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Everything felt “off”. The way we woke up—instantly crabby, hungry, done with the brand new day. The way we went to sleep—no rhythm, no rhyme to the evening, just everyone go to bed so I can have some PEACE! The way we moved through the day—frantically keeping schedules, juggling needs and appointments. It was all “off” and I didn’t know why.


This is called survival mode and the worst thing about it is that you usually don’t know when you’re in it. At least I didn’t.

I like being an intentional person. An intentional mother, partner, friend. I like being intentional about how I spend my time. Trying to find intentionality while in survival mode feels impossible—you are just going from fire to fire, putting them out as best you can before something else crops up. And when you’re busy in the chaos things like planning, routine and rhythm don’t happen.

This post is for you if… you’ve ever felt like you were drowning in the day-to-day craziness of life.

This post is for you if… you feel like you’re doing it “wrong” or can’t put your finger on why you feel overwhelmed.

This post is especially for you if… you feel like this way of living—from moment to moment—makes you a bad mom, at least sometimes.

You feel overwhelmed and so you throw frozen chicken nuggets in the oven when you’d rather be serving chicken with roast vegetables. You feel overwhelmed and so you click the tv on (to get just a moment to catch your breath) when you’d rather your kids had less screen time.

I’m currently in that season right now. With 3 kids who need very different things from me, a schedule packed too tight to give anything its proper due, and a million tiny fires all begging to be put out first. Once I recognized survival mode for what it was I was able to take some action to make survival mode…well, survivable. We’re not out of the woods yet but these small moves have helped me shift my mindset and navigate the rockiness of living a life that seems made out of fails.

1. Your kids will be fine with a chicken nugget, ramen, sandwich diet for now.

I am a believer in food as medicine—that whole foods are best for our bodies and our minds. But when delivering a whole foods meal 3 times a day, 7 days a week becomes a burden due to time, money or other resources—mama, something’s gotta give. My kids are doing fine with cereal, eggs, ramen, burritos and the occasional apple or carrot stick right now. Eventually we will again have green smoothies, home cooked dinners and leafy greens again but not because I sacrificed my sanity to make them work.

2. Screen time is not going to melt your kids’ brains.

Or, if it does, at least it’s a slow melt. My kids have way more time on screens right now then I’d ideally like—I really only worry about screen time as a replacer for doing other things like going outside, playing together or reading a book. It’s not that screens themselves are harmful but a balance is important, most of the time. Sometimes that balance is year to year instead of day to day. This is only a season of your life, there will be plenty of time off of screens later.

3. What’s good for you is good for your kids.

If you’re an introvert then staying in and planning less out of the house activities (like grocery shopping, ha!) is good for you and your kids are not going to miss anything with less playdates or fewer (or no) sports. If you’re an extravert then your kids benefit when you get out of the house each day and fill up your social interaction tank. Doing things that are just for you are a must, not a luxury.

4. Choose survival mode every day.

Don’t let it just “happen” to you—choose it! It changes your mindset around this necessary time in your life and gives it a more proactive feel. Get up in the morning and think only of the things you must do—forget about things that ultimately will not matter. Your kids do not need a bath every day but you do have to feed them. You have to pay the bills. Don’t worry about reading to your kids every night – they will still learn to love reading. Choose survival mode and learn to cut out the things you don’t need to do. It’s like minimalism for your brain.

5. Move your body and clear your mind.

You don’t have to be perfect about exercise but your brain will thank you for the endorphins and increased oxygen supply. Just light stretching and a walk around the block can be as good as a gym membership when you’re in survival mode. Taking time (5-10 minutes) for a practice of meditation, journaling or other mindful activity can bring you back to center when you’re on the brink.

6. Practice kindness.

Like, really practice because it may not come as easily right now. Start with yourself. Kindly tell yourself some of the information from above (the kids will be fine with extra screen time and fewer activities. Your needs matter. You don’t have to hold the whole world up today.). Then extend your kindness. Your family is living in a pressure cooker right now and all it takes to diffuse a lot of tense situations is a kind word or much needed show of affection.

7. Throw things away (or donate them or sell them.)

I don’t know what the scientific brain mechanism is at play here but somehow when I get rid of stuff, I feel better. There’s more white space for my tired eyes and less to trip over and curse at. I have fewer things to keep track of. And. I. Have. Less. To. Clean. When you’re dealing with survival mode, start purging. I like to focus on one room so that I have at least one place to go where THINGS aren’t calling to me and reaching out to me. One place to rest and unwind. One spot in the house that is easy to keep clean. One spot that makes me feel like I’m winning at life.

8. Get one thing done.

Pick one, tiny thing to do everyday that will make you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Could be doing your make up, knitting a couple of rows, filling the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, or clearing a spot for your glass of water by your bed. Choose one super small something that is easy to get done. As you start to come out of survival mode it will be easy to gradual add more substantive things to this list.

9. Make the necessary routines as easy as possible.

If you have to eat and you have to feed your kids, make planning and making dinner a no-brainer. My go-to meals when I’m just surviving include cheese quesadillas, chili, grilled cheese sandwiches, taco bar, etc. Basically things that can be thrown in a pot or put together easily. Or things that my older kids can make. That, is winning. Don’t start a new routine, just scale back on your basics. Right now, I’m not pushing my 4 year old to fall asleep on her own—too stressful. So she falls asleep in my arms every night and then I put her in bed. The key here? If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

10. Know that survival mode doesn’t last forever.

And anticipate that you will go through several of these seasons in your lifetime. Everyone struggles. We’re constantly being asked to integrate new things (babies, pets, illnesses, loss) and, of course, there’s usually a learning curve. Also know that other people go through survival mode too. Their social media accounts may not show it (yours probably doesn’t either) but everyone has their own season to grapple with too much everything.

These 10 practices will help you get through survival mode without losing your mind—and without losing sight of the beliefs and ideals you have for your life. Trying to push through survival mode can make it worse. Giving yourself a timeline can make you feel inadequate and rushed. Flow WITH the feelings and take care of you. Focus on what is most important – for me that’s preserving my relationships with my kids—and let everything else take a back seat.


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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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