Category: Healthy living

Tips to Pitch the Plastic as a Family

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It can feel overwhelming trying to pitch the plastics from our homes. And it might be unrealistic for families with young kids to eliminate every ounce of plastic from their lives. The busier we get, the more we tend to rely on convenience packaging, grab and go meals and water bottles for hydration. But there are ways to greatly reduce the amount of plastics we use on a daily basis, thereby reducing the amount of plastics in our water stream and landfills. And it can even save us some money.

If you try to eliminate plastic all at once, it can feel daunting. It might feel like too much change at once. But if you introduce one new habit at a time, or start with simple swaps, it will get easier in time. Once you have the hang of ditching plastics, you’ll discover you have an eye for earth friendly materials, and thinking about our environment will become second nature.

Here are my tips to families looking to purge the plastics from their lives:

START WITH ONE SIMPLE SWAP

For us, it was replacing our paper napkins and towels with cloth. This eliminates plastic wrappers that cannot be recycled. To make it more affordable, I shopped thrift stores for my collection of cloth napkins. We use them at every meal and toss into the laundry basket with our kitchen towels. To replace paper towels, I gathered up old hand towels and wash cloths (a great way to recycle baby bath cloths). I did purchase some Norwex cloths because they are absorbent and designed to last for years. It did take time to get everyone in my house in the habit of grabbing a cloth, or towel to wipe up spills instead of grabbing paper towels. Since we have a dog that makes some pretty gross messes, I do purchase a small number of paper towel rolls. I get paper made from bamboo and packaged in paper, not plastic. This feels like small change, but it will have added impact.

Silicon Jar Jackets- Click to buy

NEXT REPURPOSE, REUSE AND RELAX

Instead of cupboards filled with toppling towers of plastic cups, we only use glass. I know that just gave a lot of moms anxiety, but I use mason jars because the glass is more durable. For extra protection, I use a silicon sleeve for better gripping, and if my kid drops their glass it won’t shatter. If glass is still too much anxiety, you can use stainless steel cups which are quickly becoming a trend.

I reuse glass jars for pantry storage. I’ve already paid for a jar when I purchased my pasta sauce and pickles, why send them to the curb? My husband thought I was kind of crazy those few weeks I was obsessed with saving our glass jars, but it is worth it to revamp my pantry with a matching set of jars I didn’t have to pay extra for. And, if one breaks I won’t be heart broken, or have difficulty finding another matching jar. To make this truly zero waste and plastic free, I take my jars to the bulk bins and fill up in the store.

WHAT TO REPLACE

I went room by room and made a list of plastic products I want to replace. I focused on replacing things in one room before I moved on to the next room. This created new shopping habits and made the process much simpler and easy to manage.

In the kitchen, we replaced our plastic coated dish sponge with a net dish cloth. It was definitely an adjustment because I was convinced it was never going to work as well as a sponge. It actually works great! Plus, it lasts for 10 years, so I am saving my wallet and the earth in one step.

I stopped using plastic food containers or baggies for left overs. I use pint sized mason jars to store things like sauce, veggies, avocados, apple slices, lemon slices, canned goods, and more. The seal on the jar keeps things fresher longer than in plastic and with no chemicals leaching into my food. I also picked up a set of glass storage containers at the thrift store that were brand new. (My guess is they were a duplicate wedding gift). I can see what’s inside and toss right in the microwave and have hot food in minutes.

We made some big changes in the bathroom with our care products. Did you know that every plastic tooth brush manufactured since the 1940s, still lives in landfills today? As soon as I read that, I switched to bamboo tooth brushes. They work just as good as their plastic counterparts, but do less damage to our water ways. Bamboo is renewable and breaks down in your compost.

Instead of plastic floss containers, I use glass. This is such an easy, affordable swap. The glass container can be recycled or repurposed. I use this brand because it is produced with manmade fibers and not from silk moths.

Switching to toothpaste tabs was an adventure. My kids had zero problems with it, I think because it felt like chewing candy. It did take my husband and myself time to get used to crunching our tooth paste before we use it. Knowing the eco-impact of removing the most purchased piece of plastic helped us power through. The tabs come in glass jars, and you can subscribe to receive new tabs in paper packaging instead of buying a new jar each time, or simply purchase a new jar. Honestly, buying a jar to recycle or reuse is still avoiding significant plastics from entering our water stream.

Buying bars of soap without packaging is another super easy swap. My local grocery store carries a large assortment of package free soaps made from organic and natural ingredients. The price per bar is around the same as name brand soap. You can’t buy a mega sized, family pack. But, you can buy a few fresh scents and know there’s no garbage to toss later.

Lotion bars are a great way to eliminate plastic tubes that are rarely recycled. These bars are so easy to use and create less mess. I store my bars in a washable and reusable zipper pouch (I can toss right in with our weekly towel wash). The heat from my hands melts the lotion bar enough to apply to where I need it, but the bar stays solid.

Stainless steel water bottle – click to find your perfect color.

HOW TO PITCH THE PLASTIC OUTSIDE THE HOME

We’ve stopped asking for plastic straws at the drive thru. We aren’t a family that needs to use plastic straws, so we carry a reusable and washable wet bag filled with metal straws. I keep it right in the glove box. When we are traveling, we use our plastic free utensils and put them back in the wet bag to take back home to clean.

We’ve stopped grabbing plastic water bottles at gas stations on our short trips. Instead, we bring water from home in our reusable stainless steal beverage containers. Plus, the double wall feature keeps beverages ice cold for 24 hours.

To avoid grabbing prepackaged foods, we often bring along our own snacks or meals in sustainable packaging, or seek out local family friendly spots who use eco-friendly containers. I have reusable snack bags that I use to fill from our larger container of snacks that I pack in our cooler bag. And I’ve swapped plastic containers for steal.

I bring reusable bags to the grocery store, and if I forget them, I request paper. Some areas charge to use the store bags, so by using my own I avoid the 5 cent per bag fee. Plus, my reusable bags are stronger and carry more in them, which means less trips from the car. I leave my bags in the trunk, so I don’t forget them.

It doesn’t have to cost a million dollars to pitch the plastic, and you don’t need to buy all new products for your home. Focus on your biggest priority for change, then when you have that down, move on to the next. It’s really easy once you get started and your kids will easily follow your lead. Convenience packaging and relying on the same products is easy, but true change takes a little extra thought and a new purchasing pattern.

How are you planning to pitch some plastic this month?

Get your FREE Pitch the Plastic Action Guide Here

The whatever mom blogger bio

Get the Kids Outdoor Ready this Summer {plus my Top 5 Beach Hacks}

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Do you have an all-weather kid? One that plays real hard no matter what? There could be wind, or sleet, mud or snow and they still go out to paly? That’s my kids! They are non-stop energy and not about to let a little mud, or sand, or dirt stand in their way of a good time. We go through clothes and shoes quickly, not just because my kids outgrow them so fast, but because they destroy them. I have yet to find a shoe that can outlast their pace. In fact I have polled every moms group I belong to asking for recommendations, and still have not found anything that is long lasting for active kids.

There are two things I look for in a kid shoe – durability and materials. I’ve noticed the shoes with the synthetic materials that are smooth and lightweight, wear out much quicker and are not recyclable. My kids wear their shoes until threadbare and their toes are poking out. Our only option is to toss them into the trash because the materials aren’t recyclable. Those synthetic, low quality (high priced) materials do not make it through an entire school year before we need to purchase a second pair.

That’s why I am so excited to partner with Reima and try these all-season waterproof machine washable sneakers with Velcro. We need durable shoes that will hold up to different terrains and are easy to keep clean. These are machine washable, but we simply hosed off the shoes when we returned from the beach.

“Wow mom! I can watch the water roll right off my shoes!”

These high-tops have a Velcro closure and elastic built in laces. This should save a lot of time getting out the door, but my kids have never worn high-top shoes before, and it took a few minutes to figure them out. As soon as everyone was comfy and ready to jump into the car, we were off to our favorite river beach. The beautiful thing about the beaches along the Hudson is there is typically a park, lots of water and hiking trails. So, there is a good chance of getting messy.

Taking a forest walk.
Testing how water proof the shoes are. The water just rolls off in beads!

To keep the kids covered and protected from the sun during our play break, my girls wore their terry cloth, SPF 50 cover up hoodies with matching shorts, also from Reima. These are soft and comfortable. One of my kiddos wears this new hoodie at home or just riding in the car. The long sleeves are perfect while near the water. It’s often cooler and the temp drops a few degrees, not to mention there are always bugs. The hoodies kept my kids warm and safe and comfortable. Which means a more enjoyable time for all of us.

Can not miss a chance to climb some rocks!
This is her new favorite hoodie.

“I am glad you made me wear the long sleeves, mom. Why is it always colder by the water?”

Click to get my Top 5 Beach Hacks

Overall, my kids love the shoes and the cover ups. But here are a few things about the company that makes my mom heart happy:   

Reima uses non-toxic, fluorocarbon free and recyclable materials. The dyes used are free of carcinogens and the fibers are selected with the lifecycle of the product in mind. Everything is designed for active, playful children, and to be carefree for parents. Say goodbye to disposable fashion because these are made durable enough for your child to wear for several seasons before passing along to a sibling, or a friend. Reima has spent over 75 years future-proofing the next generations by creating long lasting, durable clothing that keeps our kids and our planet safe.

I am fully committed to sharing products I have personally tried, and I’ll share anything that makes my job as a mom easier.  Purchasing washable, durable, sustainable clothes and shoes that our kids can wear season after season is a big budget saver! It makes sense for our bank accounts and for the planet. If you have an active kid and you need stress free activewear options, take a look at what Reima has to offer, and you can feel good about buying sustainably.

The whatever mom blogger bio

Meal Plan Monday – Guacamole!

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Who doesn’t love a good guacamole dip for their chips or topping for taco Tuesday (or any day of the week)? It’s like a celebration every week when the fresh guac comes out! It is so easy to make at home and takes very little time.

I make “guac” every Tuesday because I love it, and because I have one picky eater that loves it too. That makes me picky about what I put in our guacamole.

I have tried dozens of guacamole seasoning blends, and never landed on just the right one. Until now. A friend of mine dropped off a bottle of Seasoned Delicious guacamole dip mix as a gift. (Even my friends know how much I love the good guac!). This mix is now my new taco Tuesday must have! It’s gluten free and vegan and sourced locally (to me!). Two of us in my household are gluten and dairy free, so I can serve this every week without worry.

The Seasoned Delicious company specializes in Jamaican/Soul Food fusion and uses traditional African cooking methods of slow cooking over a fire in their downtown Kingston, NY cafe.  This minority owned female run business is invested in the community by standing as a role model for Black and Brown youth who come into the café. Representation matters and they want young kids to see the dream of owning their own business as a reality. They give back to the creative arts in the area and host a Caribbean festival bringing in new culture and flavors to their community. You can learn more about the heart and soul of the business here. I am in love with their mission and happy to support a business that is putting good out into the world.

As soon as I tried this seasoning mix, I knew I loved it. But when my picky eater gave me two thumbs up, I knew this is a keeper! We love this spice blend so much; I contacted the owner Tamika to chat. We immediately connected as moms and she shared that as a nurse and registered dietician, and as a mother to children with diet sensitivities, she has witnessed how changing the diet can help people feel better. Her passion for whole food nutrition without sacrificing good flavor is a driving force behind re-creating traditional recipes with gluten free and vegan ingredients. Tamika is a busy mom (just like me), running a business, and still makes it a priority to shine love out into her community by putting thought and care into her products, her branding, and her community connections. And I am so glad to be a part of her community.  I always tell my kids that the secret ingredient to my cooking is love, and the foundation of Seasoned Delicious is bringing people together with love. Now, I can 100% guarantee love is the main ingredient in my guacamole!

I told Tamika how much I love this seasoning mix and that I plan to share my personal guacamole recipe with all my readers. She was thrilled! I don’t know if it’s as good as what Tamika makes, but I do put a lot of love into it!

Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados (click here to learn when avocados are ripe)

4 TBSP Seasoned Delicious Guacamole seasoning

1 lime

½ tsp red chili flakes if you want extra heat.

Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by cutting your avocados in half (click here to learn how to safely cut an avocado).

Remove the pit and flesh from the skin. Discard the pit and begin smashing the avocado with a fork on top of a cutting board. Traditionally, this is done with a mortar and pestle, but I do not own one. Though I really should with the amount of guacamole I make.

Squeeze half of the lime over the smashed avocado, then sprinkle on the seasoning mix. Mix everything together by folding the edges of the avocado pile into the center or stir it all together in a bowl. I like quick and easy and less dishes to clean, so I just mix it right on the board. You can garnish with cilantro if you’d like, but no one in my house likes cilantro, so we skip it.

That’s it! You can add salt and pepper to taste and a little red pepper flakes if you want extra heat, but honestly, the seasoning mix is perfect as is. I slice the remaining half of the lime into wedges to use with our tacos.

I put the bowl in the middle of the table, pour out the chips and everyone digs in.

Is guacamole part of your taco Tuesday? Tell me in the comments below how you make it!

Shop Here for Seasoned Delicious online store.

The whatever mom blogger bio

Intergenerational Trauma and Healing Our Families

As COVID restrictions are lifting, you may be having mixed feelings about getting together with family members again.  For some people, these past 18 months have been a respite from toxic relationships. COVID and mandated social distancing has provided a great excuse to keep distant from family members and provided us with an opportunity to self reflect on those relationships.  Now, we have an opportunity to redraw boundaries and make changes that create empowering environments for ourselves and our children.

Within the past 30 years, studies have established that we inherit much more than eye color from our ancestors.  We also inherit many neurological and emotional characteristics, such as temper, anxieties, and parenting styles.  Intergenerational trauma is passed down as we grow up, rather than when we are born.  We take on characteristics from our caretakers, internalize them as our internal dialogue, and then bestow the same inheritance upon our own children.  When these habits and traits are harmful physically and emotionally, this is intergenerational trauma or inherited trauma, (IT). As our society learns more about IT, adults today are becoming much more aware of their own emotional well-being and the potential toxicity of their familial relationships.  Turning the huge ship of IT around requires a rewrite of your inner dialogue. If you’re a parent, it requires a reflection on your parenting techniques. If your discipline and parenting techniques with your children are the same that you experienced growing up, you are likely continuing the pattern of trauma, whether you realize it or not.  To help you through the process of healing from this trauma and changing your learned habits, mental health professionals are readily available through a variety of platforms, apps, zoom calls, or traditional in-person meetings.  

I inherited generations of trauma from both sides of my family.  As a new mom, I decided 5 years ago that this inheritance of toxic relationships ends with me.  I’ve taken parenting classes, read books, listen often to parenting podcasts, see a therapist regularly, and work hard every day to change my inner dialogue.  I grew up with fear based parenting; spanking, intimidation, plans cancelled as punishment, beloved items taken away, and a general lack of privacy and trust.  When the parenting skills that I inherited ‘pop’ out of my mouth, and I see the looks of fear on my kids, I know I’m going back to old traumatic habits. I remind myself that I’ve got this, seek support from my husband and friends, and review positive parenting resources for skills I may have forgotten.  My husband and I are on the same page and check-in regularly with plans and boundaries.  When one of us gets triggered, the other will take over the situation without shame or guilt.  

Fear based parenting was a popular form of discipline for previous generations of my family, and is still well practiced in today’s society.  Studies have shown fear based parenting practices to be damaging to children. It also creates a parent/child relationship that is very difficult to adjust when children become adults due to its authoritarian characteristics.  Parenting styles are deeply ingrained in our inner dialogue and are difficult skills to change.  Popular alternative parenting styles such as Conscious Discipline and Positive Parenting, all address these challenges in their books and training.  There are many parenting coaches in the Hudson Valley to help your family through this change as well.

As we return to social situations, it is important to remember the following responsibilities to our self and our children:

  1. Our Time and Energy is Valuable: We do not have to spend time with anyone we don’t want to, and nor do our children.  Don’t stress about the length of life a toxic relative has. Make your time the priority.  Life can be short no matter what age you are. 
  2. Giving hugs is always a choice: You own your body and have a choice who your body comes into contact with. Teach your children positive body image and give them the choices to hug or to just wave.   Listen to their words and watch their body language (even as babies); honor their choice to be touched or not.
  3. Only those who empower you have the privilege of your time:  Being a blood relative does not give anyone the authority to belittle, mock, tease, abuse, harass, or harm you.  In fact, no other human being has that authority, and blood relatives don’t get special privileges either.
  4. Set Boundaries:  It is your responsibility to communicate to others what you are and are not comfortable with.  Others can’t read your mind.  If a boundary is crossed, you need to remind and reinforce.   As a parent, the responsibility to set boundaries and reinforce them is even more important.  For young children, you are their only way of learning how to set and have those boundaries respected.  

These changes may seem like a lot of work, but it is absolutely worth it.  Living a life with clear communication, boundaries, and empowering relationships will help you blossom into your true self.  Bestowing this new inheritance on your kids will give them the tools they need for healthy relationships in all facets of their life.  You have the power to heal generations of trauma and stop the cycle with your family.  

Get help locating a therapist in your area by searching Psychology Today

Meal Plan Monday: Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Earlier this week, I shared on my personal social media pages the grilled sweet potatoes that my very picky eaters enjoyed (and gave a rave review by the way!). It felt like a total win when my whole family ate them without a single complaint.

I started eating a vegan diet at the beginning of the year for my own personal health reasons. The goal was to eat a vegan diet for 30 days. Well, after 120 days, I’m still going strong. I don’t expect my entire family to make the switch, it is something I am doing for myself. But, that does mean I need to spend a little time coming up with one meal that can fit three different pallets at once. I am thrilled that this easy sweet potato side dish is something we all agree on! And it is so easy to make on a weeknight, or for a family barbecue.

Free recipe card

Of course I can’t let on how over joyed I am that my kids ate a healthy serving of a fiber, nutrient rich VEGETABLE! Otherwise, they will never eat it again. So, I silently turn cartwheels inside my heart and commit the recipe to memory, promising to only make it now and then. I have to make sure to no over use it. Moms with picky eaters know about this quiet victory dance, and how we have to steel our emotions against believing this is the breakthrough vegetable.

For myself, I served this alongside some marinated baby portabella mushroom skewers and grilled romaine, topped with shredded vegan parmesan.

For my family, I served alongside Spiedies Marinaded chicken. If you haven’t had a chicken Spiedies sandwich before, well you are missing out! It is an upstate New York favorite. Hmmm… I feel a new recipe post coming on.

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Just to keep things simple, I made these potato slices in foil packets so I wouldn’t have to spend time flipping each individual potato slice. The steam created during the grill time also helps soften the potatoes quicker.

I’ve also made this recipe with regular potatoes to create a completely different flavor.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite vegetable to toss on the grill? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

The whatever mom blogger bio

Spring Cleaning Just in Time for Spring to Arrive

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I know it might sound early for spring cleaning since we are still in winter. But this is the perfect time to start cleaning. I take advantage of being inside more due to the cold weather and start cleaning out closets, dusting ceiling fans and giving the house a deeper clean. Then when the sun pops out and it’s warmer outside, we won’t waste any time inside cleaning.

Most people start with a room-by-room strategy, but I tackle the same hot spots throughout the house. For example, I focus on cleaning all the closets at once instead of the closet in the room I am currently cleaning. Instead of cleaning one ceiling fan, I clean them all the same day. This way I have all donation items take out at the same time, and I have all the dusting finished at once instead of starting that process over again in each room. Does that make sense? It can feel different if you are not used to do it that way.

Here’s how I get it all done:

Closets and dressers are the first place I start so I can eliminate anything we no longer use. Old clothes, tablecloths, sheets, towels, etc. I bag everything up and toss it near the door for one trip to the donation bin. I find the Hefty extra strong black out bags are best for donations.

Bathrooms: I make sure to toss any expired makeup or cleaning supplies and make a checklist of items that need to be replaced. We love Method Bathroom cleaner because it cleans, disinfects and gets rid of bathroom smells.

Kitchen: I pull all the pantry items out at the same time and toss anything that has expired. Then I wipe out each cabinet before I return items. Then I move on to the fridge to toss anything that may be expired and give the fridge a good wipe down with my Norwex Envirocloth. I check each cabinet for any dishes that may need to be tossed or re-organized.

I use a Swiffer extended handle duster to clean each ceiling fan in the house and then I dust the walls from ceiling to floor, including the base boards. Now each room should be cleaned out, organized and free from dust. The only thing left to do is clean the floors.

We have a Dyson Animal vacuum for deep cleaning (that thing is still kicking 14 years later) and a Yeedi robot vacuum for a daily sweep of the main living areas (that little guy is brand new!). This helps keep the pet hair and kid dirt managed.

I leave window washing until the very last because it is my least favorite. However, using my Norwex window cloth has been the easiest and fastest streak free window cleaning system I have found! Since I am the only one in my house to clean the windows, I am a big fan of anything that will get it done quick.

That’s how I spend my February. In upstate NY we can still get a few snowstorms in March, but we can also get a rare week of 80-degrees and sunshine. And those are the days I’ll be ready for because my chores will be done!

Roxanne is a twin mom and freelance writer. She owns this little piece of the blogosphere where parents are encouraged to let go and embrace the messier parts of parenting, without judgement.

2020 Was the Worst, but We Can Still Carry Light Into the New Year

Sparkler, Holding, Hands, Firework, Sparkles, Fire

It’s the last day of 2020 and everyone is ready for this year to be over. While I am one to lean into optimism for a happier new year, I am also realistic enough to understand the flip of a calendar isn’t going to change the circumstances we carry into 2021.

This year has been a solid suck fest, one thing after another to worry about, leave behind or pivot away from. It has been mentally exhausting and at times draining just working with our new restrictions for shopping, vacationing, and finding activities that do not involve being near other people. My kids have attended remote school for almost a year and their mental health has incrementally declined since the beginning of our “quarantine life.” But overall, we have persevered. I feel like I had just enough positivity in me to get through the spring and summer months. It was easier when we could still get outside and do things we enjoyed, but with winter here, I can feel it faltering.

I know it’s hard to think of anything positive from this last year, but everything exists in opposites. So, we can’t have good without evil, or evil without the good. Looking back over 2020, I can see the darkness and the sadness, but I can also see the love and kindness that came out of this “unprecedented” year.

The nurses, doctors, EMS, EMTs, and ER staff working the front lines caring for us jumped in with sleeves rolled up and ready to love complete strangers through their most difficult days. Nurses held up iPads for families to say goodbye and wept right alongside of them while they died. Nursing home staff gave married couples dying from COVID the dignity and compassion to spend their final days side by side. Love was found in the strangers who sent pizzas, meals, coffee, cards, and gifts to those on the front lines.

Kindess was found in the landlords that gave rent relief to those who lost their jobs.

Love was found in the teachers who scurried to create virtual classrooms so they can stay connected to their students, not just dole out a lesson plan. Love was found in the cafeteria workers who put together meals for kids who eat most of their meals at school. Love was found in the school nurse who prepared to return in a gown and plastic face shield to keep their students safe.

Love was found in firefighters and police officers offering birthday parades to kids during quarantine because traditional birthday parties were not allowed.

Kindness was found in neighbors feeding neighbors. Neighbors watching over each other and delivering goods to those who weren’t feeling safe going into a store.

Kindness was found in those who donated blood for those in need.

Love was found in those who continued to volunteer to feed, clothe and help their communities most vulnerable populations.

I’ll bet if you look around your own community and neighborhood, you will find places love and kindness suddenly showed up. Maybe in places it didn’t exist before. Maybe you were on the receiving end of someone who helped you that you didn’t expect or count on before. I am still blown away by kind friends who drop deliveries at my doorstep, left crafts for my kids, sent packages to brighten our days and listened to me when I was most frustrated by so many changes happening at once.

In my broader community, people are filling refrigerators outside their doorstep for anyone in need to shop from. Families are sending cards and happy mail to our local nursing homes, so no one feels alone. Our local restaurants are partnering to create feeding programs to serve those in need and finding creative ways to keep their own doors open. Churches are keeping their feeding programs open. Warming centers are quickly evolving to meet safety protocols, families are adopting other families Christmas wish lists. Some of my friends are donating their time to serve community meals. This is love in action. If I stop and think back on this year, I can find several ways love and kindness still pulled through.

I am in no way thankful for COVID and things like “quarantine” and “cohorts,” but if I dig deep enough through the craziest parts of this year, I can still find a lot of love and gratitude to take with me into the new year. This won’t solve our current crisis and is in no way meant to gloss over the deep wounds many of us still feel from the year, but reminding ourselves of the good gives us hope that there is still goodness left to come, even if we must actively look for it.

One of the things that has helped me through the sadness of missing out on our usual things and the feeling of time standing still, is taking pictures of us trying new things together. Every time we hiked a new trail or found a new place to play, I took a bunch of photos. On the days I am feeling sad about missing out on our vacation or our life pre COVID, I scroll through those bright photos and remember we can still find happiness.

What is one bright spot you had during 2020?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of this blog. Thank you for reading along and for being a part of this supportive motherhood community. Follow along on Facebook or Instagram.

To the Moms Living with Depression at Christmas

To the moms living with depression at Christmas, I see you. Maybe you’re grieving right now. Maybe you just aren’t feeling like yourself this year, or maybe you’ve had depression for as long as you can remember. Either way, I see you. I know what it feels like to grieve and feel depressed through the Christmas season.

I’ve had many, many horrible loses right around Christmas. We discovered my niece had cancer right around Christmas. I had one last Christmas with my dad two months before he died. I lost our first child just before Christmas. There was the year my brother-in-law was stationed in Iraq, and years later, I spent two consecutive Christmases decorating a hospital room and holding hands with my nephew praying through his mysterious illness that he was going to be OK. (Thankfully, he was).

Too often we believe we can’t feel anything other than joy and happiness through the Christmas season. As if our only job is to exude happiness through our fingertips and make magic for those around us. If you are a mom, you are the keeper of the magic and everyone looks to you for the fun, the joy, the perfect hot coca after the snow, the fresh new jammies on Christmas morning. Without those things it wouldn’t feel like Christmas to them. But to you, it all feels like work and exhaustion.

Full disclosure: I am not clinically depressed, but I have lived with depression during the holidays and I feel like I can closely relate. The year I lost our baby, was the absolute worst. I stuffed that depression down so deep that when it finally hit, I couldn’t get out of bed. I went to work in a fog and came home to get into my bed and stayed there all night. Life was a hazy blur as I raced through the motions so the day would just be over. One night my husband returned home from work to find me in my pajamas cooking dinner and asked, “are you finally getting out of bed now?” and I was so angry, I threw a raw chicken at him. That’s when I knew it was time to face the grief I felt and maybe learn to express it in more productive ways. (For the record, we laugh at that night now, 13 years later).

The brain fog and mental fatigue alone make it hard to really connect to anything else around you, including the sparkly lights and the kid’s enjoyment while baking cookies together. It all feels like too much and not enough all at the same time. And then we pile on the guilt for not enjoying it and not giving enough to our kids. (Believe me, you are enough).

There is so much pressure to make things perfect the entire month of December. But I want to normalize that it’s OK to have other feelings that aren’t festive or Merry. It is possible to feel pain in your heart and carry sadness around with you. It’s also OK to talk about those feelings. People will seem dismissive with their trite, “look on the bright side” “well at least you have other kids” or “it’s Christmas, everything is happy at Christmas.” Those are the words of someone who doesn’t know how to help. They may be afraid of your pain. They may be afraid of saying the wrong thing. Or they may be clueless what it feels like to be missing pieces of themselves. Running into those phrases can make someone with depression want to retreat and never mention it again, or feel ashamed of not being as happy as everyone else. But talking about it with someone who can relate, or has felt grief, is the best way to get through this. We can feel like talking about our sadness will make other people sad, but it won’t. Holding it in and denying that it exists makes it harder for other feelings to get in, including joy and happiness.

I see how hard you are working to keep it all bottled up inside like nothing is wrong, but believe me, you need to find your safe space before you find yourself hurling poultry during an out of body experience. Talking about your pain, your sadness, and the loved ones you miss should be completely acceptable even at Christmas.

This year the pandemic restrictions that keep us from being with people and parties that make us feel less alone, also makes it harder to reach out or use our regular coping mechanisms. It is elevating the level of pain we can normally feel in control of. I too am feeling the grief more deeply than in the past.

The other day, I was simply preparing our tree for decorating and listening to Christmas carols. I love caroling. In fact, for several years my friend coordinated a caroling event at a local nursing home and I looked forward to that tradition every year. As I was belting out “The First Noelle,” I suddenly burst in to tears when I realized that tradition is gone and so is my friend. She died almost two years ago. All I could remember was the last Christmas we caroled together. And as I began grieving for her, it opened the flood gates for all the grief I normally feel at Christmas, but keep myself too busy to feel. Crying did feel better. But talking to a friend who understands grief and heartache made it easier for me to process and make room for feelings of gratitude. Just knowing I wasn’t alone in feeling this way and hearing kind words, “I know how you feel” “I know this is so hard” “I am sending you hugs” felt like band aids to my broken heart. My friend’s compassion and understanding were the healing salve I needed to carry on. My grief will continue no matter what, but knowing I could express it without judgement makes it easier to cope with it.

I don’t need to be you or have suffered the same exact losses to know that grief any time of year is hard, but during the holidays when everyone else is stacking their happiness in colorful packages, depression can feel out of place. And I also know that grief and sadness, depression and loss can co-exist alongside feelings of joy. I hope you will reach out to those around you who can share in this with you. If you don’t have that kind of support in your home, I hope you can find it in a support group or a therapist’s office. More than anything, I hope you know you’re allowed to have more than one feeling during the holidays.

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of The Whatever Mom blog. You can find more of her messy motherhood stories on Facebook.

My Winter Wellness Guide

Happy Light | Nature’s Bounty Vitamin D3 | Nordic Naturals Omega 3 Fish Oil | Sketchers Ultra Groove Sneakers | Lady Bird Deluxe 2021 Planner | Stash Organic Tea

It is no secret that I need the sun to feel my healthy best. Living in the North East where we have dark, cloudy winters, getting enough sunshine is a challenge for me.

I have never been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but I can tell you my mood changes through the winter. I am less patient, I feel more stressed and less motivated. Over the years I have developed a winter wellness routine that helps me get through the dark days of winter.

I use the Happy Light from Verilux – this little light creates the same feeling of being in the sun. I use it in the mornings during my treadmill walks. During the winter, the morning is too dark and cold for me to walk outside, so I bring the outside in. I set my light up near my treadmill and walk for 30 minutes.

I take my supplements. I normally run deficient in vitamin D3 (known as the sunshine vitamin) and have for many, many years. I supplement all year, but in the winter I change the dose according to my doctors recommendation. Omega 3 fish oil also help increase a positive mood. Always check with your own doctor if these supplements are safe for you to take.

I get outside when I can. If the sun is out, I am out too. I grab my Sketchers and head out the door for a quick walk around the block. I turn on the tunes and soak in the light and get those endorphins pumping.

I ditch my late night to-do list. I am a natural born night owl and often stay up way to late to get things done. But that always leaves me with a grumpy attitude and a hangover effect. You know when your head is too foggy and you just want to crawl back to bed? I make myself go to bed at the same time as my kids (around 9:30 or 10). I read a little, or write out my to-do list in my planner for the next day instead of trying to get it all done right now.

I drink tea – a lot of tea. I’m not giving up coffee any time soon, but I love a good cup of hot tea in the middle of a cold day. I try to be mindful of stopping what I am doing and grabbing some tea while I phone a friend, or call home to chat with my mom. It’s like a little happy hour routine in my day that keeps me connected.

I take time to center my thoughts. I am a mom, writer, homeowner, wife and dog mom. I have a lot of things to do in a day and my brain often feels like someone dumped a big old box of ping pong balls and they are all bouncing out of control. I take 5-10 minutes each morning to meditate, or simply stand at my open back door and listen to the birds and take three deep breaths.

I may not get to do these things all in one day, but I strive to work them into my daily routine. Each little action creates a bigger impact on my mood and how I am feeling as a mom.

Do you have a winter wellness routine? I’d love to hear more about how you make time to take care of yourself.

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of The Whatever Mom blog. She spends most of her time learning to let go of perfection and sharing her messier parent moments with other moms. You can follow her Facebook page to see the messiness unfold.

Join Me for a virtual International Family Summit

Post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission for purchases at no cost to you.

I am excited to share that my friend Dr. Orlena has invited me to be a guest speaker in her Fit and Fabulous Family International Summit! It’s a virtual 3 day summit just for parents!

Dr Orlena has invited 17 amazing speakers, all of whom are parents, so they know your struggles! Each of the speakers will talk about a different aspect of health and wellness. For example, I’m talking about how to create easy selfcare routines for overall wellness.

Dr Orlena’s Fit and Fabulous philosophy focuses on 4 pillars of healthy living.

1. What we eat.

2. Exercise

3. Sleep 

4. Emotional wellness (how we reduce stress and create a loving atmosphere in our homes.)

Because we are all busy parents, just like you, each video is 15 minutes or less to maximize your time, and covers different aspects of all 4 pillars.

Why Attend?

Do you worry about your family’s health and wellness?

Do you want a long healthy life for you and your kids, but life seems to get in the way of your goals?

The goal of this summit is to show you how to create healthy living habits, so you and your family can feel fit and fabulous! We’ll show you how to make it easy and fun!

The event is entirely FREE for 3 whole days from Friday December 4th to Sunday Dec 6th.

You can find out more here.

Life Time Ticket Option

If you’d like to have lasting access to the videos, Dr. Orlena has created a lifetime ticket, so you can watch the videos whenever you want. This makes it so much easier for busy moms!

The lifetime ticket also includes other fabulous products that have been donated by contributors.

Until Tuesday 8th Dec the lifetime ticket will be just $47.

On Tuesday 8th Dec the lifetime ticket goes up to $97.

Want to win some prizes?

Simply click to share this link on your Facebook page and tag Dr. Orlena to enter.

See you at the summit!

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of this blogspace. She spends a lot of time trying to find balance and teaching other moms that it is OK to embrace the messier parts of parenting! Follow her on Facebook for her less than perfect posts.

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