Taking Time for Mom

hands

I love having my nails done—I loved nail polish when I was a little girl and was always giving myself manicures, complete with base coat and top coat, even when I was 10 or 11. I generally find going to a salon for a mani/pedi to be a relaxing experience. I used to joke with my husband that when I got a full-time job after gradutation, I needed to make enough money to be able to pay my student loans back and get more regular manis and pedis.

Well, eventually that has kind of happened. I found an amazing salon that is relatively close to our house and is near my office and I’m there about every two weeks. I love it and I love that time for me.

Between my work schedule, commitments for the boys’ schools, sports schedules and my husband’s schedule, my time is limited, but making time for me is important for me. As mothers, our natural tendency is to “go, go, go” and take care of everyone else but ourselves, but I become a very cranky mom if I don’t do something for myself. In addition to regular manis and pedis, I find that it’s important for me to get enough sleep and I’m generally in bed between 9:30 and 10 p.m. I know a lot of people seem shocked that I go to bed that early, but I also get up at 4:30 a.m. in the morning to do the next thing I need to do for myself—exercise! While I’m more naturally a morning person rather than a night owl, getting up at 4:30 is hard some mornings. It’s become a habit, however, and it’s the only way I’m going to get some necessary exercise in. I had slacked on exercise around Christmas last year and then had an injury from a fall in January and realized through the course of physical therapy that exercise is a must and not just to keep my weight down.

I’m a happier person when I do small things for myself. I’m a firm believer that women need to take time for themselves and that there’s truth to the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, then no one’s happy!” It’s not always easy—finding a yoga class that fits my schedule right now is hard, so I get it—but it’s important to do something that works for YOU, no matter what stage of motherhood you are in. I couldn’t go for regular manicures when my kids were younger. Life was too hectic with small children and money was tight, so I did try to paint my nails weekly after they went to bed and with the fast-dry polishes, they looked okay and it made me feel like I was doing a little something for me. When I went back to school, I treated myself to a coffee out or a lunch out at Panera once in a while when my schedule allowed for it to do something little for me. I found it refreshing. What do you do for YOU?

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

The spring semester is in full swing for me—so far so good. With the Martin Luther King holiday this past Monday, I haven’t even had a full two weeks of school.  Ask me in a month how it’s really going, as it’s kind of hard to tell right now.

One of the things I struggled with when I went back to school was meal planning and making sure I was eating right.  It’s easy to get caught up in cafeteria food for breakfast and lunch and then do take-out or prepackaged processed garbage for dinners for the family.  It’s a vicious cycle when dealing with crazy schedules for all of us and we are just trying to get through every day without losing our minds.

Around Christmas, I became frustrated with myself.  I’d put on 10 pounds since I started school in the fall of 2011 and even then, I’d wanted to lose a few.  There I was on Christmas, really irritated that my wedding rings and jeans were really tight.  On December 27, I contemplated re-joining Weight Watchers.  I’m a Lifetime member, meaning and I reached and maintained my goal at one point.  My frustration with WW is the push for their processed low point foods.  I realize it’s a business, but the push for that stuff by certain leaders always bothered me.  When I did lose and maintain, it was with a leader who wanted her members to eat real foods.  I decided instead to use My Fitness Pal to log my calories and really try to learn more about nutrition and health and not just focus on “getting the most bang for my buck” in terms of calories.  It was going to be a challenge, but I really wanted to educate myself on this.

My husband and I watched the documentary Hungry for Change on Netflix over that weekend.  What an eye-opener!  We realized then that we needed to eat cleaner, more wholesome foods and also educate our children on this, as well.

Since then, I’ve lost almost 8 pounds.  My husband has lost about 10.  I’ve incorporated exercise back in to my life.  I had pretty much stopped exercising when I started school last year, despite a love of spinning.  My back started bothering me when I went back to school from carrying a way-too-heavy messenger bag and one of my joints near my hip was messed up for a while. I’ve been exercising regularly without pain and I feel good.  We’ve really changed the way we eat and changed how we shop for food.  We read ingredient labels now.  I had no idea that there was high fructose corn syrup in the supposedly whole wheat bread we’d been buying for years.  Ick.

We’ve made some positive changes.  It’s a challenge to fit everything in, but it’s what we need to do in order to maintain our health and embrace an overall sense of well-being.  After all, life can’t be just about working hard.

photo courtesy of stockfreeimages.com
photo courtesy of stockfreeimages.com

This will be the semester of blog neglect

School has officially been back in session for two weeks and it feels like two months.  Life is busy for all of us.  We are settling into a routine and I feel better this week than I did last week.  Last week was TIRING.  By Thursday, I was struggling to keep my eyes open.  It was the first full week of school, plus I started working on campus two afternoons a week as part of a directed study.  I love it, but it makes for a few long days.  Add in one particularly difficult class (for me) that requires a lot of homework assignments, two kids with their own “stuff” (homework, appointments, activities, etc.), a husband who is working a lot and you’ve got one tired MomStudent. 

The good news is I love most of my classes.  I love working on campus and I love the new experiences I’m having as a result of it.  Like I said, we are settling into a routine.  We are working as a team and doing the best we all can.  My husband has been incredibly helpful.  The kids are handling the extra time at afterschool care well.  They weren’t happy about staying so late the days they are there, but they are managing. 

I realized last week that after this semester, I’ll be halfway done.  Three semesters will be done and I’ll have three more to go. I also had to look at the academic calendar as part of my research for my directed study internship and I got chills when looking at 2013-2014 and seeing the date for commencement and realizing that was when I’d be graduating.  After this semester I only have 11 required classes left, so I should be done by then.  May 2014 has been the goal all along and it’s definitely do-able. 

Anyway, this semester will be busy.  I don’t have as much time to write for me as I’d like.  I had an idea for a blog post the other day while walking to my car and lost the idea by the time I could sit down to write.  It’s going to happen. 

But that’s ok.  Life is crazy, but it’s satisfying and that’s what’s important.

How I’ve spent my summer vacation

According to an app I have on my iPhone, school starts in 8 days and 20 hours or so.  Exciting stuff, right?  Eh, I’m not sure how I feel about it right now.  Last year, I was really excited and this year I am nervous for some reason. Maybe it’s because I know what I am in for.  Maybe it’s because this summer has been busy and more tiring than I expected it to be.  Maybe it’s because my husband has regularly worked about 80 hour per week over the last 3 weeks or so and I am nervous about how I am going to manage my schoolwork and responsibilities and the kids’ stuff without a lot of help if this pace continues.  I’ll get through it and it will probably help to have more of a schedule, but I’ve been tired lately and school hasn’t even started yet.

So what have we been up to?  It’s been hot, but it’s been a summer of growth for my boys–both physically and emotionally.  My oldest, who is on the autism spectrum, has matured a lot this summer.  It’s been a lot of fun to watch.  He’s made a lot of gains and I’ve loved seeing him grow this summer.  He turned 11 in June and this summer has been all about him learning about professional sports.  We’ve had some sports-related family days this summer that have been fun.  He has also mentioned a few times that he likes pretty girls.  I’m really not ready for this.  Wasn’t he a baby just yesterday???

I’ve spent a lot of time with my youngest this summer, especially since the oldest was in summer school.  Do you know how much fun it is to listen to a chatty 8-year-old all.the.time?  Yeah, it’s a trip.  On a serious note, one of the highlights for me was watching my chatty child’s compassion and watching him be a good friend.  Z became friends with a little boy in his class this year who is blind.  Their friendship developed and I watched Z guide this boy and encourage others in his class to play with him during recess.  The little boy also attended summer school where my oldest did, so the boys got to see each other when I’d pick M up.  The little boy said he really missed Z this summer, particularly at recess, and as the program went on, the boy’s aide got permission for me to bring Z for recess if I wanted to, so that he’d have a friend to play with.  For the last two weeks of the program, I brought Z to the playground so the boys could play.  It was awesome to watch these two boys play together and to watch my son interact with his friend.  His friend was so grateful that he had someone to play with at recess and I am so glad I was able to do that for him.  It was good for my son, too.

So what have I learned this summer?

  • I hate the heat.  I am getting old and I really don’t like it.
  • I really hope I don’t have to take a summer class next summer.  I did one earlier in the summer and it was enough for me.  I really needed the break after it was over.
  • My husband and I have evaluated our finances and have changed how we spend our money.  I really hope that time doesn’t get away from me this year and we are able to continue the path we are on and meet the goals we’ve set.
  • I love having boys.  I am a girly girl who couldn’t imagine having two boys when I was younger, but I enjoy being a mom of boys.  It’s never dull.
  • I’m like an infant who needs a schedule.  That’s what I am looking forward to the most about returning to school.

Here are some photos from our summer!  See you soon with some back-to-school photos!

View of the lake on our little vacation

Boys’ enjoying some downtime at the beach

Boys chilling out and letting me a take a quick pic!

Boys touching the stored basketball hoop while we were touring TD Garden. The boys loved that they got to touch the same hoop as some of their favorite Celtics players!