Welcome to Man-Cub Mamas! We hope you’ll join us on our journey in parenting man-cubs. Our site has three mama authors: Mama R, Mama M, and Mama T. Together we span the length of the US, living on the East Coast, Mid United States, and West Coast respectively. We look forward to sharing advice, DIY crafts, and book reviews with you.
I know this post is a little bit different than what we normally write about: it isn’t directly related to parenting. But, since we’ve been talking a lot lately about improving on and focusing on our own health and well-being as mothers, I thought having a conversation about mindfulness would be beneficial. 🙂
STRESS. It’s inevitable. Some of us handle it better than others, though. Like me for example: Coping with stress in healthy ways is something I have to consistently work on, because I tend to obsess over little things… Why can’t everything just be perfect? Is that too much to ask?! 😉 (If anything has helped me realize that I’m NOT in control of everything, it’s parenthood. This is a good thing. It’s good for me to accept that things can be imperfect and happy at the same time.)
Stress is a normal part of life, and a small dose of it can be healthy, as it may help motivate us and help us achieve our goals. However, too much stress, on-going stress, or chronic stress can be detrimental. Stress triggers the human fight-or-flight response; it causes our blood pressure to rise, our adrenaline to accelerate, among other physiological responses. These responses can be helpful, say if you’re… you know, in danger. The fight-or-flight response is a survival instinct! The adrenaline rush can even be exciting, like right before you’re about to give a performance in front of a crowd of people (Psychology Today).
But then there’s the kind of stress that doesn’t go away- the harmful kind. Chronic stress can really take a toll on a body. With stress, the key is to bring our bodies back down to its equilibrium. We can achieve this in lots of different ways; mindfulness is one of the techniques.
I first learned the term “mindfulness” in a class called Family Stress and Coping. The principle of mindfulness has a lot of value. Here are two definitions of “MINDFULNESS”:
“the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”
“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
The concept of being focused on the “present moment” fascinates me. Why is it beneficial to focus, to hone in on our current thoughts and feelings?
Because it helps us relax. It can help us achieve a sense of equilibrium. Stress, and anxiety, can warp our perception on reality. Being aware of our present state of being can help us understand the differences between what is real and what is not.
Basics of Mindfulness
In the practice of mindfulness, you focus your mind on what it is that you’re doing. You pay attention to your body, what you’re feeling, your immediate surroundings. It doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting about everything else; it encourages you to be in tune with your present state of being.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness, including meditation. But there are also ways to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life, while going about your day.
Mindful eating is the mindfulness technique we practiced in my Family Stress and Coping class. It’s actually quite simple, and it’s a good introduction to the principle of mindfulness. Here’s what you do:
-The next time you eat, examine your food for a few moments before eating it. Take in the color and the smell. Think about what it might taste like.
-With each bite you take, try to really enjoy the food. Think about what it tastes like, what it feels like in your mouth. Try to chew slowly. Again, try to enjoy the experience!
Mindful eating is one example of how you can use the concept of mindfulness in everyday life. You could also try mindful communication (actively focusing more on what others say in your conversations with them) or mindful exercising. Or, you can set aside time in your day to truly meditate (set aside all distractions, use calming music, relax your body, and strive to think about nothing).
Stress Reduction with Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a great way to reduce stress because it helps calm the mind and the body. For example, when I find myself feeling overly stressed or anxious, taking a few deep breaths immediately helps calm my body down. Actively trying to calm down one’s body and focusing in on the here and now can do wonders for one’s health. Practicing the art of mindfulness immediately in or after obviously stressful situations, as well during times of regular day-to-day stress can help a person become skilled at keeping stress at a minimum. Over time, a person who is able to keep their overall stress at bay and is skilled at reaching equilibrium can enjoy a more peaceful and content state of being.
Here are some other articles about mindfulness, if you want to learn about it further:
If you haven’t seen a theme in our last few posts, it’s that all moms, especially Stay-At-Home Moms (SAHMs) need to take time for themselves. One of the ways in which a SAHM can do this is through a side hustle. Simply put, a side hustle is “a way to make some extra cash that allows you flexibility to pursue what you’re most interested in. It can also be your true passion – a chance to delve into fashion, travel or whatever it is you care about the most without quitting your day job.”
As I perused my “Friends” list on Facebook, I saw a wide variety of side hustles that my fellow SAHMs were doing. Here’s just a glimpse of what I saw.
- Consultants: LuLaRoe, LipSense, Younique, MaryKay, Usborne Books, Beach Body, Plunder Design, Scentsy, Avon, Young Living Essential Oils, Matilda Jane
- Bloggers: Mostly mommy and lifestyle blogs, but one of my friends has a budgeting blog
- Etsy Shops: Kid’s Clothing, Handmade Jewelry, Handmade Cards, Artwork, Digital Downloads, Shoes
- Small Business Owners, such as Photographers
From Sales to Blogging to Boutiques, these women are expanding their horizons and developing their talents- directly from their home. And what do they get from all of this? Here are the four main benefits a SAHM gets from a side hustle.
1- Social Support. As fulfilling as it is to be a SAHM, it’s not enough. Often, SAHMs need more interaction with adults, more validation, and more variety than they get just through their kids. Side hustles are a crucial way to provide such a network of support. Side Hustles mean interacting with ADULTS, whether online, at a conference, or through in-person consultations.
2- Experience. Even if you don’t make a lot of money in your side hustle, you gain so much experience! One of my bucket list items a few years ago was to open an Etsy Earring Shop. While I was only able to break even with my investment, I learned so much through the process. I consider the experience I gained running a small business far more valuable than the money I made. I was so grateful for the insight it gave me into other businesses. By doing a side hustle, you learn things about the market you are in, about yourself, and about your potential. I found out I didn’t really like trying to do all the marketing for my Etsy business, and it was easier for me just to go to a craft fair for a day.
3- Education. If you want to do a side hustle right, you have to get more education. I’m not necessarily talking about taking more college classes. I’m talking about online webinars, email courses, or training with someone in the same field. As a blogger, I’ve attended webinars on growing a blog, received email courses on growing a Business Instagram account, and joined a Facebook group for Small Business Owners. All of these things provided me with a targeted education to succeed. So if you are looking to grow your side hustle, look online! There are so many resources available to you. And as a bonus, they’ll add to your resume while you still are a SAHM.
4- Finance. It never hurts to have an extra income! I know a lot of women who are quite successful in their side-hustles. But I also know an equal amount of women who choose to make less for their own flexibility.
Even if my side hustles only lasted a short while, I’m grateful for the benefits I’ve gained from them.
Do you have a side hustle?
Is this you, by the end of the day? (Or by lunchtime… ?) I know I have days like this! Days when I just want my kids to take care of themselves and let me eat my favorite chocolate while watching my favorite show. Days when the house looks like it’s been overrun by a stampede of wild animals…. Days when I’m still in my P.J.’s at 3:00 pm.
These types of days are not fun! But we all have them sometimes. (Hopefully not all the time! 🙂 )
I stay at home with my two boys, and most of the time I love this job. I can definitely understand why some moms choose to work (or simply just need to work) while raising children. My belief is that as long as a mother is happy, fulfilled in her life, and gives her kids consistent love, attention, and stability, kids will be okay- no matter if the mother works or stays home.
That being said, I’ve thought a lot about my job as a stay-at-home parent. There are things I feel like I do well, and there are things I need to improve on. All of us parents know that kids are unpredictable. But there are certain things we can do to help our days go more smoothly, no matter how our kids are feeling or acting on any given day.
Based on my experience, here’s a list of things YOU can do to thrive as a stay-at-home mom!
How to Thrive- Not Just Survive- as a Stay-at-Home Mom!
- Set aside time for yourself, every day. Mama R talked about this in her most recent post!
- Adjust your schedule to make sure you get enough sleep. Everything in life is hard when you’re sleep deprived! And obviously, with babies it’s hard to get enough sleep. But once your kids are on schedules, try to be on a sleep schedule yourself. Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. (This one is hard for me! I’m a night owl, so I hate going to bed early. 😉 But I feel much better and more able to wake up with my kids when I go to bed at a decent time.)
- Exercise. I’m a BIG believer of exercise not only being good for the body, but for the mind and the spirit as well. We give so much to our kids, including our bodies. We need to take time to take care for these special bodies that are able to do so much. You don’t have to be a marathoner to be healthy; even going for a daily walk is a wonderful way to get your heart pumping. I find that my mind is sharper and my mood is brighter on the days I take time to get my workout in. I know this can be a sacrifice, because our days are so busy. But exercising is definitely a worthwhile investment in yourself.
- Try to abide by some sort of schedule. One thing I love about being a stay-at-home mom is that I can be so flexible with my days! But I do feel more under control of things when my kids and I are on a schedule, even if it is a flexible one.
- Get ready for the day each day. I’ve gotten to the point where if I don’t shower, get dressed, and do my makeup and hair each day, I feel like a bum. Even if I don’t get ready until the afternoon, it still counts as getting ready for the day! 🙂 I just believe that a woman shouldn’t completely lose herself after she becomes a mom. Yes, we do give everything to our children, and we would do ANYTHING for them! But we need to remember that we are individuals, women. Not only does it benefit your heart and mind when you feel good about how you look, it helps your kids see that it’s important to prioritize one’s self-esteem.
- Go on dates!!! If you’re married, DATE YOUR HUSBAND! Get dressed up, feel hot, and do something fun- regularly! If you’re single, take time to go out and feel hot and have fun! Every mom was a girlfriend/wife before she was a mom. 🙂
- Keep in close touch with friends and family. The life of a stay-at-home mom can be lonely sometimes. Try to keep in close touch with people you love. I love talking on the phone to people- it keeps me sane!
Being a mother is the most rewarding job there is, but it’s also the hardest- and it’s okay to admit this! It’s just as important to love yourself as it is to love your children. After all, the person you have to confront at the end of each day is YOU. Your kids need a happy, confident, fulfilled mama. And you need a happy, confident, fulfilled life. You can have these things as a stay-at-home mom!
Do you have any tips for thriving as a stay-at-home mom???
As Man-Cub Mamas, we realize that being a mama is rewarding, but at the same time draining. So this Mama’s Day, I’d like to remind you to take time out for yourself EVERY DAY, not just on Mama’s Day.
I was talking to a good friend today who mentioned that when she was young, her mother started a part-time job at Hallmark stocking cards. Sometimes her mother would bring her along. My friend remembers how much she hated having to help out. But what she also remembered is that her mother had an extra spring in her step every time she went to work. It seemed that she was a little more rejuvenated and happier. I think this is because she took time out for herself.
Another one of my friends, who is a single mama, described this perfectly when she explained that she was able to adjust better to her new life as a single parent when she started taking time out for herself. She started hiking. She took classes through a local university like home repair and rock climbing. She volunteered at a non-profit organization to help other single mamas find better employment. She said, “Making time for myself has transformed my life and helped me to embrace the life I have.” She also has a better relationship with her kids now that she has dedicated time to herself.
Taking time out for myself has not been easy to do, but it has been worth it. This past month, I have been dedicating all of my son’s nap-time (which is about an hour) fully to myself. I can do whatever I want. I’m not required to clean, or study for the Bar, or anything else I don’t want to do. It has made a big difference in my happiness level and with how I interact with my son. This has come with some sacrifice. I still need to study for the Bar, so my husband will spend an hour of one-on-one time with my son in the evenings so I can have that time.
I know it’s not easy finding time to yourself with young children. But it is so important and worth the sacrifice, whether it means finding a babysitter, adjusting parenting roles, or whatever else you have to do to make it work. Find a hobby! Volunteer! Do something that is meaningful to you (aside from raising your kids).
Happy Mama’s Day,
Do you crazy trying to think of new ways to entertain your kids- away from the TV or computer? I know I can always use new suggestions!
I’ve put together a list of fun and simple activities you can do with your kids (or have them do on their own)! None of these involve screens. 🙂
If you’re curious, here’s an article from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which explains the most recent screen time guidelines for children:
20 Screen-Free Activity Ideas
- Read together
- Build a block tower
- Print coloring pages from online and color them
- Draw with sidewalk chalk outside
- Color on a chalkboard
- Go on a walk
- Play at a park
- Play at your local library
- Record your child telling a story, then record it for their keepsakes
- Make homemade finger paint, then finger paint together
- Play with bubbles
- Clean together (My oldest loves to help me with things around the house! Even though it slows things down right now, he’s learning- and someday he will be a huge help!)
- Have quiet time (In my house, during quiet time, each person does their own thing in a separate room or area of the house away from everyone else. Usually, the activities involve books, puzzles, or sleeping. 🙂 )
- Learn about something new! (Check out a book from the library about a subject your child is excited about, and read it together!)
- Play with Play-Doh (I know there are recipes out there for homemade Play-Doh, but I’ve never made it myself.)
- Have a dance party!
- Bake a treat together
- Go to a store and spend time in the toy aisles (I know this would be a dream-come-true for a lot of kids! Usually they’re rushed in this part of the store, since parents have other things to get and look at.)
- Go to a museum or zoo
- Do a photo shoot
Are there any creative activities you do with your kids that you want to share? Tell us about them in the comments! 🙂
If you think I read a lot of parenting books, you’re probably right. It’s because I don’t know what I’m doing. And I need help. This last month the issue has been time-outs. Specifically how time-outs haven’t been that effective. But what other options are there? No-Drama Discipline has a few suggestions I’m going to try out.
But first off, it’s important to distinguish what makes No-Drama Discipline different from other discipline techniques. The goal of No-Drama Discipline is to teach children how make better choices and understand their emotions. It focuses on strengthening the relationship between the parent and child through the following principles: 1) when children are upset and throwing a fit, that’s when they need us most. 2) sometimes we need to wait until children are ready to learn, 3) the way we help them be ready to learn is by connecting with them.
What I liked about this book was that it focused on the needs of the individual child and offered flexible techniques to help discipline your child. I appreciated that the authors were realistic in their expectations that parents won’t be able to put these techniques into practice all of the time. I especially appreciated a section in the back titled, “When a Parenting Expert Loses It.” In that sense, I think the book should have been named, “Less Dramatic Discipline.”
Another thing I liked about the book was all of the visuals they included. A lot of them were cartoon scenarios of a parent disciplining a child in different ways. This really helped me understand what the authors were trying to get across.
My favorite quote from the book was: “Our kids don’t usually lash out at us because they’re simply, rude, or because we’re failures as parents. They usually lash out because they don’t yet have the capacity to regulate their emotional states and control their impulses…When children are securely attached to their parents, they feel safe enough to test that relationship. In other words, your child’s misbehavior is often a sign of his trust and safety with you.” A lot of times, I view my child’s tantrums as a sign of my failure as a parent, but this quote helped me realize that it is more a sign of the trust he has in our relationship.
What I wish the book had emphasized more is tools for parents when they feel they are going to lose it. Too often the book emphasized a parent immediately being able to empathetically rush to their children’s side. But honestly a lot of situations that call for this are ones in which I too am feeling out of control and angry. So if you are looking for ways to address that issue, I would recommend this article: What Helped Me Be A Calm Mom.
Right before I wrote this article, my son had a huge meltdown. He refused to do the things he needed to in order to go to bed. Here are how some of the techniques I tried from the book: First, I recognized that he was extremely tired. Second, I did my best to hold him (loving physical tough is highly encouraged in the book). Third, I would mirror what he said. (Ex: “You want me to play cars with you.”) Even though I didn’t commit to doing whatever he said, he at least felt heard. You know what happened? He continued to scream and cry and be unreasonable. For over 30 minutes.
The thing about No-Drama Discipline is that it isn’t a magic wand. They even say this in their conclusion! The good news is that I was at least able to feel calmer while I was trying to discipline my son. And eventually, he did calm down. Through another technique called, “getting creative.”
I remembered a book we had read months ago entitled, “Little Monkey Calms Down,” by Michael Dahl. Using my son’s stuffed monkey, I walked through some of the steps in the book, which include laying down, holding something soft, and taking deep breaths. And it finally worked! My son was able to concentrate as I used the monkey to walk him through the steps. We practiced deep breathing for a while after that. Then we were finally able to talk about how he had been feeling angry, and how next time he can take deep breaths to calm down.
We’ve still had our fair share of tantrums, but I’m hoping that the techniques from this book will be more effective than just a time-out.
I love looking for fun quotes to hang up in my house. And I’m such a sucker for free printables! Because I love quotes and printables, and because I am currently learning the art of designing wall art, invitations, greeting cards, etc., I am sharing with you a few of the printables I’ve created! I’m planning on using the first Dr. Seuss one soon in my own home. 🙂
To download the quotes, just click on the links below!
If you aren’t familiar with printables, here’s what I do when I find one I love:
- Download the printable and save it as a file to your computer.
- Choose paper that you think is nice enough to be hung in a picture frame. (I often use card stock paper).
- Print the printable on the paper of your choice.
- Hang the printable in a picture frame, then hang it up somewhere!