reaching out to their parents for help.  When it happened to me, I was too ashamed to reach out to my mom, and, super-parent that she is, she had to do detective work and volunteer at my school’s library to uncover what was happening to me. 

Utilize Available (Free) Resources

Get free resources from the experts. An organization I love is PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. They have amazing resources for parents and kids. 

Be Kind To Yourself

First of all, you deserve it. You deserve your love. Second, you are your child’s role model. How you treat yourself and speak to yourself is an example to your child of how they should treat and speak to themselves. 

About The Author

Samantha Childs is an author and teacher from Solana Beach, California. She holds a BA in Literature from Claremont McKenna College, a JD from UCLA School of Law, and an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University. Her new award-winning children’s book, Henri and the Magnificent Snort: A Children’s Book about Bullying, Belonging, and Lovetells her experience with bullying through the story of her French bulldog, Henri, who is bullied in the story because he snorts. He then learns that he is lovable, snorts and all! Samantha inspires others to see their own magnificence and the beautiful truth that we are all lovable, snorts and all. 

anonymous black woman with daughter sitting on bed near retro alarm clock

This small change made school mornings much smoother

If you struggle to get your child to the bus stop on time, or always feel like you are rushing to make school drop-off, I know you have researched multiple tips to ensure a speedier, stress-free way of getting your child to school on time.

My Child Was Easily Distracted In The Morning

I am the parent of a child who dawdles in the morning, and, if left unchecked, would stay in his PJs happily building LEGOS or drawing. Now, before, anyone jumps on this sentence as a means of suggesting he’s not enjoying school, know that, my kid does indeed like going to school. He is not trying to stall in order to miss or be late to school; he just struggles to understand the concept of time and how to manage it accordingly.

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These 4 flavor-packed recipes will cozy up your fall season

The summer sun may still be bringing the heat, but those of us who love the crisp, cool days of autumn, fall can’t come soon enough.

The fall season invokes images of flannels, pumpkin spice, apple picking, hay rides and just an overall feeling of “coziness.” We seek out warmth and comfort in everything around us, especially our food.

Fall is a wonderful time for trying new recipes and for sharing meals with family and friends. This post includes four recipes that would make a great addition to any meal. They all are vegetarian friendly and can be adjusted to fit gluten-free and other dietary needs.

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Rain could not wash out our fun at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Consistently named as one of the most beautiful theme parks in the world, Busch Gardens Williamsburg draws millions of visitors every year. Designed to feel like a condensed tour of Europe, the park features several lands that each pay homage to a unique country including England, France, Italy and Germany.

While the areas do play into some cultural stereotypes (think men in lederhosen in the German area), Busch Gardens succeeds in capturing the charm and spirit of the countries that inspire the rides and landscapes.

I visited Busch Gardens several times as a child, and like most kids, was more focused on the rides then the landscape design of the park. I thought it was cool that there were different lands, yet didn’t appreciate the beauty of my surroundings.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg Was Just As Beautiful As I Remembered

When my husband and I took our kids to Busch Gardens as part of a vacation to Virginia Beach, I wanted to be more mindful of the park and absorb all the effort the designers made to create a unique experience. From the moment we arrived, I was reminded of my childhood time at the park. All the beautiful details of the buildings and thoughtful design of the walkways create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Going In The Middle Of The Week Was A Smart Choice

We chose to visit the park in the middle of the week, to help minimize the potential for encountering a huge crowd. Considering this was in the middle of summer break for most schools in the United States, we knew the park wouldn’t be empty, however, we were confident a Tuesday visit would be better than going over the weekend. When we arrived at the park in the morning, we were hardly the first ones there, but had no trouble getting onto our first ride of the day. We waited maybe 15 minutes at most to ride the Verbolten roller coaster.

The New Straddle Coaster, “DarKoaster,” Was A Hit

The next ride we decided to try was the new Darkoaster, an indoor straddle coaster, which claims to be the first of its kind. Being the newest and most anticipated ride of the season, this coaster had the longest wait time. As we waited the 30 minutes or so to get on the ride, our youngest decided the coaster seemed to scary for him (he was nervous about being in the dark and the scary images projected during the ride. I volunteered to leave with him, admittedly bummed I couldn’t experience the ride.

Lunch Was Satisfying

After my son and husband came off the ride, we were ready for lunch, and headed over to eat in the huge German biergarten-like food hall which was close by (as we were already in the German section of the park). I don’t want to make this post about the food, so I will say I thought the food was OK, but my husband enjoyed it.

Rain Shuts Down Rides, Doesn’t Stop The Fun

Neither of my kids wanted to try out the bigger coasters, much to my chagrin, but hey, this wasn’t about me. Instead, we agreed to check out the water rides, which were my favorite as a child.

Right at this time, however, an announcer came on and said that severe weather in the area meant that all rides and even the tram out of the park had to shut down. Though at the time, I felt nary a raindrop, sure enough, within the next hour the rain started coming down.

We did what any family would do, seek shelter in a wine shop. To be fair, it happened to be the closest building at the time. Of course, while my husband and I were trying to stay dry, our kids were having an absolute ball playing in the rain. It was like a bonus water ride!

No Ride Access Means Time To Explore Other Park Features

Unable to leave the park, we made the most of it, and waited out the storm. The rain stopped, however, for safety reasons, the rides remained closed. During this time, we enjoyed some ice cream and explored the grounds, taking time to admire the animals and other interesting features of the park.

After about two hours, the rides re-opened, and, by this point the crowd had thinned out even more. We had little wait time in getting onto Roman Rapids and Escape From Pompeii, which were both just as fun and cheesy as I remembered from the 90s.

Rides Re-Opened And We Finished With Favorites

After we finished with those two rides, we were all ready to wrap up. Some may think we didn’t take advantage of our time, yet I feel like we got to experience the park in a unique way.

Before we left, my husband and son agreed I had to try the Darkoaster, so I went on with my oldest, while my husband and youngest enjoyed the swings. I am happy I got the chance to go on this coaster. The experience was filled with exciting twists and the visual elements were stunning.

If you ever find yourself caught in a storm at Busch Gardens, don’t fret, an amazing time can still be had.

little girl on a playground

Why American parents need to stop idealizing childrearing in other countries

Every so often, a story highlighting how happy kids are in some part of the world (usually some Nordic country) will appear on my feed. The article will point to the numerous things families over there do better than us Americans. Almost gloating, the author will profess the profound advantages of being a child over there versus being a child in the U.S.

And, yeah, from this side of the U.S., it does look a lot better. Supportive government policies that enable parents to spend more than a few months (or often less) with their new children, school systems that encourage free and outdoor play, and a culture that values families are just few examples of how other countries are touted for their superiority.

In many ways, these articles go as far as implying or directly saying American parents do it all wrong.

One country cited often for its superior parenting style is Denmark. There’s a book and countless articles praising the Danish way of raising children. To be fair, there is a lot to admire about Danish culture and how that permeates all aspects of life. The idea of hygge, or spending time together as a family doing “cozy” activities like reading, playing games, or just chatting around fire is something my non-Danish family does often. But, in order to be in a good place to have those moments, other needs must be met, and that is something articles praising foreign parenting styles often fail to acknowledge.

Denmark’s family leave policies support family togetherness. Between the four weeks of paid leave given to mothers BEFORE childbirth, to the 14 weeks afterward AND the additional 32 weeks where both the birthing and non-birthing parent can be on leave, Danish moms and dads get lots of time to bond with their new family. Compare that to this country, where there is no paid leave and even our 12-week unpaid option isn’t available to many women.

Kinda hard to get hygge with it when you gotta be back at your desk when your vaginal tears have barely healed.

The other aspect worth noting is places like Denmark are homogeneous societies where the vast majority of people share the same ethnic and religious backgrounds. Countries like this are not dealing with the tension and reckoning that comes from being in a diverse society. To be clear, I have no doubt racism and other forms of discrimination against minorities exist in Denmark, but, by nature of Danish demographics, it is not something they have to contend with as much as we do hear in the U.S.

Dealing with microagressions as well as intergenerational trauma impacts how a person functions in society and in how one cares for their families. Worries about how their children will be treated and even if they will come home alive is a real and justified fear for many marginalized Americans.

Yes, we can still look to other countries for guidance in how to raise our children. I think there is much to glean from embracing parenting styles not just from other countries, but from the diverse cultures right here in the U.S. I also think it is worth noting American parents are doing the best we can.

I would love for a comprehensive, paid family leave policy to be well established by the time my kids (if they want to) become parents. I would love for people of all backgrounds to feel truly at peace and safe in this country.

Who knows, maybe in 30 years we will celebrating the “American” style of parenting.

This post originally appeared in my Substack, Parenting, Politics and Pop Culture.

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5 tips for a better family vacation

Memorial Day weekend is almost here, bringing the unofficial start of summer and the start of vacation season.

With two children ages eight and ten, my husband and I have experienced many family vacations, and, over the years, I have picked up some helpful tips to make these trips more enjoyable.

Pack Smart

Packing smart doesn’t mean skimping on what you need for a trip. It means being mindful of what you must have on a trip in order to make it as enjoyable experience as possible. For some families, electronics are a must to ensure a calm and peaceful journey, for others, disconnecting is important. Some families prefer to bring their own outdoor gear, others find it better to rent at their destination.

When packing you need to think about the benefits and disadvantages of each item you bring. Whether traveling by car, plane or train, you never have infinite space, so being mindful matters.

If you have more stuff than you can handle and you must have certain items on your trip, consider shipping to your hotel. Often this costs less than paying extra baggage fees (if traveling by air) and is easy enough to arrange. When my family went on a trip sponsored by my husband’s company, I knew I couldn’t pack all the diapers and other items I needed for my youngest, who was an infant at the time. I was able to coordinate the shipment of diapers and other products to the hotel and everything was there on arrival.

Get A Place With A Kitchen

Family travel can be costly, and the idea of spending more on an accommodation that includes a kitchen may seem foolish. Yes, in some cases, your initial trip investment will go up, but the savings on meals, not to mention avoiding the often disastrous experience of dining out with small children is well worth it. Furthermore, vacation rentals are often a better value than standard hotels, and deals can be found if you are flexible with your dates and/or willing to stay further from the main attractions of your destination.

Even though my kids are better at behaving at restaurants these days, I still prefer the having our own space for meals when we travel. I like that we can wake up when we want and not have to worry about finding a place for breakfast or waiting online at a mediocre breakfast buffet. I like that if we don’t have to think about reservations. And, I like that if we want to eat a meal out, we always have the option to do so.

We keep our meals very simple. (Think lots of pasta, cereal and sandwiches), and pack much of what we need ahead of time (if we are driving). At our destination, we will pick up milk and other perishables.

What about all-inclusives? My little experience with all-inclusives has been underwhelming. I appreciate the convenience, but most of the time the food is average at best, and you still run in to a lot of the same challenges you would if you had to rely on restaurants. However, if you must do an all-inclusive, bring some food storage bags and use them to take some extras of things like muffins and bananas to have on hand in case your child wakes up hungry before the buffet opens.

Have A Mix Of Planned And Unplanned Time

There are people who plan every moment of their vacations, and there are people who just want to see what happens. Neither approach is ideal when it comes to family travel. Too many planned activities is exhausting, however, if your family has must-dos on their list, most often you can’t just show up and expect to participate. Popular activities often require reservations ahead of time, often months in advance. Smart planning also takes advantage of things like museum and transit passes.

While it is tempting to fill every moment of your vacation days with something to do, always being on the go can be exhausting. Kids (and adults) need time to recharge, and often the best vacation memories can be made on those “lazy” days.

These laid-back days are also when you are most likely to get the true vibe of wherever you are visiting. Taking it slow allows your family to better experience the local culture, people and environment.

Don’t Make it Just About The Kids

A family vacation is just that, a FAMILY vacation. Everyone, including the adults should enjoy the trip. Of course, there will be activities that are more for the children, and it is OK if that is the main focus of the trip. Just be sure to include activities you enjoy, even if they aren’t what your kids might choose.

As a child I was dragged to many sites I had little interest in, and, yes, I complained. Now that I am an adult, I can appreciate how much I learned from being exposed to interesting and unusual places.

Aim to have at least one activity for each person in your family to enjoy. For you it might be a museum, for your partner, it might be a site of historic significance, for your kids, it might be a candy shop. This gives everyone a chance to experience something they truly enjoy, and opens up the rest of the family to things they may not have chosen to do on their own.

Say Yes More

Vacationing with children is hard enough without stressing over what they eat or getting them to bed. Let them have ice cream every night and stay up well past their normal bedtime. Or, if that much deviation from the routine would be too hard on your family, consider allowing for some small perks like an extra hour of device time or letting your kids purchase a small souvenir item.

Saying yes more opens you up to new possibilities as well. If your kids want to explore a place not on your list, or if you see a tempting roadside eatery, saying, “yes,” may lead to the highlight of your trip.

Traveling with children will never be 100% stress free, but with some careful planning and an open mind, family vacations can be a great experience for all.

a woman reading a book while bathing

5 ways to put yourself first this Mother’s Day (and beyond)

Mother’s Day is almost here, and, if you are like, many moms I know, I am going to bet you are too busy to think about how you might treat yourself that day. I am going to further assume most of the time you are thinking about your kids, your marriage, your endless to-do list, leaving little time to focus on yourself.

I am a mom of school-age kids, long past the fog and exhaustion of the early parenting years, yet even I find myself forgetting to take care of my self. Making a more conscious effort to focus on my needs not only improves my mental health, it makes me a better mom and wife. As the old adage goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Mother’s Day is a great time to make the decision to do more for yourself. They don’t have to be huge things. As you will see below, my suggestions do not require a great deal of time and can be incorporated into your routine with a few adjustments.

Find Time For Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a funny word. Aren’t our minds already full? Full of tasks to complete. Full of worries. Mindfulness isn’t about filling our minds; it is about allowing ourselves to be aware of the present. Mindfulness allows us time to pause, breathe and just be. While this can be done through meditation and simple breathing exercises, I find it helpful to have an activity that focuses my energy on a simple task.

For me, painting is one such activity, however, dealing with paints and cleanup can be a pain and detract from the whole point of finding time to relax and just be. This is why I love the Buddha Board. Made with a special canvas that enables you to paint beautiful designs with just a brush and water, the Buddha Board is perfect for when you need a few moments to let your mind go of all the things and just be. Even better, the designs disappear when the water dries up, leaving you with a blank canvas to use again. The disappearing art also serves as a reminder to not get too caught up in the stresses of life and to just let go.

Get Better Sleep

Notice I didn’t say “more” sleep. Parenting makes it hard to get nine hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep. Instead, we have to focus on getting the best rest we can. While we can’t control how much our babies will cry in the middle of the night, or whether our preschooler will wake up scared from a nightmare, we can set ourselves up for a good night’s rest.

One way to do so is getting in the right mindset for sleep. For me, this means (although I often fail to follow through), limiting the amount of screens, particularly my phone, I view before bed. At the very least, making sure I take a few moments to take some slow breaths and allow my body to relax. For some, simply telling yourself to relax is a non-starter, so using your favorite meditation app, a sound machine, or having your partner lead a guided meditation may be useful.

Use Products You Can Feel Good About

My skincare routine is minimal, and as you may guess from the name of this blog, I am hardly the person to give advice about personal hygiene. However, as I get older, I am finding new ways to better care for myself.

Using beauty products with healthy, natural ingredients makes my hair, skin, teeth feel better, and makes my mind feel better for choosing items that have less of an impact on the environment. While there is no denying these products can have a higher upfront cost than many of their conventional counterparts, over time the benefits prove worth the investment.

Spend Some Time Outdoors

Whenever I am feeling stressed, sluggish, overwhelmed, or just not myself, spending time outside always makes me feel better. I am lucky to live near a bunch of great hiking trails, and I am grateful for the solace I find in the woods. However, you don’t need drive hours out of your way to enjoy a soul-cleansing walk. Even a short walk around your neighborhood, or a trip to the park can be enough to lift your spirit.

No time to walk? I get it. If you can find five minutes, open your front door, or step outside onto your balcony/fire escape, and just take a few deep breaths. Just that quick experience can be enough to get you in a better place.

Read A Book Just For Fun

While there is nothing wrong with reading parenting books, or books that are part of your coursework or to obtain a specific skill. Reading for pure joy is a great way to treat yourself. No one type of book is best. I just finished The Golden Compass and followed it up with a book on economics. Reading a diverse variety of books keeps my mind sharp and reminds me I am more than just mom brain.

I am a huge fan of my local library, as it allows me to try new books before my shelves start piling up with too many titles.

Remember self care is unique to you and what works best for some might not work best for others. Just remember that you matter and you deserve to show yourself some love on Mother’s Day and every day.

Disclaimer: This post contains a paid link as well as links to sponsored posts. All views expressed are my own.

photo of a couple lying on the bed with their eyes closed

Get it when you can, and other sex tips for new parents

By Sally and Zach Maxwell

As parents of a three-year-old and four-month-old, we know the feeling of overwhelm and straight up exhaustion that becoming new parents brings with it. We also know that becoming parents together as a couple simultaneously brings you closer together and forms a true crucible for any marriage. It brings you closer together because the love you feel for your children is a greater love than either of you you have ever experienced before, and that love was born out of your union. It’s a crucible because the physical, emotional and spiritual energy that is required of you to care for your young children is also unlike anything you have ever experienced, and the nature of it is that it pulls you away from your intimacy. It’s the great paradox of parenting actually. 

You are no longer just husband and wife anymore. You are parents. And the nature of being parents is that your sexual intimacy, let alone even just time spent alone just the two of you can become the first thing that goes out the window.  

So how do we navigate this without becoming relegated to the “sexless marriage” category that so many relationships unfortunately end up in? Our children grow up inside of the ecosystem of our relationship and therefore can only be as happy as our relationship is. A sexless relationship is rarely a happy one so we relate to this area with the utmost importance. To answer this question we need to separate parents into two categories. Pregnancy through having children under the age of one, and parents with children over the age of one. This post will focus on pregnancy through having kids under the age of one.

For parents who are pregnant or with new babies under the age of one, you need to understand that you are in a very short, (though it can seem like it goes on forever) phase of your life and intimate relationship where sex naturally takes a back seat to the other necessities of your life. Currently, our second child is four months old, and still not sleeping much, so we are right smack in the middle of this phase ourselves and regularly remind ourselves that “this is a phase!” Sometimes we have a twinkle in our eye about it like “we got this,” and other times, whoever is the least exhausted of the two of us, reminds the other that “hey…this is just a phase.”  

For all parents of babies out there…we know it’s not an easy phase. It’s also not always a fun phase.  It’s a truly exhausting, but also beautiful, and at time’s makes-you-wanna-lose-your-mind, cry- from-joy-or-despair, sometimes-both-in-the-same-day, or-same-hour…phase!  

Now, that doesn’t mean that sex can’t happen in this phase. It just means that you must manage your expectations about it. This is not a phase of your relationship where you will be having long stretches of time just the two of you to be intimate. Nor is it a phase where either of you will necessarily have much of a sexual appetite. Especially pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers! So we like to relate to this phase as a “get it when and where you can” phase. If that means that it’s during a five-minute window where the kid is napping and you are both not too exhausted to have a quickie, then great. If that means saving a tiny bit of gas in the tank at the end of the day just to have five minutes of intimacy, that’s okay too. But manage your expectations about this phase. And make sure that if you can get it, that you do. Prioritize it in that way. 

Be a “yes” to getting it when you can. Know that during this phase, a “no” is always on the table, but for the sake of your relationship, err towards a yes whenever you can. Care about being a yes, even if it feels like it’s utilitarian or not a sexy period of your life. Your future relationship will thank you. 

We joke with each other that our sex life is stuck in a 15-month traffic jam because that’s about how long it takes from the beginning of pregnancy to a new baby starting to sleep through the night and life starting to have some sense of normalcy. You can still have fun in a traffic jam.  But you can’t drive fast and you can’t get to where you want to go until the traffic is cleared.  That’s this phase. Do your best to have fun in the traffic jam and both strive to initiate and be a yes in the rare offset moments that become available to you during this phase and you will move through this just fine and in moments, beautifully.  

The original version of this post, as well as a follow-up, can be found on the authors’ website.

About The Authors:

Sally and Zach Maxwell, owners of Max-Well Coaching, are personal and relationship coaches and love experts. They shared their first kiss when they were 18. Now, two decades later, they’ve successfully navigated many common relationship milestones together, and each day really does get better and better. They’re called to teach their clients how to do this in their lives. With nearly a combined 30 years of coaching individuals and couples, they synthesize the tools that we have learned to create a customized experience based on our clients needs.

You can follow Sally and Zach on LinkedIn and Instagram.

woman wearing white dress reading book

Hey You! The Nat Geo Kids book Earth Day GIVEAWAY is here

I am celebrating Earth Day (April 22) by giving away SEVEN Nat Geo Kids books!

National Geographic is a trusted name in education, and I am proud to say our home library has held many Nat Geo Kids titles over the years.

With Earth Day on its way, I was excited to get the opportunity to share some incredible Nat Geo Kids’ animal-, environmental-, and sustainable-themed books.

Seven lucky winners will each receive one of seven books from Nat Geo Kids!*

I will feature a different Nat Geo Kids book each day on my Instagram and Facebook pages. To enter for your chance to win, all you have to do is like the post and comment with the book-related prompt. You can do so on either platform. If you are selected for one book, you are not eligible to receive the others. Winners will be notified at the end of April.

Read on for a full list of titles along with a description of each book. All titles are available for purchase on Amazon or wherever you prefer to buy books.

100 Ways To Make The World Better!

Suitable for middle-grade readers, 100 Ways offers inspirational ideas, expert interviews, and doable activities that encourage kids to take an active role in caring for our planet.

Hey, Baby! A Collection of Pictures, Poems and Stories from Nature’s Nursery

Kids (and adults) of all ages will love this collection of adorable photos of baby animals accompanied by poems, folktales, and rescue stories. Sure to nurture a love for animals and nature from an early age, this book is a great addition to any starter home library.

Destiny Finds Her Way: How a Rescued Baby Sloth Learned to Be Wild

Preschoolers and early-elementary-age kids will be fascinated by the true story of Destiny, a motherless baby sloth, sightless in one eye, who was rescued in the Costa Rican rain forest. Along with sharing Destiny’s amazing tale, the book teaches kids all about sloths, including how they are particularly vulnerable to deforestation.

Go Wild! Lions

Early readers will adore this book that is all about lions. Aside from learning about lion habitats, diet, and how these big cats communicate, kids will find out why lions need our help and what humans are doing to protect them.

National Geographic Reader: Plants Level 1 Co-Reader 

Intended for adults to read along with their child, this book is the perfect way for new readers to practice their skills while learning about the incredible world of plants.

This Book Stinks!

Has your child ever asked you what happens to the garbage after its picked up on trash day? If so, This Book Stinks! is the perfect way to teach them about landfills, recycling, and how they can do their part to reduce waste.

Water! Why Every Drop Counts and How You Can Start Making Waves to Protect it

Water conservation is vital for our planet’s health. Water! is an excellent book for middle-grade readers interested in learning the science behind water and the challenge of making clean drinking water available to everyone.

*Offer available to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. Winners chosen at random, limit one book per entry.

I have not been compensated for this post and all views expressed are my own. Partnership entails working with a PR firm representing National Geographic Kids books, who will be responsible for mailing books to the winners.