Latest Posts

Mompreneur in the Spotlight: Oakville Family Birth

Last week Grown Up Glamour kicked off an exciting new series focused on celebrating mompreneurs. The series, targeted at moms wanting to leave the corporate world and begin their own business, is intended to empower mothers as they navigate the world of mother-hustling. Entrepreneurship comes with highs and lows, and when you give up everything to start your own business while also raising your family, those highs and lows are even more intense.   We want moms to understand that mother-hustling isn’t a “get rich quick” opportunity but it is an opportunity to create balance in their life – and turn their passion into something to be proud of.

This week we sat down with Jaklyn Andrews from Oakville Family Birth. Not only is Jaklyn a dear friend of mine and an incredible human, but she’s also a kind, compassionate and supportive doula who has helped many women (and parents) in their parenting journey.

Read more below for the inspiration behind Jaklyn’s career change – and how she keeps it all together while building her empire.

Tell us who you are.

I’m Jaklyn! I’m a doula and childbirth educator and I own Oakville Family Birth. I’m also a lucky wife and mama (two kids and a dog, the suburban dream!).

What inspired you to start your business?

Becoming a mother, of course 😉

I always knew I would hire a doula for birth support but I never imagined the kind of journey it would take me on. My first birth experience was really challenging, the opposite of what we were hoping for, and the support our doula provided truly changed my life. I knew in that instant that I was meant to do this. At the time I had a great career in public health research and I knew absolutely nothing about business…it was very confusing, to be honest. I couldn’t turn it off though, the passion I’d discovered. It took over a year of exploring options and finally heading back to work after maternity leave (that was rough!) to eventually make the jump.

Tell us about your business.

There are a lot of misconceptions around doula work, so I’ll start with the very basics: a doula is kind of like a best friend who knows a lot about pregnancy, birth, recovery and baby care. We support families throughout the perinatal period as they prepare for and welcome their babies. Doulas listen, guide, teach, coach, and help expectant parents and young families. It’s physical, emotional, mental, and also practical support. A doula’s job is to make life easier for their clients through all the highs and lows of pregnancy, birth, and parenting.

I created Oakville Family Birth to support all kinds of families, all kinds of births, and all kinds of parenting choices. That’s my bottom line…I’m passionate about providing truly non-judgmental support. As my business grows, I plan to bring on other doulas and other birth and parenting professionals who share that passion.

What are the skills a mompreneur must have in order to be successful?

The first thing that comes to mind is organizational skills. Having systems in place to keep you, your business and your family on track can be the difference between success and failure.

Next is discipline. You will have to make sacrifices for the greater goal. You’ll have say no to some fun stuff and slug through some not fun stuff to get to the other side.

Finally, confidence. Yes, confidence is a skill! At the risk of sounding dramatic, google it… it changed my life.

How do you manage your time effectively (both with your kids and with your work)?

I’ll let you know as soon as I figure that out! I’m half-kidding.

I use a combination of part-time daycare, back up child care, friends and family and a little bit of Netflix (#sorrynotsorry) to get everything done. I also work for a few hours every night after bedtime. My husband is the main reason our household is still running but lately we’ve been considering outsourcing some of that.

I’ve become pretty good at time blocking. I have specific times for working when I hustle hard and tune out everything else. The same goes for family time: I try to be “all-in” when I’m with my little crew so that everyone’s love tank stays full.

Being on-call for births requires a few extra layers of organization. Any given day, our bags are packed and we’re ready to get where we need to go so that I can be with my clients when they need me. My kids are amazing and go with the flow, for the most part.

What’s the most difficult thing about growing your empire? What’s the best?

The highs and lows can be difficult. If you’re going to do this, you’re going to work harder than you’ve ever worked before. On your toughest days, you might regret the whole thing and wish you could go back to your old life (your pre-entrepreneur life and possibly even your pre-baby life!). What I’ve found helpful is to celebrate every little win – every website visitor, every inquiry, every client. Stay humble but hungry, as they say.

The best for me is calling all the shots. I can take on more or less at any given time, depending on what’s happening in the other parts of my life. I spend more time with my kids than I would have if I stayed on the path I was going down. Also I LOVE my job, so there’s that.

What role has social media played in growing your brand? What other marketing tactics do you use?

Social media has played a huge part in growing my brand from the beginning. Although my target market is local (Halton/Hamilton/Peel), I use social to share broader messages of encouragement, realness and self-love for young parents and parents-to-be.

I also make it a priority to be out in the community, forming genuine relationships and helping out other small businesses.

What tips would you give to moms wanting to leave their corporate job to launch their empire?

Believe in yourself! From the bottom of my heart, I know you can do it. You have something unique to offer that no one else can duplicate so trust that there is room for you in the market, get out there and show people who you are. Anyone can do this if they’re willing to work hard enough.

***************************************************************************************

Follow along with Jaklyn and Oakville Family Birth 

Website: www.oakvillefamilybirth.com

Social Media Pages:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/oakvillefamilybirth

Facebook: www.facebook.com/oakvillefamilybirth

Contact Information: hello@oakvillefamilybirth.com / (289) 813-4363

Are you a mompreneur with an inspiring story? Contact us to be featured. 

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Mompreneur in the Spotlight: Oakville Family Birth

 

Last week Grown Up Glamour kicked off an exciting new series focused on celebrating mompreneurs. The series, targeted at moms wanting to leave the corporate world and begin their own business, is intended to empower mothers as they navigate the world of mother-hustling. Entrepreneurship comes with highs and lows, and when you give up everything to start your own business while also raising your family, those highs and lows are even more intense.   We want moms to understand that mother-hustling isn’t a “get rich quick” opportunity but it is an opportunity to create balance in their life – and turn their passion into something to be proud of.

This week we sat down with Jaklyn Andrews from Oakville Family Birth. Not only is Jaklyn a dear friend of mine and an incredible human, but she’s also a kind, compassionate and supportive doula who has helped many women (and parents) in their parenting journey.

Read more below for the inspiration behind Jaklyn’s career change – and how she keeps it all together while building her empire.

Tell us who you are.

I’m Jaklyn! I’m a doula and childbirth educator and I own Oakville Family Birth. I’m also a lucky wife and mama (two kids and a dog, the suburban dream!).

What inspired you to start your business?

Becoming a mother, of course 😉

I always knew I would hire a doula for birth support but I never imagined the kind of journey it would take me on. My first birth experience was really challenging, the opposite of what we were hoping for, and the support our doula provided truly changed my life. I knew in that instant that I was meant to do this. At the time I had a great career in public health research and I knew absolutely nothing about business…it was very confusing, to be honest. I couldn’t turn it off though, the passion I’d discovered. It took over a year of exploring options and finally heading back to work after maternity leave (that was rough!) to eventually make the jump.

Tell us about your business.

There are a lot of misconceptions around doula work, so I’ll start with the very basics: a doula is kind of like a best friend who knows a lot about pregnancy, birth, recovery and baby care. We support families throughout the perinatal period as they prepare for and welcome their babies. Doulas listen, guide, teach, coach, and help expectant parents and young families. It’s physical, emotional, mental, and also practical support. A doula’s job is to make life easier for their clients through all the highs and lows of pregnancy, birth, and parenting.

I created Oakville Family Birth to support all kinds of families, all kinds of births, and all kinds of parenting choices. That’s my bottom line…I’m passionate about providing truly non-judgmental support. As my business grows, I plan to bring on other doulas and other birth and parenting professionals who share that passion.

What are the skills a mompreneur must have in order to be successful?

The first thing that comes to mind is organizational skills. Having systems in place to keep you, your business and your family on track can be the difference between success and failure.

Next is discipline. You will have to make sacrifices for the greater goal. You’ll have say no to some fun stuff and slug through some not fun stuff to get to the other side.

Finally, confidence. Yes, confidence is a skill! At the risk of sounding dramatic, google it… it changed my life.

How do you manage your time effectively (both with your kids and with your work)?

I’ll let you know as soon as I figure that out! I’m half-kidding.

I use a combination of part-time daycare, back up child care, friends and family and a little bit of Netflix (#sorrynotsorry) to get everything done. I also work for a few hours every night after bedtime. My husband is the main reason our household is still running but lately we’ve been considering outsourcing some of that.

I’ve become pretty good at time blocking. I have specific times for working when I hustle hard and tune out everything else. The same goes for family time: I try to be “all-in” when I’m with my little crew so that everyone’s love tank stays full.

Being on-call for births requires a few extra layers of organization. Any given day, our bags are packed and we’re ready to get where we need to go so that I can be with my clients when they need me. My kids are amazing and go with the flow, for the most part.

What’s the most difficult thing about growing your empire? What’s the best?

The highs and lows can be difficult. If you’re going to do this, you’re going to work harder than you’ve ever worked before. On your toughest days, you might regret the whole thing and wish you could go back to your old life (your pre-entrepreneur life and possibly even your pre-baby life!). What I’ve found helpful is to celebrate every little win – every website visitor, every inquiry, every client. Stay humble but hungry, as they say.

The best for me is calling all the shots. I can take on more or less at any given time, depending on what’s happening in the other parts of my life. I spend more time with my kids than I would have if I stayed on the path I was going down. Also I LOVE my job, so there’s that.

What role has social media played in growing your brand? What other marketing tactics do you use?

Social media has played a huge part in growing my brand from the beginning. Although my target market is local (Halton/Hamilton/Peel), I use social to share broader messages of encouragement, realness and self-love for young parents and parents-to-be.

I also make it a priority to be out in the community, forming genuine relationships and helping out other small businesses.

What tips would you give to moms wanting to leave their corporate job to launch their empire?

Believe in yourself! From the bottom of my heart, I know you can do it. You have something unique to offer that no one else can duplicate so trust that there is room for you in the market, get out there and show people who you are. Anyone can do this if they’re willing to work hard enough.

***************************************************************************************

Follow along with Jaklyn and Oakville Family Birth 

Website: www.oakvillefamilybirth.com

Social Media Pages:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/oakvillefamilybirth

Facebook: www.facebook.com/oakvillefamilybirth

Contact Information: hello@oakvillefamilybirth.com / (289) 813-4363

Are you a mompreneur with an inspiring story? Contact us to be featured. 

Why I’m Okay with Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom

I decided I wanted to be a mom when I was five. It was around that time I also decided I wanted to change the world…and become famous. Looking back, it appears I wanted to become some sort of hybrid between June Cleaver and Oprah Winfrey. Daytime television can be pretty influential. With that in mind, I should probably limit my son’s exposure to Paw Patrol. Though if he decides he wants to grow up to be a crime-fighting dog, I promise to always support him.

The dream of being June and Oprah were always an attainable goal. I grew up in a time where women were encouraged to never settle for less, where our futures were bright and (almost) equal. So, for six years I tackled life as Oprah. I completed two post-secondary degrees, engulfed myself in my career and made it a priority to give back to my community. It was during this time I met my husband, a wonderful man who shares my same ambition and values in life, especially when it comes to family. We welcomed our first child a little over a year ago, and that’s when I finally got to experience myself as June.

For awhile, Oprah and June struggled to find balance. Mothering instantly found a tender place in me, yet part of me yearned to be valued outside the four walls of my home. Then the time came for me to leave my sweet boy and return back to the workforce. And while I had every intention of being Oprah and June in unison, my new perspective on life made the transition even harder than I imagined.

For six long weeks I tried to fake it till I made it. Everyone said my son would adjust to daycare – and he did. They said I would find my groove and learn simple ways to make it work – and like Stella, I got my groove back. They also said it would get easier, but it never got easier for me. Actually, those six weeks were some of the hardest weeks of my life.

Those six weeks helped my husband and I define the upbringing we really want for our children. We had endless conversations about what’s truly important to us and what lifestyle we really want to live. Those conversations led to the very significant decision that I would leave my job and become a stay-at-home-mom. A decision that came after much thought and planning on how we would make it work relying on only one income and my freelance work. A decision that came with weeks of analysis and budgeting, and years ahead of sacrifice. With that being said, at the end of the day this decision wasn’t based on numbers (though it was a huge deciding factor), it came down to lifestyle and my feeling of accomplishment.

When making this decision I really struggled with finding the answer to three questions:

Does being home with my family mean I’m not accomplishing my dreams?

Does it make me a lesser person because I couldn’t handle life as a working-mom?

Should I feel worthless because I seek a future with my family and it goes against everything I’ve worked so hard for?

In taking time to soak in this big decision, I’ve realized the answer is no. I’m not saying I won’t go on to be Oprah one day (#RememberMyName), or that I won’t continue to work hard to pursue my dreams as a writer. What I’m saying is that I’m going to be proud of  being true to myself, proud to seek a path that makes my family and I truly happy.

At some point all mothers face this cross-road in parenting. We come up for air and realize there will always be something in our life that has to be sacrificed. We must redefine who we are—all with less sleep, clarity and the greatest responsibility that we have ever had to assume. At the  very same time we’re constantly questioning if we could be doing it better. We hold guilt over snapping too easily, not engaging the way we think we should, having unwashed dishes in the sink and unfolded laundry in the dryer.

It was living moments like this every single day for six weeks that made my husband and I consider what we really needed versus wanted in our life. If vacations can wait, if cars can be driven into the ground and if I take a crash course in extreme couponing we can each place ourselves in the role we truly want – and for me, that role is mom.

 

 

 

Mompreneurs in the Spotlight: Love Powered Co.

Grown Up Glamour is beginning a new series on our blog where we interview an inspiring mompreneur who turned her passion into an empire. The series, targeted at moms wanting to leave the corporate world and begin their own business, is intended to empower mothers as they navigate the world of mother-hustling. Entrepreneurship comes with highs and lows, and when you give up everything to start your own business while also raising your family, those highs and lows are even more intense.   We want moms to understand that mother-hustling isn’t a “get rich quick” opportunity but it is an opportunity to create balance in their life – and turn their passion into something to be proud of.

This week we sat down to chat with Anna Lozano and Lindy Sood. These inspiring mothers and business-women recently launched Loved Powered Co., a parent-led, self-worth movement powering the next generation of mindful leaders. Together, they have created 22 beautiful affirmation cards (which are more than affirmation cards) destined to affirm greatness in your littles and you.

Read more below for the inspiration behind this amazing product – and how they keep it all together while building their empire.

  1. Anna and Lindy we’re so glad to have you join us in this new series. Tell our readers who you are.

Our names are Anna Lozano and Lindy Sood and we would like to welcome you to the Love Powered movement.

We are moms, entrepreneurs, friends, and soul sisters who realized that together, we have a powerful message to share with the world. Months ago, we started talking about what is lacking in the marketplace when it comes to personal growth products for families. We searched high and low for the perfect tool we could use in our homes, but what we were looking for just didn’t exist. So, we created it, and we are now making it available to you and your family.

Our mission is to create a self-worth movement, powering the next generation of mindful leaders. A better tomorrow starts with our children, and that means we need to do the work now, healing ourselves in the process.

This is so much bigger than a product, it’s a global movement creating a better tomorrow. Welcome home, to our Love Powered family.

What inspired you to start your business?

Together, we have an electric energy between us. We have complimentary strengths. We knew we wanted to build a business together, but we didn’t know just what. We wanted to create something special, something that would impact millions of families in a positive way. Separately but simultaneously we were both very involved in a self-discovery and self-improvement journey.  When we had children, stating positive I AM affirmations (a ritual that literally helped to transform both of our lives), became even more important in our home.  We saw a need (guided personal development tools parents can do with their children), and we decided to fill it. From a spark of inspiration, to birthing Love Powered Co. nine months later, we are mom’s on a mission to make tomorrow a better place.

Tell us about your business.

Love Powered Co. is a soul fuel company, powering the next generation of mindful leaders!

Love Powered Littles is our first product – Not your typical affirmation cards….we go deeper.  22 POWERS to affirm the greatness within your littles (and YOU!)

Our mission is to power our littles with positive self-talk, confidence, self-love & self-worth. Our recipe is simple: Affirmation. Connection. Repeat.

What are the skills a mompreneur must have in order to be successful?

Self-motivation – no one else is going to do it for you.

Passion – motivation can only go so far. You need a deep, intrinsic drive to keep you going on the hard days.

Self-awareness – you need to know who you are, know your strengths (and exploit them!), know your weaknesses (to surround yourself with others who can fill the gap), and realize how to bring your unique talents into your business.

Time management – with kids, businesses, investments, activities, etc, you need to know how to prioritize your time in the most effective and efficient way.

How do you manage your time effectively (both with your kids and with your work)?

We have set up some non-negotiable barriers to ensure presence & connection with our kids is 100% paramount when we are with them. Between the hours of 3:30-8:30, we shut it off. We don’t answer. We put down the phone. After 8:30pm, we pick it back up again and finish off our day.  We created an ‘Unplugged Sundays’ movement within our community and we hold each other accountable to this.

We also surround ourselves with a support posse. On the times when we can’t unplug, we ensure our kids are taken care of (grandparents, friends, nanny).

What’s the most difficult thing about growing your empire? What’s the best?

Difficulty always leads to growth, so we welcome the challenges that come our way. There have been hiccups – when we have thought something was going to go one way and it pivoted…but we are learning every single moment, and that is a huge gift.

The best? Creating something from scratch. Having a nudge/spark of creativity and growing it. Seeing something go from an image in your mind to a physical product in our hands. It’s invigorating!

What role has social media played in growing your brand? What other marketing tactics do you use?

Social media has been a major piece of our pre-launch and launch campaign. We posted a pre-launch video that had 17,000 views & 90 shares within 2 weeks. We are mainly focused on growing our FB community, page & instagram following at the moment. All of our growth has been organic and from our on mompreneur hustling skills!

What tips would you give to moms wanting to leave their corporate job to launch their empire?

Do it. There will never be a perfect time. The world needs more women entrepreneurs. The world needs more you. What is life, if you don’t bite the bullet, pull the trigger and just go for it?!

******************************************************************************************

Follow along with Anna, Lindy and Love Powered Co. and be sure to check out them out on Kickstarter!

lovepoweredco.com (coming soon).

Kickstarter  http://bit.ly/2eR8w2e

Instagram: @lovepoweredco

Facebook: @lovepoweredco

Twitter @lovepoweredco

Are you a mompreneur with an inspiring story? Contact us to be featured. 

 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Series: Anxiety & Worry

A few weeks ago I shared a post on mental health (postpartum depression) and the lack of resources available to mothers. I want to begin by thanking all of the women who reached out to me (both publicly and privately) to share their mental health story. I’m touched by your honesty and inspired by your strength. I’m also saddened to hear how many of you have fallen through the cracks of our health care system. As we wait for our government to take the steps to make mental health a priority in our country, many of us continue to suffer in silence, restricted by access to resources and finances. As mothers, we can do our best to support our tribe.

Motherhood is a unique community. It’s a community where women can feel safe to share their feelings, while others can lend an ear or a shoulder to show compassion and understanding. It’s a community that has left cookies on my porch time and time again over the last year. While I’m not a therapist and unable to provide specialized help to you, I want to extend my community and help in any way I can.

Through my husband’s insurance I’ve been lucky to have access to therapy which has introduced me to some cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) tools. These tools that can help those with anxiety develop the skills and strategies to live a fuller and happier life. While these tools are most effective when used in conjunction to therapy, I’d like to provide you with worksheets to help you find some happiness.

For those who aren’t familiar with CBT, it’s a process which aims to challenge the negative thought patterns one may have about themselves or the world around them. This is done by learning to identify and question one’s own thoughts, while challenging negative emotions and behaviours. CBT often uses ‘activities’ to help in the development of tools that can be used in life – a typical course of CBT can take months to allow patients to:

  • Identify distortions in their thinking
  • See thoughts as ideas about what is going on, rather than as facts
  • Stand back from their thinking to consider situations from different viewpoints

With the CBT introduction above, you can begin exploring worksheets and activities to take control of any negative outlook that may hold you back from being happy. To help my community in this journey, I’ve decided to write weekly entries geared towards self-directed CBT. Below you’ll find the first entry in this series that seeks to help you understand and manage your anxieties and worries. These weekly entries will alternate between the introduction of new topics and the review of my ability to use the tools. CBT isn’t magic, it’s a journey – that’s why I think it’s important to talk about how these tools are used in real life every other week.

Week 1: Anxiety & Worry

 

 

We can thank evolution for anxiety and worry. Thousands of years ago, when humans lived in an ‘Immediate Return Environment‘ (when actions deliver immediate results), stress and anxiety were useful emotions because they helped us take action in the face of immediate problems.

For example: A lion appears across the plain > you feel stressed > you run away > your stress is relieved.

This is how your brain evolved to use worry, anxiety, and stress. Anxiety was an emotion that helped protect humans in an Immediate Return Environment. It was built for solving short-term, acute problems.

Today, we as a society have much more chronic stress brought on by problems that can’t be solved right nowWill I get that promotion? Will I repair my broken relationship? Do I have enough money to pay the bills each month? Our threats seem to never subside and our anxiety continues to rise.

Some exercises exist to help manage these anxious feelings. Below is an example of an activity that can help transform your anxieties from crippling to productive.

How to participate:

Set aside 15 minutes a day dedicated to worrying – this sounds easy right? I know lots of people (myself included) that spend wayyy more than 15 minutes a day worrying. The key to this exercise is to focus only 15 minutes a day to worrying – no more. Each time a worry or anxiety comes into your mind outside of that time period, write it down in the table below, acknowledge it exists, and tell your mind you will worry about it later.

Worry, I know you’re there, but right now I’m focused on playing with my son. We’ll deal with this later. 

I know this sort of mantra might sound silly but as with the mastery of all things, repetition really does work wonders; mantras also help to focus your energy away from potential anxieties.

During your worry time, fill out the rest of the below table and evaluate the situation that brought on your worry and the thoughts associated with it. Come up with some ways to make your worry productive to realize some value from the situation – you were worried for a reason right?

Situation

(describe the time and event that brought on the worry)

Worry

(what were you worried about)

Physiology

(specify how your physical body felt: tense, high BP, lower back pain, etc.)

Thoughts

(write down the thoughts which were present)

Productive Goal

(what can you do moving forward to manage this worry)

Woke up to a messy kitchen, don’t feel like I have enough time to manage my household. Worried about not having enough time. Tense. Feeling stretched too thin. Feeling unorganized and chaotic. Dedicate time each night after the kids are asleep to do a quick clean. Organize and purge on weekends.

That’s it for this week. Next week we’ll find out how I did managing this new tool and then we’ll follow-up with a new activity that aims directly at our own notions of self-worth.

Good luck and remember your community is there to help, you don’t have to do this alone!

 

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.

Back to Work: I survived. It was one hell of a week, but I survived. 

This past Sunday my sweet baby turned one. A whole year old.

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A year where the first 6 months felt never-ending as I navigated the unknowns of motherhood. And where the last 6 months felt like my entire life was flashed before my eyes, as I watched my boy learn, grow and develop into what would be a happy, hilarious and tiny toddler.

As I reflect on my year with Jack my heart hurts. There were so many moments I neglected to enjoy as I struggled with postpartum hormones and sleep deprivation. My heart also hurts because it’s beaming so much with love and pride, a hurt that can only be felt when you truly love someone more than yourself.

While sitting on my couch this Tuesday morning at 3 a.m. the memories from this year, both good and bad, flew through my mind like you expect your life to flash before death. Indeed, I felt like a piece of me was dying – more specifically, a piece of my heart. In only a few short hours I would be bringing my son, my one very true love besides my husband, to a facility –  leaving him in the arms of a stranger while I spend my day in a cubicle making money for The Man. My heart ached and I cried.

As if this wasn’t torturous enough – abandoning my baby – my mind also questioned how we would survive?

If you’ve talked to me about my son recently, you would probably know he doesn’t sleep. If you’re inside my close social circle, you’d know I haven’t slept longer than 2 hour stretches in the last 8 months. This is no exaggeration, and yes, we’ve tried pretty much everything. Returning to work meant not only giving up my necessary afternoon nap, but it also meant a stranger holding, consoling and rocking my baby as he struggled to sleep.

If you’ve talked to me recently, you’d know my husband and I are expecting our second child. Another little being, who we are elated to meet. If you’re inside my close social circle, you’d know I found out I was pregnant when my son was only 8 months old and I was battling some serious postpartum hormones. Returning to work meant putting myself another peg lower on the totem pole, and not fully healing before the arrival of our sweet baby bean.

If you talked to me this week, you’d know my first day back to work was an absolute shit-show. I began my day on 3.5 hours of sleep and ended it with a scene out of a horror movie – though now that I’ve healed, it seems more like a comedy show. I picked up Jack and we scurried home for dinner and snuggles. Not knowing exactly what he had eaten at daycare or how much he had eaten at daycare, I filled him with his favourite ravioli. Note to parents making this transition; ALWAYS ask your care provider when your child last ate and how much. When I picked Jack up out of his high chair, he instantly projectile vomited on my shoulder which went in my hair, down my shirt and made its way down my pants. In return, my disgusted and pregnant self couldn’t contain my dinner and joined him in emptying my tummy. Cue the dog –  who decided it was time for his dinner. Dave walked in to not one but two babies, crying on the bathroom floor, naked and covered in vomit…and a very happy dog.

It was then and there on that bathroom floor, after just one day of trying, I decided I wasn’t cut out for this whole working mom thing. I decided I wasn’t strong enough and I decided the only logical answer was to quit. If I quit I could continue to make home-cooked meals for my family,  take my naps,  fuel my son’s mind, grow my young bean, be a kick-ass wife for my husband and heal my very neglected soul.

As all these thoughts went through my mind, I remembered a feeling from that day I hadn’t felt in a year – the feeling of being a useful, intelligent, strong individual and woman. The feeling of being proud of myself for providing for my family, communicating as an adult, and inspired by things I’m passionate about (outside my family).

In reality, as hard as it is to crawl out of bed after a restless night of (no) sleep, drive my son to daycare and wave goodbye to him (and his tears) in the arms of kind and loving women, not all of this experience is bad . Parts of it are challenging while parts of it are refreshing – and I’m learning I’m capable of so much more than I’ve ever given myself credit for.

Although I’m only at the beginning of my short jaunt as a working mom (kudos to the mommies weeks, months and years into this journey), I’m quickly learning that with anything, balance is important and putting yourself first is priority. Moms are seriously wonder-women – but do you hear me here? Putting yourself first is priority. There will be days I’m going to call in sick because I need a day to calm my mind or play with my son, there will be days I’ll order takeout because I simply don’t feel like making dinner, there will be days Jack and Dave won’t have my full attention because my heart needs it more and there will be days, like this Tuesday, where I just want to quit.

Being a mom and a (pregnant) working mom is no easy feat. It takes time to adjust to new roles and routines but be kind to yourself, as I’m learning to do now. Life at home with Jack was hardly ever glamorous. We had our fun and I would jump back into that stay-at-home mom role in a heartbeat, but 5/5 days of the week Dave would always receive a subtle “when are you coming home” text when I was at the end of my rope. Neither being home with your kids all day or working full-time is glamorous.

Here’s a big (virgin daquori) cheers to you mommies, you bomb-ass-do-it-all-babes.  I’ll be taking notes from you as I dredge through this messy new chapter in my life and learn a whole new way to balance (I seriously was just getting the hang of having a kid).

 

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.

Being a Mother in the Twenty-First Century

20170419_174727We live in a world where we are never alone. We’re constantly surrounded by vibrant images, conversations and social distractions. In seconds we can be connected with friends, family and even strangers through a compact digital screen. Yet even with a social realm right at their fingertips, mothers often feel isolated and alone.  They often struggle through long nights, keep their head up through long days, and hit their pillow emotionally and physically exhausted.

For decades, mothers have been simply trying to keep up.

We’re trying to keep up with laundry, friendships, children, careers, our spouse, and even at times, ourselves. We’re trying to give 110% to each and every role in our life but often slide into bed each night fulfilling the bare minimum of our responsibilities.

We put our laundry in the washing machine but forget to transfer it into the dryer.

A dear friend sends a text for dinner on Friday night. We read it, put down our phone, forget about it and respond on Saturday when it’s already too late.

We plan a date night with our loving spouse. We put on enough make-up to hide the bags under our eyes. We feel confident, we feel giddy and we feel young. Then our child clings onto our leg, our baby cries as we wave goodbye and our mind is in two places at once the entire night.

We want a career. We’re ambitious and want to fulfil our dreams and achieve our goals. We want to provide for our family without missing first steps and first words. We’re torn between personal development and the development of our children.

These challenges are not just challenges for mothers of our generation, but also generations before us.  However, as a mother in the twenty-first century I can confirm that the pressure to satisfy each these roles 110% and not just meet the bare minimum is sometimes more than a we can handle.

As a new mom, I’ve sought out relationships to help me cope with the ups and downs of this beautiful journey. I’ve met mother after mother who has shared the same challenges, the same concerns and the same guilt. We’re a generation of mothers who are constantly tearing ourselves down and comparing ourselves to others in a made up, digital world.

We’re mothers in an unfriendly housing market, challenging job market, a high cost of living market. We’re mothers who grew up with the idea that we could achieve and be anything, yet the world isn’t that friendly and not that simple.

But mother’s of the twenty-first century: we’re also mothers who need to give ourselves a break. Mothers who need to take advantage of the magnitude of resources available to us. We’re mothers who need to accept that the quantity of love and not quality of things will be what our children remember most about us. We’re mothers who need to identify and stay true to our capacity. Who shouldn’t compare ourselves to @insertinstagramhandle and who should know that in a time in our life where we feel alone, there’s a world of support around us.

Finding this support and surrounding yourself with mothers who get it will make everything that feels abnormal, normal. It will lead to a 3 a.m Snapchat celebrating a sleeping baby in their crib and a 5 p.m text requesting permission to have a glass (or two) of wine.

As you live each day trying to achieve 110%, know that there’s a 110% chance you’re not alone.

7 Reasons You Should Have Apple Cider Vinegar in Your Life

Plain and simple, I love vinegar. There are literally hundreds of uses for it. From cleaning your floors and counters to drizzling it on your salad, vinegar is natures secret weapon.

Apple cider vinegar in particular has been cited as the cure-all for decades. It has a wind range of benefits and some people have turned to it to help with health concerns including diabetes, high cholesterol and weight issues. Each and every day as part of my morning routine I take one tablespoon of Bragg raw apple cider vinegar. I’m actually pretty fond of the taste but if a shot of straight vinegar makes you as squeamish as a shot of straight vodka then I recommend mixing the vinegar with water. On the other hand, vodka pairs nicely with orange juice – but I digress.

Here are 7  of the many reasons you need raw apple cider vinegar in your life today!

  1. Lowers Blood Sugar
    By far, the most successful use of apple cider vinegar is to lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.  Please speak with your doctor before using apple cider vinegar if you’re already on medication to lower your blood sugar.
  2. Help with Tummy Troubles
    Have an upset stomach? Apple cider vinegar can help alleviate some of the symptoms due to it’s acidity. Studies have proven it’s effectiveness for treating heartburn, acid reflux and improve digestion when mixed with water.
  3. It Could Help Lower Cholesterol 
    More research is needed to confirm whether apple cider vinegar is effective in lowering cholesterol – however, a study in Japan found that a half once a day lowered cholesterol in participants.
  4. Clears a Stuffy Nose & Ease a Sore Throat
    Apple cider vinegar contains potassium which helps thin mucus. The acidic properties are also helpful in preventing germ growth. Next time you find yourself fighting a cold, mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with water to clear your sinuses.
  5. Aids in Wight Loss
    Trying to trim your waist? Add apple cider vinegar to your daily ritual!The acetic acid suppresses your appetite, increases your metabolism, and reduces water retention.
  6. Boots Energy 
    Before you reach for the coffee to get you through the afternoon hump, try drinking 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with water. Between the potassium, enzymes and amio acids, it’s the perfect recipe for a pick me up!
  7. Banishes Bad Breath
    Gargle it or drink it to kill odor-causing bacteria!