Real Talk | The Struggle of Life, Parenthood & Anxiety

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This season of life and parenting just hasn’t been my favorite lately. I’m struggling. Struggling to stay on top of my emotions, on top of my hot temper. Struggling to find peace in the moments of chaos and frustration. Struggling to meet the needs of myself and my family. Struggling to make my home clean and comfortable which I often throw my hands up to because oreos and brushing your teeth. Literally the struggle is real right now.

I always wanted to be a kind, peaceful and carefree parent. One who can keep their composure in most any situation, one who seems to know when to speak and when to just listen and one who just radiates love in every word, every touch and every smile. I dream of being a parent like that one day. I never really thought I’d end up being a bit more cross and quick to snap. I never thought I’d end my days feeling like I have failed as a parent, like I said and did the wrong thing and wonder what do I need to do to change and to make sure I have the most nourishing and loving relationship with my children.

Lately I have had a flare up with my anxiety and have been feeling incredibly anxious about this whole PNW earthquake thing. Feeling like we aren’t prepared enough, what do I do if we aren’t home, or worst yet what do we do if Neil is at work on the other side of the river? I know for most West Coasters this isn’t a big deal it’s just a part of life but this East Coast girl is new to the whole massive earthquake thing. I’m working through my anxiety, trying to make time for meditation, using my oils that really help to ease my anxious feelings and trying to just not think about it. The thing is my anxiety over this one thing is seeping into the other aspects of my life – my children, my relationship with my husband, being social, work, and so on.

While I know much of my anxieties and the pressures I feel I created myself they are still there and it’s up to me to take control of them. It’s up to me strive for balance in life or rather strive for a life where I feel like I am fulfilling my duties as a mama, a partner, a girl boss and as a human.

I know I’ll struggle to post this because who wants to say I am struggling but the reality is I am and I know (or at least hope) I’m not alone. I’m also using this time to officially declare to you and myself that I am going to do The Orange Rhino Challenge. I keep saying I’ll read the book and follow through but I haven’t and today is my public declaration so hold me to it.

So this is life. I’m working on a lot of personal development things right now because I need to. We can all grow, develop, change and be the people we want to be. Thank you for joining me on this journey through life and parenthood.

Are you also struggling at this thing called life? parenthood? You’re not alone.

The Importance Of Date Nights

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Photo Credit: Paperfish Studios

This past weekend I found myself sitting in a dimly lit restaurant at a table for two with my husband. No kids, no distractions, just us. We enjoyed a meal that didn’t involve sticky hands, children climbing out of their chair, or racing to see if we could break our record in speed eating. We were able to sit, eat at our own pace and talk. Neil and I are lucky that talking is one of the strengths in our relationship but it isn’t until you sit down alone without the chance of distractions that you realize just how much more you have to talk about and sometimes the serious things you don’t get to talk about when your sweet littles are around. And that right there is one of the biggest reasons I think date nights are important. It’s important to be able to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly because that is what helps to make a relationship strong.

I’m not saying date nights are meant for serious convos only, it’s one of the components. The other is to have fun and remember why you got together in the first place. Taking time to nurture your relationship is important not just for the two of you but also for your little(s) because you are setting the example. If you show love and compassion and connection that only helps to teach your children those attributes.

Honestly, most weeks you can find Neil and I on the couch with our laptops, phones or tablets. We’ll check-in with each other but most of our focus is on other things or on a show that we are watching. For a while we tried to do at home date nights and we still do on occasion but the issue there is that kids often need tending to, our laptops are just a reach away and there are only so many things you can do before it starts to get repetitive and you stop having regular date nights at home or they turn into eating dinner on the couch and watching a movie which you probably would have done without the title of “datenight“.

So, now it’s time to get off the couch, get a sitter and get out for a date night. It actually took us until this Fall to really adopt this practice. Even then it was just once  per month until we realized that we needed at least two date nights a month. I honestly wish we could do one most weeks but when family lives across the country and a sitter costs $15/hour it ends up being a bit out of the budget to do more than two dates a month. Considering we only had a total of maybe 10-12 date nights and one night away from August 2012-August 2015 having two date nights a month is amazing

So, all this being said, I want you to dedicate yourself to finding a sitter and getting out at least twice a month for a special date with your partner. It doesn’t have to be a fancy dinner it could simply be coffee and a walk through your town/city. Do something that is just for you two that gives you an opportunity to connect, to talk and to re-kindle that love for each other.

 

7 Tips to Survive Solo Parenting

Neil was recently out of town for four entire days which meant four days on my own with two littles. That’s 4 full days including 4 bedtimes and by the end of day 4 I was exhausted. I have come to realize 3 nights is my max before I start to go a little batty. I also learned the following ways to make 4 days of solo parenting work.

1. Get out of the house. It’s so easy to stay cooped up inside but the reality is just get out it will make all of you feel better.

2. Dance. When all else fails have a dance party or simply lay on the floor and let your kids crawl on you because that seems to entertain them just as much.

3. Take advantage of take out. give yourself a break and order some takeout, eat out of the cartons and make sure they bring plastic cutlery so you aren’t left doing any extra dishes.*

4. Delivery. in addition to taking advantage of takeout have someone else deliver your groceries. **

5. Bathtime. If your littles are cranky give them a bath – baths seem to make everyone happy.

6. Outsource. Skype the grandparents or parent who is out of town. that’s easily 20-40 minutes of entertainment and if it’s the grandparents you can do something else while your kids throw coconut chips as confetti.

7. Playdates. Let your kid(s) enjoy some friend time and you enjoy some adult conversation.

Does your significant other travel? What do you do to make it more manageable? 

* [I used Postmates Delivery – get a $10 delivery credit on your first order with code: 3kih]

**[I used Instacart – get $10 off your first order with code: LINGALLS21]

Busy Mom Snacks Featuring LARABAR

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This post is sponsored LARABAR.

Playdates, nature walks, gymnastics class, swimming lessons the list can go on and on. What can I say being a parent of two little ones keeps me busy. Often I find myself “forgetting to eat” and trying to fit in bites of a meal when I can and sometimes the only really substantial meal I get in the day is when we all sit down to eat dinner together. But, mama needs her fuel. So, to keep me going during the day I rely on quick and healthy snacks to provide me with the boost of energy I need.

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Instead of turning to crackers, cookies and other less than healthy snacks I try to eat as clean as possible. I prefer my foods vegan and I avoid foods with artificial ingredients, added sugars and colorings. For me the easiest snacks are fresh fruit, pre-cut veggies, nuts and seeds and my favorite snack – LARABARs. LARABARs taste great, are an easy and healthy vegan option and I love that they are free of added sugars, artificial ingredients and preservatives. LARABARs are also gluten-free and kosher and are non-GMO!

LARABARs are easy to throw in my purse or diaper bag and I also keep them in a basket on our snack shelf. They are a super easy and delicious snack I can just grab and eat while I wrangle children or snack on when we are out having fun together. I even enjoy them for breakfast on the go sometimes with a cup of coffee and a banana.

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I have been eating LARABARs since long before I had kids because kids or no kids LARABARs are great for those on the go. They taste great, are an easy and healthy vegan option and I love that they are free of added sugars, artificial ingredients and preservatives. I remember the days when they only had apple pie, cherry pie and lemon bar. Now with such a wide selection of flavors, my gotos are cashew cookie and pecan pie. Although, lately I have been stocking up on the seasonal snickerdoodle flavor. I’m sad it’s only seasonal. I’m also looking forward to trying the seasonal gingerbread LARABAR because that sounds like perfect fit for holiday snacks and our littles ones’ stockings

What are your favorite healthy portable snacks? Do you or your kids have a favorite LARABAR flavor? We love to grab a few LARABARs, a few bananas or tangerines and a chia squeeze packet whenever we head out for a playdate, nature walk or class.

LARABAR_logo[1]At LARABAR®, we believe that the foundation of a sound mind, body and spirit is derived from what you eat – and what you eat is most delicious and satisfying when it’s in a whole, natural state.

Yes, Stranger. I Do Have My Hands Full

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I don’t know what is is about pregnancy and parenthood that makes people feel like they need to constantly make unsolicited comments. Unless you have something nice and positive to say don’t say anything at all. I don’t want to hear it and honestly I probably already have.

I swear to you, every single time I go out I hear “You Sure Have Your Hands Full”. This started when I was pregnant with Alder and has continued ever since. I’m just tired of it. While I know that some people don’t mean anything by it, I still don’t want to hear it just the same. To me, it’s an obvious statement and  it’s a judgement on my parenting and my kids. While this may sound overly sensitive I am not going to apologize for how I feel. Anyway you look at it I find the statement to be a less than a positive one.

That being said here are some wonderful alternatives that you can (or do) say instead of making that cliched statement ….

You’re doing great. This is a much more welcomed comment and sometimes it’s nice to have a little reminder that I am doing my best and that’s good enough even if it is from a random stranger.

A Thumbs Up. Again, this is a nice gesture of acknowledgement and gives you those warm fuzzy feelings. Especially appreciated when you have one kid that you’re desperately trying to calm while trying to keep an eye on the other.

A Smile. This is my favorite one. I mean really, you can never go wrong with a simple and warm smile.

A Helping Hand. Rather than pointing out that I have my hands full stop and actually help. Open a door, pick something up that I or one of my littles has dropped, move something out of the way for me so I can pass by more easily or whatever else might seem to be helpful at that moment in time.

Don’t say anything at all. I think people forget they don’t have to say anything at all.

Rather than pointing out the obvious do or say something that spreads a more positive vibe.

Oh and for those of you who, like me, don’t love the “You Sure Have Your Hands Full” comment you could always try these responses because they are all so true, regardless of the cheese factor.

….and so is my heart. 
….and so is my life. 
Thank You. (maybe they really are meaning it as a compliment and if not they’ll be so thrown off by the thank you that maybe they’ll think twice about saying it to the next person they see)

 

Gentle Parenting Isn’t Always Easy

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Lately I have found myself saying a lot more no’s and don’t do that/touch that or stop that. As soon as the words come out of my mouth I regret it and I am kicking myself for not finding a way to be more gentle in my words, in my approach and in my tone. It’s something I am battling with everyday; being a gentle person is not something that comes naturally to me.

I am a stubborn person. I can be hot headed and to say I am controlling and reactionary might be an understatement at times. The thing is I know these are flaws of mine and ultimately I don’t want to be this way and I don’t want to teach my children to have these attributes. So everyday I have to learn to slow down, to take a breath before I speak, to seek support from friends and my partner and to take stock of how I can improve, how I can be gentler parent and human being.

My parenting isn’t perfect and I am constantly learning how to be a better parent, partner and citizen of the world. Each day I attempt to take a step towards a more positive, gentle and caring life. Somedays I take a few steps back but everyday I am pushing forward, learning from my mistakes and trying to be better.

Being a parent isn’t always easy but to be cliche being a parent is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I am learning so much from these two special beings who have entered my life and learning how to be a better, kinder and compassionate human being. So here is taking a deep breath, slowing down and giving more love.