New Year’s Resolution #3: Live Openly

For many years I considered myself an open book. No secrets were far buried for me. You could get to my deep thoughts without too much digging. An admirable way to live. Done and done.

Actually, this is a terrible analogy. An open book? The books I read often require much digging to get to its heart and some secrets are never truly revealed. Interesting literature for sure, but not healthy as a human. Despite constantly trying to crawl inside a book (I’m on my third book in 4 days), trying to emulate one is not a mental health goal.

Recently it’s become clear just how much I’m not living openly and what that does to my ability to connect with others personally and even advance professionally. I am hesitant to admit personal struggle unless I feel it might help someone else, even in my own home where I should be most free, most open, most loud.

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New Year’s Resolution #3: Live Openly

This year I want to say what’s on my mind. I want to speak up and be wrong and apologize and get over it. I want to be a burden at times. I want to get messy and embrace being messy.

This is the resolution that will be hardest. I honestly don’t know how to do it, except with as each small opportunity presents itself I will try to take a step closer.

New Year’s Resolution #2: Me First

Me first can sound selfish or it can sound obvious depending on where you’re at in your mental health, self-care journey. I always thought I did a pretty good job before I had kids. I had ample hobbies and interests, friends and social activities that my life felt full and rewarding.

Kids totally knocked that out. I did not have a routine. I did not have a stable, dependable habit or thing that kept me sane during tough times. I was just floating by.

Side note: the most important unsolicited advice I would offer an expecting parent is that you establish a meaningful, flexible routine that allows you to keep your sanity in check. Daily meditation? At-home yoga practice? Friend that you can call day or night? Get it before that baby arrives in your home. 

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Sometimes the only answer is to leave the house, rain or no rain. I wanted to go hiking but didn’t want to risk messing up his nap so just hit a nature trail nearby. Compromise.

Now that we’re two kids in I have learned that I really don’t have any self-care habits. I had things I did for fun, not really for calm and it’s really made it difficult to have any emotional resilience.

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Another rainy moment but we rode downtown for ice cream. Totally worth it. 

New Year’s Resolution #2: Me First

I’m going to do something for myself every day. Some days will be small. A cup of tea after the babies go to bed. A long cuddle with Clara. Saying no. Ignoring chores. Taking the kids for a walk even if it’s dark outside or sprinkling rain. Perfect conditions not necessary. I don’t know what this will look like (I’m learning after all) but these are my plans:

  • Hot baths
  • Baking bread
  • Get outside, with or without kids
  • Stating what I need, am feeling
  • Declining invitations
  • Ignoring chores
  • Writing blogs, essays, gratitude journaling
  • Watering the plants
  • Eating food when I’m hungry, not waiting until the children leave me alone
  • Take a pottery class
  • Go to yoga
  • Crafting

 

New Year’s Resolution #1: Or Kids, Plastic and Hope

Children are wasteful. Like overwhelming wasteful. Perhaps in your home is some sort of sweet naturally conservation-inclined baby but mines throws his food on his floor (which is covered in dog hair because life) and is hungry an hour later. He asks me for some milk and then I find the cup/bottle under the couch where he watched it roll and forgot about it. (In fairness to him, he will gladly try to drink hours from now, but no.) And everything is made of plastic. His little seat that straps into a chair (and is extremely mobile and handy), his sippy cups, his bottles, his forks and spoons- all plastic. Don’t even get me started on individually packaged snacks for toddlers. We’ve got them, we use them, I hate it.

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Adorable food throwing baby.

Plus every time you have a kid, they need their own stuff. A lot of it can be handed down from another child, yours or someone else’s, but still they accumulate things. The diapers alone will make you lose your mind.

You can rationalize it any way you like, but having kids is not a great environmental decision. They will impact the earth. Hopefully they will be environmentally conscious little conservationists, picking up trash, minimizing plastic and advocating for better regulations, but everyone has a footprint and they add to it. In fact, just having kids makes it more difficult to keep up your own environmental efforts.

With kid #2, I’ve stopped making baby food (yes, there has been a high quantity of baby food pouches), quit cloth diapers and stopped making a number of other things I formally made from scratch- granola, bread, kombucha, etc.

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We use plant based/biodegradable diapers now but I still miss those cute fluffy cloth diaper butts.

 

Choosing children isn’t purely an environmental choice. If you choose not to have children, are you saying there’s no hope? The only way for salvation is to stop having kids? My old bud, Katie O’Reilly wrote a really great essay on the choice to have children in the face of climate change for Sierra. I hesitated to read it as I thought it might condemn my choices- not just one child but two! Spoiler alert, she decides on hope.

I have a lot of incredible friends who maintain their environmental ways through their growing families. They make all their meals, cloth diaper their babies, and bike to the store. Their ability to keep it up is so motivating and inspiring but I’m not there yet.

But this year, we’re a little farther away from baby land, less in survival mode and I can add a little more of what’s important to me. The key, for me, is a little at a time.

New Year’s Resolution #1:

Without biting off more than I handle, I plan to reduce plastic incrementally. I got some Christmas money and plan to replace some items in our kitchen. Purchase more reusable silicone bags, glass food containers and replace our sponges with brushes.  I’ll also start replacing bathroom items- deodorant, shampoo/conditioner and the like. At one time I thought I wanted to make all our products myself but we’re at the point where I can and should choose to purchase it.

I hope by the end of the year I can focus more on food which is where so much of our waste is created but this is a marathon not a sprint and if I collapse under the weight of unrealistic goals, we’ll never get there!

A little Instagram inspiration to keep me motivated:

@pattiegonia

@zerowastechef

@leangreenbean (not an environmental IG account but she clearly works to balance minimizes waste in a realistic three-kids, working parents way)

@zerowasteoutdoors

@livingwastefree

@darwinsgeneralstore

@tinyyellowbungalow

More Than Gratitude

Multiple times recently I have pulled up my laptop, opened a new blog post and froze. I don’t want to write about I am still struggling with the balance of two children. That every day, for a short moment, I look at my kids and think, how do people do this? How do they help two children at the same time? How do they go to work, take care of their family and still pay attention to themselves?

I don’t want to write about I still feel lost from the person I was before becoming a mother. I want to share about how satisfying my career is, how I’m getting back into my hobbies, how I am living a zero-waste, screen-free, nutritious, socially engaging  and responsible life.

I thought I’d be more prepared the second time around. I was. But that didn’t really change that having children is difficult. Who knew, right?

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But I am writing you on Thanksgiving. My children are sleeping quietly in their own beds, hopefully until 6 am. My belly is full of food made with love. I am drinking hot cider and watching junk TV, the way you should on the night of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is complicated and problematic and tough because the way I have always celebrated it- filled with food, family and friends, is special to me. But that doesn’t erase that the Thanksgiving story we have been told is a lie and Native Americans have never treated with thankfulness or gratitude since Europeans came ashore.

Life is complicated. Children are complicated. Family is complicated. Thanksgiving is complicated. America is complicated. I am complicated. So are you. We cannot pretend that because we like something, it is inherently good. Or because we wanted a family, it is easy. To really participate in something, you have to see it for what it is, understand it for what it is and commit regardless. Commit to make the best of it. Commit to make it better. Commit to try.

Committing is harder for some. It is incredibly hard for me. I want to avoid. I want to keep my options open. I don’t want to get invested. This Thanksgiving though, I am trying to live my values. I don’t want to just be grateful for my life, my family, my country, I want to commit to it. I want to invest in it. Here we go.

 

Baby Austin

This week Austin turns one. One. Is it even possible?

Austin is my little sunshine- not always happy but always a force of nature, always moving, always laughing although he does not give out smiles as easily as his brother. He’s quick to lay his head on your shoulder or leg for a quick cuddle, the sweet snuggler, and he picks up on everything- learning, imitating every movement he can. He’s mischievous and sneaky, giggling towards everything you tell him not to.

Life is a wild ride and I’m so glad he’s on it with us.

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