Total Relaxation –  something we all long for, like a fully paid vacation on a tropical island, eight hours of sleep a night, or even just 10 minutes of alone time on some days.  As much as I’d love world peace, I find myself selfishly longing for a day without doing dishes much more frequently. Alas, since most of us aren’t able to escape to the spa on a daily basis (or permanently eliminate the things that cause us the most stress), here are some simple ways you can have moments of relaxation and reduced stress throughout your day.  Spoiler alert… eating chocolate is one of them!


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1. Eat Breakfast Before Coffee
Caffeine on an empty stomach can increase blood sugar levels, which can lead to irritability.  No wonder we are stressed almost from the moment we wake up.  Also, as many nutrition experts will tell you, it is important to eat something within 30 minutes of waking up to kick-start your metabolism for the day. If you don’t have time for a full breakfast, something small is OK, but keep it healthy, like a hard boiled egg or 1/2 a grapefruit.  Reducing your blood sugar will keep you more calm throughout the day. Check out other quick and healthy options here. (Source)


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2. Tea Time
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone by now, but green tea is one of the most healthy beverages on the planet.  It’s loaded with antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of cancer, has numerous heart health benefits that can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, and lowers your blood sugar level to keep you calm, among many others.  Take 5 minutes to kick your feet up and enjoy a cup of tea every afternoon!   Make sure you are super comfy from head to toe. I highly recommend keeping your feet cozy with a pair of Gold Toe Oh So Soft socks.  Unlike traditional spa socks, these are thinner so your feet can actually breath without sacrificing softness and comfort.  Love the fun colors, and I love that they are made with a little spandex so they fit my feet perfectly.  Since I work full time, my tea ritual is usually in the mornings or at night right after my shower. (Source)


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3. Take a Long Bath
This one might not be as feasible on a daily basis, but ALL moms need to dedicate at least one day a week to a long, hot bath.  I fill my tub with tons of bubbles and lavender-scented bath oil.  The scent of lavender is known to reduce your heart rate for increased relaxation (more on scents below).  I light a candle, turn off the lights, put on my favorite calming music, and zen out as long as possible. After the bath, of course, I put my Oh So Soft socks on and enjoy a cup of green tea. (Source)


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4. Take Time to Smell the Roses
It might be cliche, but there’s a very real reason this expression exists – aside from the obvious message of stopping the hustle and bustle of your daily activities to enjoy the small things in life (which, of course, is very important). There are many known scents that have been proven to help people relax: lavender (my all-time favorite), jasmine (my other all-time favorite), mandarin, vanilla, chamomile, bergamot, sandalwood, rose, lilac, and ylang-ylang. I try to keep a lavender candle lit whenever I’m home, and I spray jasmine on my pillow case at night. I even have lavender-scented dish soap so I stay a little more calm while doing dishes every day. An easy way to keep a scent with you all day is to spray a little bit of your favorite fragrance on a cloth and put it in your purse. If you start to feel stressed, pull it out and take a little sniff to calm down. Or, next time you eat an orange, keep a few of the orange peels in your car or in a bowl at home so you can be surrounded by the scent all day. (Source)


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5. Eat Chocolate
Yes, you read that correctly my friends.  Studies show that dark chocolate (in moderation) can lower your blood pressure and lower the risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart attack…. not to mention the shear joy of indulging in chocolate guilt-free!  Remember, everything in moderation, so go ahead and have a couple squares of your favorite dark chocolate during tea time.  You’re welcome! (Source)


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6. Exercise
Now that you’ve enjoyed your chocolate… exercise might seem counter-intuitive to the notion of ‘relaxation’, but it’s not.  Exercising even a moderate amount daily actually helps maintain your metabolism and reduce spikes in your blood sugar.  My favorite form of exercise is dancing.  For me, there’s nothing better than putting on my favorite music and busting a move.  While I take regular dance classes at a studio, I will often take a few minutes to dance to a great song if I’m feeling particularly stressed.  Even when I’m at work, I can put my headphones on and take a brisk walk around the block to calm my nerves. (Source)

 

Being a mom takes a lot of patience, and sometimes we do things that we aren’t proud of. 

In our defense, it’s impossible to keep it together 24/7! We aren’t robots, dammit – we’re just humans who happened to become responsible for other humans. Since we’re all about keeping it real here at WTF, we asked our Facebook friends what their darkest mom confession was. Here are the very relatable answers.

“I used to play hide and seek when they were little, but I didn’t ‘seek’ them..I hid in my bathroom eating chocolate or drinking wine…”

Sounds like the correct way to play hide and seek if you ask us.

“I let them set up a small camping tent in their playroom, then I played a continuous loop of thunderstorm sounds on the computer and told them they couldn’t come out until it was over, lol…that’s one of my especially proud moments.”

Pure genius!

“I set up the TV and DVR on Sunday mornings so that all my five year old has to do is turn them both on and I can stay in bed. He will even go get his three year old brother out of his room when he wakes up. Next stop, pre-poured cereal!!”

What a little self-starter he is!

“I tell my toddler that things will ‘bite her’ if they are dirty and/or I don’t want her to touch them. (Bottom of the broom, trash, mommy’s wine, etc).”

We’re only looking out for germs, right?

“After an hour of trying to get my 2 year old to eat dinner tonight, I gave up and gave him his fruit snacks. Mommy Fail.”

Hey, you do what ya gotta do.

“I pretend I’m sleeping so my husband has to take care of kids that wake up in the middle of the night.”

Works every time.

“I’m pretty sure I have a favorite.”

We won’t tell anyone!

“Other moms compliment me on how I take my son to so many programs and always seem to be on the go. What looks like an overly ambitious toddler agenda is really just the only way I’ve found to keep depression from devouring me.”

This is so real and so relatable. As moms, we’re expected to be cheery and bubbly all the time and it’s simply not the case.

“Blogs, books, magazines, the almighty internet and other moms/women. I REALLY GIVE ZERO F*CKS. From the moment I got that positive on my predictor I literally stopped giving sh*t. I did it my way and still doing it my way. To all moms out there: You’re doing it right . Raise your wine glasses to us and giving zero f*cks!!”

We give zero f*cks too!

“My kids thought the ice cream truck was just a truck that drove around playing music for people to enjoy. They even called it the music truck. Since they didn’t know it sold anything, they never really looked at it and never noticed the pictures of ice cream cones. We got away with that until my oldest could read.”

What they don’t know won’t hurt them!

“My kids share a piggy bank and the rule of the house is, whenever they find money or change, they can put it in their piggy bank. I needed to do laundry and was out of quarters so I dug through their piggy bank and grabbed some – my daughter saw me so I told her I would replace it that Friday. She asked me for like 2 weeks about those dang quarters so I finally told her I put them back lol. I haven’t yet…..”

When the laundry needs to get done, IT NEEDS TO GET DONE.

“My 6 Yr old only bathes once a week.”

We are all that 6 year old.

“I’ve taken money out of my kids piggy bank to get a latte I’m sure by now I’ve paid them back several times!”

Maybe the most relatable of them all – hell hath no fury like a mother without her caffeine.

 

Featured image via.

Several new moms have entered my life recently, so I’ve been revisiting my list of things I wish I’d known before I became a mom. You can never truly prepare for everything that’s coming, but I think it helps to be aware of realities that may peep over the horizon.

Here are some of those realities, in no particular order:

1) Cutting your baby’s fingernails for the first time is one of the scariest things you’ll ever do.

And after that, it’s pretty much a full-time job until they’re old enough to do it themselves. I wish I was exaggerating.

It also doesn’t get any easier with subsequent kids. I thought I knew what I was doing with our second baby and drew blood the first time I cut her nails. With our third, I gave up the clippers and just tore them off during the newborn phase. Sometimes asking the question, “What would a mom living in a tent in the Outback do?” helps to simplify things.

2) You will be up close and personal with someone else’s bodily functions—on a daily basis—for years on end.

Assuming you have more than one child and space them 1 to 4 years apart, you will literally wipe butts more times than you can count. Pee and poop. Poop and pee. Every single day. You might be saying, “DUH, Annie,” but you really should consciously prepare yourself for this reality. Motherhood is not glamorous.

You’ll know you’ve officially been initiated into motherhood when you have to carry the entire car seat—baby included—into the bathtub, peel layer after poopy layer off your child, and hose the whole business down while trying not to heave. Or when your child wakes up at 2:00 a.m. with a tummy ache, and while you’re feeling for a fever, the little darling suddenly pukes down the front of your pajamas. No, no glamour at all here.

3) The word “Mama” can be the sweetest sound you’ll ever hear.

It can also make you want to poke your eyes out with a crochet hook. We mothers look for those first discernible babbles, that first verbal recognition, with rapt anticipation. When your baby finally gazes at you and says, “Mama,” it just takes your breath away. Treasure that moment, because in four years when you’re trying to drive through traffic or talk on the phone, you’ll do so with the incessant, whining chirp of, “Mama, Mama, Mama!” ringing through your ears, over and over and over again.

Just hide the crochet hooks during those years, and you’ll be fine.

4) You will never sleep soundly again.

Well, maybe not never, but for at least a decade or two. Everyone expects sleep deprivation during the newborn phase, but even after your baby starts sleeping through the night (which, in my experience, happens around three months for about three weeks and then goes to pot once teething starts) you won’t sleep the same as you did pre-kids.

Any noise you hear could be one of them needing you. Your kid might be going through a phase of nightmares or insomnia, or he has a cold so he can’t breathe. Or, maybe the kids are all sleeping fine, but you’re worried about their health/behavior/development/schooling/etc. Or maybe you just want to treasure the time you have while they’re asleep, so you stay up way too late, only to be woken up at the butt crack of dawn by a kid sticking her fingers in your face and asking for cereal.

Whatever the reason, your sleep will never be the same, so don’t fight it. The good news is, by the second or third kid, you’ll get so used to being sleep deprived, you’ll hardly notice it anymore.

5) You will share all of your children’s joy and pain.

The intense love you have for your children will result in an intense amount of empathy. You will feel every hurt your children feel, from skinned knees to broken hearts. And you will rejoice in every one of their triumphs, from rolling over to tying their shoes for the first time. The connection between their emotions and yours can sometimes be overwhelming. And I’m told by moms with grown children that this doesn’t end. Ever.

6) You will never hear about a child being kidnapped or killed without feeling like someone has kicked you square in the stomach.

I remember watching an Oprah show about child abduction when my first baby was a week old. It was my first “mama bear” moment—the one where I knew with every fiber of my being that I’d step in front of a train without a moment’s hesitation if I knew it would protect my child. I was blown over by the force of it.

I had a similar reaction with my third baby when I realized that, as a boy, in 18 years he could be drafted and sent off to war. I believe my exact internal words were, “Over my dead body.” And I meant it literally. If someone wants to send my beautiful, sweet baby boy whom I’ve spent 18 or 20 years loving, teaching, and nurturing into a war zone to experience unimaginable atrocities, they’ll have to do it over my dead body. The instinct to protect is fierce.

7) There may be moments—brief, but frightening moments—where you can understand how child abuse happens.

While the instinct to protect is fierce, certain circumstances can push your instincts to the brink. Your baby is colicky, you haven’t slept in days, you’re hormones are all out of whack, you’re trying to comfort a screaming child, and for an ever-so-brief moment you feel like shaking them or tossing them across the room. It’s awful, but it’s true. If you’ve never had a moment like that as a mom, count yourself lucky.

My mom told me about her own brief new mom moment when her instinct was to chuck my brother out the window when he wouldn’t stop crying, and I was so grateful to know that it was normal. My mom is incredibly gentle and even-keeled, and about as far from abusive as you can imagine. If she could get pushed to the brink, anyone could. I’m not talking full-on postpartum depression or psychosis. Just flickering moments when terrible thoughts flash through your psyche.

Later, your toddler might be screaming uncontrollably at the worst possible time, or your six-year-old might be whining relentlessly, and for a brief moment you just want to slap them. It’s hard for me to even write that, because it goes so completely against my normal instincts. But there are moments. Everyone has them. Be aware of them and let them pass, and don’t beat yourself up. Thinking about it and actually doing it are two very different things.

8) You will always love your children, but you may not always like them.

There will be phases your kids go through—irritating, obnoxious, rude, dramatic, moody phases—where they ride your last nerve. And you’ll feel guilty and wonder what you’ve done wrong. And then the phase will pass and you’ll wonder how you ever felt any negativity toward them.

This is hard to imagine when you have a baby or a toddler. Babies start out cute, and they just get cuter and cuter until you can’t stand it and think you might explode from their adorableness. And then they turn three. And then four. And oh, seven can be a doozy. But these are just phases, and with patience and a little decent parenting, they pass.

9) Whatever good behavior you think your kids have mastered, expect to have to re-teach it again, and again, and again.

I remember being so proud of how polite my first kid was at age three. Please, thank you, excuse me – she was the poster child of courtesy. If she had it down pat at three, surely I could check that off my parenting to-do list, right? HA!

There’s a reason it takes 18 or so years to raise a child. And it makes sense that they’ll have setbacks, when you think about it. They go through phases and grow and change and have to adapt what they know to the stage they’re in now. Learning the art of the “gentle reminder” and being prepared to use it often will save you much frustration.

10) Your kids will change constantly, from their very first day out of the womb.

And you’ll change right along with them. Motherhood will keep you on your toes. As soon as you start to think you’ve got a handle on things, your kids will enter a whole new phase, or do something totally unexpected and awesome, or do something totally unexpected and atrocious, and you’ll have to re-figure out parenting all over again.

And you’ll find your own identity constantly on its toes as well. Your life and your purpose are no longer yours alone. Each baby brings with them their own life’s purpose, their own blessings, and their own destiny—all of which become intricately woven into your own.

You might worry about “losing yourself” in motherhood. But it’s important to recognize that on some very fundamental levels you’re never going to be the same person you were pre-kids. And that’s not a bad thing. You will get lost in motherhood, and it’ll be scary and disorienting and painful sometimes. But in the process you’ll discover a stronger, wiser, tougher, softer, realer version of yourself. Just give it time.

Welcome to Motherhood, new Mamas. It’s a wild and wonderful place to be.

This post was originally featured on Annie Reneau’s blog, Motherhood and More. Featured image via.

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This woman deserves a standing ovation for the family photos she took with her family.

Who is this queen of motherhood truth and hilarity? New York based actress and mother of two, Susan Copich. We love her so much. Copich is totally breaking down the barrier of truth in social media, especially when it comes to being a mom.

If you’ve met me, I have a very seemingly sunny disposition, but I have a whole interior world where at different times I’ve felt depression and angst. For many years, I put it in a little ball, and I decided to just explore it this time. It’s been so fun to bring those feelings out and give them light,’ she says. Each image has what Susan calls a ‘twist of darkness’ that challenges the ordinary perception of family happiness.” (via)

Thank you, Susan, for these amazing photos which are making all of us feel better. If we said every moment of motherhood was sunshine and crafting, we’d be damn liars. So much of a being a mother is feeling like you might tear your hair out at any moment – and that’s okay! The more we talk about and acknowledge that none of us are perfect and life can be really hard, the more we can appreciate those beautiful moments in between.

All photos via

I’ve invented a new drinking game. Here’s how to play: If you’ve had a miscarriage, take a shot.

If you’ve had more than one miscarriage, take another shot.

Three or more miscarriages, take another shot, and try not to blackout under the table.

So. Are we all drunk enough to have a real, honest talk about miscarriage? Good. Because it’s time.

I’ll start.

In the fall of 2011, I accidentally got pregnant. How it happened, aside from the actual biology stuff, was a total cliche. We attended the wedding of a good friend, I got totally wasted thanks to the top shelf open bar, and five weeks later I was face down in my toilet praying that I just had food poisoning. Ten positive pregnancy tests later led me to believe that I was, in fact, in the family way.

READ MORE: SEASONS OF DEPRESSION

As I’ve mentioned several times here on the ol’ blog, I was not exactly gung-ho about having kids. I was still very involved in pursuing a dead-end career in stand-up comedy, and we were so broke that the first of every month usually had us scraping together spare change to come up with rent money. It wasn’t exactly the ideal situation for parenthood. Nevertheless, I figured that 35 was a little bit past the acceptable age for the Planned Parenthood route (side note: shouldn’t it really be called Unplanned Parenthood?), and I resigned myself to impending Motherhood.

Eight weeks later, exactly one day after announcing our joyous news to our immediate family, I had a miscarriage. I’ll spare you the details – it started with horrible cramping and ended with me dressed in a paper gown sobbing in front of an ultrasound technician – but it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad experience. Except for one thing: I never would’ve realized how much I really wanted kids if it wasn’t for that miscarriage.

What I wish I’d known back in 2011 is how common it is to have a miscarriage. Oh, I read about the statistics, and my OB told me that they happen all the time, but I only knew one friend who’d experienced the same thing. Whenever I did try to talk to other people about what happened, people reacted with horror, and attempted to change the subject, as though by mentioning my experience I might somehow infect them with my bad genes or faulty uterus. One friend even sat across from me at a restaurant and, while nursing her newborn, told me that the reason I had a miscarriage was because I was too skinny and didn’t have the right body for “bearing precious children.” Don’t worry, I made her pay for lunch.

READ MORE: PRODUCING PAST CANCER

Since then, I’ve met so many women, mostly fellow Moms, who’ve also had miscarriages. We’ve shared our war stories, and talked about how we all despaired of ever having children, and how scared we were when we did get pregnant again. There’s no talking in whispers, or placing blame, but rather a frank and honest discussion about what happened and the emotional toll it can take on a person and a relationship.

I think, finally, the tide is turning, and people are being more open about miscarriage. Maybe it’s all due to Mark Zuckerberg, though if that’s the case, the feminist in me feels rather indignant that it’s only thanks to a man that it’s no longer a taboo subject. Whatever the reason, be it Mark Zuckerberg or Maker’s Mark, let’s keep talking and sharing our experiences, so that no one else feels alone or at fault for what essentially amounts to a genetic roll of the dice.

Maybe someday talking about miscarriage will be as run-of-the-mill as mentioning what kind of car one drives, or whether or not someone has any pets. Until then, there’s always alcohol.

This post was originally featured on Anna Lane’s blog, Misadventures in Motherhood. Featured image via.

‘Mom Guilt’…it’s something I battle every day.

My most frequently asked questions are: Am I doing enough for them? Am I doing too much for them? Am I doing what’s best for them…or what’s best for me? Am I permanently scarring my children by making the wrong decisions? Will they grow up to need therapy if I don’t do what all the other moms are doing?

But one of the main purposes for starting this blog was to free myself from the expectation of perfection. To learn from the feedback of my readers that maybe I’m NOT the only one who feels this way.

So here goes…These are 10 Things I Refuse to feel ‘Mom Guilt’ about:

10.) Not throwing big birthday parties for my kids.

This isn’t to say we don’t acknowledge birthdays here. We do streamers, cake, singing, and always a fun family activity. (This year we surprised our 8 year old with tickets to the monster truck rally!)

I just despise the politics involved in ‘friend party’ planning. (who to invite/not invite, contacting parents who are complete strangers, and do my kids really need 20 more presents to leave laying around the house open?) And lets not even THINK about how much $$$ big parties can cost!

For everyone freaking out that I’m turning my kids into social outcasts…I promise to re-think my position as they get older. But that’s a whole other blog post for another day.

9.) Not volunteering for every opportunity for their classrooms.

I make a concerted effort to spend SOME time volunteering in each of my children’s classrooms. (And I enjoy it!) But I’ve seen moms get roped into helping out with every single activity day that exists. Teacher’s are sneaky like that. I know…for I used to do the same thing when I was a teacher.

8.) Throwing away their artwork and schoolwork.

I know how hard they work on all those masterpieces. But the amount of papers and projects that come through these doors during any given week is mind boggling. So (of course) the most meaningful pieces get filed away into memory boxes. Fun artwork gets displayed their bedroom door. Old pieces come down as new pieces go up.

Then after the kids are asleep I quietly sneak downstairs and rid my counter tops of 48,392 school papers by joyfully solemnly tossing them in the trash. If they happen to find them there the next day I’ll say, “Now how did THAT get in there?” and take it out…that is, until they’re out the door and on the bus.

7.) Admitting that I need a break.

Ok, so I still do feel guilty about this one. Admitting that I need a break can feel like admitting weakness. But I’ve learned that not admitting that I need a break can lead to a nervous breakdown. And I’ve also learned that if I feel like I need a break from my family….chances are my family needs a break from me too.

6.) Some weekends we stay in our pajamas till noon.

Lazy? Yes. Fun and rejuvenating too? Yes. So what if your neighbor comes to the door at 10:30 in the morning and you’re still sporting bed head and pajama pants? (*true story) What I learned from that experience was that she wished she was at home doing the same thing. She told me so! We get so few lazy weekends where we don’t have to run around…why not embrace them?

5.) Letting my daughter play princess.

So “they” tell me I’m not supposed to encourage the princess mentality in my daughter. To “them” I say, “I had to wait patiently through 2 boys to get my girl! And haven’t you seen how cute she looks playing dress up???”

Apparently Cinderella is teaching my daughter that being pretty is the only thing that matters in life. But I bet Cinderella didn’t have 2 big brothers at home to teach her how to wrestle and rough house.

My little girl is quite capable of putting a dude in his place…I’ve witnessed it.

This is also another blog post for another day.

4.) Letting my husband do the cooking on the weekends.

Hey! If he offers… (Wouldn’t you?)

3.) Not having a dog!

My husband has this magical childhood Christmas memory of opening a big box under the tree…and what was inside? An adorable St. Bernard puppy, of course!

I love that, I really do. And I know he can’t wait to have a moment like that with our own kids. But let’s be real here. We all know who ends up doing the work whenever a family gets a dog.

We’ll either have to wait until the kids are old enough to do the job, or the husband travels less for work so he can do it all. I just finished potty training 3 kids…I’m not in any hurry to start again with a peeing and pooping pooch.

2.) Using TV as a babysitter now and then.

I won’t feel guilty about this because EVERY parent does it. Don’t try and deny it…you know you do. And it’s not like I set them down in front of Jersey Shore…so cut me some slack!

1.) Taking a vacation away from my kids/husband just for fun.

Funny thing…that’s just what I’m getting ready to do this Friday! Well, kind of. I’m going on a girls only vacation to sunny Palm Springs, California.

OK, yes I will have my 3 year old with me. But I’ll also be spending quality time with my Mom, Sister-in-law, Niece, and Cousins! What’s the occasion, you ask? Just for fun! It will involve sleeping late, pools, cabanas, sunscreen, board games, most likely some wine, and LOTS of laughter.

One thing I’m absolutely certain it won’t involve: MOM GUILT! (Bring on the cocktails and cabana boys!)

This post was originally featured on Marie’s blog, Make Your Own Damn Dinner. Photo via