Self-Care: Mind, Body, and Soul – in the Midst of Serving Others

self-care

I learned some new lessons in self-care last week and I was reminded of how much I need it. Last week was a whirlwind of my birthday, Halloween, everyone catching colds and a mouse in the house. The latter resulted in about 5 additional loads of laundry and sanitizing every imaginable surface. Needless to say, I am emotionally drained. (Reality check: I have limits and I need breaks.) So, Saturday night I told my husband that I was going out for the morning. My Sunday plans were:

  • Go to mass
  • Spend time in adoration
  • Send some thank you messages and call my Grandma
  • Work on my blog
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee while it’s still hot
  • Check out Starbucks’ Holiday setup (really? That’s it guys? )

All of these things are 10,000 times harder to do when I have kids and a dog in tow. Because:

You should practice self-care because it is essential to serve long term and maintain healthy relationships. As a wife and mom of two young children and a puppy, I am one busy lady. If I am not intentional with my time, I will go days and weeks without a single moment to myself. And it’s not healthy. I become very ornery and overwhelmed when I don’t take time for a breather. And this message isn’t just for moms. It’s for caregivers of any sort. I think all Christians need to get really good at self-care because if you are a truly committed Christian, you’re never really going to be done serving. (Even if your children have grown up and moved out.)

My Definition of Self-Care

Things you do, uninterrupted, that nurture your mind, body, and soul. Sometimes they are spiritual like spending time in prayer or adoration, sometimes they take discipline like exercise, sometimes they are social like visiting a close friend, and other times they are pure pleasure like taking a nice hot bath, getting a pedicure, smelling flowers or savoring dark chocolate. It’s doing things that remind you, you are are a diverse human being who is more than just a mom, caregiver, grandparent, etc. You may also be a sister, daughter, artist, seamstress, avid reader, etc. All parts of you need nurturing and attention.

Times When Self-Care May Not Be Possible

You just had a newborn. Someone is sick. You are going through a very difficult season where someone needs care around the clock. This is okay and normal. But please, constantly evaluate whether or not it is time to thrive again and if there is help available. Assess and reassess your life to try to find pockets of time for rest.

Signs You Need to Practice Self-Care

The simplest way to know if you need self-care is ask yourself, do you feel happy? If not, it’s time. Here are some other signs:

  • Exhaustion has taken over.
  • You feel lonely.
  • You’re angry.
  • You are snapping at those in your care constantly.
  • You just can’t deal, even with small things like putting your kids shoes on.
  • Little things your husband (or other people living with you) does like breathe and exist are irritating you
  • Another mess or bang makes you want to scream

Why You Can Do It And Still Be a Good Christian

I think as Christians we think if we are strong we will serve at all times no matter what and never take a break – because we are called to a life of service and sacrifice, right? But we must not forget we are human. And we have human needs. Here are some examples to give you permission to practice self-care as a Christian:

  • Jesus drank wine, took a nap in a storm, and went off by himself to pray.
  • Saint Teresa of Calcutta spent 4+ hours in prayer and solitude.
  • Monks and nuns around the world spend time in recreation daily and have time to socialize and relax daily.

Importance of a Self-Care Sabbath

I got the idea of a “self-care sabbath” from the book, a Mother’s Rule of Life. The idea is to take time away from care-giving and refresh your soul through prayer, and solitude and even some activities you enjoy. It can be for the whole day or just 4 hours. It’s completely up to you and your unique life circumstances.

Everyday Self-Care

It’s important to know, though, you don’t need to wait until the weekend to practice self-care! You can find ways to make it work in your daily routine.

  • Take a nap.
  • Wake up early and spend time in the quiet or do something creative
  • Slip away after dinner and take a bath
  • Pack everyone up and take a walk so you can get some exercise.

A Special Message to Wives

I can already hear the wives reading this saying, “but my husband won’t let me do that”. Ladies, you don’t ask, you tell. Your husband is not your boss or your father. He is your partner. If he has a serious need, you need to trust he will let you know. All you have to do is communicate what you are going to do, and do it.

But he doesn’t know how to take care of our kids

The kids will be fine. They might eat cookies for breakfast but they won’t go hungry. They might have mismatched clothes, but oh well. Let him father them in his own way. They will probably all be so glad you are taking time away so you aren’t snapping at them left and right. You want what’s best for them, that’s what keeps you from leaving, but sometimes what’s best for them is to be away from you believe it or not! Because they need time with their Dad. And your name doesn’t start with a “G”. Yep, that’s right. You aren’t God and you can’t control everything. So do everyone a favor and take a break.

My husband still won’t step up

What if you try to follow my advice and it still doesn’t work? It sounds like your husband may have some more serious issues and that’s not good and I hope you will seek counseling. But I have a feeling most of the ladies out there haven’t tried this because they fear they are not being a good wife. I think all of us Christians can agree our number one job is to help our husbands and children get to heaven, Amen? Well let me ask you something: what is most likely to help them get to heaven? Doing everything for them and running yourself ragged or teaching them that everyone has needs, including you, and thereby teach them to step up to the plate, to support you and sacrifice and grow spiritually? I’d say it’s the latter, folks.

Additional Resources

Some great videos:

There’s a part in the video below perfectly exemplifies how I can get with my kids when I need self-care. (When she talks about telling her kids to go play with their toys.) Besides that, it’s just hilarious!

The video below is Jennifer Fulwiler speaking about balancing service to family and personal passions.

Some great articles on self-care:

Some excellent books:

And here’s a cute mug I designed!

We women are highly capable creatures. Just because we can do everything, doesn’t mean we should. Our happiness matters too!

So, now you have been given permission to take a break

Even though it feels impossible to practice self-care when you have so many responsibilities, it is so necessary to make time for it so you can keep going. No one can do that for you. It is a choice you have to make.

Make Your Schedule as a Mom and Grace for when Life Happens

two nuns looking up praying

What you’ll find

In this post, I am going to tell you all about how to make your schedule as a mom. It will be completely tailored to your life- something for moms who work outside and inside the home. (Mine is from the perspective of a work-from-home mom) . You’ll also learn how to approach your schedule when life happens – you know the drill – your kids get sick, the dog throws up on every blanket you  own, you have unexpected company, etc. You will take stock of all of your responsibilities but also take into account time for prayer and time to do things you enjoy.

Take a look at your life

What does your daily life look like right now? Do you dread waking up in the morning because the demands of the day just seem insurmountable? Find yourself yelling at your kids most of the time and snapping at your husband? Feel like you are working SO hard but you never get anywhere? Well, my friends, it doesn’t have to stay that way!

The solution

What you need is to make your schedule as a mom. This will help you keep track of all of your responsibilities and get the important things done and at the same time keep your sanity.

A fabulous book

My life changed dramatically when I read this book , “A Mother’s Rule of Life“. It’s about a stay-at-home , homeschooling mom, who is tired of feeling overwhelmed and stressed out all of the time. She went searching for peace. She was inspired by the simple schedule of religious orders, like the Missionaries of Charity, and how they led productive lives but spent great amounts of time in prayer. When the bell rang for the next block on the schedule, they didn’t hurry trying to finish everything up , they practiced obedience – “okay God, I guess that’s all you wanted me to do today.” (Man, could I use some of that kind of acceptance in my life!) Their goal wasn’t efficiency, it was to serve and to do it peacefully. Because, the old saying, you can’t give what you don’t have, right?

Let’s get started, make your schedule as a mom

  1. Buy a Mother’s Rule of Life. Seriously. You won’t regret it.
  2. Decide on a wake up time and bed time.
  3. Count how many hours you have in a day.
  4. Decide how much time to spend in prayer.
  5. Write down how much time you need for grooming and bathing.
  6. Include time needed for activities you enjoy like reading, drawing, writing.
  7. Include a few break times, 15 minutes each.
  8. Don’t forget time with your husband or social time with those you care about.
  9. Include time with your kids.
  10. Include time for chores
  11. Input meal times (cooking and cleanup) and bed time routines. Overestimate how much time you think you need. This allows margin.
  12. Include time for working. This may be before your kids wake up or you may go to work inside the home.

Now is the time you see if you have any time left over. You probably don’t! This is good though! This is validation that you have so much to take care of and you aren’t just lazy! If you have any leftover time, decide where it should go and if you don’t, decide where you have to cut. If we want to lead a peaceful life, we have to be very discerning about how we use our time.

My mother’s rule

5:30 – 7 :00 AM – Pray, get dressed, drink coffee, work on blog, put makeup on

7:00 – 8:30 AM – Breakfast , say grace, & cleanup & morning chores

8:30-9:00 AM – Kids dressed

9:00 – 9:10 AM- 10 minute break for me

9:10 – 9:40 AM – Put laundry in the dryer and walk the dog

9:40 -9:50 AM – Ab workout

9:50 – 11:50 AM – Outing/errand

11:50 – 12:00 PM – 10 minute break for me

12:00- 1:30 PM – Lunch, say grace, cleanup, laundry put away, story time

1:30 – 2:30 PM – Quiet time me and my son while my daughter naps. I read, blog, draw, or watch You Tube.

2:30 – 3:30 PM – I call this Admin time. It’s for meal planning, week planning, budget planning, etc. If I don’t need to do these things its more quiet time.

3:30-4:30 PM – Kids outside play while I do my afternoon tidy and cleanup routine.

4:30 – 6:00 PM – Make dinner, say grace, cleanup, night cleaning routine

6:00 – 8:00 PM – I shower,  then my kids take a bath, and we have family time, story time and then the kids go to bed.

8:00-9:00 PM – Time to chill with my husband and watch a show or talk or have some other quality time.

9:00 – 9:30 PM – I wind down for bed.

How I Occupy My Kids

My goal is to occupy my kids without screens. To have them play quietly when I need dedicated time.

But life happens. And sometimes life happens A LOT (pregnancy, illness, emergencies, sleep deprivation, newborns, mothering multiple young children, or some other hard or serious circumstance) .

What I’m trying to say is, the TV is a tool in a mom’s toolkit guys. As long as it’s not being used to excess, the content is appropriate, and isn’t there as a substitute of other important activities, I think it’s okay. With that said, my kids watch quite a bit of TV, probably more than the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says they should – but AAP doesn’t know me. They don’t know about what my needs are and our family’s unique circumstances. They don’t know that my kids also help me around the house, play with toys, play with me, bake with me, play with the dog, make messes, play in the dirt, go to the park, go on play dates, read books, roughhouse with my husband, visit family, etc. Sometimes I need to have things a little quieter for my sanity.

Only you know the needs of your family, and you shouldn’t feel guilty when your kids watch more TV than you like if you have a serious reason to do so.

When you are off track

You are going to get off track. And trust me, it’s going to be most of the time.  (It is for me.) So, when it happens, just get back on track as soon as the next block starts. Sometimes this may mean there are dishes left in the sink. Remember, the goal is peace not efficiency. But if this keeps happening over and over again, for months on end, it’s time to adjust and re-evaluate your rule.

Maintenance

Plan to evaluate your schedule once every three months or as needed. Three months seems like a good plan to me, though, because by then with my two little ones, my life tends to look quite a bit different.

Conclusion

If your life is spiraling out of control, take heart! No matter what season you are in, you can take control and get the important things done. So go make your schedule as a mom! If you already have one, please let me know in the comments below!

 

How to Make a Red Bubble Store Quickly and Easily

how to make a red bubble store

Wondering how to make a Red Bubble store? Keep reading to learn more!

Why I Wanted an Online Store

I heard about Cafepress.com and thought it would be really cool to have my designs printed on merchandise and have a third party ship them for me and take care of my customers. I have been drawing my whole life so I had quite a few pieces of art that I could upload immediately.

Why I Chose Red Bubble

I started a Cafepress shop and then I started to encounter a few problems. I googled what was going on and I found a blog post that made the argument that Red Bubble was a better store. So, I clicked through and it was love at first sight! I signed up and found it much easier to use and I loved all the other designs they have on there. Come on, they have these leggings from the Never ending Story. How cool is that?

Here Come the Excuses

We all have reasons not to try. They may be:

  • My work isn’t good enough
  • I don’t have time
  • I have kids
  • I’m old
  • I work full time
  • I’m a college student
  • I’m too busy

Guys, these are all excuses. Just do it anyway! You will be glad you did. Instead of spending the fringe hours on social media or watching TV, do this instead. You’ll be proud and you won’t regret it. I understand being busy, I have two toddlers under age 3 and I am a work-at-home mom with a husband grad school and very limited child care help. If I can make it work, you can too.  (And this doesn’t mean cutting back on sleep! It just means identifying time wasters and replacing them with something better.)

How to Make a Red Bubble Store

  1. Go to the Red Bubble website
  2. Click the link to sign up for free.
  3. Follow the steps.
  4. Enter your payment information so they can pay you when someone purchases a design.
  5. Start uploading art work! Just make sure it is your original design. If you love to make fan art, check out their Partner Program.
  6. Check that your design was placed properly on each product.

Et voilà! It really is that simple. And I must agree, it is simpler than Cafepress.

How do I get my non-digital artwork on the computer?

You just need to scan it and save it to a flash drive. Check out your local library, I scanned more than 20 images there for free! I felt like I discovered gold.

How much of a profit can you make?

It depends on how much you decide to markup your product. You can find out more here.

Go start your shop!

If you decide to start a shop or you already have one, please leave a link in the comment below! I’d love to see. Here is a link to my shop ! And check out  my artwork here.

 

 

Best 80s Movie Dance Scenes To Get You Dancing Around Your Living Room

Why I unapologetic-ally love the 80’s

Anyone who knows me knows I love the 80’s. There’s just something about it that speaks to my soul. And I don’t care if you think I’m a weirdo or a dork. Listen to what you like, I don’t care, but I love 80’s music and movies. I want “Don’t You Forget About Me” played at my funeral, people, and if I had it my way I would  have worn the ballroom dress from Labyrinth for my senior prom.

I haven’t always loved the 80’s though, in fact, the music kind of scared me before I became a teenager. It sounded like it was from a different planet. Ha! I love the spunkiness, funkiness and creativity of the 80’s. Once, I cut my hair to channel David Bowie in Labyrinth. I love style, but to me true style isn’t always what’s current, its what speaks to YOUR soul. The same goes for taste in movies and music. As my good ol’ drama teacher used to say, sometime’s you gotta “suspend your disbelief”.

I even designed a mug.


Mugs

Mugs

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CafePress User
Find more
&
unique gifts at CafePress

 

With all that said, I thought I’d share some of my favorite dance scenes from 80’s movies. Getting up and dancing around your living room for even 10 minutes has the power to boost your mood and add some fun to your day.  Let’s get to it!

Favorite 80’s Dance Scenes

I love this movie and the scene makes my heart happy.

I first watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in high school. It’s just such a fun movie. Just look at Sloane’s white fringe jacket. I even bought white fringe boots just so I could feel like her.

My husband introduced me to this movie, I had never seen it until I met him. I love this song.

Why doesn’t she choose Duckie? I would have, he is super dorky but super cool and genuine. Look at those moves!

Love. her. dress. I have watched this movie so many times. It’s just epic.

My Dad and I laughed about this movie all the time. “Be excellent to each other, and party on dude!” I even re-enacted the beginning in Spanish for my high school Spanish class. Ha! See, I told you I’m a big 80’s movie fan. I love this scene, especially the part with Joan of Arc.

I have never seen this movie, and honestly I don’t think I will watch it, but this dance scene is super powerful and epic. And I love this song. My husband and I play it whenever something epic happens like graduating college or paying off a credit card. Ha ha

I know, this isn’t a dance scene but it’s so sweet I had to include it.

And yes, I know this movie was made in the 90’s but it’s such a cool scene I had to share! Random fact: I used to tap dance as a child and then I took a class in college. It was so much fun.

What are your favorite movie dance scenes? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Reasons to Start a Blog (and how I did it!)

I think anyone who is passionate about anything should start a blog and here’s why:

  1. The world needs to hear what you have to say. Even though there are a million blogs, there is only one YOU and your voice is unique.
  2. It’s a great creative outlet.
  3. Something you say could brighten someone’s day or even change their life.
  4. You can share your work, whether that is art, recipes, music, etc.
  5. You have a space to share things more in depth and meaningful than just a quick post on social media., like your experiences and your faith journey,

When i started my blog, I just used a free version of WordPress. After writing about 20 posts, I decided I wanted to have income earning potential on my website and knew I needed a domain. I compared prices of different web hosting services. All of them had some kind of promotion and according to my calculations at the time, there really wasn’t much of a price difference between them. So I decided to go with Go Daddy, because of a recommendation from a friend.

Now I want to share something with you. I had been wanting to purchase a blog domain for a few months but I felt too afraid to do it. I didn’t want to invest any amount of money in something I might completely fail at. I finally just decided to do it anyway. I shared this because I know many of you may feel the same way. Afraid to invest money in yourselves, your business, etc. You don’t have to wait until you feel 100 % about it. You can do it anyway. 

To get a domain and Web-hosting service for a few years it came out to about $250.  The blogging platform I use is WordPress. And I have discovered there are all sorts of YouTube videos that help you set up things like Google Ad Sense (to make money when someone clicks on an ad), and Google Search Console (which helps you see how searchable your blog is on Google). I have found that watching how to do something on a YouTube video is easier for me to understand than Googling it and reading about it.

For blogging ideas, you can write about anything! Recently I told someone they should start a blog, and they said that they worried they would run out of things to write about. But that’s not true! As long as you keep living your life and reading books, you’ll always have writing material.

I have so much to learn about blogging but I am glad I started one and I’m already so glad I did. Do you have a blog? Leave a link to it in the comments below and I’ll follow you!

Make Laundry Easier, Faster, and Less Overwhelming

How to make laundry easier

Laundry is a nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be.

I am going to show you a way to make laundry easier, faster and more possible. Because when it starts to pile up,  I don’t know about you, but it seems impossible! But first let me explain what a volcano has to do with this blog post.

I once worked with an endearing older lady in my coffee shop days. She was frustrated with her son because he wasn’t doing chores. Because English was her second language, she didn’t know the word for volcano. So she told him “If you don’t do your laundry, I will throw all your clothes in a pile and make a fire mountain!” Needless to say, we both had a good laugh!

There are five of us. Myself, my husband, my two toddlers and our dog. So that means laundry. And lots of it.

All.the.time.

And there are accidents. Vomit, poop, mud, urine, food messes, liquid spills, you name it, it’s happened. It’s not pretty. Sometimes accidents equal four more loads of laundry that I wasn’t counting on. Ouch!

And even when there are no accidents, I still have to put it away if I want a tidy, comfortable house. So, after years of clean laundry waiting to be put away, dirty clothes waiting to be washed, folded laundry never making it into the drawer, clothes not getting properly dry because the load was too big, I’ve discovered some hacks that work for me and my family.

My best laundry hacks:

  1. A hamper for each family member and one for the house. The hampers are great for keeping everyone’s laundry sorted so I don’t have to do that step when it all comes out of the dryer. If you can’t afford Pinterest-worthy hampers right now, just  do what we did and use these from Dollar Tree:
  2. For our family 2 loads a day keeps the laundry at bay. But you probably need to add an extra load for each additional family member. 2 a day also keep me from having to do laundry on Sundays.
  3. Don’t take the laundry out of the dryer until you are ready to put it away. No procrastinating! This is so important if you don’t want a monster pile of laundry on your bed or in the corner. And when the loads are small the laundry takes less than 10 minutes to put away. I know it’s not fun. Just do it. Use the five second rule. Put on a YouTube video for fun if you have to.  I can proudly say since putting it away immediately I no longer have piles of laundry anywhere. It’s truly a miracle.
  4. I fold my laundry the Konmari way. But not perfectly, I do it quickly so the laundry can stand vertically in the drawer and the clothes are easier to find that way and I can fit more clothes in a single drawer. If you haven’t read the LifeChanging Magic of Tidying Up, do so now! It truly is life changing!

  5. I give myself grace when the laundry piles up because life happens. And I just start where I am. I think, do we all have something clean to wear, clean underwear, and clean socks? Then we are okay.
  6. Get creative with where you keep dressers. Seriously. A huge reason why my kids’ clothes wouldn’t get put away is because when I finally had time to put them away, the kids were asleep in their room for a nap or down for the night. In our home, we have a built in set of drawers where I keep most of my kids’ clothing.

Although it is such a bore, there are things you can do to make laundry easier and you might even enjoy it. Just a little.

What are your best laundry hacks? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to find out!

And for more inspiring productivity tips, click here!

There’s Nothing Wrong With You

In your life have you ever felt like there’s something wrong with you? Because, you know, there must be because why else would you be so sensitive ?

Maybe growing up no one validated your feelings. You’d say you felt sad and they’d say that you shouldn’t feel that way or maybe they just would tell you to be quiet. Maybe in your adult life you expressed some deep dark feelings in hope of some compassion and understanding and you were shot down by “oh well I’ve never felt that way” or “that’s just the way life is” . Or maybe you have been vulnerable about some challenges you’ve been having only to have someone lie and act like they have no challenges or worse judge you outright. (I recently told someone my kids were sick and instead of saying poor things or something of the like they said “why? Again?”) Or maybe when you talk about your feelings the ones you love are quick to tell you that you are overreacting or saying you should see things from the other persons point of view when really all you need is to be allowed to feel your feelings and naturally you will come around on your own.

What did this do to you? It made you feel ashamed. Ashamed to have feelings. Ashamed to have needs. Ashamed to be human. It made you feel different. It made you feel like there’s something wrong with you.

It also made you feel vulnerable and like you can’t trust anyone. And that it’s okay for others to mistreat you, because if your family, the people who are supposed to love and protect you, allow for you to be hurt, then it must be okay.

I’m here to tell you there’s nothing wrong with you. Anyone who’s ever made you feel that way was acting out of fear and not out of love. The loving thing to do is to have empathy and hear someone’s feelings and not make them feel wrong to have them. We can’t control how we feel but we can control what we do.

It’s not normal and healthy for someone to disregard your feelings, to put you down, to say you are too sensitive, to tell you to get over it. They are rolling over you like a bulldozer. The healthy interaction that needs to take place is both parties sharing feelings openly and listening intently to how each person feels in a nonjudgmental, non-accusatory way. Three books that can help with this are :


Why Are You So Worried and Stressed Out?

What is the cause of your stress/anxiety? Have you ever stopped to really think about it?

Conventional wisdom tells us to “take a break” or “relax” when we are feeling this way. This advice may be sound if the reason you are feeling this way is due to overworking .

But what if it’s not?

What if you are experiencing a lot of stress because of:

  1. Not eating regularly
  2. Not exercising
  3. Not sleeping enough
  4. Too much entertainment (and not enough time taking care of responsibilities)
  5. Procrastinating
  6. Not being able to let go of control
  7. Comparing yourself to others

These are some other things that can cause stress. So how can you get some peace? Focus on what you can do and let God do the rest!

You can :

  • Set a daily schedule with regular meal times and learn about what your nutritional needs are.
  • Be realistic and commit to trying to exercise everyday. Keep it simple, walking is enough. And don’t beat yourself if you miss a day. Just get back up and try again.
  • Give yourself a bed time and awake time. Try to stick to it but give yourself grace when life happens.
  • Make a list of which things your ideal day includes. Chances are it will have a lot of hard things like exercise and reading books and maintaining your environment and cooking healthy meals etc. and probably not include copious amounts of screen time (phone, T.V., games, etc) A.K.A. You are probably wasting a lot of time on these things. Some screen time isn’t bad- it can be good – but not when it gets excessive. It will zap your time and energy and you will feel like you wasted your day.
  • Read The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. It will help you stop procrastinating and do all the above things. I think more people suffer because of procrastination than because of working too hard. Just sayin’. The basic idea of the book is you count down “5,4,3,2,1” and you take physical action. It’s truly life-changing.
  • Aside from controlling the above things , a lot of life is out of your control and thank God. I’m so glad it’s not all up to me because I’d definitely screw it up! You gotta learn to let go & let God, people. Do what you can do and let God do what only He can do.
  • A priest at mass once gave this advice- stop comparing yourself to others, focus on your gifts and have gratitude for them and bless other people and build them up whenever you feel jealous and you are caught in the comparison trap. This will surely bring you some peace.

And on that note, may peace be with you!

Is French Parenting Better than American Parenting?

I love to learn about child-rearing practices in different cultures. Especially cultures where women get a super long maternity leave and extremely high-quality daycare. Yeah, I’m a total francophile. So when I found this book about French parenting, you better believe I was intrigued.

Image result for bringing up bebe

This book is well-written and has humor that any woman can relate to. Its about an American mother’s experience observing the common behaviors and patterns in French parenting. I especially loved the parts about sleep training, meal times, and learning to wait.

Some of the key takeaways are:

  1. French women do “the pause” to help their baby sleep all night, usually by 3 months.
  2. French women teach their babies to wait from the beginning.
  3. French babies eat what the family eats, and the baby just has to “taste” it.
  4. If the baby is happy and safe playing on his own, the French just let the baby “live his/her life.”
  5. The French are strict about bedtimes, T.V., and meal times, the rest of the time is unstructured. French children do not snack outside of the 4:30 pm snack time. From three months on, they eat (drink formula or breastfeed if they aren’t having solids yet) breakfast at 8 am, lunch at 12 pm, a snack at 4:30 pm and dinner before bedtime at 8 pm.

Buy it here on Amazon You can get it for less than $2 used (plus shipping). Trust me, it’s worth it. Here’s why:

  • It will give you permission to practice self-care.
  • It will give you and your baby adequate rest.
  • It will help teach your babies patience and independence.
  • It will help you teach your children self-discipline.
  • It will help you to create boundaries and set limits.

But Let’s Talk About Sleep Training

There are so many schools of thought on sleep training, and if the way you are doing it with your children is working for you, Amen sister, I’m so happy for you. But if you and/or your baby are tired and exhausted and co-sleeping is turning into more “co” than “sleep”, this is the book for you.

But sleep training isn’t easy. With my son, it was simpler but with my daughter, I struggled. She learned to sleep through the night easily enough by learning “the pause”, but falling asleep by herself was a different story. It was very difficult for her because she was stimulated  by my presence and didn’t know how to fall asleep on her own. It wasn’t until she was 8 months that I finally decided to let her cry-it-out which was very difficult but necessary for both her and I to receive adequate rest.

Did these ideas work for me?

For the most part, yes. I found this book while I was pregnant with my first and reread it when I had an about to be 15 month-old and a 2 month-old. I tried doing “the pause” with my eldest and he slept through the night by about 1 month old, and was sleeping for 10 hour stretches at night at about 2 months old. The same thing is happening with my youngest.

Does breastfeeding make a difference?

The way I fed the baby doesn’t seem to matter either – I formula fed the oldest and breastfed the youngest. While I do think many factors are at play, like how much your baby weighs etc, I do think the way you parent at night makes a difference.

The way “the pause” works : you “pause” when your baby makes a noise or cries in the night time – only for a few minutes, and you see if the baby was just waking up between sleep cycles. If the baby still cries after the pause, go ahead and feed the baby or change her diaper or do whatever you think she needs.

Aren’t newborns supposed to eat every 2-3 hours?

I think moms aren’t told enough that if the baby is eating well, wetting plenty of diapers, gaining weight and otherwise has no other health problems, it’s OKAY to let them sleep and stop waking them up to feed them every 2 hours. I asked my lactation consultant if I could let my baby sleep and that is what she told me. I think sometimes parents can inadvertently train their babies to wake up in the middle of the night. But , again, every situation is different, and every family has different needs and desires.  I think this technique is worth a try, though, if you want to get some more sleep yourself, and definitely seek help from a professional if you have concerns.

Wait, aren’t kids supposed to eat 6 times a day?

I am well aware of the ideas here in the United States about how many snacks toddlers are supposed to have, but I have tried to keep the same schedule outlined in this book, with meal times only 4 times a day. Not only has this taught my children patience and self-control, it has forced me to learn more self-control as well- because I have to set a good example, after all! My kids have done just fine without frequent snacking and they are hungrier for the healthiest meal of the day at our house – dinner.

The Allure of French Mothers

One thing I perceived about French mothers in the book was a lack of this sense of martyrdom and competition that I see in motherhood in the United States. These mothers don’t seem to lose their sense of self. They remain in touch with their other roles and interests in life. And they don’t neglect their husbands. They seem to have this elegant maturity, a natural balance, and acceptance of their role. They seem to have peace.

I was eclectic and funky before kids, why not still be me after kids?

 

And speaking of self-care and setting limits, here is a design I made.

So do I think French parenting is superior?

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, and no such thing as a perfect mom, I must say that what is outlined in this book has much wisdom to be gained from it.

Our Simple Fall Decor and a Playlist

Surprise, surprise, I love fall. I love pumpkin spice lattes, cooler weather, boots, and jackets. I love pumpkins, and autumn leaves , and the Anniversary Blend mugs at Starbucks. (Any current baristas reading this? Where is Anniversary blend this year? Or am I just early?)

Anyway, I love all things Fall and I love decorating but I also like to keep clutter minimal and I don’t like having to store a bunch of stuff and I don’t want to spend a ton of money. So what did I do? I improvised!

After watching some Fall decor videos on YouTube, I knew I wanted to make a leaf garland. I had twine but I needed leaves. So I took my kids out to the park one afternoon and they helped me collect leaves, it was a blast. I ended up making a little garland, and using other leaves here and there, and even pinned some around a picture. I also went to Dollar Tree and found four little pumpkins and a little owl. Here are some more photos:

And here is some music I have been listening to lately. I tend to listen to these songs each Fall; they tend to set the mood for me.

Do you have any Fall decorating ideas to share or special traditions with your family? Or any music you listen to each Fall? Let me know in the comments below!