Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Category: Becoming a Parent (page 1 of 2)

The Three Cs of Being Pregnant

The pregnancy process is one which demands much from you, both emotionally and physically. Your body will go through changes, which are both hard and easy to predict. We all know the cliches. You will be hungry for foods you never have or will never want to eat again; you will find it more difficult to get comfortable at night; and you’ll be greeted pleasantly by everyone you meet. Being pregnant is a wonderful time, but it does come with some challenges. In order to give your beautiful child the most healthy and strong start in life, it’s important to be diligent in looking after yourself.

There are so many different things to remember during pregnancy that it can be overwhelming. Not only do you have to look after your body, but prepare your home for the new child, emotionally and financially prepare, and organize your working schedules to best fit the expected day. We’ve crafted the following‘three Cs of pregnancy, which should help you keep everything memorable and streamlined enough to actually pull off easily. Here they are:

Care

Of course, you must take care of yourself. It’s easy to think this, but not actually plan for it. First, you need to focus on your diet. You are now eating for two, so be careful what you put in your body. Fast foods and high sugars are to be avoided, and well fibrous, vegetable and protein dense foods should be a component. If you can, switch to complex carbs, such as brown rice or whole grain pasta and bread. You should also supplement your diet with folic acid, and the right combination of prenatal vitamins – click here to learn more.

Caution

You must also be mindful of the way your body is now reacting to your day-to-day movement. Or course, it will be different, and you should note any changes and discuss them at your appointments with your obgyn. But there is no reason why you should not regularly exercise, unless your doctor says so. Cut any bad habits, such as smoking and drinking, as soon as you discover you are pregnant. If you are having trouble, then discuss this with your doctor also. Your doctor is your best resource for all your physical changes, and there is nothing that is “too silly” to bring up. Give your baby the best start in life by starting your loving care during your pregnancy.

Coordinate

Planning is one of the most important parts of pregnancy, and you have 9 months to plan for the new addition to your family. Discuss with your doctor your birthing plans and sign up to take a tour of the hospital, where you will deliver your child. Hospitals and obgyn offices often offer classes at a low fee for first-time parents and for moms who want to breastfeed. Coordinating could also mean learning about the duties of being a parent. Knowing how to burp, feed, change, and bathe a baby are all things, which take care to get right. Learn how much milk they need at different stages. Register with a preferred pediatric nurse in case any health occurrences should arise.

At home, decorate and detail the room for your baby. Think about ways you will need to baby proof the home because your infant will be growing and crawling before you know it. You might not need to cover up sharp corners or add baby gates to your staircases yet, but you may need to separate your pets, replace any toxic cleaners, and make sure the house is the correct temperature for your baby. Become focused in your planning. Your child will be here much sooner than you think.

With these three Cs, your child will be born to a loving, compassionate, safe, clean, warm and most importantly of all, prepared home.

What is a practical parenting tip you can give to expectant mothers that you wish you would have known when you were expecting? 

(contributed article)

Check out my holiday book sale here for personalized and autographed children’s books: http://margoldill.com/my-books/

 

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10 Ways to Prepare for Going on Maternity Leave

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Going on maternity leave is one of the most daunting and exciting stages of your pregnancy. You know that the end is near, your life is about to change forever, and you have months ahead of you to care for your little one. If you are passionate about your career as well, it is important that you start taking steps to prepare your company for your departure and pave the way for your return. Of course, you may find that your plans change somewhere down the line, but it will still give you peace of mind when you know that you have made all the necessary preparations.

Achieving a work-life balance is the ultimate goal when you return to your job again, which is something that more and more women intend to do. So, let’s look at some ways that you can prepare your company and yourself for your impending departure.

Learn More About Your Maternity Leave Rights

Maternity leave law is always being updated, so you need to know about your current rights with regards to how much time you are allowed to take off and how much you will be paid during this time. This maternity and paternity guide gives you more information on both counts, so it is certainly worth reading in detail. Once you have all the key details, you are in a much better position to move onto the next stage.

Inform Your Boss and Clients

Though you will be very excited to tell your friends at work about your big news, it is also a good idea to inform your boss at the earliest possible opportunity–preferably before your bump starts showing! Speak to them in person at first, and then you can draft up a maternity leave letter that details your intentions regarding maternity leave. Of course, these are just preliminary plans, which may adapt and change over time. You will also want to inform your clients about your big news, preferably with plenty of time to spare and when the plans about covering your absence are firmly in place. This way, you will be in the best position to talk them through how things will work while you are away.

Plan Your Leave

Once you know the date that you will be going on maternity leave, you can start preparing for your departure. Make a list of all your tasks at the company and who is going to take them over. If it is a current member of the team, you can start getting them up to speed as soon as possible. If someone is going to be covering for you on a short-term basis, you can make a document that helps them to transition into the role.

Crunch the Numbers

Making a detailed budget is always a good idea no matter what financial situation you find yourself in, but it is especially important if you are about to have a child. It may be quite challenging to calculate all your expenses in detail, but it is a good idea to make a rough estimate. You can then weigh this up against the amount of money that you receive from your maternity leave and any other sources of income. If you are able to accumulate some savings as well, it is always a good idea to have a contingency plan in case your expenses turn out to be much higher than expected.

Plan Your Childcare

Though this may seem like a very early time to start planning your childcare, you can never be over-prepared. It is worth paying a visit to some different places to look at their facilities, as well as seeing how they operate on a day-to-day basis. You can also find out about their availability and how far in advance you need to apply. The other potential option is hiring a nanny, so it is also worth checking out the pros and cons of this particular approach. A nanny gives your child individual attention and care. On the other hand, a daycare center allows them to interact with other kids. A big influencer in your decision will be the standard of care available in your local area, and how yours and your partner’s jobs will fit around what is available.

Stay in the Loop at Work

In most workplaces, things tend to change at a fairly rapid rate, and it is worth keeping track of what is going on – even if it is just the occasional update from a close work friend. Even better, if you have a colleague who is just returning from maternity leave, you can find out the inside scoop about how easy or challenging it has been. Of course, when your baby arrives, you will find your attentions very much pulled in another direction. But if you are passionate about returning to work, it helps to keep up with what is going on. When it gets closer to the time to return to work, you could start coming in to have meetings with your boss about how you are going to manage the transitional phase together.

Create a Resources List

The balancing act of your family and your job is such a difficult one to get right. So, to give you a helping hand in this early stage, you can start pulling together a list of resources of people who can help you out in all eventualities. For example, someone who can clean the house, look after the dog, take care of the baby in an emergency. You are entering a daunting new world and you never know exactly which direction it is going to take you. Creating this list will help you to feel better about the challenges ahead of you. You will probably find that organizing your life becomes much more difficult when the baby arrives!

Wrap Up Any Outstanding Work

In the last weeks and days before your maternity leave begins, you should be wrapping up any projects that are still ongoing. Since babies are often known to arrive ahead of schedule, it is a good idea to deal with the top priority items first in case your little bundle of joy decides to make an early appearance! One of your final tasks will be to draft up an out of office email explaining who people need to contact in your absence. You can help out whoever is monitoring your emails by unsubscribing from any newsletters or email lists. Keep a note of them and you can subscribe again once you are back at work.

Make Arrangements for Your Return

Though nothing will be set in stone at this stage, you can let your boss and HR department know of your intention to return to the company. You can even create a rough outline of the transitional approach that you intend to take back into your job. Of course, nothing will be fixed as you never know the challenges that having a baby brings until you experience them first-hand.

Now is a good time to find out where your employer stands with regards to flexible working. More and more workplaces are embracing less rigid work patterns, so you may well be in a better position to fit your family life around your working life. Perhaps you could even arrange to telecommute on one or two days of the week. Rapid technological advances mean that this is becoming an option for an increasing number of workers. Of course, you should examine the pros and cons of this approach in more detail. For example, it can be very difficult to draw the line between your work life and your home life.

Be prepared that your mindset before the baby is born may be entirely different to your mindset afterwards. And after your return to work, be prepared that you may be treated differently in your workplace, so this could significantly impact your viewpoint towards your current employers. It is always worth thinking about the different pathways that could be available to you in a wide variety of situations.

Relax Before the Baby Arrives

Once you have done everything else on the list, the time has come to give yourself some much-needed relaxation time before the baby arrives. You may only have a matter of days or you may have several weeks ahead of you, but it is important that you give yourself the maximum time to rest before the baby arrives, as well as buying any last items you may need. Things will certainly change significantly afterwards.

Remember that all the plans you put in place should all have a degree of flexibility built into them. After all, you never know how they are going to shift and adapt over time. Draw as much support as you can from your partner, friends and family, and prepare yourself for what is bound to be one of the most incredible experiences of your life.

 

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Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying A (nother) Baby Product

If there’s one thing that women do while pregnant, it’s shopping. Shopping and expecting a baby seem to go hand-in-hand, and admittedly, most of those purchases are necessary. You’re going to have to fill your home with equipment and supplies you have never needed before so that you’re ready to welcome your new baby.

However, if you read enough guides, you will find yourself with a shopping list so long that it feels you will never complete it. How can a baby need so much stuff? The demands are endless, and naturally, every product manufacturer absolutely insists that their product is completely necessary. Of course, you want the best for your baby, so you buy… and then find yourself joining the ranks of parents who don’t use half of those so-called “essential” items.

Before your next purchase, it’s worth running a few questions through your mind to see if a product truly is needed, or if it’s one you can skip.

“Can I Envisage A Scenario Where I Will Use This?”

Many products will pass this question with ease; it’s simple to imagine when you’re going to use a breast pump or a toy that can also monitor your baby’s breathing while they sleep. More esoteric products, however, will fail this test, helping to shorten your shopping list in one fell swoop.

“Does This Product Fix A Problem?”

The majority of products will pass this test as well. Concerned about your baby rolling over while sleeping? There are plenty of baby pillows that can help fix that issue. Worried your baby is going to struggle to adapt to their new environment? Then you can look for the best baby sound machines to help meet that need. A huge number of baby products are expressly designed to meet the needs of parents, so this test is relatively easy to pass.

What won’t pass is decorative and novelty items. These items are nice, of course, and there’s no harm in having a few, but you don’t want to go overboard and stretch your budget as a result.

“Is This Something That Will Be Used Frequently?”

The most important products to buy are those that will be in constant use, such as baby monitors, strollers, highchairs, and car seats. These are the items that should command the majority of your budget.

However, if an item is only designed to be used in certain, infrequent situations — such as when your baby has a cold — then it’s wise to leave these products on the shelf for now. You can always purchase them in the future, when you’re experiencing the problem that these products are designed to ease.

In Conclusion

There’s enough shopping to do to meet the essential needs of your baby, so it’s important to avoid making life even more difficult by buying additional items that may not be necessary. If a product can pass the three questions above, chances are it’s a good purchase; if a product fails, then you might want to leave its purchase until a later date or not at all. With less shopping to do, you can focus on enjoying being pregnant, and look forward to greeting your bundle of joy!

 

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Helping Your Dog Grow to Be Happy and Healthy Despite a Busy Schedule

So, you’ve welcomed a new puppy into your life , and now you’re committed to giving them the best life possible. You’re committed to seeing him grow into being an adult dog who is both happy and healthy. You want to do everything you can, or everything that your busy schedule will allow, to ensure that your dog grows the way he should and needs to.

But, that’s just it: you can only do what your schedule allows you to do. You can only take your dog on walks when you are not at work. You can only feed him when you are home to do so. Basically, you have to manage your schedule while also doing what is best for your dog. And it is for this reason why you should most certainly look for the easiest ways to help your dog to grow to be happy and healthy; fortunately, some ways to do this can be found below.

Keep dogs active, even indoors.

Ideally, you should be taking your dog out for regular walks every day. If this cannot be achieved because of your work commitments and being away from home during the day, then you should absolutely ensure that he is walked when you return home from work. To try to make up for the lack of exercise some dogs receive during the work day, you can work on ways to keep your dog active in your home too.

Your dog can be kept active inside the comfort of your own home. But, they can only be kept active if the activity they participate in stimulates them enough to do so. This means getting to know your dog and his likes and dislikes and then working from there. If you know your dog to be one that refuses to give in until he gets what he wants, for instance, then play a game, such as tug-a-rope, with him. If you tug at a rope with him, you will keep him active for the length of the game because he won’t give in easily and will continue to fight for the alpha dog position for as long as it takes. Or if you’d prefer an easier game to play, then you can play fetch. By doing this, you can actually be slumped in front of the TV while you throw the ball to one side of the room, wait for your dog to retrieve it and return it to you before throwing it again. Something else you could do is hide different parts of his food around the house and let him sniff it out and find it on his own; this is a great way to force your dog into burning some calories.

Don’t make mealtimes hard

If you have limited time in the morning before work to get your pet to eat, then you want the process to be as quick as possible. Dog owners know that some of them can be somewhat picky eaters. Specifically, this means that it is in your best interest to ensure that they eat whatever is on their plate (or in their bowl) when you are providing them with their meals and treats.

Fortunately, today this means that you can provide them with nice-tasting foods that are still healthy for them to consume. One dog’s food that falls into this category is the Betsy Farms duck jerky dog treats. These treats are sure to make your dog’s mouth water, which means he is sure to eat them, and this equates to a quicker routine in the morning, especially if you are trying to get your dog to go outside to go potty, too, before you go to work. What’s more, these treats, and treats of the like, are made from wholesome ingredients that go a long way in improving and maintaining good doggy health, and you can use them as a reward also when your dog is being obedient, especially during busy times. 

Let them go if that is best for them

One of the best things that you can do to truly ensure that your dog grows to be happy and healthy, if your schedule just won’t allow you to do it, is to give it up. As hard as that may be, for both you and your dog, it simply must be done sometimes. No dog can grow to be all he can be if he is not tended to by his owner. What’s more, no dog deserves to not be tended to by his owner as often and as well as can be. So, if you truly can’t bend your schedule enough to meet the demands of looking after your dog, then simply do not have a dog.

When it comes to doing this, the most important thing to check is that you are leaving him in a safe place that will nurture him and find him a far more ideal home in the future. You must not sell him to somebody you do not know or really trust. And you must certainly not just leave him on the streets to fend for himself; in fact, it is a crime to do this in many countries! You should take your dog to properly licensed dog rescues or general animal sanctuaries or shelters. But, when you do take your dog to any of these kinds of places, make sure you inquire as to whether or not it is in fact a no-kill facility.

Something else you could do is ask family members or friends if they could keep your dog for a while until your schedule calms down; or if you don’t think it ever will, ask your loved ones if they would consider adopting your dog. 

The best thing you can do when it comes to tending to a dog while living by a tight and busy schedule, however, is to assess your circumstances in the first place. Simply, if you know you’re going to be out of the house for long periods of the day, and subsequently won’t be able to provide a dog with attention it needs, then don’t let a dog into your home in the first place or make sure you have the means to hire a good dog sitter who can help you out during the day. 

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8 Things to Do if Your Dog Has Fleas

I don’t write much about my dear old dog on here, although here’s a photo with he and KT that I’ve posted before. But he’s an important part of my family too. When someone asked if I would consider posting this article, I said: YES! Pets are family members, too, and they need to be taken care of. Here is one of the battles you face when you have a dog (or cat): 

Flea treatments need to be kept up with every two to four weeks, depending on what you are using. Fleas can be picked up from a number of different places, including pet groomers, pet hotels, contact with other animals, and even the grass your dog runs through. It’s actually very easy for a few fleas to jump onto your pet, make themselves at home, and spread the infestation. So your dog may not stand a chance while unprotected. Here’s what you can do if you spot a flea on your dog.

Flea Shampoo

The first thing you need to do is go to the heart of the problem; your dog. Your furry friend needs to be treated before you can hope to get rid of every flea. You can start by giving your dog a bath  with flea shampoo and following the directions on the bottle carefully. Make sure you buy a shampoo that comes highly recommended, rather than one that pretends to be something it’s not. After the bath, brush your dog through with a flea comb and immediately dispose of any fleas. Don’t allow your dog to return to its bed after having the bath.

Clean Bedding

You’ll be surprised how quickly fleas can make themselves at home in your dog’s bedding. You’ll need to either thoroughly wash blankets and beds in hot water or throw them away and buy new ones. Without doing so, you’ll have a never-ending problem. Fleas will be able to jump to and from your dog’s bedding back onto your dog. The same goes for your dog’s toys. If your dog frequently plays with cuddly toys that could easily be a home for fleas, the toys will either have to be washed or replaced.

Clean Your Home

It’s not just your dog that fleas will cling to; they’ll quickly spread throughout your home, too. They like to set up camp in rugs, sofas, and even bedroom mattresses. So, it’s important to keep your home as clean as possible while you’re dealing with fleas. You’ll need to vacuum regularly and clean out your vacuum once it’s been emptied. It’s also important to wash your floors. A strong disinfectant in water on a wooden floor will help to kill fleas quickly. If you have carpet throughout your home, you may want to think about using a carpet cleaner, specifically designed to get rid of fleas, to wash out any remaining pests.

Treat Your Home and Dog

Unfortunately, fleas are a persistent kind of pest; and it can take weeks, months even, to completely eradicate them. It’s something you must stay on top of and the best way of doing that is to regularly treat your home and dog. There are two main treatments for dogs. Take a look at Advecta flea treatment products, where you’ll find tablets and spot on treatments. When it comes to your home, you have several different options. You can buy sprays for your furniture and floors, you can fog your home and evacuate until the treatment is complete, or you can call a pest control company to take the problem off your hands and ensure the job is done properly.

Essential Oils

If you know there are fleas in a certain area of the home, but you just can’t seem to catch them, essential oils are ideal. A few drops of an essential oil, like lemon, ginger or lavender, is an attractive smell to fleas; but the oil is deadly to them. So, if they make the mistake of walking or jumping into the oil, you could be cleaning piles of them off the floor at once. The only problem is, this method is often best used in rooms where your dog won’t venture, as some essential oils can be harmful to your pet, too.

Water Bowl

They may be tiny, but fleas are certainly no fools. They’re usually most active at night time, when you aren’t around to catch them. One of the best ways to catch them at night is to place a small bowl of water  filled with warm soapy water in the center of your room. Fleas are attracted to the water and smell of the soap; but once they jump in to investigate, they’re usually killed. It’s a great way of catching them during the night and finding out how many fleas you still have around. The downside is this trick usually only works on the adults, and it’s important to kill the young fleas and eggs too.

Keep Going

If you think you can clean the home and your dog once and be rid of these pesky creatures, you may be in for a nasty surprise. Many pet owners have made the mistake of thinking one flea bath or treatment will kill all fleas, and the problem has only gotten worse because the fleas have been left to procreate. Even if you believe your flea problem has been resolved, you’ll still need to repeat all of your treatment methods regularly for at least four weeks.

Don’t Forget Your Yard

Your backyard is another place that your pet can spread fleas. Unlike the house, it’s very difficult to know where fleas are in the yard, and getting rid of them can be tricky. But, without the yard being treated, fleas have free reign to jump to and from your dog, making your flea problem impossible to deal with. The best way to get rid of fleas outside is to buy a flea treatment product for outdoors. Many of them are toxic, so it’s likely you’ll have to keep your dog away from the yard for a few hours, but they’re usually very successful.

It takes time and patience to get rid of a flea problem, and you may find yourself going around in circles many times. But to protect you and your pet, the work is worth it.

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5 Parenting Products You Didn’t Know You Needed

There are all the expected items you need for the new arrival in your life. You know what we’re talking about… bottles, diapers, high chair, etc. You will be spending more on your child than you do yourself, and that probably won’t change for the next 18 years or more. However, there are some items that you may not have thought about. They will definitely make your life easier; so when planning your baby’s shopping list, consider the following five items. You will thank us later on when you realize how useful they are.

A diaper pail
Can you smell something? Yes, of course you can. You have another full diaper on your hands, but what are you supposed to do with it? You could stick it in the garbage can, but they don’t always mask the smell. That’s why you need a special pail for the diapers. They are designed to hide those unsavory odors, so buying one is a near necessity–if you want to keep your home smelling fresh and fragrant.

A fan
Okay, so a fan may be useful for removing the smelly odors mentioned above. However, that’s not all a fan is good for. Some babies have a struggle with sleeping, as all frazzled parents will testify to. Thankfully, there are a number of solutions, and one of these is white noise. Place the fan near your baby’s bed (not blowing directly into his face), and the quiet whirring of the fan will hopefully send them into slumberland. Alternatively, you can download designated “white noise” apps on your tablet or smartphone that will do the job just as well.

A video baby monitor
Audio baby monitors are fine; but for added protection of your baby, you may want to invest in this luxury item. When you hear your baby crying (or not crying), you may fear the worst. From heads stuck in crib railings to sudden illnesses, you will want to make sure your baby is safe and well. A video baby monitor will let you know exactly what is going on with your baby, giving you the peace of mind you need.

A bug net for your stroller
You know how annoying those pesky bugs can be when they fly in front of your face? So imagine how your baby feels when you are pushing him along in the stroller. He won’t have the motor skills to swat away those blasted bugs, and you will get yourself into a dither trying to protect him. Therefore, a bug net is the perfect solution. While you may get covered in bug bites on the daily walk unless you use bug spray, you can at least have the assurance that your baby is perfectly safe within their netted bubble.

An all-in-one dinner mat
It’s like feeding time at the zoo in some houses, as babies are especially messy eaters. Avoid the cleanup woes with something like this Happy Mat. It sticks to the table and has useful holders for your baby’s bowls and plates. So the next time your little one gets the urge to throw his food around the place, this plastic marvel will contain your child’s mess without causing you extra work afterwards.

These are just some examples of what we think you will find useful, but be sure to let us know if you have any helpful tips for all the parents reading.

(contributed article)

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Pile In The Pup! Welcoming A New Dog

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Welcoming a furry friend to your home is always an exciting adventure. From the love and cuteness your dog brings into your life, and the fun you’ll have getting to know your new dog, there’s a lot to look forward to. Of course, though, along with the good times, you’ll also have to think about the work to be done. An animal is a huge commitment, often costing a small fortune in time and money. So, it’s a good idea to consider this before you go out and buy or adopt a dog. To help you with this, this post will be going through some of the key preparations you should make before welcoming a new dog into your home. 

One of the biggest jobs you’ll have on your hands when you first get a puppy is preparing your home for the new arrival. Making a safe space for your dog to relax when they first arrive is a good idea, along with having an idea on how to potty train your dog and where you will take him or her to the bathroom. Young dogs will eat just about anything, too. So, it’s worth making sure everything is nice and tidy, just to make sure nothing dangerous is swallowed. Baby gates can be an excellent way to keep your new friend out of some areas of your home.

Along with the way that you prepare your home, it’s also a good idea to think about the way that you prepare your cupboards. Food, treats, and toys all need to be stocked up to make sure you have enough for your new friend. When you first get started, it’s wise to have a selection of toys and treats to choose from, giving you the chance to find what they like the most.

Once you’ve got the kitchen filled up, it will just be a small matter of doing some cleaning around your home to make sure everything is safe for your new friend. If you have other pets, products like Pet Lock can help to make sure your house and pets are clear of any parasites, as these can be especially bad for a young puppy. Along with this, though, you should make sure that there isn’t anything around, which could endanger your puppy, such as a hole in the fence outside or wires they might chew.

Finally, as the last bit of preparation you should be making, your new friend is going to need some trips to the vet. As a young animal, they should be seeing the vet very regularly until they are fully grown. This gives you a chance to get them vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and of course, will ensure that they are growing well. Even a dog needs to go to the doctor sometimes. So, it’s worth making sure you know the best vets in your area before you begin.

Hopefully, you are inspired to work harder on your home before you welcome your new puppy. Your time with the new pup is filled with excitement and joy, and this is a very good thing. Of course, though, you can’t let the fun get in the way of making sure the little pup is healthy and safe, too. Enjoy the new addition to your family! 

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It’s Time to Put You First

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Do you ever catch yourself thinking that life would be better if you could take time for yourself a little more? But it’s hard, and caregivers have the hardest time with this. Most people, both parents and adults without children just yet, need to feel needed.  It’s part of life to want to feel useful and vital to someone other than yourself. The ability to help and be compassionate to those who come into your life is one that most people treasure. The trouble with being needed all the time is that it can be extremely difficult to find time for yourself. By the time you’ve tended the needs of family, friends, children, work, and your home, there is very little time in the day that is left to have a moment to remember that you are important, too.

The idea that you must sometimes put yourself first is a difficult one to wrap your head around, especially if you are not used to finding time for your own needs. If you don’t take care of yourself, though, how can you expect to be there for anyone else? People need strong, happy individuals supporting them, and those who don’t take the time to look after their own needs often succumb to stress, depression, and sometimes, addiction.

If you find yourself being trapped in that cycle, where you feel like there is a lack of control over your life, then you need to start putting yourself before others. Stress and depression can lead to other physical manifestations of illness, and taking the time to rectify this is important. Checking into places like Compass Recovery for those who find themselves in the midst of an addiction as a way out of their stress is an important first step. It is not selfish to look after yourself or put yourself before other people, especially in the cases where you have spent so long looking after other people you’ve forgotten how to be you again.

Finally realizing that you matter enough to be important in your own life can set you on a path to freedom. Often, being relied on by so many other people can leave you feeling trapped. Their need of you can be suffocating and debilitating, and the feelings of guilt that you end up left with if you don’t help out on demand are consuming. The freedom you can feel by simply saying no and allowing yourself to be the priority in your own life is immense. The weight on your shoulders of unwavering obligation can lift, and you can start to see life a little clearer and a little lighter. You can still be there for people and put yourself first.

Start small, with evenings to yourself. A cup of tea in peace and quiet and enjoying the time you spend with your own company can be a refreshing change from being wanted and tugged at all the time. Finding a balance is never easy, but it’s one you have to seek if you feel pulled in different directions. Finding you is good for your health, and your health matters.

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Keeping Your Sense of Self When You’re a Mother and Wife

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It’s fair to say, as women, we have drawn the short straw in many respects, and there’s no doubt we have it tough at times. Along with growing, carrying and giving birth to our babies, in most cases, we’re their primary caregiver, too. And as wonderful and special as this is, it does mean that everything else in our lives can be twice as hard as we’re fitting it around our children. One thing many women struggle with after having kids is losing their sense of self or identity. You’re no longer just you, you’re a mother. Your new name is “mom,” and your new role is of a parent and sometimes wife. But just because you are these roles (and as enjoyable as they are), it doesn’t mean you have to totally lose the person you once were. Keeping your own identity is important; here are a few ways you can go about it.

 

Take Care of Your Appearance

As a busy parent, the way you look often falls to the bottom of the list of priorities. In the morning, it’s probably all about getting your little one up and washed, fed and dressed. But you don’t have to give up on yourself entirely, and actually making a small effort with your appearance is one of the best things you can do for your self-esteem. Perfect a super quick makeup routine- some foundation, bronzer, and a sweep of mascara will instantly make you look your best without being too done up. Every now and again, visit the hairdresser. Have a style cut, which is easy to maintain and quick to do in the morning. The trick is to work with your natural texture, for example, instead of shoving it into a ponytail. If your hair is already straight, run it over with the straighteners for just a minute or two. This will make it look tidier, get rid of any frizz or fluffiness, and allow it to sit better. If your hair is curly, you could scrunch through with some mousse; it won’t take long, but you’ll feel much better being well presented. You probably have your comfy “mom uniform” that you wear to run errands and get stuff done around the house; but a few changes here could make all the difference, too. Instead of a tracksuit, for example, a pair of leggings with a jersey skater dress and a long cardigan would look cute but be just as comfortable. If you run into anyone you know or catch sight of yourself in the mirror, you’re likely to be far more confident, too.

Exercise

Keeping fit is useful when you have energetic children to look after! It will allow you to play with them far more easily and generally keep up. You probably don’t have all the time in the world to hit the gym five days a week, but there’s plenty you can do. Go on a power walk with the pram, or take a ball or frisbee to the park and run around with your kids. Instead of driving shorter distances, walk them instead, and go on family bike rides. You’ll maintain your figure and the endorphins will make you feel good.

Maintain a Social Life

You might have hung up your dancing shoes long ago, and a night out with friends these days might not be to a nightclub or bar like it once was. But keeping friends is so important; find activities that you all like to do now that you’re mothers and wives. Whether it’s play dates with the kids, brunch on a weekend, or an afternoon tea, keeping those connections there is so important. There are of course other ways to keep in contact with friends too; you could use a postcard app to send any funny or sweet pictures as a postcard right to their house. You could talk on the phone, video call, or of course, use social media. But having that support and friendship group around you will help you keep a grasp of your own identity.

Go Back To Work

One way you can keep and maintain your identity is through your job or career. As a parent you might not necessarily want to go back full time, when you have children to look after. If that’s the case, how about part time? You could even start a home business or do some freelance stuff online. Either way, maintaining your career interests is a good way to go, and bringing money into the home will make you feel good.

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Cutting The Cost of Parenthood

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From the moment you first find out you’re pregnant and that initial flush of joy fades, all moms-to-be find themselves asking the same question, “How am I EVER going to be able to afford this?” The good news is that nobody’s ever ready for the trials (and joys) of parenthood; and while of course some expectant parents are financially better off than others, it’s worth remembering that parents of all kinds of incomes have been getting by for as long as the human race has been around. That said, there’s no denying that a child can put pressure on your domestic finances. With the average cost of raising a child to the age of 17 approaching $240,000 , it’s enough to make any parent-in-waiting balk.

The good news is that the cost of parenthood can largely be ameliorated by a combination of ingenuity, thrift, invention, and common sense. While the default setting for many new parents is always “worry”, cutting financial costs is one of the many ways in which moms and dads can make life easier for themselves. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Never replace when you can repair

We live in a culture of disposability, where the pervasive logic is that when something breaks, it should be replaced rather than repaired. This is a shame because with a wealth of knowledge available to new parents through digital means, you can learn to fix just about anything from torn clothes to broken toys. While kids grow out of clothes quickly, you can learn to make alterations that can significantly expand their lifetime, and it’s worth looking into different types of embroidery machines. At a younger age, when kids grow emotionally attached to their clothes yet haven’t learned to be fashion snobs, this is particularly useful.

Plan your meals and batch cook

Whether you’re a parent or not, one of the surest ways to waste money is over-reliance on takeout and restaurants. Sure, everyone loves a treat after a hard day’s work, but a home cooked meal can rival anything bought at a restaurant at a tiny fraction of the cost. You can make a family night in just as special with candles and music without paying ludicrous restaurant prices.

You can also make substantial savings at the supermarket by shopping smart and avoiding impulse purchases. You can plan your week’s meals and shop accordingly, plus save time and effort by cooking in batches and making a bolognese or curry sauce, chili, or lasagna that will last the family for several meals. Reducing meat and dairy and upping the veggies will ensure that your weekly shop lasts longer, too.

Get creative with vacations

Family vacations are often perceived as way more expensive than they need to be. A great family vacation requires only three things; fun, family, and love. Everything else is bells and whistles. Taking a road trip not only saves on expensive flights, but allows your family much more freedom and control over your vacation, reducing the risk of stress and things that can go wrong.

Mom and son photo at the top of the post found here

 

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