3 Ways for Mums to Beat The Winter Blues

Staying active and motivated is challenging enough for mums with little ones and when winter sets in it is even harder.

But keeping up those great habits you worked so hard to create is key to keeping the winter blues at bay. Yes, its a real thing! Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a seasonal depression and most commonly occurs in winter.

So whether you are at risk of SAD or just need a little extra help to get moving in the cold, here are some simple tips especially for mums to beat the winter blues.

1. Write down one thing you want to accomplish the next day before you go to bed

As a new mum, some days just having a shower and practicing some basic hygiene feels like an accomplishment! But the simple act of writing down a goal for the next day and then achieving it will help to make you feel productive and good about yourself.

If you are like most mums and have about a dozen things swirling in your head at night, write them all down so that you can stop worrying about them. But don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get them all done. Just move them to the next day’s list.

2. Get dressed and ready for the day by 9am

There will absolutely be times where you find yourself still in your pj’s at 4pm and that’s okay. But as a general rule, try to get dressed (yes, yoga pants and a sloppy joe count!), do your hair (yes, messy mum-bun counts!) and whatever else makes you feel ready for action by 9am.

3. Do something active each day

Finding the time to exercise can be tricky for mums. And just the thought of stripping off your warm and comfy slippers and robe to slide into your active wear and runners has you climbing back into bed. But the key here is to make it fun and be accountable to someone.

Partner up with a mummy friend or involve the whole family including dad as well. Booking into a fun group fitness program like Kangatraining (insert shameless plug here) is a great way to not only get active but to socialise with other like-minded mummies. While there is no shortage of activities to chose from, Kangatraining is a specific post natal workout run by mums, for mums. Kangatrainers are educated in post natal exercise, women’s health issues such as PND and weak pelvic floor, as well as safe baby wearing practices. Not to mention it recently won the award for best pre / post natal activity at the What’s On 4 Australia 2016 Junior Awards. Okay, I may be a little bias given that I am a trainer myself, but seriously, it’s awesome!

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Hopefully these ideas will help to keep your mojo flowing throughout the cool winter months. We all still have crappy days from time to time though, so don’t be too hard on yourself either.
Some days we just need to rock our pj’s, pour ouselves a glass of wine and binge watch an insanely ridiculous but oh-so-addictive tellie show.

Footage Friday: Jesse’s First Birthday

A few days before we celebrated Jesse’s first birthday with our family and friends at his party, we spent his actual birthday together as a little family.

Amongst the routine of meals and bath time we opened presents, played together and enjoyed a picnic in the warm sunshine.

It was a perfect day.

Photo Friday: Happy Birthday Jesse

Happy birthday to the most amazing little dude we know!

We can hardly believe that you turn one today Jesse! You have brought so much joy and happiness to our lives, more than you will probably ever know.

We love being woken by you every morning. We love your cheekiness. We love your spirit. We love that you suffer from FOMO, even when you should be sleeping. We love how you put a smile on the face of everyone who meets you.

Today, is all about you darling.

Happy birthday Jesse. We love you…

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Our Birth Story: A Mum’s Perspective

We are just days away from our little boy’s first birthday and we can’t quite believe it. No longer a ‘baby’ and becoming more toddler-like with each day.

This special milestone has me reminiscing about his arrival into the world and those first few days as a first time mum.

So I thought I might commemorate the occasion by telling Jesse’s birth story. Partly because all mum’s love to share their labour stories and partly because all kids love to hear about their entrance into the world. But also because I don’t want the details to get fuzzy. I want to document it so I will always remember.

Those last few weeks of pregnancy

I was loving pregnancy but I was also starting to get very excited about meeting our new family member. And if I’m honest, a little anxious about the pain I was about to endure. I had heard lots of birth stories and was even blessed to witness a few bubs coming into the world, but I had no idea what my birth experience would be like.

I knew what I wanted; a calm yet active labour. To labour at home for as long as possible. To do it as naturally and unassisted as possible. But I also knew that a birth plan doesn’t always go to plan and should be flexible.

Kaine would ask me every day towards the end if there was “any movement at the station” before leaving for work and each time I would smile and assure him no, not yet.

On the 25th of May, Kaine decided to start his leave from work. Even if bub didn’t come for another week or more, we would have some special time together before bub did come.

We went for a walk with the dog that day (well I waddled) and I distinctly remember on our way back the man across the road asked how long we had to go. Ten days I answered excitedly. And two days later we were parents.

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The final bump shot – 38 Weeks

Tuesday 26th May, 2015

7am – I’m lying in bed enjoying one of the last few sleep ins I’ll have for probably a very long while and feel myself drifting in and out of sleep. I start to realise that it’s mild period-like pain waking me from my slumber. Without opening my eyes I sleepily wonder to myself if it’s the early stages of contractions. I ignore it for a while longer and continue to snooze.

Later that morning we are both awake as we had plans to go the shops. It’s not until after we are there for about an hour that I mention to Kaine that I think I’m getting mild contractions. Nothing to freak out about, but perhaps we should go home. By this stage they were feeling a bit stronger and all I could think about was not wanting my waters to break in public (clean up in isle 5!).

As the day got later, the contractions got stronger and more painful, but still very irregular. Some were 20 minutes apart while others were 4 or 5 minutes apart.

11 pm – Kaine asked (yet again) if we should tell anyone. I told him no because I knew these things could stop and start. The midwives had told us to stay at home until the contractions were 3 minutes apart so that’s what I was going to do. I instructed Kaine to go and get some sleep. But there was no way I could with the waves of pain I was getting.

So, with the lights dimmed I had my contraction timer app and a game on my phone for in between and every time a contraction came I would get up and squat whilst bracing against the kitchen bench.

Sometime during the early hours of Wednesday I migrated to the spare room to get some rest in between contractions. The gap was getting longer and the pain was getting milder. By 6am the next morning, they were all but gone! I had a midwife appointment at 10.30am, so I knew that I could fill her in with the nights activity and see what she says.

Wednesday 27th May, 2015

After barely any sleep I was feeling particularly spritely – must have been adrenaline kicking in.

10am – We head off to my midwife appointment. I explain the last 24 hours and she says that’s all great signs and this could go on for a week. What now? A week?? Hell no. I have a couple of little pains in her office but nothing to really worry about.

Afterwards we drop by mum’s for a visit as she is right around the corner. Now she knows nothing of what’s been going on until I rush to the kitchen bench to resume my squat position. Conversation stops and breathing gets heavier. I see the look of glee on mum’s face which at the time, seems kind of cruel. After two more I say to Kaine for the second day in a row, “I think we need to go home now”.

12.30pm – We arrive home and while Kaine goes to get lunch I hop into bed with the lap top to continue watching Glee on Netflix which has been my guilty pleasure since starting my maternity leave.

I soon find myself hovering by the bed in a world of pain. I recommence timing contractions and they’re getting closer. It’s time to call the hospital.

The midwife answers and I can hardly talk I’m in so much pain. I manage to form enough words to tell her what’s happening and she tells us to come in.

Holy sh*t! This is happening! We grab our bags, I warm my heat pack one more time and we head out the door.

That car trip is not one I’ll forget anytime soon. I can’t squat my way through contractions in the car and instead have to sit up right. I clench the seat beside me. I start to cry. Partly from the pain and partly because I’m scared.

I have a contraction in the car park and two more getting up to the maternity ward.

2 pm – They hook me up to a machine to listen to bubby’s heartbeat and to monitor contractions. For the next 30 minutes, they just stand around and watch me ryth pain with each one. After deciding that I am indeed in labour they check to see how dilated I am and whether or not they can break my waters.

I was so happy to hear I was 4cm dilated (all that work last night paid off!) and breaking my waters was surprisingly easy and pain free.

Well, from that moment, it was game on! We put the call in to my parents as we had agreed that my mum and sister would join us in the birth suite. They were both unbelievable support as was Kaine.

And I was lucky enough to be able to stick to my birth plan entirely. I remained mobile throughout the whole labour and stayed off the bed pretty much the whole time. It was definitely leg day as I continued to squat with each contraction. Boy did I feel that the next day!

But it was part of my routine. I coped by doing the same thing every time. At one point the midwife suggested I count or get Kaine to count during each one. I remember thinking “if you start to count out loud and I will slap you!”

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When it came time to push I thought nature would just take over. But I found that I really had to deliberately switch gears from riding through the wave of contractions to using it to bear down. I was getting to the stage where I didn’t know how much more I could do or how much longer I could go for.

When I said that the midwife replied that they wouldn’t let me push for much longer. Immediately I wondered what that meant. Assisted delivery? Caesarean? Okay, time to get this baby out!

I realised what was holding me back was my fear of tearing after hearing one particular horror story. I just had to put that aside and breath this baby out.  And that’s exactly what I did.

7.50 pm – It’s finally over. The sweet relief of no more pain washes over me as does the love for the tiny baby I hold in my arms. “Well what is it?” I hear everyone say and I realise I haven’t yet looked to see whether I’m holding my son or my daughter. And nobody else in the room knows either.

It’s a boy I say as I look up at Kaine. We both smile as we look back down at our beautiful baby boy.

My dad, who was not-so-patiently waiting in the waiting room this whole time, joins us while we all marvel at our beautiful baby boy. Around that time, we all put in our final guesses for baby’s weight. He was a delicate parcel of 6 pound 2 ounces. I think Kaine might have guessed his weight exactly.

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I was just completely in new mum bliss mode now. Thrilled to have had such an amazing birth experience but also thrilled it was over. Just in time for my next challenge. Motherhood.

I’ll never forget the moment my life changed forever. The moment I fell even more madly in love with my husband and the moment my heart started to live outside my body.

Jesse, my darling boy, happy birthday.

Photo Friday: Autumn Days

One of the things we love about living in Brisbane (there are many) is that it is practically summer all year round. We are starting to see some cooler mornings and evenings but the days are still beautifully warm and sunny.

This week we ventured outdoors a few times to soak up a bit of of Vitamin D and enjoy play time outside.

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365 Project: The Home Stretch

A little over a year ago we decided to document our first year as parents – a 365 project and one of the catalysts for this blog.

Here’s a little reminder of what we set out to do.

We will:

  • For the entire first year of Jesse’s life and our first year as parents, chronicle our journey through writings and photos.
  • Both journal something every day of Jesse’s first year of life and our first year as parents, no excuses (no matter how sleep deprived we are)!
  • Each take a photo every day of Jesse’s first year of life and our first year as parents, no excuses (crappy, badly lit, grainy selfies at 5 minutes to midnight included)!
  • Not share our journal entries or photos with each other, until after Jesse’s first birthday (the official end of the project).
  • At the conclusion of The 365 Project, compile and publish the journals and photos as two individual books titled ‘Not So Secret Life Of Us: A year in the life of a first time Dad’ and ‘Not So Secret Life Of Us: A year in the life of a first time Mum’.

We are 343 days in now so well and truly on the home stretch. And though it’s been challenging at times I’m proud to say that we have managed to stick to our intentions for the project.

The hardest part for me has been taking a photo every day. It sounds easy enough and like most mum’s my camera roll is full of photos of my baby. But some days have been so full on the only time I’ve been able to take a quick snap is when Jesse has fallen asleep for the night. And other days there’s just enough time to click a few selfies in between meal times, play time and nappy changes. So this means plenty of dark, grainy shots of Jesse sleeping and selfies with bad hair and dark circles under the eyes.

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Day 56

I’m not sure how interesting it will be for others to read. A New York Times best seller is probably out of the picture! Some days my entries are only a few words long while on other days I have waxed lyrical about the joys and challenges of new motherhood. But I am really intrigued to read Kaine’s finished product as I’m sure he has written thoughts and feelings that weren’t vocalised (as I have) over the last 12 months. I’m also looking forward to looking back over my own and reminiscing, particularly those early days and weeks.

Honestly, it really hasn’t felt like a chore at all and it will actually be kind of weird not to do it any more. Though preparing our finished products as books will certainly keep us busy for a while yet.

I’m really proud that we have stuck with it and no doubt we will have a new project in the works soon enough.

What Makes You Feel Beautiful?

Recently my two best girlfriends and I were invited to participate in another wonderful photography project by Renee Trubai called “Hear Her ROAR”. Renee says, The project is about showing women the beauty of themselves that has perhaps been forgotten, ignored or tucked away. It’s about rejuvenating- and celebrating- your love and respect for yourself.

This is simple for me … I want to show women the strength of their own beauty.

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We haven’t yet scheduled the shoot but the preparation for this session, and all of Renee’s work, starts long before the first frame of film is snapped. She always does a thorough consultation first and provides some nuggets to mull over beforehand so that we go into the shoot with a mindset and vision for the end result.

For the preparation of this session Renee asked a seemingly simple yet quite challenging question, for me anyway.

What does beauty mean to you, for you? What environment / outfit / music / style / activity lights you up inside … the kind that has your eyes sparkling?

Whoa! Instantly I was blindsided by these questions. When was the last time I felt really beautiful? What does it look like when I feel beautiful?

My immediate answers to these questions seemed obvious. Well, I feel beautiful when my husband tells me I look pretty or when my little boy cuddles and kisses me. I feel beautiful when I’ve had my hair done at the salon and my nails are freshly polished.

And then I realised that these things were all about other people showing me I’m beautiful. But I wondered how I make myself feel beautiful. Just me. Not a compliment from someone else or when I’ve actually had the time to get primped and preened by a professional.

I wondered if I really didn’t know myself all that well and what I do, wear or listen to feel beautiful or whether I had just not ever really stopped to think about it. Maybe both.

I don’t wear much make up these days and most of the time my hair is dirty and tied up out of the way. I can’t remember the last time I wore high heels and most of my nice dresses still don’t fit almost a year after giving birth.

But when I think about what beauty means to me and what makes me feel beautiful in my daily life now, I think about laughing with my girlfriends so hard my tummy hurts. Teaching a Kanga class, working my body and helping other mums. I think about the empowerment of giving birth to my child and the strength I am learning now that I am a mother. I think about being on holidays, adventuring and exploring.

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Don’t get me wrong, I still feel like a million dollars when I get the chance to dress up, when my body is trim and when I’ve spent hours being pampered at the salon. But to me, a truly beautiful woman is one that is happy, powerful and confident. A woman of strength. One who tries new things, loves fiercely, smiles a lot and can laugh at herself.

So I challenge you to think about it… What makes you feel beautiful?

 

Our Breastfeeding Journey: Part III

I think its over. After nearly 11 months I think my breastfeeding journey with Jesse is coming to an end.

And yes, I am sad about it. I never really understood the emotional part of stopping until recently. But I’m also really  happy and proud that we were able to do it for this long.

When I last shared about my breastfeeding experiences Jesse was 5 months old and I was hoping to keep going for at least one more month. And here we are another 5 months later.

Breast feeds have become less and less frequent over the last few months, so about two weeks ago we decided to start weaning from night feeds and start encouraging Jesse to take a bottle through the night instead. This was mostly because he was waking up so many times during the night to comfort feed that I needed to do something. Within a few days it had worked and I was then just offering once through the day; more so because I wasn’t quite ready to stop yet. But it has now been several days since our last feed so I am coming to terms with it being over for good now.

I could feel the end was near so I made sure I treasured those few minutes a day together over the last couple of weeks. And I’m embracing the fact that my baby is no longer a baby and will soon be turning one. Oh my!

Now that I’m at the final stages, I have loved breastfeeding my son so much. It was such a special time together and often times the only thing that would soothe him. Whether it be sore gums from teething, a tummy ache or a bad dream. It was Mummy and her magic boobs to the rescue.

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But there were times when I was so tired and felt so touched out that it really was one of the most challenging parts of being a new mum. There are many things I will miss about breastfeeding but also several that I won’t. I am also really excited to wear normal bras again. Normal clothes again. And not be the only one that can get up to him through the night! Yay!

Let’s face it though, I probably still will.

So until next time, that is the end of breastfeeding for me. It has been lovely. And hard. And beautiful. And exhausting.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.