The Problem with Mental Health Care: How Our System is Failing Mothers (and Everyone Else for that Matter)

As many of you know, I’m an open book. I’ll openly talk about my uterus, breastfeeding and  discuss the mistakes I’ve made over the course of my life. It’s why I started this blog. To share as a way to help myself heal, remind myself to laugh, and to hopefully inspire others do the same along the way. While I usually don’t leave anything off limits, I’ve never found the courage to openly discuss…the real me.

Every once and awhile I feel inspired to disclose my secret when I read a story by one of the many people who live, feel and experience life the way I do, yet I can never put my thoughts into words quite as eloquently. Because let’s be honest, anxiety and mental illness is hardly ever eloquent. Whether this comes out as beautifully written as a Shakespeare play or as confusing as a grade one journal entry, it’s time to create something with these words.

While I’m sure  through initiatives like Bell Let’s Talk Day and campaigns from the Canadian Mental Health Association you’ve become aware that mental health patients have few resources in our country, you may not be aware that our system is completely failing them.  Each and every day people seek help and fall tragically through the cracks. While you read this, here are some important stats to keep in mind:

  • 1.2 million Canadian children live with mental illness
  • In any given year, 1 in 5 adults in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness, but only 1 in 3 will receive treatment
  • 1 in 13 women report experiencing depression during the postpartum period

Mental health has long been recognized as a fundamental aspect of one’s health, however under our current health regime the majority of mental health services do not meet the eligibility requirement of “medically necessary.” Unless received in a hospital, psychological services must be paid for out-of-pocket or covered by private third-party insurance. This means that weekly visits to psychiatrics or counsellors come at one’s own expense. With the burden of paying for one’s mental health left to the individual, it is not surprising that so many Canadians put mental health concerns on the backburner.

We can’t do this anymore. We need to take a stand. 

So, here I am taking my stand and calling bullshit on the whole system.

Three weeks ago I was faced with a daze and emptiness I haven’t experienced in a very long time. Be it the collective emotions that came with my new role as a working mom, prolonged sleep deprivation and pregnancy hormones or hell, just the stress of living and thriving in our social media dominant, mess of a world, something caused me to die a little inside.

In a moment of desperation, I put my life on pause – an opportunity moms rarely have. I called in sick to work, brought my son to daycare and went home for a date with Netflix, a cup of coffee and my couch. Instead, when I walked in my house I wrapped myself in a blanket and I cried. I cried and cried, then sobbed, and then I hit rock bottom.

You should know, this is not a good time for me to lose it. I have a loving and supportive husband, a beautiful and healthy son, a silly and quirky dog (yes, I love you too, Louie) and a little bean inside my belly – all of them need me. Now is not the time for my mind, body and soul to scream “I’ve had enough.” But you can’t argue with truth.

As much as I want to wallow in self pity, life doesn’t pause and let you heal. Bills need to be paid and babies need to be snuggled. In an attempt to nip this overwhelming sense of… well….feeling overwhelmed, I did something I never do and asked for help.

I Googled “support for moms in Halton Region”, and results flooded my screen. There were mommy support groups, a crisis hotline, even a warm line at a local hospital that provides 24 hour support to moms in the first year of their child’s life. All incredible resources, right? I thought so too. Then I started dialing.

Between tears, I dialed numbers, trying to find a program to help me cope with all the unorganized thoughts and emotions flying through my mind.

I’ll save you my feedback on the 7 publicly funded organizations I reached out to – in short, they have a lot of work to do.

While initially it seemed like there was a world of help and support for an overwhelmed, new-ish mom like me, there really isn’t. At some point along the way, each and every resource let me down. They listened to me through tears, told me self-care was critical, and failed to provide any resources they promised to.

And here’s the sad part, I’m not alone. People used to say that it takes a village to raise a child. Today, some of us are lucky to have support from our extended family but this village you hear of costs approximately $2000+ a month in daycare costs, maids, nannys, therapy, takeout and bottles of wine (when mommy has just had enough).

Our society today provides moms with little to no support. We literally grow and birth a baby, get a high five and are sent on our way. No one prepares us for the worry (is my baby eating enough? are they happy? is their poop supposed to be that colour? why are they crying? why aren’t they crying? what is that spot on their leg? THEY HAVE THE MEASLES!). No one prepares us for the weeks, months, sometimes years of being up around the clock. No one prepares us for breastfeeding failure, drifting from our friends and partner, or coping with zero – and I mean ZERO time for ourselves. No one prepares us for the work + life + baby balance.  No one prepares us. We’re expected to shower, smile, eat, stay fit, work, clean, maintain romance, maintain friendships, maintain our eyebrows, raise a tiny army, run an envy worthy Instagram page AND stay sane through it all? Nope. Not happening. Maybe I’m doing something totally wrong. Maybe I expect too much of myself – but this whole system isn’t working for me.

There needs to be more resources.

There needs to be more support.

And we can’t continue to treat mental illness like a separate entity to our health.  It’s not.

Our mind is our being, it’s apart of who we are and it’s a big part of how we love, laugh, function and remain healthy day to day. Our country can’t continue to turn a blind eye to the millions of children, adults and mothers who silently struggle every day, trying their very best not to lose it.

With all that being said, here’s my call to action: if you feel the way I feel, I encourage you to speak about it. More importantly, I encourage you to tell all levels of government about it. Demand they make changes to our system and stop failing our people. In the meantime, I encourage you to be kind to others, to kind to yourself and to bring back the village.

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Honestly, I Don’t Care How You Feed Your Baby, But I Want You To Know This…

Last week The Honest Company approached me and asked if I wanted join them in a conversation about one of the most intimate and important experiences in a family’s life: feeding their newborn baby. Without hesitation, I said yes. Honest presents judgement free stories on its blog covering moms from every walk of life. Today I share my story and a letter to parents in hopes to end the judgement and stigma that comes with the personal choices families make to feed their baby.

Before I dive into my raw and real  experience, I’d like to say I’m not here to argue breast isn’t best. Instead, I’m here to shed some light on why breast wasn’t exactly best for my family under our circumstances. I would never encourage or discourage a mother from breastfeeding, pumping, or formula feeding. I’m 100% in favor of supporting moms by advising them to do what they feel is best for their baby and family. It’s my hope in sharing my story that a mommy in need, a mommy who feels like a failure when it comes to feeding her infant, will know she’s not alone.

Dear Mommies,

Congratulations on your beautiful ray of light. You’ve just started one of the most incredible chapters in your life. With all new roles, this one comes with a period of learning. Actually, there’s a good chance you’ll never stop learning – and you’ll grow stronger because of it.

I was where you are only nine short months ago. I was living (and continue to live) a life that no amount of reading, watching videos or joining Facebook groups could have prepared me for.

I’m a mom who had a baby that was unable to latch – and there was nothing that could have prepared me for it. Most of my reading and most of my encounters with medical professionals, peers and family prepared me for breastfeeding my baby. No one ever mentioned failure. Of course, there was the option to choose other methods, though these methods were hardly addressed or explained to me.

As a new mom,  I was afraid of wronging my son and I was afraid of not giving him the best. Through pressure from myself and the fear of being judged, I sacrificed my sanity and well-being to make breastfeeding work.

I could talk to you about the visits I had with lactation consultants, months I spent attached to a breast pump, suck training, syringe feeding, jaundice, formula and nipple shields.  I could also talk to you about the the guilt, anxiety, frustration and heartache that came with the decisions I had to make to keep my son fed and nourished. However, I’m here to talk to you as a mom on the flip side of all of that. I’m the mom that has done it all – and every step of the way I felt some type of pressure, stress or guilt.

I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if one, some or all of these options work for you and your family. Sometimes, as much as we prepare,  life has a different plan and pushes us in a different direction than we initially imagined.

Whatever direction life has pushed you in when it comes to feeding your child, whether it’s what you expected or what you’ve had to resort to, as long as you are nourishing your child, keeping them fed and loving them endlessly, you as a parent are doing your job.

The best you can give your child is accepting your circumstances and making it work. Show them you can overcome adversity, adjust to change and go with the flow.

If there’s one thing I learned from crying on the bathroom floor at three in the morning from emotional and physical exhaustion, it’s that my choices were driven by love, not logic.

In all your parenting triumphs and struggles, there is someone else out there who gets it – and as one of them, I want to say I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for doing your absolute best.

In closing, I want to introduce you to my nine month old son, Jack.

See his smile? It’s not a result or being fed formula or breast milk, bottle or boob, his smile is a result of love. For for first week of his life he was fed breast milk by a syringe. For the first three months of his life, he was fed through a bottle filled with breast milk I pumped around the clock. From months three through four, he exclusively breast fed after finally latching completely out of the blue. From months four through six, he was fed both formula and breast milk as I struggled to maintain my supply. And lastly from months six and onward, he’s been formula fed (along with purees of his favourite Italian dishes) after my supply complexity dried up.

My biggest goal as a parent is to raise Jack to always be compassionate, kind and gentle. How he was fed as an infant will have never come up on first dates, university applications or job interviews. It has no indication of the type of person he is or will grow up to be.

Together, lets stop making moms feel isolated, hopeless and judged as they navigate uncharted water and raise their families. Lets answer questions rather than offer advice, lets offer support rather than sympathy, and lets be the generation of moms who end the mom war.

We’re all in this together, we may just be doing it a little differently.

Wishing you sleep + happiness,
Annie

Hello – Adele (Sleep Parody)

Hello, It’s me.
I was wondering little baby, will you ever go to sleep?
To hit the pillow, would be a dream.
They say caffines supposed to help ya,
Well, then hand me a Venti.

Hello, can you hear me?
I’m mixing bottles, changing diapers…trying every damn thing.
Shut your eyes, baby, please.
I’ve forgotten how it feels to have a solid block of sleep.

My eyes are droopy, yours are wide,
We’ll be rocking through the night.

Hello stars up in the sky,
I’ve counted you a thousand times.
To my dog, I’m sorry, you’re losing sleep too,
But I promise, I’m doing all I can do.

Hello from the night time.
At least I can say that I’ve tried,
To go to bed early and sleep if I can.
Doesn’t matter, insomnia has another plan, every time.

Hello, how are you?
It’s so typical of me to huff and puff, oh my dear, I’m sorry.
The moon, it’s shining bright,
On the spit up in my hair and the bags under my eyes.

It’s no secret, this sound machine
Does absolutely nothing.

So, hello from the night time.
My kid has pooped a thousand times.
And this night, my gosh, will never it end?
But wait, his little fingers just grabbed onto my hand.

Hello stars up in the sky.
It’s almost time to say goodbye.
But don’t worry, I promise, I’ll see you again,
And one day I’ll miss how much he needed me, way back when.

Ohhh way back when,
Ohhh way back when,
Ohhh way back when,
Way back when.

Hello from the night time,
My babes asleep and I survived!
It’s now time for me, to crawl back into my bed,
Next to my husband, who’s been snoring all through this mess.

Hello stars up in the sky,
Good night, sweet dreams, lullaby.
Thank you, my  baby, you’ve stolen my heart.
Wait. Stop. That better have just been a fart – oh help me.

Making the Most of Nap Time

As mom’s we get a few glorious moments a day to do as we please or catch up on what we must. These moments are our children’s nap time or as I like to call it: mom time.

Now that Jack is exiting the world of the fourth trimester, nap time is becoming a luxury. Gone are the days of eat, sleep and poop. The days of Elmo’s Song on repeat, “don’t put that in your mouth” and “ouch, that’s mommy’s hair” are among us. We’re also entering the wonderful world of the four month sleep regression. For the mom’s who have been through it, you know what I mean. For the mom’s not yet there – stock up on the wine.

When I was still adjusting to life as a mom and living on minimal hours of sleep, I’d usually find myself slumped on my couch trying to grasp my new reality. These days, with a little more sleep and a new appreciation of these quiet moments – I go all out.

My favourite nap time mom-moments range from cozying up with a cup of hot tea (key word, hot..unlike that morning’s coffee), sitting in complete silence, or stalking Donald Trump’s Twitter account for his next tirade.

These moments may seem simple to some, but for us mom’s, these moments are our daily dose of extravagance. Below you’ll find other indulgences from well-seasoned mommies. Check it out:

The thing I want to say, I’m not sure it’s appropriate to publish. But who am I kidding, ain’t no body got time for that. 

I sip on a hot tea while watching the Maury Show. 

Take a shower, blow dry my hair, paint my nails. I like to pamper myself! 

Watch those late night shows that are too dirty for little minds while getting into the hidden treats I’m not willing to share. 

I work… and cut up my own apples.  

Then there are the mom’s that aren’t as lucky:

My daughter will only nap in my arms for 30 minutes at a time, so I sit there with her dreaming of sleep. 

Mine don’t sleep! On the rare occasion I’ll nap with them. 

Mine sleeps until I put him down and then BAM! eyes open. 

crfzsya

Whether you’re indulging in those guilty pleasures or simply trying to survive the day – sometimes it’s the simplest of moments that are the most precious.

How do you treat yourself during mom time?

 

Mom and Baby’s Favourite Things

Jack’s officially been a part of our family for a little over three weeks now. Being that this is baby #1, there has been a lot of trial and error over the last three weeks to learn which baby items work for us and for Jack. Here’s a quick list of the baby items that we currently can’t live without!

  1. 4mom’s MamaRoo: The MamaRoo is an item that was kindly gifted to us by family at our baby shower. It’s an expensive must-have for baby’s who love to be rocked and swayed. The MamaRoo replicates the natural motion parents use to comfort their baby through five motions and speed options.
    Why Mom loves it:  It’s great for rocking Jack to sleep or keeping him calm while I tidy up the kitchen or sip that cold cup of coffee.
    Why baby loves it:  As the weeks pass, Jack loves to be held and rocked more and more, and when Mama needs a hand-free minute this little contraption does just the trick!
  2. Baby Einstein Caterpillar and Friends Play Gym: This is a toy that I think will be used for months to come. The gym features 6 activities – from rattles to glowing lights, sounds and melodies. The soft play mat is the perfect place to lay baby down for tummy time. The gym also features a musical star which can be removed and attached to a crib, stroller or car seat.
    Why Mom loves it: Easy to clean, easy to assemble, easy to use. We currently use the mat for brief entertainment and tummy time (Jack’s laying on the mat figuring out how to roll as we speak). As Jack gets older the gym will help develop his motor skills and hopefully continue to keep his attention!
    Why baby loves it: Even though Jack is only three weeks old, the Caterpillar and Friends gym has already grabbed his attention. He swats and kicks his legs – unintentionally hitting rattles and responds to sounds. He also loves the musical star, which calmed him to sleep on a five hour road trip this past weekend.
  3. Earth Momma Angel Baby Nipple ButterThis all natural, organic, plant based nipple butter is heavenly. Breastfeeding and/or pumping can do a number on a Mama’s nipples (cracked, bleeding, dry) and this pricey miracle butter is worth the investment! Due to it’s natural ingredients, there’s no need to rinse it off before a feeding – and, it smells like chocolate, added bonus!
    Why Mom loves it: Before I discovered Earth Momma Angel Baby Nipple Butter I was using coconut butter to sooth my sore nipples. The coconut butter was unable to provide the comfort I needed after my intense pumping sessions (every 2 to 3 hours), I needed something more. Although the nipple butter is on the expensive side, you really only need a small amount and it provides instant relief!
    Why baby loves it:  The taste and texture have no impact on the Jack’s feeding.
  4.  Medela Freestyle Double Electric Pump:  This lightweight, double electric pump has met all my pumping needs. It’s portable and chargeable so you can pump anywhere. It also has a timer and back-light which makes it easy to track your night time pumping sessions.  The two phase expression technology encourages more milk production, which has been an added bonus! Our freezer is currently stocked meaning Mama can have a glass of wine every once and awhile. Lastly, the kit comes with all of the accessories you need: tote bag, bottles, breastshields, tubing, membrane, handsfree accessories kit – and it’s compatible with medela nursing bras.
    Why Mom loves it: A few weeks ago I shared my struggles with breastfeeding. When we first brought Jack home he had trouble latching. Jack became dehydrated, Jaundice and lost weight while I nearly lost my mind. I was lucky enough to have had invested in the medela freestyle pump prior to bringing my baby home, so I was immediately able to pump my breast milk and feed it to my son. As soon as I began pumping and bottle feeding, Jack began gaining weight. We’re able to track his intake which helps ease this Mama’s mind as I’m able to ensure he’s getting enough to eat. I wasn’t attached to the idea of breastfeeding but really wanted to feed my baby breast milk if I could, this was the perfect solution for our situation.
    Why baby loves it:  Food. Baby loves food.
  5. Medela Nipple Shield: The medela nipple shield is a thin, silicone shield that is worn on the nipple while breastfeeding. The nipple shield is used when a Mom and Baby have a difficult time securing a latch.
    Why Mom loves it: I was introduced to the medela nipple shield after two weeks of exclusively pumping.  On our first attempt using the sheild, Jack was able to latch. After a week of using the shield, I have been able to get Jack to latch occasionally without the shield. Getting Jack to latch without the shield is still a work in progress, but the shield has given me the ability to breastfeed my baby.
    Why baby loves it: Food. Baby loves food.
  6. WubbaNubb Giraffe:  A WubbaNubb is a nifty little soother with a plush toy attached to the end. You will never lose a soother again!
    Why Mom loves it: Jack hasn’t grown dependent on a chooch but there are times where we use it so he can sooth himself to sleep. We found Jack was over eating because he loves to suck and introducing a soother has solved that problem.
    Why baby loves it: I literally watched my 3 week old maneuver this chooch into his mouth today. The plush toy makes a great cuddle buddy and also helps baby guide the soother into their mouths.
  7. Baby Jogger – City Mini 4-Wheel Stroller:  It took us FIVE visits to Snuggle Bugz to select our stroller. We wanted something that was lightweight, easy to fold, would fit in my Ford Focus, would fit our car seat adapter (Maxi Cosi – Mico AP), could go “off-roading” and wouldn’t break the bank. Well folks, it exists! I give you the City Mini stroller by Baby Jogger. Although not suitable for off-roading, the stroller is all terrain and meets the needs of our family.
    Why Mom loves it: The one hand fold and lightweight of the stroller gives the ability to quickly and easily take the stroller in and out of my car. The adjustable handle is also a plus when my husband is in the drivers seat. The storage bin at the bottom could be a little bit bigger (it only fits a diaper bag), but there are various compartments on the actual stroller that allow me to store my wallet, keys, cell phone, etc.
    Why baby loves it: The shock absorption makes for an incredibly smooth ride.
  8. Live Clean Calming Bedtime Bubble Bath & Soap + Body Lotion: I cannot say enough good things about this product. The live clean calming bedtime bubble bath & soap + body lotion was another gift we received at our baby shower.  Both the lotion and the bubble bath are infused with natural ingredients known for their calming and relaxation properties. It’s also designed to keep baby’s skin smooth and soft.
    Why Mom loves it: The product is made of 98% plant based material, so I feel comfortable and confident putting it on my baby’s skin. In addition to that, the product smells amazing. After Jack’s bath (which he absolutley loves), I snuggle his little body and smell him for hours, love me those newborn snuggles.
    Why baby loves it: I’m not sure if it’s the calming properties in the bubble bath, but Jack is in LOVE with bath time. On occasion he instantly falls fast asleep as soon as his little bum hits the water. The lotion has also been a savior for soothing his dry skin.
  9. Ingenuity Rock and Dream Sleeper: This soft sleeper is perfect for keeping baby close (if you chose to have your baby out of their crib for the first few months of life). It’s easy to assemble, clean and use. The vibrating motion and rocker are ideal for comforting and calming baby.
    Why Mom loves it: When Jack first came home he slept in a bassinet beside our bed. It wasn’t before long that we found ourselves up all night due to an uncomfortable baby. Jack suffers from some minor reflux in addition to gas after feeding. He would wiggle, squirm and wince when he was placed flat on his back at bedtime. The rock and dream sleeper keeps Jack at an incline which helps manage his reflux. It also cradles him in a way that makes him feel safe and protected, just as he was in my tummy. We love the rock and play because it’s easy to assemble and take a part (requiring no tools). We brought it with us on a recent weekend trip which made for easy sleeping arrangements and a happy baby.
    Why baby loves it: He can (almost) get a good night’s rest now – between feeding every two hours.

Well, there you have it! Our favourite Mama and Baby items during Jack’s first month in our home. I’m sure there’s more but these are the ones we use on a daily basis. Are there any items you would add to the list?

Breast to Work

Empowering Woman: Tineke

It took me quite a while to get breastfeeding well established and to really start enjoying it. In the first months it was quite difficult (understatement..), not only painful (don´t get me started on cracked nipples or mastitis) but also the pressure of an underweight baby who needed to eat very often (and took his sweet time meaning you were basically only having 1 hour breaks in between feeding sessions) and not knowing how much milk you actually have and whether he was eating enough. By now I can say I loved breastfeeding but it took quite some tears and screams to get there.

So when my 16 weeks of maternity leave were over I definitely wanted to continue breastfeeding for a little longer. I guess my situation was quiet luxurious in the sense that I work 4 days a week of which 2 from home. So the 2 days from home were easy to cover: until midday when my partner was taking care of Lucas at home I would plan my breaks from work around feeding Bottletimes and in the afternoon when he was with his grandparents I had to extract milk once and then the evening session was live with mommy again. However, the days that I did go into the office were much more complicated. I have a very long commute to my office (2,5hours) so I would leave the house a little before 7am and come back only after 8pm. In the beginning I still did a morning feeding around 6am but once Lucas got a better sleep rhythm he wouldn´t wake up before 7 / 7.30am anymore meaning that I was not home for any of his feedings. Then my challenge was where and when to extract in the office or even on my way to the office.

When you have a baby, sleep is not a commodity anymore so there were some trade-offs involved. This basically meant that I could choose between getting up 20 minutes earlier to extract milk or leaving my first pumping session for the commute… Yep, sleep is scarce so I chose the second option. So I would extract milk in the train under a huge scarf hoping and praying that the passenger sitting next to me would keep sleeping (advantage of the early morning train!) or working and at least not notice that something was moving under that scarf.

Then the next challenge came with the fact that in my office there was no nursing place. Our “office” is basically a little village with over 10k employees divided over different buildings and we have loads of convenient services in the village (gym, childcare, pharmacy, doctor, dentist, optic, travel agency, supermarket, Starbucks, hairdresser, and the list goes on) but no nursing room to Pumpbe found. So that left me with the option of the toilet (which was very cold because of no heating system, and let´s not get into the background noise) or booking a meeting room. The inconvenient part of meeting rooms is that most have windows so there were only a few I could work with. I would try to book these meeting rooms that had no windows or at least windows at strategic locations so I could set-up my “extraction station” with a barrier on the table from my bag, laptop and my notebook standing up open so that if somebody would come in, not too much would be visible. After a few months with the combination of toilet and meeting rooms, I finally found out that the reception had a closed printing room behind them and although it had no chairs I did use that option for the last weeks of breastfeeding. On the commute back home at night I would repeat the scarf trick.

All of this involved quite some logistics, not only the choice of scarf but also to bring your small cooler bag, make sure you put it in the fridge as soon as you arrive, don´t forget it in the fridge when you leave, getting the milk from the toilet / meeting room to the cooler bag in the fridge without everybody noticing what you´re doing and most importantly, keeping that cooler bag stable in your backpack on the commute back home. I did come home one night noticing a lot of little white spots on my black boots, yep, one of the bottles with extracted milk had opened and spread through my backpack…. The worst part was that my immediate thought was not “uh oh my laptop” but “noooo, after all the effort 250ml down the drain…”.

Meme

Another challenge is when to pump. When I had relatively ok days with some meetings here and there I would just block my calendar every 3 hours for 30min but when you have full-day workshops or team meetings it gets a bit more complicated because obviously the breaks there are never on convenient times for your pumping schedule. So I would sneak out a few times a day with my grey Medela bag. (Also in Spain you never know when a break will actually happen, because hey who needs an agenda or if there is one why stick to it, so of course I would often go out in the middle of a discussion and 2 minutes after I came back they would break..)

After 4 months of this, when I had some business trips coming up and when Lucas had started eating solid food and therefore only has 2 milk feedings left I decided it was enough, but it definitely has been an interesting experience! The downside of stopping with breastfeeding is that it gets a bit depressing to look at your “new” breasts in the mirror (You would almost understand why in Spain they tend to keep breastfeeding for years!). Also I am already a bit nervous for Lucas´ next monthly check-up and the speech that I am going to get from the breastfeeding-taliban-nurse, but that´s a whole other story!

Photo credit Medela: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/dharder9475/23919221670/”>dharder9475</a&gt; via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com”>VisualHunt</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>CC BY-NC</a>

 Photo credit extracting in office: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/cafemama/118317846/”>cafemama</a&gt; via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com”>VisualHunt</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-SA</a>

About Tineke

Tineke I am Tineke, a Dutchie living in Spain, happily not-married to César and mommy of Lucas. Before becoming a mom I always thought I was busy, however since we have Lucas the term “busy” got a whole new definition! Trying to juggle two demanding jobs, a busy social life while squeezing in some sports, keeping the house somewhat liveable, pursuing both of our entrepreneurial ambitions ánd having sufficient family time makes me wonder how I ever thought we were busy. And all of that in a country which is not my home country and therefore causes quite some cultural clashes in this whole motherhood thingy.

 Want to read more about my adventures as a working mommy abroad?

Workingmommyabroad.wordpress.com

Instagram: @workingmommyabroad

Twitter: @tinekefr

 

Things I Will Never Do for My Kids

Empowering Woman: Fran

Before I became a parent, I had certain ideas of what kind of a mother I wanted to be. Those ideas were fairly vague initially, but nonetheless I had a list as long as my arm of things that I knew I would NEVER do. I wasn’t going to be THAT mum. I wasn’t going to be a slave to my kids. Nope. Not me. There was going to be rules and those rules would be followed. So here are some of those things that were on my list of things I wouldn’t do.

  • Give in to their begging for sweets. Not going to happen. I will not be blackmailed by a 3 foot Tyrant! Cry all you want. You think you’re persistent? Guess whom you got that from! That’s right!
  • Follow you around the house bowl and spoon in hand trying to feed you. If you are hungry, you’ll eat sitting down at the table like a normal person! Else, you go hungry.
  • Get drawn into your fashion allures and the whole circus around it. You are 3 years old. You will bloody well wear what I picked out for you!
  • Co-Sleeping. What do you think I bought that cot for? That’s where you will sleep. That’s what the book says.
  • Cook more than one dinner. Are you high? You will eat what everyone else is eating. You get what you get and you don’t get upset. Isn’t that what they teach in school?
  • Molly-coddle you past the age of, let’s say, 5? That’s the cut off. After that I have expectations of self-sufficiency. Maybe you could get yourself a part-time job or something.

…..and then I had kids.

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And that’s when everything changed. My world was turned upside down. Theory met reality. The more kids came along, the more the rules went out the window. The more I started free styling. Partly by choice. Partly by necessity. Did I say I wasn’t going to give into your begging? Go on. Just say “Pleeeeeeeeeeease” again with the cute face and that big smile of yours. I know you are trying so hard to win me over. You know how to play me and you know you have me wrapped around your little finger. I guess in the perseverance competition you win hands down.

And yes, I have run after my baby, bowl and spoon in hand, when he just refused to sit in his high chair. We all know that food equals sleep. The more he eats the longer he will sleep. At least in theory. So Mother will do what she needs to do to get that food into him.

Baby – 1

Mama – 0.

Fashion allures? Well, unless it has Minions, Batman or Turtles on it, the boy child won’t wear it. He has his own ideas of what he likes and how he wants to look. I have tried to be persistent and enforce that what I say goes, but another very important lesson in the parenting game is “Pick your battles”. I am not going to get upset (again) or upset the child over a silly T-shirt. Today he has chosen to wear all 3 of them. Batman, Minions and Turtles. Who am I to argue with that.

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Co-Sleeping. When I started co-sleeping with my eldest child, I explained to him, that he needed to sleep by himself like a big boy. His reply to me was “But, Mama, you don’t sleep alone!” Good point, and so well made. That got me thinking. No-one likes sleeping alone. We have co-slept with all of our children. By choice. Then choice became habit. While there are days where I wish we had our bed to ourselves and that one of us wouldn’t always end up in the spare room or on the floor, I know this is for a short time…..relatively short time. I mean it’s been 5 years give or take. But this isn’t going to last forever and I know that the kids sleep peacefully and happy and will (hopefully) grow up to feel secure and loved and close to both parents.

I’ve been cooking more than one dinner for the best part of my parenting tenure. I have had two very fussy eaters and I have tried the approach of “You’ll eat what everyone is eating” and failed. I chose the easy way out because (see above), you have to pick your battles. Now one of the fussy eaters is nearly 5. I can reason with her. I can tell her about food and the importance of eating her vegetables and coax her by telling her about the poor children in Africa. She gets that now and we are on the way to one meal for the whole family. (Can I get a whoop whoop please!)

I mollycoddle all of my kids. Mum-turned-Slave will do everything a lot for them. I will stand outside the shower, holding the towel for my 9-year-old. I will make sure his hair is brushed and that he changes his socks. I will clean up after all my kids and do their jobs for them. I know. Sometimes it’s just easier. Sometimes I get a fit of “This is it!” and “Things are going to change around here!”… Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll start putting my foot down.

Note to self:

1625748_10152050181536704_320173756_nMaybe the things all critics and I think of as parenting mistakes aren’t really ‘mistakes’. Maybe they are a chance to learn to trust ourselves, to trust our instincts and to do what we feel is right at any particular point in time and enjoy riding the waves of parenting. Without the need to constantly second guess ourselves. Everything we do, we do by choice. It is OK to back down from the society-imposed or self-imposed parenting expectations because we know what is best for us, for our family and our children. No-one else knows what we know. No-one else knows our children like we do. No-one else is walking in our shoes. All that matters is that we care about our children and that is why we walk the extra mile bent over backwards to make sure we give them all they need…..and much, much more.

What are the things you said you would never do and have done when you became a parent?

 About Queen of My Castle: 

I am a thirty-something parent and lifestyle blogger passionate about parenting (fueled by wine & coffee), art, DIY and interior design. I’ve four children aged 1, 3, 5 and 9. Recently having gone through a career transition from Customer Service Manager in a multinational company to family manager, I am looking for a new sense of presence, possibility, and creativity. I am the “Queen of my Castle” riding the waves of parenting and I write about stuff that stirs our motherly souls while trying to survive life that’s never boring (or relaxing for that matter), with 4 kids running circles around me. Embrace yourself for tales of toddlers, tantrums & triumphs as well as the joys and frustrations of parenting.

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