I want to start this blog post off with the most important info of all – a disclaimer – that I am not a doctor, a medical professional, or anyone who holds any higher education in counseling folks on what is best for their health. I always strongly advocate that you fact check anything you read on the internet, and talk to your doctor before taking anything that may impact your health. Do not stop taking prescribed pharmaceutical medication unless under the direct supervision of a medical professional, and do not begin taking any new supplements unless you have ensured with your medical professional that it is safe. This blog post is to offer my anecdotal experience with trialing CBD for sleep and mood support and should not be taken as medical advice. Long story short – be smart. This is *my* research – and I am not a doctor.
I heard an analogy recently that essentially equated a mother’s (or primary caregiver’s) work/life balance as juggling 55 balls at any given time. Between house stuff and kid stuff and life stuff and woman stuff and work stuff – sometimes it feels like you have WAY too much stuff on your plate (and you probably do).
The analogy suggested that some of those 55 balls are glass and you shouldn’t drop those balls – they will smash into a million pieces and cut you and cause a huge mess for you to clean up.
But, some of those 55 balls are plastic and can be dropped without repercussions. They simply bounce and roll across the room, not harming anything and ready to be picked up when you’re ready.
The trick is finding out for yourself which balls are plastic, and which ones are glass.
With preschools and public schools and daycares closed, parents have had to take on the role of educators. It is a weird space to be in and while I recognize the role we all have to play, I’ve gotta say – I’m not homeschooling, I’m love schooling. When the girls wake up, they crawl into my bed and put their heads on my chest – listening to my heart beat, we discuss blood flow. Arteries away, veins back again. Love puddle as we start our day lazy and in sync. We go downstairs to make breakfast. We talk about how blueberries have vitamin K, granola will give us energy, and greek yogurt has protein to keep our muscles strong. We talk and laugh and love. Time to get dressed. Choosing clothes and getting dressed offers independence, autonomy, creativity, and strengthens gross motor skills. Is it a stay in pyjamas because it’s still forking snowing day? Love. We love comfy & warm. Or is it a tshirt and shorts day because the sun is shining and we’re ready to run? Lots of discussion to be had. Jumping on the couch and making forts and playing playdoh and skipping rope mazes and diaper box cars at the drive in theatre and lego castles are the basis of Love Schooling. Bodies get moved, creativity abounds, fine motor skills get worked on. We swim in the bath & pretend we’re back in Hawaii playing with ancient sea turtles. Afternoons bring cartoons because Mama is Tired. Mama is Sad. Mama is anxious. Love School has quiet time and screen time because it helps mama recharge. Subtitles on because “look mama! Daniel Tiger said dad and the word below says d – a – d so that spells dad?!?” – words and letters come easier this way. Dinner offers more chances for me to make it right. Kraft dinner and hotdogs with cucumbers? It is what it is. We love that and this is Love School after all. Bellies get filled and the manner in which we do it changes day by day, but the constant is that mama is doing her best. More cuddle puddles at bed time while we read and laugh. We apologize for what went wrong in the day, and we discuss what new fun thing to tackle tomorrow. Kisses & hugs, funny voices with the bedtime stories. Little one wants to snuggle in the dark, big one takes 10 books and a flashlight to bed. I say yes to both. I never went to university to become a teacher. I wasn’t prepared for this. But the way someone made you feel will be remembered longer than the things you did. And I don’t want the girls to look back and remember self-isolation during covid-19 or how we had to talk about the germs so often – I want them to remember Love School. The times I said yes instead of no. The extra cartoons. The treats. The little bit too late bedtimes because we were having tickle fights. Perfectly imperfect.
School should reopen this fall but what that looks like remains to be seen. My oldest is slated to start kindergarten, and there are talks of medical masks for 5 year olds, with hand sanitizer breaks, and 6 foot distances between teachers and classmates. I feel like the ramifications of these measures, while entirely intended to keep kids physically safe, may inflict undue trauma instead. In my province, kindergarten isn’t mandatory. Depending on what our district’s school re-opening strategy is, we may opt to keep her home for her kindergarten year.
Because of the uncertainty that lies ahead, I am slowly planning for what a year of Love Schooling at home might look like and how to best support both my daughters with their gross motor, fine motor, educational, social, and emotional needs. I am slowly but surely building a well rounded “unschooling” space within our budget and on our own terms – stay tuned for that blog post coming soon as I showcase what I have put together for them to support them going forward should public school not offer what they need.
Like most others, the swiftness with which covid-19 spread through the world and morphed our realities into something out of a science fiction novel was really unsettling. Normal as we know it no longer exists, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. I have shared bits and pieces of my thoughts and feelings over onInstagram, but after countless requests to share more in-depth, I am detailing it in entirety here today. I want to make it very clear though – this blog post is NOT meant to incite fear or anxiety, it is just how I am processing my own feelings, my own anxiety, and how I am intending on preparing my family.
Much like every financial advisor ever suggests you have 3 months of savings to cover all household expenses in case of emergency, the same should be said for household supplies. Even outside of covid-19, any number of things can happen to impact our ability to finance the day to day supplies we rely on. Be it covid-19, job loss, layoffs, other sickness or infirmary, house fire, etc – I think it’s smart to be prepared for a rainy day.
From the beginning, elected officials and medical health authorities made it clear that the self isolation and social distancing and shelter in place orders they were enacting were NOT going to eradicate the virus – it was being done to flatten the curve and lessen the load on our already taxed medical system and hospitals. There was going to be no way to eliminate covid-19 from our society now that it was here and BEST case scenario was that we slow the spread and minimize the damage while scientists race towards an effective treatment or vaccine.
Now we’re 2 full months into the pandemic (here in Canada) and restrictions are slowly easing.
Most people are taking deep breaths and feeling like we’ve weathered the storm.
*I* believe we have only just experienced the first wave. Most skeptics point to the Spanish Flu, and how the second wave killed exponentially more than the first outbreak did, and while I am not at that level of doomsday in my own beliefs, I think it would be negligent to not physically and emotionally prepare to go back to self isolation day 1. My husband works outside of the home, and I am routinely solo parenting my daughters for up to 2 weeks at a time. My usual childcare help is all aged 60+. If we see a resurgence, I need to ensure I have the supplies we need at home for a full 2 week stay (and beyond). Here is how I am preparing for the Fall:
(*Note – your family’s needs and budget may differ from mine, simply adjust as you see fit – and let it be explicitly known that under no circumstances do I suggest panic buying or overt stockpiling which will negatively impact our supply chains – a few things purchased here and there as your budget allows will suffice. My intention in posting this now is to share my own planning strategy and offer ample time if you choose to prepare as well)
Pantry essentials – I am aiming to have an extra few week supplies of OUR family’s essentials. This will look different for you. I will store mine in my regular pantry and for items I deplete during regular day to day cooking, I will replace and rotate – ensuring my stores always stay fresh.
Baking supplies – being self-isolated in the fall/winter will have an impact on how I approach holiday baking, which is an extremely important tradition I hold onto. It is one safe holiday tradition I will be able to engage in if we need to self-isolate again. If I can’t get to a grocery store or stock is gone when I get there – I won’t be able to bake. To prevent this, I am aiming to have a good supply of flour, white/brown sugar, chocolate chips, butter/margarine (this freezes for up to a year, wonderfully), rolled oats, baking soda/powder, and shredded coconut on hand.
Bulk pasta, canned beans, canned soup, canned corn/beans, canned fruit
Apple juice and Gatorade (the latter works much better than Pedialyte if kids fall ill)
Nuts and seeds (shelf stable protein source)
Pet food and supplies, if applicable
Cleaning supplies – no need to go crazy, but making sure you have an extra jug or two of bleach on hand to disinfect surfaces is smart. Laundry soap, vinegar, paper towels, dish soap, garbage bags, toilet paper, etc. Dishwasher pods are a necessity in my life, so I will make sure I have an extra box of those.
Personal hygiene – hand soap, kleenex, feminine hygiene supplies, diapers and baby wipes, eczema cream, etc.
Medications – this is a huge area of anxiety for most people but please know pharmacies will NOT close, so if you take prescription medications, rest assured your access to them is unlikely to be disrupted. Insurance companies will not let you stockpile either. What you can prepare for is ensuring you have fever relieving medication (Acetaminophen) for both you and your children, a good thermometer, and any other over-the-counter medications you take regularly. What *I* am preparing for my family is making sure I have an extra month’s supply of probiotics, multivitamins, vitamin D, and omega 3’s.
I typically try to keep an extra of our usuals on hand anyways, but this list is a bit more comprehensive going into the Fall. Your list might look different! I know many people are big into bread making right now, you might want to look at having extra yeast in your pantry if this applies to you. If you’re a local maker or baker, perhaps you’ll look at supplies who may need on hand if mail slows to a halt as Christmas buying ramps up.
My anxiety manifests in a way that needs an actionable solution to move forward. These are the steps I am taking to help set myself up for what we may see if/when round 2 of covid-19 returns.
A fun new hack to survive the current covid-19 self-isolation with kids: Call your kids your coworkers. Everything is immediately more hilarious. My coworker asked to see my butthole today when she broke into my bathroom stall. I contemplated calling HR but I am HR and no one pays attention to the presentations on personal boundaries anyways. My coworker takes a dump with the door open. My coworkers are naked way more than I’d prefer. My coworker shit herself today. I had to give my coworker a bath when she barfed on herself at work.
My coworker woke me up this morning by sliding her hand under my nightshirt and putting her finger into my belly button. See? The world may be crumbling and we’re tuning in to watch President Snow address Panem and District 13 (eerily similar to Alberta) every morning for updates on TV, so might as well laugh while we can. For dinner tonight – Tricerataco Tuesday. Pro tip: wrap your hard taco shell in a soft taco shell and eliminate the crumbly mess. Get your tricerataco holder right here. Stay golden, Ponyboy. Until next time.
Food insecurity. Something that has really really hit home for me this week while my family is enjoying a vacation in Hawaii is the sheer insanity of food pricing. Yes, Hawaii is made up of 8 islands (7 are inhabited) and everything that isn’t grown here needs to be shipped in, hence the costs. But what I have learned, while dying inside at the $10/lb of strawberries and $13 for 6/pk of bagels, is that less nutritious foods (doritos, diet coke, etc) aren’t expensive. Want to know why? Because the big name players in the snack food industry subsidize the costs of getting their products to places like Hawaii, since their profits are astronomical elsewhere. And it’s not just Hawaii. The Canadian North (territories and Iqualuit) experiences the same thing. Did you know that almost 20% of children live in food insecure households? And that number close to doubles when it is a family of colour? And the number rises further if it is a single mother of colour? And the number rises again if the parent(s) is LGBTQ+? So, it’s one thing for me to sit here and “balk” at food pricing (look at the white girl complaining while vacationing, hi pot it’s the black kettle calling) but it’s another thing entirely when huge sections of my own country (Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, almost every single Native Reserve) experience the same insanity and it’s not a beachfront vacation. I’ve seen sooooo many people on social media rip mothers (embarrassingly enough, myself too many moons ago) for the “junky” bento box inclusions. Guess what folks? Consistent 👏 access 👏 to 👏 healthy 👏 food 👏 is👏 a 👏 privilege 👏 not 👏 everyone 👏 has. Food insecurity is not knowing how or when or if another meal is coming, never mind it being balanced and nutritionally sound. Food insecurity is taking your last 8 bucks and doing your best with what you’ve got. And when you’ve got a few mouths to feed and bills to pay and you still gotta navigate the judgemental bitches on social media…. Anyways. Healthy food is expensive (and I swear to GOD if a Karen comes in and says it isn’t because she finds everything super cheap in her metropolitan area, I’m gonna snap) and literally everyone wants their child to thrive. Fed is best.
Muffin tin Monday! One of my biggest “food hang up” pet peeves is the notion that humans need 3 large plated meals a day. At the table. Breakfast foods, lunch foods, dinner foods. Do you want to know who decided pancakes were a breakfast food and pasta was a dinner food? MARKETING PROFESSIONALS. They told us what to do and we did it. We have subscribed to the notion of rigid food concepts for far too long. When we’re able to let go of our pre-concieved notions around food and eating, the world opens up a little bit. One of my favourite lunch at home hacks for kids? Muffin tin grazing platters. These can be used for any meal of the day, really. If your “picky” child struggles with a plated meal, refuses your offerings, and you just generally struggle with meal time – consider this option. Sometimes food is much less about what is being offered and moreso about how it’s offered. I like to include 6-8 healthy foods I know they love, and the remaining ones I hope they’ll try. Even if they don’t eat them, exposure is still important. I use muffin liners simply to control mess. Offering one large tin to both my kids encourages them to share and it’s 50% less cleaning (win/win). Try a 6-well muffin tin for solo kids (including complex carbs, fruits, veggies, proteins, etc – any meal can be deconstructed this way). Pictured here: pistachios, mini breton crackers, blueberries, dried yogurt melts, cucumbers, raspberries stuffed with chocolate chips, cashews, kiwi, strawberries, carrots, gummy bears, dried mango pieces.
It doesn’t even need to be snacks! Offer deconstructed tacos or chicken ceaser salad in muffin tins to make food a bit more fun and a bit less intimidating to children who don’t like to try new things. The possibilities are endless!
It’s a little overwhelming, isn’t it? The holiday season? It feels (at least to me) like consumerism has taken on a life of its own these days and threatens to topple anyone who isn’t steadfast in their resolve to not give in to Keeping Up With The Jones’. I’m over here just trying to keep it simple with my kids so every Christmas season we do a book advent for them.
48 books about Christmas, the holiday season, giving, love, charity, generosity, and family. Lovingly hand-wrapped for our little ladies, one each, for every day of Advent. We hope to encourage their love of stories and reading – and to show them that sitting with loved ones (or themselves) and reading a great book is maybe what it’s all about. To foster the excitement of waking up and seeing what story the day has for them – which really, is a decent metaphor for life itself. I’m always excited to see the look on their faces when they get to open a new (to them) book every day – stories collected from family and friends, thrift shops, and a few new special picks.
Money saving tip: check your local Free Little Libraries for holiday books, ask on local Facebook groups, and check Value Village (since they always offer buy 4 kids books get 1 free – and they’re only $2-$3 each). I switch a few out every year to keep up with their interests and ages – for example, I swapped out most of the baby board books this year, and added some Paw Patrol and Wild Kratts to appeal to the girls’ current interests.
Mom Hack: After Christmas, pack up the advent books and stash them away for next season. The kids won’t remember them next year, and they stay in great condition because they’re only enjoyed in December. Better yet, trade advent books amongst friends with similar traditions – get a bunch of new (to your family) books for free!
Chocolates get eaten and tiny toys get lost, but the memories we hope to create with our girls of laying together and laughing and snuggling into stories will last a lifetime. It’s not always perfect but it’s perfect for us. And that’s all I can hope for.
“Words, are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” J.K. Rowling
Why aren’t more people talking about the fresh hell that is moving with small children?
Long story short, our previous home (expected to take 4-5 months to sell due to a slow market) sold in 3 weeks and our new build wasn’t going to be ready for 5 months – so we sold sold/donated all of our “got this at a thrift shop for 4 bucks because we were poor university students” stuff, and packed everything else into storage and moved in with my inlaws. They have a small guest house on their property that they’ve graciously let us conduct our gypsy shenanigans in since.
Now we are 2 days away from not being homeless anymore and it is crunch time. I was trying to pack up some toys today and my 2.5 year old found a toy, covered in a thin film of filth and smelling like neglect, that hasn’t been touched in 80 years, and decided it was The Toy. The one that has to go to the potty with her. The one that has to sit beside her dinner plate. The one she takes to bed. This toy is embarrassing, and it is now her favourite. Cool. All the influencer blogs about moving said to just authoritatively talk to your kids about the importance of de-cluttering before you ditch their old toys but I am started to wonder if they were talking about human kids or fake kids because mine have taken de-cluttering as a blood oath challenge to protect what is rightfully theirs.
Then we have my almost 5 year old who is less concerned about her toys and way more concerned about the big picture. “Do the toilets work in the new house? Will it be warm? Can we bring all our clothes and blankets? Will the fridges have food in them? How will I get to school? Are we ever going to see Grandma and Grandpa again?” – she’s been inside our new house many times (that is 15 mins away from her grandparents) and yet still seems to think we’re moving away to start fresh in 1960’s Soviet Russia.
Then there’s me, wandering around looking for boxes, asking no one in particular if these are moving boxes for ants because they need to be at least 3x bigger, while my husband looks for imaginary tools to do imaginary things with – and our children just yell for more snacks. There are so many fruit snack wrappers in my garbage can right now I think I made an FBI watch list or something.
Thank GOD Past Rachel was smart enough to spring for movers to assist us (and enlist Grams to take the girls all day) because I am approximately 1 snack request away from an accident with a lighter and some extreme hold hairspray (to my stuff, not my kids – don’t call CFS on me).
I cannot be the only one in this boat – does moving with kids always suck this bad?
There is a 10 year photo challenge circulating – one in which you share photos 10 years apart to see how you’ve aged. I could post photos of me 10 years ago and me today, but I won’t. It’s not because I am chubbier now, it’s not because my hair is sprinkled with grey streaks, it’s not because I have the kinds of dark circles under my eyes that 2 kids in 2 years brings. It’s not because I only wear leggings now, it’s not because I just don’t have the time or energy for the biweekly mani/pedi I grew accustomed to in my 20’s. It’s not because I have a bit of a double chin that cheekily reminds me how damn much I love chocolate after 7pm. And most importantly, it’s NOT because I’m embarrassed that I HAVE aged 10 years.
It’s because photos are 2 dimensional. They show you nothing except the state of your physical shell. And what all these photos don’t show is how much your mental state can change in 10 years. 10 years ago, I’d venture to guess I was at my mentally unhealthiest state. The end of a long term relationship sent me into a toxic rollercoaster of crash diets, crippling insecurity, damaging romantic flings, and a general feeling of worthlessness. Was I pretty? Yeah. Did I turn heads? Sure. Was I healthy on the inside? NO.
And now? For the first time in a long time I can truly express how emotionally strong I feel. My insecurities shrink by the day, as I am acutely aware of how my projection can affect my daughters. I wake up happy and healthy, next to a man who sees my stretch marks as remnants of how hard my body worked to grow our kids and not evidence that I let myself go. I love myself. I am finally seeing all the cool fucking things I have to offer as a woman/wife/mother/friend and I refuse to waste even one more second on anyone who doesn’t agree.
So yeah, I’ve aged. I don’t look as asethetically pleasing (as dictated by our broken society) as I did when I was 23 years old. But I am the healthiest and happiest (physically and emotionally) that I have ever been, and that doesn’t translate well to photographs. I have never been more excited to have aged 10 years emotionally.
So I won’t join this challenge – and before you look at someone’s perfectly curated photo set and wish you still “looked that good” – take a step back and evaluate your physical being on a bigger scale. Because comparing your real life to someone’s highlight reel with no understanding of what’s happening behind the scenes is silly. This is me. Chubby and stretched marked and sleep deprived and fucking HAPPY.