Five Positive Mindsets to Help Mothers Enjoy the Holiday Season
Mom-mentum provides our Mothers’ Center Group members with access to Group Discussion Guides meant to encourage reflection and conversation. This post was inspired by our discussion guide: Holidays, Travel and Traditions. This guide gives participants the opportunity to explore their expectations for the holidays, discuss their stress levels, and share holiday season best practices. To download this guide and others, log in and visit Mom-mentum’s members only area of our website.
Five Positive Mindsets to Help Mothers Enjoy the Holiday Season
By Christine Farrugia
It’s that time of year again…
Shopping and baking,
Cleaning and list-making.
Wrapping and packing,
Mailing and… Panicking!
While our children are sleeping with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, eager to receive that new Shopkins pack or Hot Wheels toy, excited about the ceremonies, traditions, lights and sweet treats, we, as moms, have a tendency to become overwhelmed and stressed.
It’s time to take a child-like approach to the holiday season.
Children view everything about the holiday season with hearts filled with hope, excitement and joy. They view this time of year as warm and wonderful. We need to do the same.
Yet, how can we do that when our to-do list is longer than Santa’s, the calendar flips to the next day way too fast and exhaustion has invaded every cell of our body?
Here are five mindsets to adopt that can help us to relax and enjoy the season.
- Gluttony guilt? Instead of agonizing over the extra pounds we may gain by consuming delectable desserts and drinking too much egg nog, let’s savor the flavors and try to walk a few extra laps around the shopping mall to counteract the additional calories.
- Holiday card hang-ups? Start early….really early! Dress your kids in red in October or November and take a photo outside in the yard, or find a special snapshot from your past year of family memories and send your order in now…right now!
- Cookie swap chaos? Try using a no-bake cookie recipe or have your kids help you decorate store-bought sugar cookies or brownies with candy decors, frosting and sprinkles.
- Financial frustration? Consider having gift exchanges for just the children in your extended family and not for the adults. Or, set a price limit and have everyone pick a number that’s assigned to one family member; then just buy a gift for that person instead of everyone. Also, don’t forget your talents and skills and how they can apply to wonderful handmade gifts: scrapbooking, crocheting, sewing, baking, etc.
- Take a nap! Yes… you, too, not just your kids! You deserve to slumber with visions of wrapped gifts, completed lists and mailed cards in your head. While you’re at it, take a few bites of the fruit cake first and cuddle with those inspiring children who can teach us how to have fun during the holidays!
Leave a Comment: Do you look forward to the holidays or dread them? In what ways do you help cope with the building holiday to-do lists?
Christine Farrugia is a native Long Islander and (along with her husband) keeps very busy raising 4 children. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Journalism and a Master of Library Science. Beyond working as Mom-mentum’s Group Development Manager, Christine is also a librarian and facilitates Mothers’ Center Groups within library settings. Helping people—especially children—and her community is a priority which she addresses by serving as a Girl Scout leader, Cub Scout leader, religious education teacher and as President of the Parent Teacher Association at her children’s school.
Seasons of Self-Care
Seasons of Self-Care
By Rosalia Davi
As a mom, the phrase “self-care” can seem like an oxymoron. And at the same time it feels so painfully cliché – a mom who is too busy to get a manicure or put together a decent outfit. I watched countless episodes of TLC’s What Not to Wear featuring one exhausted, well-meaning mom after the next get made-over into a confident and shiny new woman. They would often exclaim “Is that me?!” after seeing themselves for the first time in the mirror when all was said and done. I was always delighted by the physical transformation, but my emotional reaction to the show is even more telling.
Before I became a mom, I would balk at how these women became so consumed in their roles as caretakers that they simply could not take care of themselves or their appearance. It seemed like they just gave up. Now, of course, I cringe at my naiveté.
Some days it feels nearly impossible to stay on top of all the basic tasks of getting me, my son and even my husband out of the house…
- One of us will be wearing wrinkled clothing
- Someone is probably wearing mismatched socks
- At least one person is ALWAYS in need of a haircut.
And, if I were to look in a magnified mirror at any given moment – I might cry. For women especially, being presentable (at minimum) takes time, money and effort. I’ll admit that it feels good to look nice, but the process of getting to that point as a mom requires a certain alignment of the stars. Because more often than not, the outfit I want to wear hasn’t made it to the dry cleaner yet or I missed my 2 minute window to put on makeup.
The truth is, when I do make the time to get a new haircut or assemble a nice work outfit, I feel so much better about life. It makes me wonder why I don’t do even the smallest “self-care” things more often!
Ultimately, what I’ve decided is that rather than beat myself up for not always being the best dressed or well-manicured, I’m choosing to look at self-care as being on a spectrum. Right now I am prioritizing sleep and my wardrobe, because those two items make me feel my best. This means my fitness goals might take a back seat for a while, and I’m okay with that. As my son gets older and I find more pockets of time, I also hope to be more social – which has always been a central part of my identity.
I know this harried existence of new motherhood won’t last forever, so I’m giving myself a pass on not looking exactly how I did before having my son; but that doesn’t mean I have to be a self-care martyr either. The only advice I can offer to others who ask is:
“Whatever it is that makes you feel better about yourself,
do it as much as you can and to any degree that you can.”
Speaking of which, it’s past my bedtime.
Leave a Comment: Do you struggle with making time for your own self-care? What are your individual self-care needs and what strategies do you use to help prioritize your own care?
Rosalia Davi is a first time mom who also works at a state university in New York. She is learning how to maximize peace of mind and productivity, and can be seen pondering the elusive work/life balance while exploring her home base of Long Island, NY. Rosalia has a dual Masters degree in Gender and Cultural Studies and Communications Management, and incorporates her passion for gender and all diversity throughout her career and personal life. She loves spending time with her family, reading, and building community both inside and outside of the workplace.
Why Will You Vote?
With all the yelling and screaming going on, it’s easy to get distracted from the many important incentives women with children have to vote. In spite of what you see on the web or on TV, it’s not all about who becomes the next President. That gets more attention than it deserves, really. US Presidents still have to contend with existing law, the Congress, and a big and clunky governmental machine. They don’t get elected and then – presto – bring their campaign promises into existence, no matter who they are!
In fact, there are people much more interested in what you want than the President. They are the men and women seeking to be your voice in the US Senate and House of Representatives, and your state legislature. They are more dependent on your vote to be elected and more directly accountable to you, the constituent. State and local law touches your life every single day. (Just think of the residents in California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, who already have paid family leave, and the New Yorkers who will in 2018.) The experience of the people making policy decisions on your behalf matters, and it matters a lot.
In spite of promises of fairness, justice, and equality of opportunity so intrinsic in the “American dream,” our laws and attitudes remain tilted against women with children. We’re so used to treating “women’s issues” as private, personal problems that it takes real effort to place and hold them in the center of political discussion, where we know they belong. We’re making some headway – the pay gap, child care, and paid family leave have surfaced in the current campaign cycle. Voting is a way to keep them there in the months to come, and press our elected representatives to seriously tackle these issues once they take their seats.
Why is it worth your time to politically active? I have some ideas. Vote because:
That’s more than enough to get me to the polls. Not only that, I’ll be in touch with all my legislators, state and federal, after November 8 to tell them how important the proposed family and medical leave bill, pay equity, women’s leadership and Social Security are to me and my family. It’s way past time to treat child care like the serious education policy matter it is. Not only does it influence who goes to work now, it will absolutely determine the level of US economic competitiveness in the years ahead. We cannot keep our work/family imbalance and expect to hold our place in a rapidly changing world.
In spite of women’s breathtaking progress, gender equality is actually getting worse in the US. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report, released just last week, the US has dropped 17 places in just one year against other countries around the world. Our score in gender parity in education is quite high. On the other hand, the proportion of women in elected leadership is relatively low (only 20% in Congress) and the pay gap is not closing (still over 20%). The number of women in the labor force is declining, which is no surprise in the only developed nation with no guaranteed paid time off for new parents. That’s driven our ranking way down, to no. 45 on a list of 144 total countries. The US has always trailed Sweden, Norway, and the UK. Now we find ourselves behind Belgium, Argentina, Poland, Costa Rica and Lithuania too. This must change – and fast.
I don’t claim that better policies can fix everything. Even so, they can certainly catch up with the 21st century American family. More effective policies can help men and women harmonize their roles as caregivers and workers, make the most of children’s earliest and most important years, grow the economy and promote gender equality. That’s why policymakers – the people we elect – are so important.
And that’s also why I’m voting. You?
‘Til next time,
Your (Wo)Man in Washington
Researching Motherhood: The Faces of Mom-mentum featuring Alina Haitz
Researching Motherhood: The Faces of Mom-mentum featuring Alina Haitz
Introduction by Kate Fineske
We inadvertently become researchers of life and motherhood when we study our own as well as other mothers’ experiences and journeys. This is the concept behind our Faces of Mom-mentum series featuring interviews with different Mom-mentum members across the nation. Today we are introducing you to Alina Haitz, a Mom-mentum board member.
Alina is a first time mom working in Human Resources at Molloy College and is a business partner with her husband—having founded Ark Academic Services, for children with special education needs on Long Island, NY. She is learning to embrace motherhood head-on and enjoys the special gifts that she has received along the way. Alina is an author of a short book of spiritual reflections on Mother Nature titled, “I Am…” She resides with her son and husband in Massapequa, NY.
Let’s take a few moments to get to know Alina better…
Q: What 3 words do you think best describe you and why?
A: Loving. Caring. Outgoing. I genuinely love people and am always interested in their stories and what makes them who they are. I am one of those people that make conversation easily. By nature I am a humanitarian and peacemaker and care deeply about our world’s future for our children and their children.
Q: What are some of your personal passions, hobbies and interests?
A: I am definitely a woman that likes to dabble in different interests, but at my core I enjoy the arts. I am a self-published writer. I love music and dancing as well. In addition to the arts I have consider myself a lover of playing sports. Although not actively on any teams, I find myself wanting to get to a soccer field once in a while to take some penalty kicks!
Q: How did you become involved with your Mothers’ Center Group and Mom-mentum?
A: I met the Executive Director at a local Long Island business event before I was a mom. Then last year I was invited to their Women’s Leadership Conference and naturally I joined. I was a new mom and felt very connected to the mission of Mom-mentum. As a new mom, I needed a place where I felt I could relate to others who were going through the same challenges and experiences. I couldn’t think of another cause I would rather put my time and energy towards.
Q: What is one of your favorite memories as a parent?
A: My son is only a year and half and I have had so many great memories so far. But I think cuddling with my son as an infant has been one of my most precious memories to date. It’s those moments when your child just rests peacefully on you in the middle of the night. You may be exhausted, but the feeling of joy and gratitude supersedes any exhaustion.
Q: What is one of your biggest challenges as a parent?
A: My biggest challenge is Work-Life Balance. I find working full-time as a mom and balancing my relationships with my son, husband and extended family and friends can be challenge.
“I definitely need to work on taking time for myself
and reminding myself that I am not perfect.”
Q: Has having children changed you?
A: Yes! I am much more understanding of Motherhood and what it takes to balance it all out. I have a new appreciation for my mother and all the mothers out there who make it look so easy. I remember being pregnant and everyone telling me, “It’s a life-changer” or other similar comments. These ideas never really resonated with me until I started going through it myself. I am only a year and half into motherhood, so I really try to listen to the mothers who have come before me. I take their suggestions and comments to heart. Prior to motherhood, I also didn’t appreciate as deeply all the sacrifices my parents had made for me over the years.
Thank you Alina for your honest responses and for allowing us to share your personal experiences on life as a mother.
Leave a Comment: Please help us give a warm welcome to Alina. Do you relate with any of her struggles and successes in motherhood? Let us know in the comment section below!
By Nicole Wolfrath
It’s the middle of the night and my daughter lies next to me in my bed. Her little body feels like a fire. This is her normal, father-influenced, base temperature which turns her snuggle into an uncomfortable, sweaty mess.
Like many nights, I go to sleep before my husband. After catching up on work, he joins me and our evening begins alone in our bed. Then I wake up hours later—warm, confused and lovingly caressing a foot significantly smaller than the one I intended. My first reaction is anger, which I direct at the sleeping male one person over from me. I conclude that my husband must have known she was here and could have moved her. I can’t pick her up due to my bad back, so I try to get comfortable with this mass in between us. I’m forced further and further away from my comfort zone in order to make room for her. My night becomes wrought with restless sleep, wondering with each turn if my husband is still on the other side.
This night is just one example of the many things that pull my husband and I apart as we try to survive this phase of parenthood. The separation increased by things like our schedule. Me, coming home from work to relieve him to do his work-from-home job. Or, me, working late and coming home in time to put the kids to bed and clean up. Our days are full of constant motion. Moments together are colored with fatigue. After baths and bedtime routines, we struggle to stay awake and watch backed up DVR shows. To be able to feel and say we spent some kind of time together. But it’s not the same. The interrupted conversations, the unexpected tantrum, the distracted task that the other finishes. These are all the usual red cones in our path.
“The interrupted conversations, the unexpected tantrum, the distracted task that the other finishes. These are all the usual red cones in our path.”
I’ve noticed other things we do that create this gap. It’s the dishwasher that could’ve been emptied. The wet towel on the bed. The disagreements, about disciplining the children. It’s frustration at the other when something isn’t done or properly handled. There are the arguments we have no time finish, so the emotions get pushed down. They swirl in our centers like a storm. We’ll talk about it later, but then we don’t. We get distracted. We go to bed, angry, tired and indifferent. The gap grows.
This is the impasse when I hear marriages can reach the end of the road. When I’ve noticed people making decisions if they want to carry on. When it becomes easy to contemplate the thought that this family picture isn’t what we imagined when walking down the aisle. When the promise of a happily ever… can seem empty.
I wonder at times what happened to our love. Not that it’s gone. It just doesn’t look or feel the same. There is this new form of love that can feel dark and lonely at times, but also has a slight glimmer that somehow, in rare and fleeting moments, reminds us we belong.
When I think of this divide I have no answer, no solution.
I’m certain I will always (at times) anger my husband in ways that have existed since we have been a couple and in new ways too. And likely, he will do the same to me. We may need to forgive each other more in order to stay afloat, to find our way back to each other amidst these choppy waters when we drift.
I kick the covers off and stand up, squaring myself next to the bed. I brace myself, lean over and lift my daughter up, breathing through lower back pain as I side step through the room, into the hallway and put her back into her bed. My husband is still asleep, his back towards my side of the bed. I find my place again under the sheets, almost 20 degrees cooler than before. I turn on my side and settle on the edge of the mattress, feeling the empty space on my back. I assume one day my body will naturally gravitate towards the middle again.
Leave a Comment: Has the struggles and successes of motherhood changed your relationship with your partner / spouse? How do you work at keeping communication open through the daily stresses and changes of life we all face?
Nicole Wolfrath is mom to two feisty girls ages five and one and has worked full time in university career services for the past 14 years. She and her husband share a unique family dynamic where he works full time from home while also being their girls’ primary caretaker. Nicole has taken leadership roles in her children’s schools and loves to create art when she can find the time. She has recently joined the board of Mom-Mentum and feels passionate about helping other mothers and parents. Nicole enjoys having random dance parties with her girls and creating family traditions such as movie night (where you can often find all three of the Wolfrath girls on the couch with a giant bowl of popcorn mixed with M & M’s!)Pin It