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How To Cope When Life Hands You Too Much

This week has been a tough one for me. For one, there’s just a lot to do between getting ready for Christmas and the two kids with Christmas birthdays. But I’ve also been carrying a heavy emotional burden with one of my children who is having a lot of problems lately, which is weighing on me even more heavily than my to-do list.

Basically this meme sums up exactly how I’m feeling.


Everyone goes through times when it feels like life has handed you too much. This is especially true with parents, who are juggling all the balls they can even when things are going well. Add on a few more troubles and it’s easy to feel completely overwhelmed.

I’m in process of working on this overwhelm right now and I’m not claiming to be an expert on this. What I can share is the list of things that work for me when I feel bogged down emotionally and physically by how much life has handed me.

how to cope

1. Practice the art of delegating

Life handed you too much? Hand some of it off.

Sure you may be carrying around an emotional burden that can’t be handed off, but if you give away some of the tangible tasks it can free you up enough to better deal with all of that.

Some tasks that can be delegated:

  • Childcare- call upon family members or a babysitter
  • Housework- ask your partner to take over a couple tasks that are typically yours
  • Social commitments- kids are the best excuse to get out of anything. If attending a social event is putting you over the edge, one of them can easily become “sick” 😉
  • Learn to say no! So many times we end up with too much on our plate because felt compelled to say yes when we should have said no.

2. Sleep it off

You can’t use this one all the time obviously, but sometimes when you can’t cope with your emotions, a stretch of sleep is the miracle cure.

Personally, my body does this on its own when I’m overwhelmed. My husband loves to laugh about the night he proposed to me. It was such a big event for me and so emotional that my body just shut down and went to sleep. He had a special dinner planned that he wanted to make me and I passed out on the couch and couldn’t get myself to wake up for it.

how to cope
Me: Can’t deal with life. Must sleep.

It turns out there’s actually science to this, as sleep can emotionally re-set the brain. Dr. Alice Boyes writes:

If you’re finding yourself having an unproductive day or an emotionally difficult day, try having a nap to get an emotional re-set. A nap of about 90 minutes (but not longer) is probably going to be necessary to give yourself the greatest emotional re-set benefits. This is because if you sleep 90 minutes you’ll go through one complete cycle of all five of the 5 stages of sleep, including REM sleep. REM sleep seems to be important for the emotional resetting process.

3. Call upon your support network

Who is the best listener in your life who will let you lay all your problems out there with no judgement? Time for a two hour phone call with them.

Or maybe it’s the friend who is sure to make you laugh. Invite them out for a drink.

Whoever it is you need, reach out. Holing up by yourself and eating your feelings is not likely to help.

4. Find your tribe

There are the times when it feels like no one can understand what you’re going through right now.

The good news is, there are millions of people out there. Someone out there can relate! You just need to find them.

There are support groups out there for adoptive parents, special needs parents, people who are going through divorce, etc. Connect with the people who will get what you’re dealing with.

Short on time or lacking what you need in your local community? Online forums might be your next best thing. Your tribe might be a quick Google search away.

5. Escape

Can’t deal with your life at the moment? Dive into someone else’s life through a book or a movie. Maybe video games get you into another world where you forget your own problems. Throw yourself into a creative project if art is your form of escape.

For me, travel is the ultimate escape guaranteed to get me into happy mode. Since trips can’t happen as often as I’d like, I generally do the next best thing- start planning my next vacation. I can go into my travel planning zone for hours and it really does make me forget my problems and focus on happy times.

Although escape can be effective, make sure you keep this coping mechanism in check. You don’t want to use this one too much, because at the end of the day we have to face our problems.

6. Self-care

Moms, I know you read this all the time and give it a little eyeroll and move on. Who has the time when we are already overly taxed? But really, self-care is HUGE.

For me, making exercise a priority is the best kind of self-care because I like doing it and I feel great after. But everyone has their own thing and you need to do what makes YOU happy.

A pedicure is another treat that makes me feel like a human again. Or if spending money isn’t in cards, a super long shower or bath. Meditation or simple mindfulness activities are helpful for lots of people as well.

Really any time to myself will do. But you do you when it comes to self-care. It’s all about making yourself and your relaxation a priority.

7. If you still can’t cope, turn to professionals

We all get down and feel overwhelmed at times. If you feel unable to cope and it’s ongoing, there is no shame in getting professional help. If it turns out you’re facing depression or anxiety, you don’t want to go through that on your own. Get the help you need so you can feel better and enjoy your life again.

What helps you cope when life hands you too much? Let us know in the comments!

5 Ways to Teach Your Kids While on Vacation

Disclosure: The following is a guest post in collaboration with CTI.

There’s no better time to teach your children than when on vacation. Traveling provides a very valuable experience with an abundance of knowledge on offer, whether you actively seek it or not.

If you want your little ones to learn as you travel, here are just five ways to make that happen.

Visit sites of historical importance

Perhaps the easiest and most straightforward way to teach the kids whilst traveling is by visiting the sites of historical importance. Whether it’s an ancient temple, a sprawling castle or even a museum, it’s crucial in allowing them to learn about the history of their destination.

It’s absolutely the easiest way to teach your children about your location – and perhaps you’ll learn something new along the way, too. Do some research before you head out there to see where the spots of historical value are, and take some time out of a day or two to go and explore.

Talk to the locals

There’s no better way to learn about your destination than conversing with locals. Whether it’s the staff in your accommodation, a waiter in a restaurant or even someone on the street, do not hesitate to ask them any questions you have – often, locals in foreign countries are friendly and approachable, always willing to lend a helping hand should they need to.

Talking to the locals will give you and your kids an authentic insight into the ways of life, including common cultural practices and current affairs you may have not known about.

Understand and embrace the culture

Talking of culture, it’s important your children understand the practices and norms of your destination. Whether it’s bowing as a greeting in Japan or paying respect to the Thailand national anthem twice a day, make sure you as a family are aware of just how to navigate the culture of whichever country you’re in.

It’s especially important if you’re planning on paying a visit to any places of cultural importance, such as a temple or religious complex. Cambodia’s Angkor Wat for example, despite indisputably becoming a tourist attraction above anything, is still used as a place of worship – so make sure you’re constantly respectful.

Consider having them read a book during the plane journey for that foundation of knowledge they can build upon once you arrive. It’ll be valuable to have them equipped with even a small amount of information before you even touch down.

Try the cuisine

It may sound like a casual activity rather than an opportunity for knowledge, but sampling the cuisine of your destination is one of the best ways to gain an appreciation and an understanding for the culture. Food is often a central part of life in many countries, so by delving into the local dishes you’ll be allowing your little ones to have an authentic experience.

Consider street food – it’s wildly popular around the world, what for its price and its deliciousness. From the blends of cuisine in Thailand to the fragrant dishes of India, be sure to encourage the kids to test themselves and try a thing or two.

Continue your world exploration

The best way to get your kids to learn something new about the world is by making travelling a regular activity. Sure, it’s sometimes not easily affordable – but by budgeting properly and planning your trips thoroughly, it’s easier than you may think. Teach your little ones about just how diverse and exciting the world can be and you’ll be providing them with valuable insights and knowledge early on in life, a valuable trait that they will be lucky to possess.

How To Find the Right Car For Your Growing Family

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

When we found out we were expecting baby number 3, my mind was racing with thoughts. Would we have enough time to devote to three children? Would our house be big enough to accommodate a family of 5? Does our car even fit three car seats across??? (spoiler alert: the answer to that last one was a big fat NO!)

The age that children are required to stay in car seats continues to get pushed back later and later. Kids today may be in a booster until age 12 depending on their height and weight. This means parents need to stay up to date on car seat laws and make sure they are installing car seats correctly. And when the time comes that your family needs a new car, parents need to choose a one that works with the type and number of car seats their family needs.

So how do you find the right car for your growing family?

1. Safety and car seat compatibility

Cars.com can make this one easy for you. They’ve rated popular cars after being tested by certified child passenger safety technicians. They grade the vehicles based on the safety checks of their Latch system and the car’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. There is even this handy tool where you can enter a car’s make, model, and year and it will show you a report card for the vehicle. The result will look like this: how to find the right car for your growing family

This is a serious game-changer for parents shopping for a new (or new-to-you) car. Look up your current vehicle or the ones you’re interested in buying HERE: https://www.cars.com/news/car-seat-check/ You will quickly and easily see how many car seats fit in each row and how well each row accommodates different types of car seats. Definitely info you want to know before rolling up at home in a new set of wheels that may or may not fit your brood!

2. Features

After you’ve narrowed down your list of possibilities, make a list of the specific features you need in a car. While a minivan may not exactly jive with everyone’s style, I absolutely love mine because the sliding doors and trunk open with the push of a button on my key ring! So convenient when your arms of full of groceries and babies. I also knew I wanted leather seats, because they’d be easier to clean after the inevitable spills (and yes, the dreaded child vomit).

Lots of parents also love having a third row, either in a minivan or SUV. Trunk space and gas mileage may also be important for you to consider. Then there are the not-exactly-necessary (but still nice to have) features like rear window sun shades to keep the sun out of baby’s eyes. A rear-view camera is another nice extra for peace of mind when backing out of driveways or parking lots with children around.

how to find the right car for your growing family

3. Price

When determining your budget for a new car, don’t forget to factor in fees like sales tax, title and registration fees, insurance, and extended warranties. If you are financing the vehicle, consider the interest rate and try to time your purchase for when interest rates are low.  Consider trading in your old car and using that for a down payment. The more you are able to put down, the lower your monthly bills will be. If you are unsure of what your ideal price range should be, try using an online affordability calculator to figure it out.

When did you know you’d need a new car to accommodate your family? Which car ended up being perfect for you?

 

How To Become a Runner When Running Makes You Feel Like Dying

Full disclosure: This advice is coming from a running novice. If you’re a fitness buff looking for tips from a great fitness guru, go check out one of the millions of awesome fitness blogs. I’m just a Mom trying to look like she did two pregnancies ago with only 23 minutes of spare time per day to accomplish it.

how to become a runner

My entire life I’ve hated running. It’s one of those things I WISHED I loved, because the people who do are so enviable. They’re healthy, they’re lean, they just seem confident and cool. But running has always made me feel like dying. It’s hard to get into something that makes you feel like that.

Tiana’s depiction of me on the treadmill. Notice the trails of sweat and expression of pure misery.

Somehow by necessity, running became one of my only workout options. All the fun, hip barre and bootcamp classes in my area don’t offer childcare, and I’ve had at least one baby by my side for approximately 54,762 8 years now.

This limits my options to Youtube videos during nap time, and running with a jogging stroller. I’ve taken up both, alternating days.

And I’m happy to say, running no longer makes me feel like dying.

via GIPHY

So how did I get here? I’m very happy you asked that question 😉

1. Start where you’re at

Maybe right now you can make it around the block before you feel like dying. Then that’s where you start. Don’t set out to run 5 miles on day one just so you can vomit, feel horrible about yourself, and never run again. Just do the block.

Don’t set your goal according to anyone else (oh boy, this is true for so many things. Exercise, weight loss, blogging….!). Your goal is to go a little farther than you did last time. If you manage that, be proud of yourself. If you have the do the same 1 block 10 times before you’re able to go any farther, that means you went out running 10 times! How awesome are you?

Be as kind and optimistic with yourself as you would be with your child or best friend.

2. Walking counts

My husband jogs too, and often times after we’ve both gone on a run we like to see how far we went by using Map My Run. It’s just a cool, easy way to map the route you just went on and see how many miles it was. Anyway, he will always stop short of our house on the map, saying “well this is where I started walking so it doesn’t count”.

It never fails to elicit a huge eyeroll from me. Honestly, it’s not like he strapped on his hoverboard and flew home from that point! If you walked some of the route, you still took those steps and covered that distance. It counts.

3. Lie to yourself when necessary

You know how they say the hardest part of any fitness regimen is lacing up your sneakers? I agree with that wholeheartedly. It’s so easy to make excuses of why you’re going to skip your workout for the day. I didn’t sleep well last night. My legs are pretty sore. I’m kind of short on time today.

This is when I lie to myself. I say “ok self. Those are good reasons why I am probably not going to do my best run ever today. So let’s just compromise, and I’ll do a super easy little baby run. Still better than no run, right?”

Then once I get started on my “super easy little baby run”, I start getting into my groove, realize I can totally do this, and end up doing the whole thing.

4. Create a habit

The cool thing about exercise is, if you build it into your routine and make it a habit, in a very short time you will feel really strange if you DON’T do it. This only takes a couple weeks of daily exercise in my experience. Once you get there, you’re in a really awesome place. It doesn’t feel like a chore anymore, it feels just like going through your day. Only your day is healthier and more energized.

As far as creating that routine, everyone has to find a spot in their day that works for them. For me, if I put it off to the end of the day, I’m WAY more likely to skip it. It works best for me to do it first thing in the morning before my husband leaves for work. The benefits to this time are:

  • My youngest wakes up early so I’m already up and just wasting time anyway
  • It gets me out of some of that dreaded morning chaos of getting the older kids ready for school
  • My husband doesn’t want to be late so he’ll pressure me by saying “go now or you’re going to miss your chance!”
  • Morning workouts rev up your metabolism for the day
  • Even though I don’t diet, I am more likely to make good food choices that day because I don’t want to “ruin” the workout I just did

5. Bring a kid or two

I never thought I’d say this, but I actually prefer running with a jogging stroller to running by myself. It might have something to do with being an introvert and wanting to deflect attention away from myself when I pass other people on the sidewalk. The baby also gives me a nice distraction because I’m pointing out dogs and birds and flowers to him instead of just focusing on my lungs collapsing.

My son absolutely LOVES jogging with Mom, so that’s motivation in itself. He runs to the door to get his shoes on when it’s time to go for a run, so in his own little way he is pressuring me too.

how to become a runner
Luca living the stroller life

6. Other notes about jogging strollers

If you’re looking for a jogging stroller that is super smooth and easy to push, I would not hesitate to recommend my BOB Revolution. Don’t worry if you find that sticker price appalling, just check Craigslist or your local Moms group to buy one secondhand. These things can take a beating so it should hold up well through multiple kids.

One mistake that is easy to make with a jogging stroller (especially when you’re starting out and still hate running) is to lean over and put weight down on the handlebar when you’re tired. This just creates more work for you because you’re making it harder to push, plus you are straining your back. Check your form a few times throughout your jog and make sure you are keeping your back upright and straight with your shoulders down. You should only be giving the handlebar a gentle forward push.

7. Sign up for that 5k

how to become a runner
Smiling because the finish line is in sight during my first 5k

Lastly, after you’ve built up a little endurance and can jog a couple miles, take the plunge and sign up for a 5k. This will give you great motivation to stick with your routine and push yourself harder. Being part of a race doesn’t really mean you are racing anyone, it just lets you be a part of something that’s more exciting than running loops around your neighborhood.

After completing a race, you’ll have a great feeling of accomplishment. I did my first 5k last year, and while I did feel like dying during some parts, the sense of pride at the end was amazing. My kids didn’t care what place I came in, they were just happy to cheer for Mommy. And what better example to set for your kids than working hard to accomplish something you didn’t think you could do?

The kids were inspired to run in a race like Mommy!

8. Other jogging tips

Distraction can be your best friend when you’re trying to huff and puff through your run. Put a favorite motivational playlist together and run with your headphones. Or go for a jog when you have a lot on your mind and see how easy it is to sort your thoughts out. When your mind is elsewhere your body will do what it needs to and you won’t even notice!

During especially painful times, when your body totally does notice, keep your focus just a short distance in front of you. If you’re looking far into the distance, it can seem like you’re not making any progress and will never get there. Looking just a few sidewalk squares in front of you, you’ll feel like you’re flying through.

What advice or questions do you have about starting a running regime? I’d love to hear from you!