Monday Mindset – The one habit that transformed motherhood

If I were to look back and try to pinpoint what set in motion all my mindset and habit changes over the last four years, one thing in particular stands out. Waking up ahead of my kids… This ability to safeguard a little bit of time for myself at the beginning of each day without a doubt transformed my motherhood.

When I started waking up early I was pregnant with Johnathan, Will had dropped down to one nap a day. Suddenly I was scrambling for time to get things done, uninterrupted. My day would start with fussing and crying and I would instantly feel behind. I had started my coaching business, and my to-do lists were long. I was feeling frustrated, short tempered and was quickly realizing I needed to change something. I started small, just 15 minutes ahead of when Wills sound machine would click off. I’d take a few minutes to wake up, maybe jot down a plan for the day, wash my face in silence, sit and pet Juno. This quickly increased to me waking up 30 min early so I could get my workout done first thing. An amazing thing happens when you start giving your body and your mind this space. You begin to CRAVE this silence, this peace. I pretty quickly noticed a shift. Mornings where I didn’t get up early felt tense, I was easily thrown into a bad mood, I was on edge. Mornings where I gave myself a few minutes to wake up allowed for a sense of calm and the ability to handle whatever came at me!

Now I know what you’re thinking “there’s no way I could wake up any earlier than I have to”, stick with me here. I want to be clear, I was never a morning person. I love to sleep in. My former nightshift self relished in getting to sleep until 5pm. However, for the season of life I’m in, with young children, sleeping in is not only unattainable but also not functional or efficient for my life. In this season, when my kids are at home the majority of the day and still need me for many things, I need to front-load my day. When I do this I’m happier, I’m more patient, I’m certainly more productive. I’m able to approach my kids and my family from a place of calm and compassion. Instead of waking to the onslaught of toddler demands, I’m able to exert a little control in how I start my day. If I want to listen to a podcast, if I want to sit in silence and drink coffee, if I want to meditate outside, I can. When I give myself this gift of space and time to wake up, I’m no longer thrown off or upset when I find my two year olds night time diaper malfunctioned or whatever unforeseen event is waiting for me when the rest of the house wakes up. The reality is there are few places throughout your day where you’re able to find some extra time, so giving yourself even a 15 minute cushion of time in the morning allows for you to feel less stressed and more prepared for the day. As mothers we act from a place of servitude, however resentment can rear it’s ugly head when you feel like you’re serving others from the moment your eyes open each day until you fall in bed that night.

** Important caveat here – there are seasons of your life where this is not possible and sleep takes priority, hello newborn bubble. If you are in a season like this, grace. Grace is your biggest friend. Give yourself a big serving of grace, take seconds if you need to, and know that this season will pass **

consider this:

We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic but what it is a profound failure of self respect and of priorities. Then nearly a quarter of us do something else that starts us out on the second wrong foot of the day. We reach for our cell phones within one minute of waking up. Over half of us are checking messages within ten minutes. The majority of people go from out cold to processing mountains of information within minutes every morning. There are only six cars that can go from zero to sixty in under two seconds. Like most cars, humans are not built for that kind of sudden transition, mentally or physically. 

Dan Baker, What Happy People Know

Try this: skip the AM scroll.

Pick a day or two this week to set your alarm 15-20 min early & hold off on immediately scrolling, instead focus on a transition. When we immediately start our days by staring into our prized little rectangles we are giving our energy to other peoples messages, emails, we begin subconsciously comparing and our minds are instantly drawn to things we thing we “should” be doing. When we start our days with high pressure or high stress, we program ourselves to stay in that state the rest of the day and it can be hard to self correct out. By giving ourselves even just a few minutes to transition we can drastically alter the tone of the day.

I’ll share the framework of my morning routine in an upcoming post, but know, it has seen many iterations through the years. And ultimately our needs and circumstances are all different. Some women will want this time to read, to make lists, to workout, to pray or to run their businesses. What works for me in this particular season may not serve you as well. It’s less about how you fill this time and more about creating time that serves YOU. If spending 5 min unloading the dishwasher before everyone is up will make you feel on top of your game do it. If spending 15 min reading while you drink coffee will energize you do it. Consider you pain-points. What is making your morning feel chaotic… is it trying to get ready while little hands grab at you, is it never having time or motivation to workout, is it trying to prep school lunches and make breakfast? Most of our morning tasks can be completed much faster when we’re alone, it’s those tiny people that drag efficiency down… love em’ but it’s true!

I would love to hear if you already do this, or if this is something you’ve tried but struggled with or something you’ve just never considered. For me, waking up 30 – 40 earlier than my kids gives me vastly more energy than staying in bed would for that same amount of time. It sets my day off on the right foot, I dictate the tone and the energy. Try it and see how your motherhood transforms!

Introducing: Monday Mindset Series

Welcome to the Monday Mindset

A series I’m launching where every Monday I’ll share some mindset inspiration to start the week. Our mindset can propel us forward, into a state of gratitude and abundance or it can constrict us, keep us stuck in negativity, paralyzed by anxiety and self limiting beliefs. We’ve all had days where we oversleep, leave our coffee on the counter, hit unexpected traffic, have a rude interaction, and it sets us on this spiral of “everything is going wrong today” and yes objectively things may not have gone the way we expected but only we have the power to guide our minds out of this negativity trap. We all have the opportunity within us to begin again whenever we choose fit. As mothers our mood, our demeanor, our reactions are the unspoken propellent within our households. Our children can easily sense how we feel. If our mindset is chaotic, riddled with anxiety or stress, our children absorb these emotions just as easily as they take on our joy and our calm. Regardless of our efforts to conceal these feelings; the reality is what we feel, our families feel.

It’s no exaggeration when I say the benefits from this mindset work have rippled out into my motherhood, my marriage, my friendships, my nursing career. I feel called to write about this process. And to use this series as a way to share some of the lessons, tips and insights I have learned and adopted over the last few years. Exposing what has helped me move away from a place of stress, anger, negativity and led me to finding joy amidst the chaos, and given me the power of self forgiveness when my old ways resurface. Admittedly I am no expert, but I am extremely passionate about this ever long journey of our mindsets. Everything I share here, is what I work on myself and are the tools that have led me away from simply reacting out of habit to every unpleasant bump or allowing myself to succumb to the weight of modern motherhood. Most mothers will agree, raising humans is the hardest, most challenging yet simultaneously beautiful thing you’ll experience. But if your mindset is stuck in a negativity loop you’ll struggle to be present and feel the joy and love of the beautiful parts. I hope this series enables you to slow down, to feel more present, more grounded and more joyful in your life and in your motherhood. If you’re curious what sparked my personal journey inward, I share a lot about the catalyst that truly started it all for me in the post The Monday in March That Started It All .

Consider This...

Happiness is neither a mood nor an emotion. Mood is a biochemical condition and emotions are just transitory feelings. Happiness is a way of life – an overriding outlook composed of qualities such as optimism, courage, love and fulfillment. It is nothing less than cherishing each day.”Dan Baker (author of What Happy People Know)

Try This: Try a daily gratitude practice. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or in depth. Take 3 min before bed and jot down a few things to be thankful for, the smaller the better!

Why This? It’s easy to be grateful for your health, your kids, your home, but finding gratitude and joy in the little things is where the mindset shift truly happens. Noticing the warm dog curled up at your feet, the close parking spot, the impromptu hug from your kid, the cool breeze, the hot shower, the zoom call that got cancelled; the little things are the big things. We are often racing through our lives on auto pilot, you know the feeling when you drive somewhere and then suddenly have little recollection of the actual drive? So many of us, especially moms are moving from moment to moment like this. Training our brains to find gratitude in daily life brings about mindfulness. At first it might be hard to recall the little things throughout your day that you’re grateful for, but it gets easier the more we use our gratitude muscle! Mindfulness flips this autopilot switch off. It encourages us to be present for our lives and notice all the little things that really do go right. If we are only ever focusing on the negative that is all we will see. So try this gratitude practice & see what happens! Worst case? You’re the new owner of a little notebook or a scrap of paper with a list of good things 🙂

Back to (pre)School Favorites

1. Simply Modern Water bottles 2. Toddler Size Backpack. 3. Fun Back to School PJ’s
4. Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizer 5. Bento Box Lunchboxes 6. Waterproof Name Labels

I’m not entirely sure how it’s already back to school season, but here we are! I wanted to share some of the items I discovered and loved last year for my preschooler & a lot of these I repurchased now that Johnathan is also headed to preschool this year!

  1. Simply Modern Water bottles – These water bottles are leak proof & are a staple in our house, plus they’re a little cheaper than the hydroflask guys!
  2. Toddler Size Backpack – an appropriate toddler sized backpack can be hard to find. Last year I definitely sent will to school with a backpack that was wayyy to big. So this year both the boys are going with these!
  3. Fun Back to School PJ’s – get your toddlers excited the night before with fun ABC pajamas!
  4. Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizer – this is the only hand sanitizer Will will tolerate on his hands. It doesn’t dry your hands out and it smells like christmas, without all the harsh chemicals!!
  5. Bento Box Lunchboxes – love these reusable bento lunch boxes. These drastically cut down on single use plastics! Plus this year I’ll be packing lunches in bulk!
  6. Waterproof Name Labels – Probably my favorite item! These name labels either for clothing or supplies are dishwasher and washing machine safe. After a full year of preschool of the stickers I used are still intact, after many loads through the wash! This year I got some with the boys last name large and their names smaller because I know they’ll be interchanging waterbottles / lunchboxes. Plus they are totally customizable and come in so many designs / colors!!

If you have a favorite back to school item I’d love to hear what it is!

Father’s Day Gift Guide

1. Cooler 2. Waterproof Hat 3. Battery Pack. 4. Wallet.
5. Breakfast Sandwich Maker. 6. Car Vacuum 7. Handprints

Father’s Day is right around the corner so I thought I’d share some ideas for anyone still looking for a gift for that Dad in their life! Plus all of these items are still in stock and will get shipped in time for Father’s Day!

  1. RTIC Cooler – If you follow me on instagram, you might remember I polled asking for peoples opinions on the Yeti coolers and if they were worth the serious $$ they cost. Most people responded that, yes they were as good as they claim, however the brand RTIC was just as good with a smaller price tag! This 52 qt RTIC cooler is what I opted to get Chris this year, I liked it because it came with a removable divider and a basket! Compared to a similar yeti cooler it’s $175 less expensive!
  2. Waterproof Hat – From the photo this might look like just another hat, but these are the perfect summer hat, they are water friendly, lightweight, and floatable! This was actually on my list for last Father’s Day and the color I had wanted sold out!
  3. Battery Pack – This was a gift I got for my dad! Something he wouldn’t go out and purchase for himself but that he gets TONS of use out of! These will recharge an iphone about 3 times!
  4. Wallet – This nonbulky wallet has a pull tab so you can easily access cards. I got this for Chris two years ago and it’s still in great shape & he loves it! Comes it lots of colors!
  5. Breakfast Sandwich Maker – Make your own McMuffin at home! We own one of these and it’s so good! My dad actually gave this gift to Chris his first fathers day!! It makes for a fun easy weekend breakfast! Just fyi the metal tabs get blazing hot so use an oven mitt!
  6. Car Vacuum – For the dad who hates crumbs in his car…
  7. Last but NOT least, keeping it simple makes for the best gifts. I made these handprints with the boys last year for Father’s Day. Put them in a simple white frame and now they live in Chris’ office. Took 10 minutes and cost less than $10!

5 Fool Proof Cake Tips – From one mom to the next!

Since becoming a mom I have loved making the boys their own special birthday cakes and enjoy decorating them. I’m by no means a professional or have any kind of training – but I have learned a few things along the way as the evolution of photos at the end of this post shows! I thought I would share some of the simple tips that have made a big difference in my cake game, from amateur mom baker to another.

Make it easy on yourself – I don’t make the entire cake from scratch… I’m all about jazzing up a box cake mix (using milk instead of water, butter instead of oil). If you want to try to do a fun decoration don’t feel like you have to DO IT ALL. Make things easier where you can!

Invest in a cake kit. The first few years I didn’t spend the $17 for a cake kit and I kinda wish I had. A turntable, a scraper and a couple decent spatulas can really make a big difference. This is the one I bought this year. They sell ones with dozens of more pieces but I opted for something simple.

Freeze your rounds – this was a tip I discovered last year. Freezing or chilling your cake rounds makes frosting SO much easier!! There’s none of that crumbling you normally experience and it doesn’t take away from the taste or texture. Just make sure to wrap them in plastic wrap tightly if you plan on chilling or freezing for longer than 30 min.

Start small and pick a design or style that you’re excited about – I get most of my ideas off pinterest & I try to pick cakes that feel doable. Over the years I have slowly expanded what I felt like was “doable” 3 years ago I would have never even tried this Cars cake. The idea of doing a fondant checkerboard bottom alone would have been too much. Even this year, I was fully prepared to scrap that detail if it wasn’t working out!

Stop by your local bakery! – did you know most grocery stores will sell you their cake frosting?? This year I went to Safeway and bought a bunch of white frosting directly from the bakery & then dyed it red! I’ll definitely be doing this going forward. Again, make things easier where you can! Maybe someday I’ll have time to perfect my own cake frosting but for now this is a short cut I’ll be taking!

BONUS: Have fun with it! Even if your cake flops it won’t be the end of the world. I have store-bought cupcakes as a back up & I focus on the fun aspect! Also don’t underestimate the power of crumbled graham cracker or Oreo cookie as a way to add texture and make the cake look more detailed!

Cars cake for Will’s 4th Birthday (2022)
Dino Cake for Will’s 3rd birthday (2021)
2021 “Wild One” for J’s 1st Birthday

“Two the Moon” Will’s 2nd Birthday (2020)
Smash cake for Will’s 1st Birthday… to show we all start somewhere!

Sensory Overload In Motherhood

Why doesn’t anyone warn you about sensory overload as a mother. I feel like we hear about moms being “touched out” but it’s not just being touched. It’s the dog barking, it’s the wooden hammer on the cabinet, it’s the doorbell ringing, it’s the repetitive phrase your toddler has chosen to say louder and louder, it’s that toy with the annoying song that someone left on.

I struggle with overstimulation big time. I first started really noticing it a few months into breastfeeding J. Combining feeding a distractible infant while cross monitoring what a busy two year old is getting into had me almost always in this fight or flight mode. It was not the peaceful breastfeeding experience I had with Will. After stopping nursing I realized another rapid fire way for me to get sent into sensory overload was when we would roughhouse. It would only take getting hit in the face a few times for me to suddenly feel like my walls were closing in, my skin would start crawling, I’d immediately want no one to touch me.

It is easy to question yourself, to feel alone. Why is the dog barking or my kid wanting to “wrestle” me causing me to feel SO uncomfortable. My heart beats faster, I feel annoyed, angry at seemingly insignificant things. Each noise feeling like an interruption into the single thought I’m trying to complete. I found myself deeply craving silence. In the moment feeling like I want to retreat into darkness.

Before we had kids I would occasionally feel this way after a busy shift. Chris would play music in the mornings and I remember this same feeling, the music was too much, it felt like my brain was still too close to that fight or flight mode. Even if I slept it still felt like all the alarms, ringing phones, or screaming patients were still right there. All it took was turning the music down and it’d go away quickly. Well with kids you can’t just turn down the volume and often times the volume feels like it’s just increasing. 

If you feel this way too, you’re not alone. It is totally normal to get sensory overloaded and you are not selfish or a bad mom for wanting silence. Letting our brains decompress from the stimulus of motherhood is absolutely necessary in order for us not just to survive but thrive in motherhood. We all have difference tolerances and triggers when it comes to stimulus but there all ways to help both prevent and rescue yourself from fight or flight. 

  1. Know your triggers & set boundaries around them. Find out the sounds or types of stimulus that push you quickly into that mode If that toy remote your kid has plays a song that makes you want to tear your hair out – take the batteries out! Make certain toys for outside play only. I personally stopped buying dog toys with squeakers, instituted a drumming outside only rule, and encourage loud play to be done in bedrooms instead of common areas. I also know to put my hair up so it doesn’t get accidentally snagged by a toddler, and to set clear boundaries when we roughhouse I usually say something like “If I get hit in the face again, I will need to take a break from the game”. It sounds silly but the boundary setting works & is another valuable skill to teach your kids. When it comes to your body setting clear boundaries that you hold in turn teaches your kids that it is okay and they can set boundaries with their bodies too! Tickling is the prime example. Whenever my boys say stop to tickling we ALWAYS stop. Continuing to tickle your kids when they say stop is saying “it’s okay to ignore people’s boundaries”.
  2. Practice LOUD & soft – when your kids are already screaming is not the time to try to teach them how to whisper. Instead turn it into a game at a time when they are fairly calm. We play this at the dinner table. We can’t expect our kids to know things we haven’t bothered to teach them, teaching them how to control their volume is an important life skill and future teachers will thank you!
  3. Breathe mama breathe – When you are seeing white & are in that mode. Literally stop moving, and start breathing. Take a slow deep breathe, hold for 4 seconds, exhale. repeat. Closing your eyes helps too. This physiologically will help bring your body and your nervous system out of fight or flight.
  4. Carve out quiet. I personally get up 1-2 hours before my kids now that they both sleep through the night. I use this time to meditate, journal, read, workout, get breakfast ready. I know this is not for everyone. At the very minimum I get up 10 minutes before them. Enough time to sit in silence and stillness. Creating a quiet morning ritual will give you a sense of control over your day. You are not immediately thrown into a reactive state. This has probably been the thing that helps me the most. Sitting in stillness feels like the most luxurious thing once you have kids and meditation has helped me actualize this concept that peace is within us and are able to find it whenever we like. 
  5. Use a screen, recompose, and don’t feel guilty. You will be more present and a better parent. When I had peaceful nursing sessions it was either in the middle of the night, while Will was sleeping or when will was watching Mickey Mouse. Looking back I’m thankful I did that and wish I had recognized this sooner and found more ways to make more peaceful nursing sessions. 
  6. Speak Up. Do not suffer in silence. Name what you’re feeling. Is the clutter overwhelming you, is the music too loud, is toddler hanging from your leg pushing you into a reactive hyperstimulated state? Name it. Talk about it. If you are lucky to have a partner or support system talk to them, and try to find ways to release. Some days when my husbands comes in from work (he works in a detached office in our yard) I will tell him I need to go sit in the office for a few minutes of silence.

Sensory Overload In Motherhood

Three Rex

We celebrated Will’s 3rd birthday with a Three Rex theme. This birthday felt so emotional, he just seems so big all of the sudden. He’s going to preschool in the fall, he’s taking swim lessons, he tells funny little stories & is constantly asking “wanna know…” Ex: wanna know what that sound was, wanna know what’s in mama’s mouth, wanna know what Johnathan’s doing and on and on. Will turned two a month into the pandemic. While the world shut down in 2020 Wills world expanded beyond measure. We moved, he became a big brother, he learned to ride his scooter, he got stitches (see previous), he cooked with me a TON and asked Santa for knives. It’s SO fun to watch him become his own person & every birthday is just a little reminder of how quickly time goes! It was so wonderful to have a small party to celebrate our guy and Johnathan got to meet some family he had never met yet so that was extra special.

Party decor was primarily from target. His cake I can proudly say I baked & decorated! It’s a Ghiradelli box cake mix & Betty Crocker chocolate frosting & funfetti vanilla frosting that i just added green food coloring to, for the dirt – crushed up Oreos. I took inspo from a picture on pinterest & I was so happy with how it turned out! My biggest tip is to freeze your cake for 20-30 min before trying to frost it. It seriously makes a HUGE difference!