Survival mode is ok

We all have periods where things out of our control make daily existence overwhelming.  Has it been two days since you’ve showered?  Laundry piled as high as your ears?  Kitchen look like a bomb went off?

Welcome to being in survival mode!  We have all been there.  Whether you are on bedrest, just brought home your first baby, or are sleep training your third baby by night, and with a whole bunch of hyper toddlers by day (me, right now)…

Here are a few ideas to make your survival mode a little more survivable (I hope).

First, I think, attitude really helps.  Don’t let “judge-y” people make you feel bad, NO ONE always has it all together… and if they did, they’d be pretty boring people to know, right??!  Although sometimes you must lower your expectations, there are also days when you need to just put your big girl panties on and get it done.

Try to remember this is temporary.  Be thankful for the good stuff, there’s always a silver lining.  Celebrate every success.  Finally doing that load of towels, is totally worthy of a kitchen dance party!

Secondly, as a mom there’s a few key areas that are musts (unless you’re on bedrest, in that case, they’re still musts, but get other people to do these things)

Food, Floors, Kitchen, Laundry, and Bathrooms.

Food, move to a very simple food rotation, plan every meal and snack for a week and repeat.  (I have one, if you e mail me, I can send it to you).  Also, no one ever died having pb and jelly, carrot sticks and a banana for dessert for lunch for 2 months straight….. just saying….  2nd tip, if you have some available time to cook, cook double or triple batches – you have already pulled out the ingredients and the dishes are already dirty.  When doing this, focus on making healthy meals that freeze well (chili, shepherd’s pie, or whole wheat pasta dishes).  Drink loads of water.  Don’t overdo coffee, avoid sugar all together, you don’t need that afternoon slump.

To keep floors reasonable, plan to pick up everything off the floor twice a day.  Put things in baskets, things always seem neater when they’re in baskets.  If it takes more than 10 minutes… you have too much stuff.  Box some stuff, and get rid of it!!  (or save it for less stressful times)  Then, give the toddlers some cloths and play “wipe the floors”… drag out the vacuum and leave the vacuum in an accessible place.  Trying to sweep after each meal is a good goal to keep the kitchen reasonable.  If you’ve got a larger sized home, block off areas if they’re hard to keep clean from little people.

To get the kitchen back into reasonable shape, set a timer for 5 mins, and do as much as you can in that time.  Do this as many times as it takes.  You’d be surprised how fast it goes.  This also counts as your workout for the day!  It also really helps to get everything off the kitchen table after each meal, and be diligent with filling and emptying the dishwasher… this machine is truly a blessing.

Laundry can pile up fast with kids… especially if you’re in the zone of potty training and spit up.  If you’re really behind, get all your little helpers to help you collect it all early early early in the morning.  Set LOUD timers to stay on top of switching loads immediately when they’re done.  Take each basket into the playroom, sit down and teach your 2 year olds (and older) to fold, while you fold the load.  Put your last load in by 3pm and aim to put it away by 4pm.  To stay on top of it, put a load in first thing every morning, or a few more, depending on your family size.  If you’re on bedrest, or just beyond overwhelmed, don’t fold.  Sort the clean clothes into baskets for each member of your family, and they can rummage.  If you’re struggling in this area, I would put away any excess clothing… the more you have, the more you have to manage.

Bathrooms can be done in little bits.  Every time you “go”, clean something (mirror, sink, top of tub, inside of tub, floor, toilet tank, empty trash, etc).  It will take you 1 minute, and it will at least remain a dull roar of a mess.  I also teach my littles to wipe the sink after they wash their hands, this is a huge help.

My last tip is to practice a morning routine, I get up, do contacts, floss, brush teeth, deodorant, get dressed and extras as time allows.  But I at least do the basics, so that if I have to leave or if someone comes over I am not freaking out.  I have at times also picked out 3 outfits that work for me.  I made the outfits my uniform, rotate and repeat.

FYI These tips are not coming from someone who knows it all, they’re coming from someone who’s learning what as she goes…. and making lots of mistakes too.

: )

And a bunch of these ideas have come from one the most useful books ever, Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman, unfortunately the book is out of print though.

deep thoughts from a lazy saturday

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The boys had a morning out, so us girls decided we should have a pajama morning.  This mainly consisted of me trying to keep Elise from poking Belle in the eyes. The incredible quiet gave me a few minutes to reflect on the past 5 years.

Five years ago, almost to the day, I thought I was going to die.  Brian and I went to see my doctor to get the medical ok to have children.  This appointment did not go at all as planned.  My heart was not functioning properly.  I needed to have very extensive surgery, stop working, and get my affairs in order.  …not exactly the fun day imagining our future children we had in mind.

The year that followed was the hardest year of my life.  But, I got better and that hard time, laser-focused my priorities.  I wanted to get healthy so I could serve my family better.

October is lung health month, so I encourage you moms (and dads) to make your health a priority too.  Is there anything you can do around your home this month to increase your family’s lung health?  Are you still burning candles indoors, using incense, or plug in “scents”?  Give it up for a month.  Could you vacuum a little more, or add a HEPA filter to your vacuum?  For those with asbestos in the home, read this for what you should and shouldn’t do.  Asbestos can cause a type of cancer called mesothelioma, if not handled properly.  If you are smoking, make this the month to quit!  Did you know that If you were to stretch out the breathing surface of your lungs, it would be the size of a tennis court.  That is a heck of an area to expose to the yuckies in the air.  Also, women and children take more breaths per hour than men do.  That’s even more reason we moms need to make sure our air is clean.

This week, the kids and I are going to go for a walk in the forest and talk about how the trees clean our air.  We will also blow up balloons to learn about how lungs work.  We’ll then use the balloons for indoor “volley-soccer”…because that’s what you do when your oldest is 3 years old.

Kids hate squash?? No more.

We have a local organic farmers around here that delivery mixed fruits and veggies each week.  This week, we got spaghetti squash.  I know it’s healthy, but we are not huge fans of squash around here.  However, I’ve found a recipe that gets the kids eating it by the bowlful!

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Preheat your oven to 350F.  Cut your squash in half.  Have the kids scoop out the seeds and squishy stuff.  Rub the insides with butter, a couple tbsps of brown sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Place the halves, cut side up.  Cover in aluminum foil.  Bake for about 90 minutes, until soft.  Use a fork to scoop out.

You could try broiling it for a couple minutes without foil  to caramelize the top.  I also might swap brown sugar for maple syrup next time… no idea how that would turn out though.

Enjoy!

Postpartum belly band… worth the investment?

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Have you had a baby or are you about to pop that first baby out?  Have you checked out the post baby belly picture gallery on babycenter.com?  After looking at some wrinkly, stretch marked, pendulous tummies you might be scared. … dare I say it… for good reason. *gasp*

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(but clearly totally worth it!)

You may or may not have heard about this trend of wrapping your belly post partum.  Is it going to undoubtedly get you back into your pre-baby jeans a few weeks later.  I’m going to go with – no.

This pregnancy, facing my third c-section in 3 years I wanted two things.  I wanted people not to innocently ask me “when are you due”, while I am holding my 1 month old baby.  And I wanted less back pain postpartum.  With my first two pregnancies, within a few days of leaving the hospital, I was in tears putting on my underwear, (not just cuz they were that uh-gly) and needed help walking to the bathroom.  … giving birth is so glamorous.

I dove right in to this trend.  I bought the least expensive option though.  It went on as soon as I got home from the hospital.  I noticed right away that it really helped reduce the uterine bulge within days.  So I didn’t look pregnant!!  I felt a lot more confident leaving the house.  Mission accomplished.  I also felt a lot of relief on my back, and had little to no back discomfort.  When I wasn’t wearing it, I really noticed how much support it was providing me.  The long stashed away chiropractor inside me was smiling.

The negatives I found were that it was very weird to wear the band underneath clothes.  There were a lot of strange lumps and bumps.  There were also a few times that I found it irritated my c-section incision.

When I ordered my belly band, I also got a hip binder.  I would not recommend wasting your money on this.  I really really really wanted to love the product, because these hips just keep widening to prepare for natural births that never happen.  These hips DO lie (ack, sorry, couldn’t resist).  I could never get it to stay in place, and it was too annoying to remove every time I had to use the bathroom. … let’s face it, with 2 toddlers and a newborn, this lady does not need any more hassles trying to pee!

Now, at just over 6 weeks postpartum, do I look any different than the other two deliveries? …. Nope. But would I do it again? Definitely. I was a lot more comfortable chasing little people around.

As a disclaimer, I wore the belly band 24 hours a day, from about 3 days postpartum, until I hit 5 weeks postpartum. At 5 weeks, I started to wean myself of the postpartum wrap.  At 6 weeks postpartum, I was happy to completely ditch the belly band.

 

Weight loss 6 weeks post partum

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Any other mamas have a really tough time dropping the baby weight?  It probably doesn’t help that I’ve had really challenging pregnancies, and had to limit my exercise to “activities of daily living”.  Which means in doctor-speak, I can shower and walk around the house a bit.  It also probably doesn’t help too much that I’ve had my 3 kids in 3 years.

I’ve tried a few different weight loss strategies, that have worked well for other moms.  For my first baby, my strategy for losing the baby weight, was having the baby.  …. so that didn’t exactly pan out for me.  After my second baby, I realized that the baby weight won’t just magically disappear on its own because I’m exclusively nursing.  So, I tried eating a strict paleo diet, that worked spectacularly for my dear friend.  But for me, by the end of the month, I had gained 2lbs.  Really??  Really??  I realized then, that when I’m nursing, my body is a very efficient calorie saver.  Which will come in super handy if ever we are in a famine… so there’s that.

Now I’ve just had my third baby about 6 weeks ago, and for the first time, I’ve lost 20lbs (and a .5 if we’re going to be exact).

What was different this time?

This time I did not restrict myself when I was hungry.  I did however stop eating after dinner, except for when Grandma made me the kids her world famous chocolate chip cookies, and coffee cake. mmmm.  I did try to stick to 2 cookies a day, not 24.  I also bulked up most of my meals with veggies and fruit.  And tried reaching for almonds and hard boiled eggs if I was hungry instead of brownies.  Lastly, I also aimed to go for a walk a few times a week.

I have a long way to go before I’ll even come close to pulling up jeans from 5 years ago.

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But I’ll be happy if I even come close!  This body rocks… it helped bring 3 people into my life that I love with all my heart!

Monday September 29th, I’ll be starting a challenge to drop another 5 lbs over 3 weeks.  If you want to join in, comment or e mail me at thecrayoncircus@gmail.com.