Thoughts from the swingset

 
Throwback to a year ago!!!

Throwback to a year ago!!!

Charlotte and I stayed after our church bible study to play on the little play ground at church. She has been boycotting napping until the late afternoon so we had a few hours until then and Tuesday was just gorgeous. I grabbed an iced latte and we headed outside.

She climbed up and down the ladders and went down the slide. She swung on the swings on her belly and just played around in the grass. She ate her snack and drank her water.

We had no where to go, and little schedule to follow.

At one point, I was swinging on the swing, as she was swinging on the swing next to me on her belly. It was quiet, sunny, and peaceful. I thought, this is it. This is Motherhood. Why can’t it always be this fun and carefree.

I started to think about the baby growing inside me. Will we be able to have these moments when there are two? Is it all on me to keep things this “carefree”? Will I even be able to foster moments like this with two? Is it possible? Someone chime in here!!

Am I going to be worried about schedules and naps and getting everywhere on time? Or can we just swing and play and have no where to go.

I guess all of these questions are thoughts and worries I have about adding a second child into the mix. I really love what we have. I love the routine we have set up for our weeks. It’s predictable (for the most part).

Although raising a child is by far my hardest job to date, I feel like we’ve gotten a rhythm down. I love our relationship, too. I love the silly things she says, and the way she takes my hand when she wants to bring me somewhere or show me something. I don’t want it to change. I worry about losing out on our one-on-one time.

I guess it’s up to me to create those moments when the second comes along. Set aside days of fun where we don’t have to be anywhere at any time and there’s no pressure to do anything specific.

I thought I liked being really scheduled, and yes, I do like to be productive. Yet today, I realized, I also like just swinging on the swings with no where to be.

As I’m reflecting, I’m realizing my job now with two will be to embrace the changes, and allow for space without expectations. Baby two will probably not have all their naps at home (I would probably go crazy). And he or she will hopefully be flexible.

But I will also honor what fills me up as a Mother. Which may change! I guess we’ll see.

What worries do you or did you have bringing a second into the mix?

Moms with more than one, what did you learn when baby two came around ?

_DSC0050.jpg
 

Is therapy right for you?

 
hannah stripes day smiling with hand-8710.jpg
 

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and how us Moms are often so quick to think of how to help our children, yet we overlook taking care of ourselves. A while back I posted on self-care and how taking care of ourselves is taking care of children, and I thought I might expand on that.

I want to expel the myth that therapy is only for people who are sick, have diagnoses, or have really big problems. Therapy is for your everyday person like you and me ! And actually, most of the people I see in my practice don’t have any diagnosis that could be found in the the DSM-V. (The DSM-V is the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual for Mental Disorders. It’s that humongous book that helps people research, diagnose and treat mental illness and can also be controversial).

When I think about the Mothers I see in my practice, I think about their work to be the healthiest version of themselves. That looks different for everyone.

You might be coming in to improve the relationship with your spouse, your children, or (gasp) yourself! Yes, therapy can improve the relationship you have with yourself! You know that voice inside your head that says not so nice things to you? You know the one. We do a lot of work on that.

We work on extending grace to yourself. Go figure! :) We work on untangling your past to find out how it’s affecting you now. We work on breaking the patterns that have helped you get where you are but aren’t helping you anymore. We work on feeling unstuck to help you thrive in your career. We reflect on the ways you were parented, and how you want to parent differently, or the same! We help you figure out what brings you joy and makes you tick so you can fulfill your passion in life. We can work on anything you bring in the door that you are willing to unpack.

You will notice how I constantly say “we”. This is your time and is about you. (How nice does that sounds?) While I am a professional, you are the expert on yourself, my job is to learn about you. This is also a joint effort. You are going to get out of therapy whatever you put in.

I won’t lie and say that therapy is easy. It can be challenging at times. We might unearth something that you’ve been pushing away for a long time. It will get easier, though. The more you come and practice being open and reflective, the more you will learn and love about yourself.

That’s the beauty of therapy, that you don’t have to go it alone. Brené Brown says it so beautifully “Shame cannot survive being spoken, and being met with empathy”. That’s what happens when you step into my office, you are met with a non-judgmental ear, and the shame cannot survive.

If any of this sounds like you, you are worth investing in yourself. You are worth being able to sit across from someone that will listen as you work on being your best and happiest self.

So, if you ever have the feeling of not being good enough, something’s missing, or feel like you aren’t functioning at 100% capacity, feel free to reach out!

Later this week I’m going to answer some Frequently asked questions about therapy. If you have any questions, feel free to write them in the comments below, and I’ll answer them!

"Mine!"

 
Sharing ice cream at the zoo!!

Sharing ice cream at the zoo!!

From the title, you can probably guess what we are struggling with lately! Charlotte is learning how to share. And Mom is learning how to teach Charlotte to share.

This is both my opinion and experience. It might be helpful for you, but you are welcome to take it or leave it.

I’m not quite sure where it started, but all of a sudden, Charlotte would start clutching toys or food to her chest saying “Mine!” She goes to Mother’s day out, the church nursery, and different play groups, so there’s no telling where she heard it. And sure, it’s possible she heard it from Dave and I!

Once this started, I paid more attention to it, and noticed sometimes I would say it back. She would grab my coffee cup and I would say, No, that’s Mommy’s coffee. Or, my favorite, she would take something of David’s and say “mine!” and he would say “mine!” right back! (Sorry, sweetie!!)

I was then talking with a Mother whose children are in a Montessori school and spoke about her learning to share. She said at Montessori, they don’t make children share. I thought this was extremely interesting and wanted to look further into it. I liked the premise because I struggled with how to handle this with Charlotte.

I read some articles on the theory and I thought I would share it with you in case you’re wondering how to handle this as well. I’m going to tag one of the articles that I found extremely straight forward and helpful.

She said the children share all the toys yet are not forced to stop working on something because someone else wants to play with it. The children are prompted to say “when I’m done with this you can play with it". Another suggestion would be to ask “Will you let me know when you’re done playing with this?”

She brought up a great point that play is children’s work, and if you were working on a big project and a coworker came over and took your laptop, you’d be frustrated, too! That helped me to put it into perspective.

This allows each child time to use what they’re working on, and also teaches waiting for their turn and patience. Two very important lessons.

I also loved that in the particular article I tagged, they addressed all of the concerns that I had such as giving to the less fortunate and sharing toys with friends when they come over to your home. These topics will definitely come up as Charlotte starts to notice when we box up and donate her clothes and toys. For now, though, I can give away toys without her noticing!! (We’ll see how much longer I have on that one!!)

I want to add that it’s important to validate how frustrating it can be to wait, or if your friend is playing with a toy that really interests you. You can also praise that when they do wait their turn that they are learning and practicing patience! “It’s really hard to wait for someone to finish playing with a toy, you’re doing such a great job waiting patiently”.

Since Charlotte doesn’t speak in long sentences and can’t quite say “you can play with this when I’m finished”, we’ve been modeling for her. What we’ve been saying is when she wants a toy that someone else has, we might say something like “You really want to play with that toy, when Noah is done playing with it, you can use it”. Or “Noah would love to use that toy that you have, when you’re done with it, you can give it to her to play with”. When a friend takes a toy without asking and Charlotte begins to cry, we’ll empathize with that frustration. We might say, “you’re sad that your toy was taken” or “you were really enjoying that toy and are frustrated that it was taken”.

So, now I want to hear from you guys! How did sharing pan out with your little ones? Or are you in the middle of sharing right now?

 

Castle Family News !

 
holiday photo 2018-2.jpg

The Castle family is growing and Charlotte’s going to be a big sister! You may or may not have noticed how quiet I have gotten both on the blog and on instagram lately. I will post a story update here or there but for the most part have been off!

Phew, the exhaustion of a second pregnancy is real! I remember being tired with Charlotte, but this feels more intense. Poor Charlotte had her fair share of Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, and Daniel Tiger while I could not get off the couch.

We finally went to the Doctor yesterday which is why I’m sharing today! I’m already at 14 weeks but I wanted to wait to share until our first appointment. Due to my scheduling mishap (mom brain, pregnancy brain, whatever you want to call it), we didn’t have an appointment until this week. Second child problems, already! We went to the doctor at 6 weeks with Charlotte. Does anyone ever feel that way with their second? That things are much more relaxed? Maybe that’s a good thing!

I initially planned on sharing early, but I didn’t have any energy to write this post! As time went on, I started to feel nervous and really wanted that confirmation of an ultrasound. It felt super abstract to be pregnant again since my main focus has been on Charlotte. It was a relief and also comforting to get to see the baby!

This pregnancy feels super different than with Charlotte because I did not post on social media. If I did post, it had nothing to do with being pregnant, it was usually only my face, or my belly was completely hidden. I even made sure other’s social medias did not have my belly in it! I will admit, I was a little crazy about it. I was unsure about being pregnant and terrified of my changing body and weight gain. There were so many emotions. (I’ll give all of that it’s own post!)

Now, I know a little more of what to expect, and I’m less worried about how much I will gain. I know how wonderful it is to bring a baby into this world, and with that comes so many changes. I will say I’m less afraid, because if I say the thought doesn’t cross my mind while trying to fit into clothes, I’d be lying.

The first question I always get is if we’re finding out whether it’s a boy or a girl, and we are not! We’re doing the same thing we did with Charlotte and waiting until the birth. It was so exciting through labor knowing we would know so soon and made for such a special moment when she came out! David was convinced she was going to be a boy and almost announced wrong!! It’s an overwhelming moment to say the least.

My goal this pregnancy is to be much more transparent about the changes, and also about how our family is changing. Charlotte definitely doesn’t understand anything yet, but does say “baby” and takes care of her dolls so sweetly. She loves seeing babies at church so lets hope that sentiment stays when there’s a baby in our home!

It feels great to be writing again, and my commitment is to continue to offer posts and content that you enjoy and that is helpful when parenting your little ones this year! Leave any questions you’d like me to answer in the comments and I will get to them! Thank you for being on this journey with us!

 

Anxiety

 
hannah mirror-3344.jpg

Gals, I didn’t want to write this. I knew I had to, but I didn’t want to. I’ve been procrastinating, but I took a poll yesterday and realized that many of you wanted me to write about it. So here we are. I think I have anxiety. Ok, there. It’s out. I will correct myself. I know I have anxiety. I’ll explain.

The other week I started feeling entirely overwhelmed. I felt like I had a million things to do, and I couldn’t get started on them. I felt like my to do list was so long that even looking at it had my heart beating faster. I felt so overwhelmed that when Charlotte went down for a nap, I wanted to avoid everything and just go to sleep myself.

When I lay down to sleep, I couldn’t lower my heart rate in order to fall asleep. Yes, I know about breathing, and meditation. I tried. I really did !!! My heart would not slow down.

I finally texted David saying “I think I have anxiety”. I felt so silly. I’m a therapist. How could I not know I have anxiety? I’ve lived with these feelings for a long time. How did it never occur to me?

I looked back to the time when Charlotte was little, and I remember having a hard time leaving the house with her. It would take so long to get out of the house, and if it then got too close to the next feeding, I would forgo it altogether. The first time we finally got out of the house, I felt more confident that we could do it. But, it was hard.

I remember leading up to every feeding feeling worried. Was she going to latch on? Was she going to get anything? Was I going to feel frustrated? Would she get frustrated? Would I cry? Would that ruin the feeding session?

I remember times I would “forget” to weigh her before a feeding so that I didn’t have to weigh her after and feel like I had “failed” if she didn’t eat enough. I knew if she hadn’t gotten enough milk, the anxiety would come back again. (If you guys want me to, I’ll do a longer post on Charlotte’s first few months and our struggles with breastfeeding).

Looking back, I can now see that was all anxiety. I chalked it all up to being a new Mom and feeling: “Of course, I’m nervous. This is all new to me.”

When I was growing up, worry was normalized. If you were worried about something, it meant you cared.

The feelings we find ourselves in should definitely be normalized and validated, but, I also believe that we shouldn’t stay there. It’s true I was feeling anxious. It is also true that my anxiety was taking me out of the present moment. I was both stuck in the past, angry with myself for things I didn’t do, and living in the future feeling anxious about all the things I hadn’t yet done.

The other day, I heard Dan Allender speak on our body’s response to trauma, and it definitely put this into perspective for me. He discussed homeostasis and allostasis states and how our body attempts to protect itself

Homeostasis is what our body does to stabilize itself against environmental changes (outside stressors). Allostasis is our body trying to achieve homeostasis under chronic stress. What this means is that our body decides, “this is our new normal and we just have to deal with it”. The allostatic load that follows is the “wear and tear on our body”. It builds up over time due to chronic stress. This is when we start to see pain, illness, and fatigue.

I think this is where a lot of us Moms live, in this state of stress that has become our new normal. Yes, being a Mom is stressful, yet I don’t believe we should succumb to this state of stress for the next 18 years. If we do this, our bodies will literally start breaking down. It is not normal for our bodies to be in allostasis for a period of time and we need to address that. While it is completely normal to feel stress and to even feel anxiety, it’s not okay to live there.

I reached out to several women and shared my worries and they gave wonderful suggestions on things to do. One of those suggestions was to ask for help. It is true that my to do list is extremely long, and it is also true that I can’t do it alone. Dave and I then sat down, brainstormed, and budgeted ways to take things off my plate. He helped structure my days with daily tasks rather than a million tasks for the week. When I saw what needed to get done, I would feel paralyzed with what to do first. By breaking it down to daily tasks, it seemed less daunting.

In all of this, the main theme was letting someone into my head. In my case, it was David. He helped me listen to what I was saying to myself, and after some clarifying, we were able to come up with solutions. For you, it might be your spouse, a best friend, a therapist, or someone at church.

My prayer is that you find someone you can talk to, to speak truth into you. While my feelings were valid, the thoughts I was telling myself were just not true. I needed to let someone in to ground me, and to just get out of my own head! Please reach out if this is something you’re going through. It’s so much more common than we think and it can happen to anyone.