To be sure, there are plenty of grandparents eager to spend time with their grandchildren. And with many young adults marrying later and waiting to have babies, there are many retired 70-somethings who can’t wait for grandchildren to dote on. But the working grandparents in the younger set are finding themselves caught between their own desires to take advantage of their empty nests and their adult millennial children who have different ideas about a grandparent’s role.
There's so much noise.
All. The. Time.
It feels like it's 24 hours, 7 days a week.
There's whining, crying, chatting, banging, tapping, scratching, singing, buzzing, yelling, snoring, crunching, schlopping, chewing, slurping, stomping, clapping, singing, laughing.
There's sound machines with crashing waves coming at me around every corner. There's a baby (doll) crying, and then my real baby crying. There's toys going off even when no one is playing with them.
There's requests, questions, demands, negotiations, plans, adventures, stories, performances—at all times.
There's ringing phones, alarms going off, voicemails, television theme songs (Daniel Tiger, I'm looking at you), Moana and Sing soundtracks playing. There's random loud videos playing when you're scrolling through Facebook and think you have your phone on silent.
I even hear things when there's nothing to be heard. Like the baby crying when I'm in the shower and she's sleeping. Like a bang from someone falling when everyone is fine. Like Imagine Dragon's 'Thunder' when it's not even on but it's stuck in my head because my daughter has requested to play it over and over and over.
At times, it makes me feel like I am going crazy. Like my brain doesn't work because I can't think clearly because the noise is all-encompassing.
This noise, paired with the never-ending, running-forever list of things to do in my head is one of the areas of motherhood that is hard for me. Really, really hard. It triggers my anxiety more than anything else does.
Sometimes, I just want to sit in silence. Alone. Not listening to anything or anyone.
Sometimes, I just want to hear myself think.
Sometimes, I just want the whining to stop.
Sometimes, I just want the brain fog to go away and never come back.
But what I've realized is that this is part of motherhood. Of my journey. Because, I have three children and it's never going to be quiet.
I need to get used to the noise, embrace the noise and know when I need to step back and take a break from the noise.
And I am used to the noise on some level.
I function fairly well on a daily basis getting work done and to-do lists checked off and taking care of my (loud, but wonderful) children. When all of the noise is overwhelming me, I've gotten into the habit of taking deep breaths and focusing on my task at hand.
It's not perfect, but it's something.
And I can definitely embrace the noise—especially the lovely noises of childhood.
Because when I think about it—is there anything better than hearing my 4-year-old belt out 'Thunder'?
Is there anything better than hearing my 2-year-old giggle uncontrollably?
Is there anything better than hearing the coos of my 3-month-old?
Is there anything better than hearing one of my daughters say "I love you, Mama"? Or "See you later, alligator"?
Is there anything better than hearing cheers from my kids to celebrate their siblings' accomplishment? ("Lucy went potty! Yay!")
Is there anything better than hearing your preschooler say "sh-sh-shhhhh" over and over to soothe her newborn sister like she sees her parents doing?
No, nothing is better. Not even silence.
But there will be days when it feels like it's too much. And I just want to say—
It's okay to want to sit in silence.
It's okay to look forward to the quiet that nighttime offers.
It's okay to admit to ourselves that sometimes the noise is too much.
And it's normal.
Our brains can only handle so much at one time. So, be gentle on yourself, mama. I know I'm trying.
I am learning to recognize when I need to step back and take a break from the noise.
I stay up late sometimes to enjoy the quiet—to listen to my thoughts.
I wake up early sometimes—to meditate and look inward.
I plan "me time" outside of the house—to spend time with myself and decide on choosing noise or not.
I hop in the shower when my husband gets home—to hand over the noise for a while and enjoy only the sound of rushing water.
There are moments of motherhood that challenge me—mind, body and soul. The constant noise is one of them. But these challenges will never beat me. I love being my children's mother too much.
So on the days when the noise is taking over, know that you're not alone. And know that peace and quiet is potentially just a shower away.
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This past year, I was diagnosed with depression. I was fighting what I believed to be a stubborn case of PPD. I thought things would get better as my baby grew, when I wasn't postpartum anymore. I was in denial, not receiving any kind of help, and definitely not getting any better.
Finally, I sought out help from a doctor and was diagnosed with clinical depression and am now receiving treatment. Part of this treatment involved visiting with a therapist for the first time in my life in hopes of combating the powerful force of negativity that has insidiously planted itself inside my mind.
I learned something significant in that meeting: that my thoughts were caused by something that was physically going wrong inside of my brain. Deep down, I believed I had been allowing the darkness—that it, too, was my fault. I found hope in that meeting, the hope of rewiring my brain.
I now know there are steps I can take to change how I think, to find the true me again. That is why I am going to take better care of myself this year. In fact, that's the only resolution I care to make.
My therapist advised me to do an exercise that's proven difficult for me. I literally have positive affirmations about myself taped to my bathroom mirror. My sarcastic side really fights this. I envision that I'm wearing a colorful collared shirt or sweater combination (a la Stuart Smalley) as I repeat these mantras to myself. The truth is they're a powerful counterbalance to the way I normally think about who I am.
Most people struggle with this at one time or another. I think we could all benefit from practicing a little self-love.
So for this year, I resolve not to make any resolutions about losing weight. I am at a healthy weight, and although I would love to re-lose the 10 pounds I lost when I began depression medication, I will instead resolve to replace the negative thoughts I have about my body with healthy ones.
My critical observations regarding my body began very early for me, as they do for most women. It may take some time, but I'm going to work on appreciating my body for what it can do, instead of worrying about how it appears to others.
I resolve to be the best mom I can be. And that is only possible when I work on taking better care of myself. For many years, I've devoted myself completely to my children, believing it was best for them. But you can't pull water from an empty well, and this past year my well went dry.
I resolve to take more breaks, indulge in some mental health days, and spend more quality time with my family.
Society is hard on mothers, so I'm going to pull a Taylor Swift, and "shake it off." I will ignore the negative commentators who feel compelled to troll my writings. I will look to the positive instead of dwelling on the negative.
I will support and seek to uplift other mothers. We should be each other's biggest fans, not harshest critics. I will stand up for those who are belittled, judged, or misunderstood.
I resolve to let go of past mistakes and less than perfect parenting moments. I will seek to learn from the past instead of dwelling on it. I will work on treating myself with more kindness, moving forward in hopes that my three boys will learn from my example and speak kindly toward themselves.
I will continue my treatment—even the daily affirmations—and be patient with my progress.
So here's to a new year and a new way of thinking, to not giving up, and to practicing kindness that begins from within.
One of the best—or worst—parts of the holiday season is taking our littles to get their pictures with Santa. Some kids relish in those few minutes of telling Santa Claus exactly what they want under their tree, while others are terrified and hate every second of it. Either way, it usually makes for some adorable photos to look back on over the years.
We asked #TeamMotherly to share their best Santa pics. With nearly 700 responses, it was hard to pare down our favorites. Here are some that we adored.
1. Pure happiness
2. A magical look
3. Everyone is a bit unsure...
4. The cutest elves
5. A sweet encounter
6. A little bit of drama
7. Santa cuddles each year, please
8. Mama said she cried after she took a good look at him 😂
9. Third time isn't always the charm
10. Playing in the snow
11. SO much excitement
13. She definitely made the 'nice' list
14. Mama, no!
15. One mama's heart grew by three sizes this year
16. Two loved this, two hated it
17. This baby was happier than Santa
18. A precious encounter
19. "I'm only here for the cookie." 🍪
20. Two Santas are better than one
The temperatures are dropping and that can only mean one thing. Whether we like it or not, winter's cold chilly months are upon us. As a born-and-raised Alaskan, and mama of three, I've got a lot of cold weather experience under my belt, and staying inside half the year just isn't an option for us. As my husband likes to say, "There's no bad weather, just bad gear."
Here are some of my favorite picks to keep your family toasty warm this winter.
1. Bear bunting
This sherpa bear bunting wins winter wear MVP for being a comfy snowsuit for your littlest babe, or base-layer under another snowsuit for the chilliest of winter outings. Bonus: your baby bear will never look cuter!
2. Patagonia Capilene base-layers
Speaking of base-layers, for any prolonged winter activity outside in the cold, it's best to layer up to create air pockets of warmth. These moisture wicking base-layers are a family favorite.
3. Arctix Kids limitless overall bib
These adjustable snow pants keep kids warm and the bib style keeps snow from going down the back of their pants. Bonus: the price is excellent for the quality and they can grow with your child. The Velcro strap also makes bathroom breaks for kids so much easier.
4. Hooded frost-free long jacket
Keep your little one warm and stylish in this long puffer jacket. Great for everyday outings.
5. Patagonia reversible jacket
This jacket is windproof, waterproof and the built-in hood means one less piece of gear to worry about (or one more layer for your little one's head). It's a best buy if you live with cold winter temperatures for many months of the year and still love to get outside to play. It also stays in great condition for hand-me-downs to your next kid.
6. Under Armour Decatur water repellent jacket
Made of waterproof fabric and lined with great insulation, kids will no doubt stay warm—and dry—in this. It features plenty of pockets, too, so mama doesn't always have to hold onto their items. We love that the UGrow system allows sleeves to grow a couple inches.
7. Stonz mittens
Ever tried to keep gloves on a 1-year-old? It's a tough task, but these gloves make it a breeze with a wide opening and two adjustable toggles for a snug fit they can't pull off! Warm and waterproof, and come in sizes from infant to big kids.
8. Sorel toot pack boot
Keep their little toes warm with these cozy boots from Sorel. With insulated uppers and waterproof bottoms their feet are sure to stay warm. They're well constructed and hold up over time, making them a great hand-me-down option for your family.
9. Stonz baby boots
These Stonz stay-on-baby booties do just as their name says and stay on their feet. No more searching for one boot in the grocery store parking lot!