Joanna Anastasia

Self-help and mindfulness

How to deal with the mommy guilt

Even if you try your best, some days you just don't have the energy to play, somedays  you raise your voice and yell, and then you feel guilty about it. How to deal with the mommy guilt, great tips for moms! #parentingtips #motherhood

Even if you try your best, some days are just tough, and then the mommy guilt takes over. I know you’ve been there. The days of love and laughter and cuddles. And kids misbehaving and the overwhelming feeling of almost loosing it. The days where frustration is mixed with happiness, where pride is mixed with boredom. The days when you might yell at your kids just because you’re tired. And I think that you must be a mother to understand how is it even possible that all of these contradictory emotions can actually exist together. Sometimes at the same time. And how it’s still beautiful even if it isn’t perfect. And yet, you might still feel the mommy guilt.

But life isn’t perfect. There are ups and downs to almost any situation, and parenting is one of them. It’s ok to love your kids and be happy simply by looking at them. And it’s ok to hate their screaming tantrums and their whining moments. To smile at your baby, but to shred at a thought of another night nursing session. It’s fine to miss your kids while they’re in kindergarten, but to be tired and unmotivated while around them. We don’t have to always be motivated and exited about parenting. We don’t have to be always full of energy to play with our kids. It’s ok not to feel the willingness. Nothing and nobody is perfect, and mothers don’t need to be perfect either.

Kids need us to respond to their needs, to love them and cuddle, to nurture, inspire and motivate most of the time. But we don’t have to be always the best parents that a world have seen. We can respond to most (and not all) of their needs and still be very good parents!

The world for which we prepare them, the real-life world, isn’t always waiting with the arms wide opened. In real life, we live through deception, reject and failure. Nobody is always smiling at us and saying “good job!” all the time. And we’re raising our kids to live, prosper and be happy in that real, tough world, not in a fairy tale.

So it’s really fine if sometimes we don’t meet all of their needs. If from time to time we’ll say: not now honey. Go play alone. No, I won’t read to you now. No, I won’t go to park with you, nor cook a healthy, organic and finally cut in cute little shapes meal. It’s ok to serve a frozen pizza, and to let your kids watch Dora. It’s ok to skip bath. And not feel guilty about it.

Of course, I think that we should try our best, because we are raising humans who’ll shape the future of our society. But I don’t believe in perfection.

So here’s what you can do next time you feel the mom guilt overwhelming you:

1. Remind yourself all of the good things that you do for your kids.
You feed them, you cuddle them you love them. That’s good enough.

2. Repeat: good enough not perfect.
Because the world isn’t perfect, and you’re preparing them to live in the real world.

3. Breathe deeply and think about what are you grateful for.
Both can really help you with calming. And concentrating on the things that we are grateful for diminishes stress.

4. Think about your kids perspective.
They don’t know what’s your perfect ideal. They love you because you’re their parent, and whatever you’ll do, they’ll still love you. Even when you’ll raise your voice, they’ll forgive you. All they need is your smile and a hug.

5. Give yourself the right to make mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes. We’re human. So instead of living the guilt, try to shred it off, and think that tomorrow is a new day.

6. Assume that not everyday needs to be perfect.
Somedays you’ll be an amazing mom, and somedays a good-enough mom. And that’s fine.

I think that a lot of times the feeling mom-guilt comes from our unrealistic expectations. So if we could only treat ourselves with more kindness and gentleness, then I believe it would be best for both us, and our kids!

Organize your emotional life

Forget about the drawers, closets and hallways. There's something that's much more important, and it's your emotional life. If you feel unhappy in your routine, drained emotionally by people around you, and lost in your life, then it's time to rethink and reevaluate, it's time to organize your emotional life. <strong>Of course, it's not as easy as making space in the drawers. But if you'll only take some time to answer yourself these questions, you just might start the new year with a fresh regard, a new attitude, and reorganized emotional life! </strong> So grub a cup of coffee, a notepad and a pen, and let's start a little self-help session!

Forget about the drawers, closets and hallways. There’s something that’s much more important, and it’s your emotional life. If you feel unhappy in your routine, drained emotionally by people around you, and lost in your life, then it’s time to rethink and reevaluate, it’s time to organize your emotional life.

Of course, it’s not as easy as making space in the drawers. But if you’ll only take some time to answer yourself these questions, you just might start the new year with a fresh regard, a new attitude, and reorganized emotional life!

So grub a cup of coffee, a notepad and a pen, and let’s start a little self-help session, she’ll we? Just be honest with yourself, and always write down the very first thing that comes to your mind:

1. What relations are draining you out ?

If none, then good for you! If there’s one or two, write down when, and how these people are draining out your energy. Ask yourself if you’ve set clear boundaries in the past. If not, now is the time. Here is a good article about setting boundaries.

And if you feel that in your entourage there are more than two people who’re eating all of your energy and are draining you out, then it’s a clear signal that you might have a problem with setting boundaries in general. Maybe a session or two with a therapist would help you with that.


2. What relations add energy and joy to your life ?

Write down who’s your joy, motivation and support. Now find a way to spend more time with these people! Happiness comes from fulfilling relations, so start your year with extra happiness by making more time for those people who really make you happy!

3. When and with who do you feel negative emotions most often?

Are these the same people who drain your energy? If yes, maybe it’s time to cut them off your life.

Are these the same people who equally make you happy? If so, maybe it’s something about your communication, or your expectations?

Try writing down within the next week, when do you feel negative emotions about the people who are also making you happy. Usually it’s close family, people who we love, who can make as the happiest, but also the most frustrated.

After you write down for a week when and in which type of situation you get frustrated with the people that you love, you should start seeing a pattern. So, do your negative emotions appear when you’re stressed and tired? Could you need more time for yourself?

Do you feel like you’re not well understood? Like they don’t understand, or listen to what you’re saying,or like they don’t understand what you need? Try upgrading your communication skills, here is a good article to get you started.

Is it about people not meeting your expectations? Here are very well written tips about setting realistic expectations in a relationship , and here about setting up expectations with children.

3. How your routine makes you feel ?

Do you wake up in the morning exited about your day, mildly content, frustrated or all together unhappy?

Which part of your day do you love, and which one you hate?

What can you change?

Is it possible that your attitude toward your everyday life affects your relations with family and friends?

If you feel stuck in your everyday life, try answering all of these questions. Then think about what little changes you can insert, so you’d feel happier in your routine.

4. What really makes you happy?

I’m not talking satisfied, mildly content. And I don’t mean that feeling of achievement nor making someone else happy. What action really makes you feel happy? When do you forget the time, and you feel like you were made to do that very thing?

Did you find it? Whatever it is (of course as long if it’s not destructive for you or others) do it more.

And if you didn’t find it, now it’s the time. After all, all we really have is today.

10 steps for a strees free holiday season

10 steps for a stress free holiday season

It’s this time of the year again. Some love it, some hate it, and some are simply stressed until it’s over. There are countless gifts to buy. The home to prepare. Activities to attend, social events to participate, food to be prepared, cookies to be baked, gifts to be wrapped and, let’s not forget,magical pin-worthy kids memories to create. Oh, and also, family tensions to handle.

I love the festive season, but sometimes it drains just too much energy out if me. In the end, it should be fun for everyone, including me, the home maker, right?

So this year I choose to concentrate in the things I can control, plan ahead the all tasks that absolutely need to be done, delegate whatever is possible, and let go the unrealistic expectations (including mine!). Here’s my plan, maybe you too will find it helpful :

1. Plan ahead.
Doing everything that can be done early and crossed off the list, is my number one rule for a stress free Christmas. Make a big batch of cookies and freeze them, get your gifts wrapped at store, and leave yourself some time to simply appreciate the season!

2. Christmas shopping? Ahead and online.
The sooner you start, the better. I love shopping online, shopping small, and having everything delivered at my doorstep!

3. Forget about extra magical Christmas this year.
Christmas time is magical for kids, because they are kids, everything is magical for them ! Spending time with family during Christmas, playing around the Christmas tree and unwrapping gifts, is really magical enough! Of course, if you have extra energy for the Elf-on-the-shelf, DIY Advent calendar, or 20 days of different homemade cookies, then go for it. But don’t feel obligated to do it all!

4. If you’re the lucky host, then make it a potluck.
No, you’re not obliged to cook alone for a crowd, yes you can ask for help! Prepare the main meal, and ask everyone to bring a side or a desert. You’ll be less stressed, and your family members will be happy to help.

5. Use your slow cooker.
Did you know you can make a cake in the slow cooker? Yes, it’s not only for stews and soups, for is purgation, have a look in here.

6. Use printables.
Are you out of gift tags, thank you cards or gift paper? Well, instead of heading to the store, turn on your printer and print them out! Here’s my Pinterest board full of Christmas printables!

7. Opt for easy DIY gifts.
No need to impress everyone with an impressive DIY project that’ll take all your fee time! Choose one or two projects that you feel confident with! Here’s another one of my Pinterest boards full of easy DIY gift ideas.

8. And even easier teacher/coworker gifts.
Do you need gifts for teachers, neighbours and coworkers? Buy a batch of your favourite coffee-place gift cards, and print out one of these printables. You can add a coffee cup if you feel extra nice.

9. Don’t stress over the things that are beyond your control.
A family member is upset about another family member? There’s no snow/ to much snow? Your DIY gifts are not as cute as on Pinterest? Your kids cry on Santa’s lap? Too bad. Non of that will be important in a month, a year, in 10 years.

10. Remember what’s it all about.
Christmas isn’t about gifts. Nor about perfection. Christmas is about slowing down, spending time with family and friends, and cherishing the moment.

I hope you’ll have a stress free, happy holiday season, and please let me know if you have any other tricks and tips for a stress free Christmas !

How to deal with nostalgia and homesickness

If you read between the lines, then you already know that I’m an immigrant. I had once lived in the middle of Europe, in an old city full of 18th century churches and 19th century buildings. I used to speak only one language, eat seasonal and organic without knowing, and live the uni-cultural life.

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Now I live surrounded by three languages, in a much younger city, where people are from all over the world.

To me, immigration is a bit like failed heart operation. There’s always a hole that will never disappear. But there’s also this new part of the heart growing next to the hole. It can’t and it won’t replace the missing piece, but it’s there, pulsing with life.

The hole in a heart of an immigrant is made from all these things that have been left behind. Smells of a home city in the spring, friendly faces of neighbours passing by, favourite spots in the heart of the city from the past. Food that can’t be replaced anywhere else, made by an elderly aunt, who used only produce of her garden. The sound of people chattering in a language of childhood, language in which lullabies were softly sung. The things that nor Skype, nor FaceTime can’t bring.

And of course people. Even though with the modern technology we can connect with people living far, then still it can’t replace hugging your grandmother when she’s sad. Or going on a walk with her. It can’t replace holding your friends baby. It can’t replace just sitting with your best friend and looking at the stars like you used to do.

And yet, there’s this whole new part of heart that has grown! All these people who became your family. Some of them so close that you can’t imagine a life without them. New tastes and new smells that became a part of who you are.

But still, as an immigrant you can’t help it, you get nostalgic. You miss experiences that you can’t live, people from the past and places far away.

How to deal with it? Fight it, or live it and fall in to sadness deeper and deeper? Is it possible to explain it to someone, who lived all their life in one place with the same people around?

But there is also this assurance of knowing, that you can change everything around you, because you already did it once. The confidence that immigration has installed in you. You’ve made it. And you know how strong it have made you.

Whether you moved to a different city or a different country, homesickness is a part of the deal. How to live with it without getting depressed.

And yet, the nostalgia and homesickness hits once in a while. I know that the more I let myself think about it, the worst it gets. To the point when I just feel like sitting and crying. So for me the best thing is to redirect it in to action. Take care of my home and my kids, work, see other people. I know it’ll come back, but that’s the price I pay for living two lives.

So whether you moved to a different city or a different country you know that nostalgia and homesickness are a part of the deal. Here’s what you can do about it :

1. Live it. Let yourself feel the sadness of loss.
Feel your emotions without submerging them or pushing them away. Listen to music that let’s you remember your loss, look at old photos, eat food that makes you remember the tastes, call friends and cry on the phone. There’s a chance that after a while you’re going to hit the bottom of your messy sadness and that then you’ll be able to leave it behind. But if you just feel like you’re getting really depressed then there’s another option:

2. Repulse it.
Get to work, see your new friends, or talk to old friends about new projects. Plan the future and start doing new things. Get busy with life. Help others who have bigger problems. Have kids ( they usually keep people busy for years! )

3. Just talk about it without getting overwhelmed by it.
Talking to someone who really listens is healing on its own. Sometimes just hearing our thoughts said aloud can be therapeutical. Also things that are said aloud are less heavy, and easier to get over.

4. Create a memory album.
Virtual or with good old paper and scissors. Redirect your nostalgia, sadness and homesickness in to creativity. Reunite in one place scraps of your old live, and make it in to a place you can turn to for comfort.

Above all, I try to remember that the sadness I may fell is a consequence of the best choice I have ever made in my entire live. It’s just a part of who I am. And that without it, I couldn’t be with my family now. So I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How to fight the winter blues

Great tips and tricks for fighting the winter depression!

Before I moved to Montreal I used to actually like winter, but now, after another long, icy and apparently newer-ending winter, I’m fighting with the winter blues.

I know I’m not the only one. My cats gained weight and started to fight with each other out of boredom. One of them actually tries to still go out and check his territory, but with the persisting -15C (5F) and beyond he never stays long.

We nearly stopped meeting with friends, because everyone prefers to stay at home. Of course there are the brave ones who still go skiing on -20, but I’m not one of them.

So how do you deal with the fact that everything is covered with ice and snow, and the cold is so persisting that apparently on valentine’s day there was the record of canceled restaurant reservations?

1. Find a winter sport that you like!
Skiing, skating, hokey or slides, anything that motivates you to go outside and move! I don’t know one winter-sports-lover who has to fight winter blues! Unfortunately, I’m not really good in any of them, but I do love watching my kids having fun, so as soon as there is a warmer day ( around – 15 and less) we go out!

2. Develop a new hobby.
Knitting, painting miniatures or binge watching tv series on Netflix. Yes, this one is a total opposition of the first one, but it’s ok. It’ll keep you happy inside. At least for a while.

3. Balance the comfort winter food with healthy food.
Even though all we want on these cold winter days is comfort food, it doesn’t always improve how we feel. On the other hand it’s too cold for salads, so what I suggest are vegetable packed soups and stews. Green tea with honey. Fruit smoothies with chia. You get my point : just balance that cheese with vegetables and fruits and you’ll feel better. I promise.

4. Find your ultimate comfort food.
No, I’m not contradicting myself, I just think that if there is something that you love, that really lifts your spirit, keep it for the coldest months of the year! And keep it for the coldest, darkest moments, so that it would really comfort you when you need it!

5. Socialize!
This one is difficult, when nobody wants to leave the house, but it’s essential in staying sane! If like me, you’re a WAHM, invite others for play dates. If you work, and then all you want is flannel pjs and Netflix, try to overcome your need for cocooning solo, and organize an adult binge watching session.

6. Kiss and cuddle.
With your partner, your kids, a dog or a cat. Physical contact stimulates brain to produce oxytocin, a hormone responsible for bonding and attachment, and in a result reduces stress. So cuddle, hold hands and kiss, it’ll just make you feel happier!

7. You could also just leave.
If you can, that is. A week in the sun and on the beach usually works the best with winter blues! However if you really can’t, start taking Vitamin D, because while we cover our bodies, our bodies stop producing it, and it’s deficit can really affect our mood.

Do you have any other ways of dealing with the winter blues?

Realistic New Years resolutions

Realistic New Years resolutions

I don’t know how about you, but every year I have this impressing list of New Years resolutions. And usually I ditch them all after a week or so. Last year I was pregnant and still naive. I hoped that being a grown-up that I was then (expecting my second baby here!) I’ll be able to fix my life for good.

On top of my list was eating really healthy, like quinoa twice a week and no frozen pizza. Ever. And I was supposed to feed my new baby exclusively with fresh and organic hand made baby food. Actually I was supposed to start a vegetable garden !

I was also supposed to start exercising. I think my plan was to prepare myself for the summer marathon, with a baby in a stroller ( hahaha!) because you know, if you really want it, you can do it, right?

Also, I was supposed to find time and place, and paint huge paintings. At home, with babies. Yes, take out all my painting gear and finally become the artist I was supposed to be. I was also supposed to read as much as I used to before kids ( haha!).

There where other unrealistic resolutions on my list, but as I said, after a week I ditched my list, so I can’t even remember them now.

And at this point, I realize that I just need to make realistic New Years resolutions. Not even half, but like 10% of what I used to. Here it is :

1. Stop with the mommy guilt.
That wasn’t on my last years resolution list, but it should have been. There is always something that I feel I could do better for my kids, but actually I’m already doing the best I can. So adding guilt on top of it doesn’t make any sense.

2. Eat healthier once a week.
Next to my vegetarian Fridays, I’m adding healthy and new recipe Wednesday. We’ll see how it goes.

3. Plant one tomato plant.
That should be a good start of our vegetable garden.

4. Do yoga with YouTube twice a week.
Or once. At home, in my pyjamas. That seems realistic enough :).

5. Find time for yourself. Once a month.
Let’s say, every fourth Saturday morning for an hour or two. And when you’re a SAHM , than it means no kids around. And maybe, just maybe I’ll be able to paint one or two tiny watercolours this year. That’s sounds realistic, doesn’t it ?

6. Go to sleep earlier.
And read before falling a sleep, like I used to. Maybe one book a season ? Ok, two a year ?

7. Follow my own parenting advice, and read one book a day to my kids.
It may be difficult on Wednesdays when I’m supposed to cook a new healthy meal, so maybe I’ll read one book a day except for Wednesdays..

8. Have more fun with kids, lough and be silly.
It may be the most important one!

9. Say: I’m grateful.
If we verbalize it, we realize it, so instead of saying what I need I’ll try to acknowledge more what I already have.

10. Live in the present.
Instead of photographing my kids playing in the snow, I promise to myself, to be playing with them ( see number 8).

This is it, I think it’s realistic enough :). I’ll revise it in a month or two. I can always ditch healthy Wednesdays ;).

And you, would you relate with any of these ?

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