When I became a mother, my entire world shifted. No longer was I (or even my husband) the center of my universe. Now this little bundle was everything and many of my good habits fell by the wayside.
Now that I’ve got a toddler on my hands, I see more and more every day how her entire universe revolves around our family and friends. While I do everything I can to protect her, she is frequently out of my hands while I’m at work. While I’m not always thrilled with everything she learns outside the home, much of what endures are positive traits. With her imaginative play and increasingly complex conversations, she constantly mimics the experiences she sees around her and it’s amazing to see what she absorbs.
We’ve tried to be careful about introducing television, food and activities into her life. It’s safe to say we’re pretty strict by many people’s standards but when my daughter asks for a treat and her eyes light up when I suggest fruit, I’m thrilled! Sweets are consumed on a limited basis, television is infrequent at best and books are consumed with a vengeance. That’s not to say we don’t have our struggles, believe me we do! Vegetables are still a challenge though we’ve found a new love for corn on the cob. Terrible twos (and transitioning into threes) are a daily reality. There is always some behavior we’re working to eradicate or modify. It’s a constant struggle as many of you well know!
Now that my oldest is eating with us more often, our diet has become every bit as important as hers. It’s easy to ignore your own health when you feed children at a different time and just throw something together for yourself at the end of a long day. When I hit a wall after our second daughter arrived, I reached a point that demanded a change. Despite my own personal reasons for wanting to feel better, eat better and have more energy…those were actually the least of my motivating factors.
My biggest motivation?
There are so many buzz words flying around that could describe the way I aspire to feed my family. “Clean eating”, “paleo”, “whole food” are just a few. OK, so maybe some are a bit more intense than others, but the essence is simplifying what we eat, cutting out the processed foods and sugars and eating more naturally. I want my children to understand where food comes from and while my husband and I would love to grow much of it ourselves, that’s just not practical for us. Instead, we inform ourselves and make the best choices with the options we have available. Buying local gives us a sense of investing in our community and sharing our over abundance (eggs, soon…I promise!) in turn helps others.
We endeavor to stay fit and active so that we can enjoy playing with our children and encourage those same behaviors in them. I wholeheartedly believe in learning through experience and adore the boundless curiosity that results when we take the time to engage Lena with something new. Fitness should be a natural part of life and not a chore to be accomplished. We need balance in all things and too often our lives become sedentary despite our best intentions. After work or school we rush home to make dinner, run errands, and collapse from exhaustion. On the days I work (at a desk job) it’s alarming how many fewer steps I take! We might read the news, a book or a magazine to engage our brain without a thought to engaging our body.
I aspire to create an environment where healthy food, healthy bodies and daily life flow seamlessly together. This won’t happen overnight but each day or week, we actively work to make a better choice and then make those choices into habits. It’s a huge work in progress, but every little step gets us that much closer to our goal.
We have recently embarked on an endeavor to earn a little extra income. In turn, we’ve had to do some reorganizing at home. The result? Kid toys need a new home!
The main goal is to have a tidy place to store toys with out overrunning our family space.
I’ve long thought of purchasing an Ikea shelving unit and baskets to hold all the bits. However, we don’t have a lot of wall space and currently the best area available is in a hallway. Too cluttered? Possibly.
Another reservation is the very modern look of Ikea furniture when we live in an old house. I was on the verge of purchasing an Expedit unit this spring only to find Ikea had discontinued it and had not yet released it’s replacement! Fortunately, this dilemma is now solved with a new model called Kallax.
Alternatively, we have a door in our living room which is not original to the house. We almost never use it so can easily put furniture in front that buys us about five feet of wall space (though not a lot of height as there is a window in the door)!
We likely need some out if the box ideas to tackle this dilemma!
The other obvious choices are:
Baskets beneath our favorite coffee table, already home to puzzles and diapering station.
Or a tall, narrow bookshelf.
Obviously this is a work in progress. Brain wracking to be continued….
This is a staple in our house. Not that I assemble it into anything resembling a traditional coleslaw, but just the raw ingredients. It’s crunchy, healthy and so versatile! My current favorite is a heaping pile in a wrap with some grilled chicken and a little spicy sauce (sriracha with mayo or sour cream works well). This has been my work lunch for a few weeks running now.
My latest discovery? Rainbow salad…
I’m thinking a little lemon juice, olive oil and mustard. How about you?
Having a baby is a crazy, life altering, mind numbing, ecstatic time in your life. Shortly after you emerge from the baby bubble and resume normal life, everything just falls into place and life goes on…right?
Yeah, not so much. I honestly thought I was busy all the time before baby #1. Once Lena was born, I didn’t find any time for my self or my personal well-being. I was equal parts elated, exhausted and emotionally drained. That’s all with a reasonably “easy” baby. I mean, what new parent isn’t constantly wishing for a nap?
Baby #2 brought much the same, with a whole new level of sleep deprivation. Five hours of interrupted sleep is sufficient for most anyone, right? During the day she is a happy, easy going kid so I can hardly complain. Those few occasions I got a straight six hours I should have felt amazing…but I didn’t.
I’ve always fought this constant battle with feeling tired and run down. Having gone through two pregnancies, I just wasn’t feeling like my old self. I used to play sports, take long walks and was a rather energetic individual. Now, I felt like my body just wasn’t responding the way it should and I had aches and pains that made it that much worse. I had no energy for anything beyond our day-to-day necessities. Once the kids were in bed, we’d collapse on the couch for some TV and then call it a night. Something had to give.
My husband and I made a pact to start eating better. We both have a sweet tooth so we started eliminating dessert and making an effort to curb our sugar intake wherever we could. The next step was cooking more and avoiding take-out, I’ve written about one of our strategies here. Next up? Exercise!
With an infant and a toddler, we had mismatched nap schedules so getting out of the house for a decent walk was problematic on the best of days. I’d tried and failed at so many home workout programs and getting to a gym was out of the question. A friend talked me into giving one more program a try. Twenty one days, half an hour a day. I could do that. With a huge assist from the hubbie, I made it work. I couldn’t go on feeling like I did.
Fast forward to today and I am so glad I took the chance. I have energy again, I sit down at the end of the day and five minutes later I’m up again doing something to prep for the next day. Not only that but I’m pushing myself to do things I haven’t in ages! Reading, writing, swimming, meeting up with friends occasionally. It’s still a work in progress, but at least I know I’m on the right track.
A few things I’ve learned?
1. Be ready to change bad habits. 2. Take small steps, make it fit your lifestyle.
3. Be realistic and make changes that you can keep long-term.
4. Find your motivation! (Mine was finding energy for myself and my family, but that’s only part of the story…more to come.)
It’s amazing how you look back at life before one child and think, “What did I do with my day?!” Well, the feeling grows exponentially with the second!
With our first, we were both working full time and our evening routine consisted of rushing in the door, throwing together kid good, getting said kid washed and into bed, scarfing down something vaguely food related and collapsing into bed. The second time around I was determined to avoid this. I’m an organized person. Really, I am. Sudden changes to routine send me into a tailspin. Ask my husband how many times I check with him to be sure he’s picking up the kids! Changes to the routine equals bouts of anxiety quickly escalating into panic. Seriously, don’t mess.
Over the past three months of maternity leave I felt like I gained a lot of traction in organizing our lives. It was complete chaos most of the time but the last few weeks we had full cupboards, healthy meals (albeit from a relatively limited menu) and clean clothes the vast majority of the time. I remembered why I enjoy cooking so much and took pride in our new house , actually having time to keep up with most (ok, some) chores. Facing the end of leave, I was living in abject fear. Let’s just say I have a hard time giving up control. There, I said it.
I couldn’t fathom spending one minute away from my not-so-tiny babe and my precocious two-year-old, let alone commuting for the first time in two years. Anxiety induced paranoia? Check. Floods of tears? Check. Begging to stay home even though I knew I’d be miserable and it would be fiscally impossible? Check. Week two and I’m totally better. I didn’t actually burst into tears upon leaving my kids in the hands of my mother, who lives roughly three minutes from work and feeds me lunch (when I stop in to check on the kids) while also delivering said kids to my doorstep at least once during the day. Yep, SO much better. You get the picture.
Anyway, one way we have introduced some sense of sanity (because clearly I have none) is through a nifty service we saw online and decided to give a whirl. Blue Apron is a game changer. Not only do they deliver delicious and easy recipes to your door, they’re healthy too! What’s better than fresh ingredients and fun recipes that encourage you to try new things?
Also, they’ve recently upgraded their menus so now you can more accurately select the types of foods you enjoy and opt out of foods you don’t eat. Can it get any easier?
Ok, so it might be slightly more expensive than your average home cooked meal but I believe you make up for that in lack of waste. I mean, how often do you need a head of red cabbage or an entire jicama? Most of the ingredients are readily found in most grocery stores so if we like a recipe we just buy the basic ingredients and recreate it on our own.
So now, three nights a week we have meals planned. We wing the rest but have rediscovered our love of cooking. New ingredients, new recipes…and it’s relatively brainless time we can spend together when we are burnt out at the end of a long day. We just have some fun and eat a great meal, together. Hard to pass that up!
A few of our favorites:
Kumquat lime glaze over chicken with a side of freekah with Brussel sprouts, mint and almonds.
Shortrib burger on a pretzel bun with sweet potato chips.
Turkey with lemon caper sauce over mashed potato and roasted broccoli.
Parenthood is stressful. That’s a no brainer. So when something comes along that can simplify your life, you jump on it. Right?
One of my biggest concerns has always been ensuring my kids get a good meal. I try hard not to let them eat too many processed foods and as a result, we’ve been buying better products for the entire family. I can’t see this as a problem, except for one thing. The cost.
Purchasing organic produce and products that adhere to a higher standard comes at a high dollar value. Not only that but you can spend hours in the grocery store reading labels in order to make good food choices. It’s exhausting and parenting is challenging enough as it is!
Stores like Trader Joe’s try to take the guess-work out of the equation. In not expecting perfection but it’s a huge relief to know that whatever winds up in my cart is something I am comfortable buying for my family. Their prepared foods are delicious and I’ve always been satisfied with the quality of their products. All that comes with reasonable prices! Not only reasonable but often at much lower prices than I’d pay elsewhere.
The bottom line is TJ tries hard to supply great food. I’ve become a total convert and wish we had one close to us. Maybe someday soon a store will come to our area…until then I’ll just stock up whenever I can!
Maybe I’ll send in a few dozen location requests in the meantime. ;-).