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What if ‘hustling’ isn’t the goal? How to unlock the magic of slower living

What if you give up the battle of the “what-ifs” and the “to-dos” and traded them for a calm life? 

What if ‘hustling’ isn’t the goal? How to unlock the magic of slower living

Dear Mama,

I want to tell you a story. I spent most of my life in a hurry. I lived with a plate so full that I had a hard time balancing it all. Straight up, I was doing too much. I was stressed out and spread thin.


Then I had kids.

And there's something about being a mother in the year 2017 that makes us feel like we need to do everything and be everywhere. I spent the early days of motherhood doing just that: hurrying, hustling and stressing.

But then one day, I stopped. I started to do less. I found calm. And I am not going back.

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I would love to say that it was yoga, mindfulness or some other enlightened activity that brought about my sudden "slow down," But it wasn't. It was actually much more expensive than that.

I wrecked a car. Three times. I was in a hurry.

The final incident was a brush with the iron gate in my driveway. It was my husband's car. I was terrified to see his face when he came home from work. But to my surprise, he wasn't angry.

He was concerned.

He told me words I had heard a million times before, "You need to slow down." But somehow they carried more weight this time. Because as a mother, it is my job to set an example for my children.

You know the thing about kids: they are little sponges. They soak up everything from us. The words we say, the attitude we have and the stress that we carry.

For my children, I want calm.

I am not teaching calm when I am living life in a rushed, chaotic frenzy.

I am not teaching calm when my train of thought is hauling a million pounds of freight on any given day.

I have to live it if I want to teach it.

But as a mother of small children, calm isn't just going to spontaneously happen to me. I have to go after it and pursue it. So I gave up the chaos of motherhood in search of calm. Slowly I started to do unpack the overwhelm that I had spent years accumulating.

These days I am doing less and I am confident it is the best thing for my family. By doing less of these five things, I have found the calm that I want for my children.

1. Worry less

As a mother, worry is the thief of joy. If I reflect back on times in my life where I have been overcome with worry—I can tell you that the worry overshadowed joy. When I struggled through two miscarriages, I worried my way through a subsequent healthy pregnancy. The worry stole my joy. When my first child was a late walker, I worried my way through several months of his sweet young life. The worry stole my joy.

But not anymore. I want to soak up every moment of joy with my family. #aintnobodygottimeforthat.

2. Hustle less

My hustlin' days are over. I have honed my skills in getting my kids to cooperate and on the days they don't, I hone my deep breathing skills. I have scaled back our schedules so we don't have places to be Every. Moment. Of. The. Day. Now I have more time to authentically connect with my husband and children.

I know that stress and anxiety are an epidemic in the childhood of today. Therefore, I provide my children with the rest they deserve to grow and development.

3. Hover less

My kids are learning how to fall. My job is to kiss the boo boos, not prevent them. When I take 10 steps back from the monkey bars, my body language is telling my kid, "You’ve got this." My children are capable and my actions communicate that to them. I will let them fall so they can learn how to get back up and try again.

As a mother, there is so much fear commingled with love. Let's learn to face it head on and teach our children to do the same.

4. Buy less

I quit filling our house with stuff. I used to have a closet full of clothes I never wore. My kids had toys they never touched. But I decided that I want more for my family. I want us to be conscious consumers who protect our home and credit cards against the accumulation that pervades today's society.

When my kids don't have everything their friends have, they will to learn how to overcome envy rather than to fall victim to it.

5. Interfere less

I can't solve all their battles. Therefore, I won't rob my children of the opportunity to practice doing it for themselves. I love watching my kids problem solve and work through disagreements with each other. I love seeing how capable they are without me sticking my nose into their business.

These days, I am doing less.

I gave up the battle of the "what-ifs" and the "to-dos." I traded them for a calm life that is infectious in the best kind of way, and I am giving you the permission to do the same.

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A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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Life

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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Life

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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