Parents: Give Yourself A Break

DSC06725.JPGA friend posted this article from Motherly this morning about how self-care isn’t enough and parents (especially moms) are burnt out.

I can completely understand. As the mom of a kid with ASD and ADHD, and well as a neurotypical firecracker of a 4-year-old, I feel like I am always going going going. And really, I feel like it’s not enough.

This summer I’ve said NO a lot. No to racing off to an activity each morning, no to lunches out, no to 5 playdates a week, the craft dates, all-day zoo adventures, and sojourns to the beach. Oh, and this would have been just 1 week of summer activities in the past. Imagine that for 8 weeks. Are you tired now?

This is something I want everyone who reads this to take the heart: NO IS A COMPLETE SENTENCE. 

Plus, I still need to do household chores, cook, laundry and make sure the big kid gets to therapy twice a week, I need to exercise at least 4 times a week.

In saying no to all of these activities, the kids are able to relax, which means they are in a better mood, which mommy is in a better mood. We are still doing stuff, but it’s more things that the kids can do at home or in a small group of friends.  We’ve been swimming at our community pool each day in the late afternoon, playing at the local park. We’re going to the YMCA a few times a week in the afternoon so the kids can play while I exercise. Stuff that is low stress.

Why is parenting harder? Why are we burned out? This article gives us some ideas. The increase in activities for kids (If you want to go to an Ivy League school Little Timmy, you need to start your extra-curricular activities at birth!), social media expectations (It’s like Keeping up with the Joneses on crack), the constant barrage of information and data being thrown at us (pics of our kids, nanny/daycare cams being sent to us, text messages, chat apps, always being connected to people and media). It’s overwhelming. It’s tiring. Being expected to be Instagram-ready or Insta -Perfect is frustrating and exhausting.

For special needs parents, it’s harder because, for the most part, our kids aren’t  “like everyone else”, so frequently we are ostracized from activities. It’s the truth, and it sucks. and it hurts. To shield my kids from this hurt and keep myself sane, we’ve stepped back from activities this summer.

I’m not going to give you a list of self-care activities that will help you de-stress. You already know what works for you, your family, your budget.  This is what I do.

What I want you to know, moms and dads that read this post:

You are not alone. There are other parents and caregivers out there that are feeling the same way you do. You don’t have to keep up with everything you see online. You are doing the best you can for your family. YOU ARE ENOUGH!

I found this shirt on Amazon and I had to share it. 

DIY Ombre Hair!

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Proof of my blonde-ness & that I had bangs

Last August, I had my hair professionally colored purple and pink, You can read about it here. As awesome as it was, it really damaged my hair. Bleaching your hair sucks.

I’ve been coloring my hair since I was 13. That’s… a long time. My hair has been pretty much any color you can think of- blonde, brown, red (so many shades of red), black, purple, blue, green….

In the resulting 10 months, I’ve been babying my hair. That means washing my hair twice a week with sulfate free, color safe shampoo, deep conditioning mask, including a weekly overnight leave-in mask, buying a new blow dryer that has a cold setting (which is awesome). And coloring my hair at home with very gentle semi-permanent depositing color in addition to the color (7IR Medium Intense Red Blonde) I’ve been using on my hair for the past few years. The red color blends well with purple and the damaged ends take color a little differently, so it’s usually a surprise what color they turn out- Some sort of purple-y pink most of the time.

I’ve cut off most of the damaged ends-  Right now the last 2 inches of my hair are all that remains of the bleached hair from last year. My hair grows fast.

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August 2018
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June 2019

I wasn’t interested in something as dramatic as last years transformation, especially since I am trying to get my hair to grow healthy again.

If you’ve never colored your hair before at home or if you have a job where funny colored hair isn’t allowed, I don’t recommend this at all!

If you’re new to hair color, especially funky colors, I do recommend Overtone. It’s a color depositing conditioner, and you can use it on any color hair. It won’t lighten your hair, but if you have dark hair, it will give you a cool colorful shine in the light. If your hair is lighter, The Overtone will give you a more obvious color.

So when I re-did my hair the other day, I didn’t take pics because my gloved hands were all goopy with hair color, but here’s what you need:

  • Gloves. I buy latex-free gloves by the box.
  • Hair color. I use this color (7IR Medium Intense Red Blonde).
  • Any developer that your color needs.
  • Glass bowl
  • Plastic spoon (you cannot mix hair color and developer with a metal ANYTHING)
  • I also use a plastic fork to apply the color (It’s a Dinglehopper!!)
  • Funky color- I use Splat 30 wash- it’s semi-permanent depositing color No bleach required. It comes in a bottle- there is no mixing.
  • Plastic shower cap

The Splat needs a longer time to process in your hair, so I apply that first.

I apply it to the ends of my hair and then I pour a little into my palm and rub my hands together and run my hands through my hair like I’m applying mousse. That gives me some highlights through my hair.

Or if I’m feeling crazy, I’ll dip the fork into the color and comb it through in a few places. I channel in inner Ariel.

Put my hair up in a shower cap and dance around the house, embarrassing my kids for 20 minutes.

While it’s processing, I mix together the other hair color and developer. Once the 20 minutes is up, I pull off the shower cap, and apply the dye to the rest of my hair, making sure to blend the areas where the colors touch.

Slap the shower cap back on and hang out until the second color processes (it depends on the color, what color your hair was to start with, etc. The instructions will tell you how long to let the color process (in my case, it was 45 minutes).

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Half-dried. It’s very bright under the vanity lights!

Then rinse, condition, and blow dry.

The Splat hair color is supposed to last 30 washes, but I find after about 15-20 washes it’s faded enough where I need to reapply. If you use Overtone, you can re-do it in the shower whenever you need to (it’s a lot less messy, but requires more frequent touch-ups. It’s a trade-off).

Other semi-permanent crazy color companies include Arctic Fox,  Pravana (it’s kinda messy), Manic Panic (this is also messy).

Most mainstream/drug store box hair color brands make more interesting colors these days, including Garnier, Schwarzkopf, and L’oreal.

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Car selfie of my fab hair

It’s all about being you- If having funky colored hair speaks to your soul- DO IT. If having tattoos or piercing is your self-expression, do whatever makes you happy! As long as your happiness doesn’t infringe on someone else- DO IT. The past year has been really hard on me, emotionally, but I’ve been able to express myself more, and in the end, I am a lot happier than I have been in years. I finished college, met new people, and I’ve been able to better care for myself and my kids.

 

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No filter- my camera lens was dirty!

My take away for this post is: Engage in Self-care that speaks to you!

 

Women’s Health Week!

Womenshealth.gov - National Women's Health Week!
It’s only fitting that Women’s Health Week starts on Mother’s Day. While not every woman is a mother, everyone has a woman they care about in their life. National Women’s Health week is May 13- May 19, 2018.

The Women’s Health Week website has all sort of great guides and resources all about how women at any stage of life can care for themselves. And they are SIMPLE STEPS!

Here are just a few daily choices that women can make to live a little more healthier:

  • Eat healthy — go to ChooseMyPlate.gov to get started
  • Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity
  • Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep

See, baby steps!

A few other helpful hints that are good for your body & mind as well as your wallet…

If you have health insurance, don’t forget to get your annual check-up/exam (it’s covered for free under all health insurances in the US)! You can take that time to address health questions with your PCP. If you don’t have health insurance, many Planned Parenthood Clinic offer annual exams (in addition to annual reproductive health exams) for free or very low cost.

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Getting outside with a friend (or pet) is a great way to relieve stress!

If you don’t belong to a gym or health club, many employers offer discounts or work with gyms to offer discounted memberships.  If you aren’t a gym person, check out your local parks. Lots of parks in our local area have special walking loops and even fitness stations (Mast Park in Santee has both!). Other parks in San Diego with fitness/exercise stations include: Mission Bay Park,  Embarcadero Parks North & South, Tidelands Park near the base of the Coronado Bridge as you arrive in Coronado, Hilton Head Park in Rancho San Diego, Chollas Lake Park, and Morley Field (near Balboa Park). If your local park doesn’t have a fitness course, play on the jungle gym or go for a walk!

Taking care of your skin is a great way to practice a little self-care and relax. Here is my DIY Frugal Facial.

And the easiest step I can recommend to better your health: Have a glass of water! We have all sorts of water bottles at home, including infuser bottles like this one. The kids each have a water bottle too!

And if you are a budget, don’t forget to check out freebie sites for health and beauty freebie- I’ve gotten free SPF, skin care products, a pedometer, and vitamins!

I’d love to hear from you: What simple steps do you incorporate into your life to improve your health? Guys, you can comment too!  Better health is for everyone, not just ladies!

 

Mom Gets Sick Too!

file0002037778834.jpgI’ve been sort of dark on the blog lately because we’ve all been sick.  A few weeks back it started with Miss Bitty. She had a tummy bug, then went right into a cold.

Then Henry got a mild case of the sniffles, and then about a week ago, I felt like I got hit by a truck. Body ache, fever, ears killing me, headache, sore throat, you name it. And of course, just in time for Spring Break! What’s a mom to do?

After calling the nurses line, they told me that if I wasn’t feeling better after 2 weeks to call back in for an appointment or go to Urgent Care. So, it was time to whip out the home remedies:

  • A little DIY-Made a batch of Honey Lemon Ginger syrup. And chucked it diluted with boiling water like a boss.
  • Set up the humidifier next to my side of the bed.
  • REST!! Encouraged the kids to have snuggle time with me in the afternoon (climb onto a big pile of pillows and blankets and watch a movie). Bitty napped, Henry snuggled me and told me it was ok. He fell asleep and I did too.
  • Took my vitamins and other daily meds (A lot of times when you get sick, you forget your daily maintenance stuff).
  • I tried a new medicine, Boiron Oscillococcinum. I met with the people from Boiron at Influential Summit and they hooked me up with some samples of their products. I’m always willing to try something new.  I’m not saying it’s the reason I feel a lot better, but it probably didn’t hurt! I took it in the morning. And at night, I went with a night time medicine to help me get to sleep. I also filled in my cough needs with A bottle of Boiron Chestal. It’s an awesome cough syrup made with honey.  Combined with my Honey Lemon Ginger Tea, my throat felt much better in just a few days.
  • Went to bed early. Not like 7pm early, but 9:30-10pm early- It’s all abut baby steps!
  • Gave myself some grace. It’s ok for mom’s to get sick too. It’s ok not to run the vacuum 3 times a day, or wash laundry every day, or do 2 loads of dishes when you feel like your head is going to pop off and float away and you are dripping in sweat while you have chills. The kids will survive if they have a dinner of snacks (applesauce pouches, Cheese sticks, croissants, celery sticks with PB cups, and a popsicle for dessert). For the record, I served them on cafeteria style trays like these. These kind of meals are always way more of a hit with kids then when I spend hours making them something.
  • Hydrate-Drank a lot of water and tea.
  • Declined social events- As much as we love our friends, we stayed home a lot this week. We skipped a lot of our usual Easter-time events and focused on being healthy.
  • Leaned on Hubs for support. As always, he made me dinner, went to the grocery store, gave me medicine, and sent me to bed when I needed it.

Commiserate with me! I want to hear about how you cope with being sick!

10 Practical Self-Care Tips

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There are tons of articles about Self-Care on Pinterest and mommy blogs. Having read a bunch of them, I’m lead to believe that all of these people have kids that go to bed on time, never wake up for water, cry out in the night, or may possibly be robots.  Why? Because facials, manicures, pedicures, private yoga sessions, and taking a long quiet bath are usually recommended. I can seldom do any of these after my kids are in bed.

Remember, self-care is more than slapping on a mud masque and shotgunning wine from a can (yes, it exists) on Sunday night while you hide in the bathroom and pray the kids stay in bed. My top ten list is stuff that is practical that will help “refill your cup”- and not with wine from a can.

  1. Go to bed early. Like 9:30pm instead of 11:30pm. It’s all about baby steps.
  2. Drink a glass of water in the morning. Yeah, you are supposed to drink 7 more after that, but, you’ve got at least 10 more waking hours to get that accomplished.
  3. Take your vitamins. They are doing no good in your medicine cabinet. To remind yourself, get an “old person pill case“. My husband and I each have one, and so does Henry. I refill them on Saturday night. I’m such the party animal.
  4. When you are alone in the car each day, do some deep breathing.  I like the Alternate Nostril Breathing (I learned it in yoga- pre-kids). It’s easy to do and just two minutes of it can really help you relax. Bonus: It’s free.
  5. Indulge in a guilty pleasure. Take 30 minutes and do something that you wouldn’t Facebook about- Take a couple Buzzfeed Quizzes, Watch Dr. Pimplepopper videos on YouTube, watch the Kardashians on Hulu. Just disconnect and do something mindless.
  6. Color! I have a bunch of coloring books for adults, but I also like to print off coloring pages too. I have some pinned on my 100 Days of Art Pinterest Board.  Color with what you’ve got on-hand. Crayons, markers, colored pencils. Heck, it’s ok to steal your kids coloring books.
  7. Do a Social Media Purge. I did this at the beginning of January. I unfollowed/unfriended anyone that caused me stress, pain, anxiety, or jealousy. You don’t need to be surrounded with Keeping Up with the Joneses all the time. Your time and family are great the way they are.  Removing these emotions from your daily life will give you relief. It’s liberating.
  8. Enjoy something to eat or drink that brings you joy or is nostalgic. Bonus if it’s something that your kids don’t like/won’t eat. Then there will be no sharing.
  9. Go for a ten minute walk. Outside is best, but a few laps around your office building is ok too. If you are home, grab the kids, the dog, and go outside. Investigate your neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be an Instagram-worthy sunset walk, just get out and stretch your legs!
  10. Power Down- Put down your phone, tablet, turn off the computer for an hour and take a break/nap/shower/bath.

Most of these things can be done with little to no cost. Anyone can do them. How do you make sure that you get enough self-care?

Winterize your Skin Care Frugally

 

It’s finally cold here in San Diego (it’s 55 degrees and I am wearing a sweater as I type this)! So besides peppermint mochas and sweaters, it’s time to look forward to some changes to our skin care routines.

Recently I was excited to add two new products in my #selfcareSunday routine. Each Sunday night after the kids are in bed (and Mr. is watching the latest episode of Star Trek Discovery), I give myself a DIY facial and do a few other fun self care rituals (like a mani/pedi, or a body mask and body scrub). I play some music on my phone and spend about an hour just focusing on me.

IMG_0245.jpgThe first new product was Anavita Renewing Foaming Facial Cleanser. It smells GREAT. It has orange essential oil, as well as a slew of other botanicals (Aloe Vera, Chamomile, and Olive Leaf). It’s 99.8% natural and contains 70% organic products! It foams up providing a healthy lather and left my skin feeling clean and hydrated. The best part is you only need 1 pump to clean your entire face and neck, so a 6 ounce bottle will last a few months!

IMG_0244.jpgIMG_0248.jpgAfter my face was nice and clean, I was onto my next step, was the Alana Mitchell Quick Comeback Masque. It was hard to photograph, but the little container has two parts, the bottom looks like a tiny cotton ball, and the top is liquid. You depress the top of the package until the liquid releases into the bottom. The liquid mixes with the fluff to dissolve the fluff and make a cool masque that helps with plumping, tightening, and firming lines and wrinkles. You can either remove the masque with warm water or you can do what I did, which was to peel it off.

IMG_0249.jpgAhh, the satisfying sense of completion when it’s time to peel a masque off, amirite? My face felt so much better, it’s hard to describe, other than nourished and healthy.

Not to be done in just two steps, it was time to move onto the moisturizing mask for my neck and chest. The skin on your neck and chest ages a lot faster than our faces, since most of use neglect to moisturize and cleanse those delicate areas like we do with our faces.  I like to use Valentia Ultra Plumping Hydration mask.  It contains silk protein amino acids, hyaluronic acid (which is a humectant), as well as other botanically to protect and moisturize. To remove, I used a warm, wet microfiber towel.

IMG_0256.jpgAfter all the masques and such, it’s time for a few spritzes of Insta natural Vitamin C Toner followed by Insta Natural Vitamin C Serum.

I really recommend indulging in your own #selfcareSunday or whatever day of the week works best for you. A little time to yourself to focus on you and your needs is just what every person needs. Maybe it’s not a DIY facial, maybe it’s playing a video game, cooking a favorite meal, getting a massage, going for a walk, or hitting the gym. Doing something you enjoy every week that helps you recharge is an awesome way to reduce stress.

Thanks to the awesome peeps over at Tomoson, Anavita, and Alana Mitchell Skin Care for the cleaner and masque. I feel a kindred spirit with Alana Mitchell. As a mom of a child with autism, life can be hard, especially in the first year of diagnosis with all of the changes like doctor’s appointments, therapy appointments, IEP meetings, and changes in life to help support your child and give them all they need to succeed. I really relish and embrace each Sunday night when I can focus on helping heal and restore my spirit. I throughly enjoyed her masque and I can’t wait to try her other products!

 

DIY Frugal Facial!

file9131343110988As the new year begins a lot of women (and men too) resolve to take better care of themselves, both physically and spiritually.

Today we’re dealing with the physical self-care, and one way to start is with a good facial.  It’s important to put your best face forward, and taking care of your skin will help!

I’ve listed DIY formulations that I like as well as links to professional products that I’ve used recently. Products that I use and recommend tend to have a high concentration of natural/botanical ingredients. I’m a huge fan of using products that have a basis in nature! Facials are a fun thing to do as part of a Ladies/Moms night in!

For your Ladies/Moms night in, have every one can bring their favorite product to share, or a quick trip to the beauty supply and the grocery store can get you everything you’ll need for a soothing facial.

1: Cleanse  your skin using a gentle cleanser in order to remove surface oil, dirt and germs. If you have oily or combination skin, use a foaming gel cleanser; if you have dry skin, look for a creamier blend that won’t dry out your skin. I like Dermalogica UltraCalming Cleanser

2: Exfoliate. Exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells that clings to your  skin. You can either use a mechanical exfoliator (something that is rough/ scrubby like oatmeal), or a chemical exfoliator (something that dissolves the oil and dirt that holds the dead skin cells to your skin, like the acid in pineapple or dairy products).

Natural exfoliatants include: Ground oats and pineapple. Grind oatmeal in your food processor and add 3 T. oats to 2T. Plain natural yogurt (I like greek yogurt because it’s nice and thick!) Apply to the face and remove after 10 minutes with a warm towel. Or put ¼ cup pineapple and 3 T. plain yogurt into the food processor and pulse. Once combined apply to the face and remove after 10 minutes with a warm towel.

If you don’t want to muss with mixing up your own, I like Valentia’s Eternal Youth Exfoliating Scrub.

At this point, you may wish to apply a serum (I like this vitamin C serum, it’s got all kinds of botanicals and humectants in it to help moisturize your skin) or spritz the skin with a nourishing toner. I like this Vitamin C Toner. Remember to  use anything that stings, burns or causes discomfort. That means NO SEA BREEZE OR ALCOHOL BASED ASTRINGENTS!

3: Mask. If you have oily or combination skin, try a clay-based mask; for dry or mature skin, look for a hydrating mask (with a creamy or gel texture).  Peel off masks are better suited for oily or combination skin (They can be a little harsh for those with sensitive skin).  Most beauty supply stores or drug stores sell masks in small sachets (like these) if you do not already have a favorite mask. Apply mask to the skin, being careful to avoid the eye area (this can lead to sagging skin). Leave mask on for 10 to 20 minutes or as directed.   Do not allow clay masks to dry completely.  The active ingredients only work as long as the mask stays moist.  Sprtiz the mask with a spray bottle of water to keep it moist once or twice. Remove the mask with warm towels and follow with a light spritz of toner.

Most facials end with a special moisturizer or lotion applied to the face.  Look for a moisturizer with SPF 15 or higher in order to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Don’t forget to apply moisturizer to your neck and décolleté. You can use SPF moisturizer in the evening too if your budget is too tight for two moisturizers. If you use a moisturizer that contains retinols (they are vitamin A derivatives), it’s imperative that you use an SPF during the day. Vitamin A can thin the skin and sensitize it, so you need extra protection from the suns rays.

If you wish to apply an eye cream, use only a pea sized amount and apply it with your ring fingers in a gentle patting motion.  Don’t drag your fingers across the gentle under-eye tissue.  It can damage the delicate skin in that area.

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My Recent At Home Facial!

Here is my photo collage of my recent Spa retreat. Ok, so I was in the spare washroom after the kids were sleeping and hubs was vegging out.None the less, it’s nice to take 30 minutes or so out of your day once a week and pamper yourself!