Diane and I have both been living the modern family lifestyle for quite some time now. Collectively, we have over 20 years of experience in this area; we’ve both been single moms, are currently living the stepfamily life and Diane was also a widow at one point. During this journey we’ve both made plenty of mistakes, had some successes and learned so many lessons regarding family and life in general. While we both pondered this over lunch a couple of weeks ago, we concluded a very powerful lesson regarding what it means to take care of home. What we know for sure is that the definition of taking care of home is very complex, but easy to understand at the same time. Taking care of home means that the people in it have to not only take care of each other, but take care of themselves as well. It’s not just about making sure the kids are alright, but it’s also about making sure that you are alright. It’s about taking the kids to soccer practice or piano lessons, however; you must also get some quality time in with a good girlfriend or go hit some golf balls with the guys. It’s about creating memories and family traditions, together, as a family but it’s also about carving time out for a spontaneous rendezvous with your spouse from time to time. Taking care of home and making sure your modern family is the best it can be is much more complex than just focusing solely on the children. It’s like when riding on the airplane; the flight attendant always instructs the parent to put on their oxygen mask first and then place it on the children, in the case of an emergency. Why? Because if you’re passed out, how will you help your children? The same idea applies to parenting and step-parenting. If you are burnt out, trying to make sure everyone else is happy and taken care of, are you truly of any benefit to your children and family? Encouraging each member of the family, including the parents, to take time for themselves, IS taking care of home.
The last 16 months have been a whirlwind for me and my family. The addition of our little miracle baby has been welcomed but so chaotic and full of changes. Before Bam Bam (that’s what we call him), my husband and I were raising a 13 year old who was self-sufficient. He could make his own food, iron and pick out his own clothes, and carried his IPod Touch around like it was a cochlear implant. Motherhood and parenthood for that matter was very different.
I have always been an advocate of mothers and stepmothers taking time to indulge in a bit of self-care. It is so important to not completely devote yourself to being a mother or a stepmother in order to be a good mother or stepmother. I’ve received angry emails from readers stating that I was wrong for telling stepmothers to assign ownership of certain responsibilities to their rightful owners and use that down time for themselves. I told them that it is completely okay, natural and healthy to tell their spouse that they will not be responsible for their stepchildren every single time they come to visit. Instead, I told them to use that time to take a nap, have a girl’s night, get a hobby or do all of the above. This advice is especially true for the stepmothers who have kids of their own and can never seem to get a moment of down time.
Well, for the past 16 months this has never been more true and apparent to me. A woman cannot soley focus on her children and/or stepchildren and husband without: 1) losing a huge piece of herself and/or 2) going insane. She needs time to de-stress, regroup and recharge in order to be a good mom/stepmom and wife. There’s just no way around it and women should not feel guilty for demanding to recharge her batteries. During the first year of my son’s life as I operated on maybe two hours worth of sleep, little food and no energy, my husband, friends, family, pastor and other new or renewed moms would tell me to take time for myself. They almost begged me to step away from my sweet little angel so that I could recharge. Because he was a preemie and is still experiencing health issues as a result, I didn’t want to leave him with ANYONE. But, this meant that I was with him all of the time and it just wasn’t healthy for either of us. Thank God for my wonderful husband who took time off of work to not only take care of us but to remind me what I have been advocating for the past several years – “me” time! When I wouldn’t budge, he started arranging girl’s night outs for me. He called a few of my friends, made reservations at one of my favorite restaurants, made reservations at a spa for all of us and paid for everything. Once he did that a few times, it became a habit and now I look forward to spending time away from my angel. I have even revisited my love of photography and look forward to the moments I get to use that creative outlet. I need it in order to be the best mommy I can be to my children and you moms/stepmoms need it too. So take a little time to indulge in regular self-care and do so without guilt. Your entire family will be better as a result.
Hello There Everyone! I took a hiatus from writing for a few months because managing my business, being a wife and mother to a 14 year old and 14 month old was beginning to take its toll on me. I needed some serious down time; time to reflect; time to think; time to just be. During that time I made a lot of decisions; one being the transformation of content on Today’s Modern Family. While a small part of the content will be focused on the struggles that modern famillies face, a large part will be geared toward looking at the brighter side of things. We’re going to talk more about self-care, good food, style, general parenting, home decor, love and topics that focus on living your best life.
While I was in church this past Sunday, my pastor said something that really hit home. He said that too many of us are spending the majority of our time fighting SOMEONE instead of fighting for SOMETHING. We get way to involved in the mess instead of enjoying the little miracles that we are blessed with every single day. And we spend way too much time trying to change to people who constantly deplete us emotionally, mentally and physically instead of the ones who add to our lives. Yes we have to acknowledge and sometimes address certain issues in our lives, but it doesn’t mean we have spend the majority of our time focused on them. Living your best life doesn’t mean constantly dwelling on your problems; it actually means living your best life and that’s what we plan to continually emphasize here on Today’s Modern Family.
We all talk the talk but a lot of the times we forget to walk the walk. Men and women alike want to be more healthy, more motivated and more self-aware of where we are in our walk of life. Add in all of the stresses that our societies are now experiencing and 9 times out of 10, “yourself” gets put on the back burner. I saw a quote once that stuck with me. It said “You are your own raw material. When you know what you consist of and what you want to make of it, then you can invent yourself.” I have discovered that my truth is when I want changes to occur in my life or I want to grow more or feel more bound to my relationships, I make sure that I first attend to myself and analyze where “I” truly am so that I can then open myself up more and also be more to others.
Checking in with myself has been an overall hard effort in the past for me. Finding the self-motivation to put myself first and to get out of slumps is and was hard work. Falling off the bandwagon is just like being addicted to nicotine. You fall off the wagon and get back on again, which can end up being a disastrous cycle if you allow it to fester. Continuously motivating ourselves and giving ourselves the time we deserve (mentally, physically and emotionally) is utterly important. When I allow myself to breathe, spend time nuturing myself, I feel remarkable. In my opinion, this happens to everyone who starts to think that they can do things when they believe in themselves first.
Another idea about checking in with ourselves and motivating ourselves is by sharing our knowledge with others. Think about it….what if Maya Angelou never shared her magnificent poems with all of the world? What if we never heard the story of Albert Einstein or Anne Frank? What if Martin Luthur King, Jr. decided only to preach his message in the church and not take to the streets to spread his wisdom and God’s word? In order to help people, we have to share what we know. No one is successful by themselves. There is always someone behind the scenes helping. I know I would be absolutely no where without my fabulous business partner who supports me and whom has inspired me and shared her knowledge with me. It’s about being unselfish and allowing our motivations to help others. Remember, we can do more and aim higher when we have supportive people around us.
Here are a few tips to get you more motivated:
- Stay Positive. Attitude, attitude, attitude. It makes all the difference in the world. You are the only one in charge of your attitude.
- Reach Out. Share your message with others. By helping others, you will be more motivated to do even bigger things.
- Stay Organized. Keeping track of where you are at on your goals is important. Put pen to paper, even if it is in a journal.
- Be Good To Yourself. Take “me” time. If your home life is busy all the time, treat yourself to a hotel room once in a while.
- Take Action. Stop with all the “talking” about what you want to do and just do it!
- Don’t Go Overboard. You are only one person. Take into consideration that you cannot do it all in one day, one week or one month and it’s OK.
- Expectations. Keep your expectations realisitc. Maximize your strengths and work on your weaknesses, but keep them all in a realistic perspective. You are not superman or superwoman!
- Complacency. Do not get stuck incomplacency. If you dream, dream big! You can grow as high as you reach, you just have to believe in yourself.
TMF Readers, when we are in motivational mode, we have to remember that wanting something in our lives is not enough. It’s like watching a soccer match that lasts 90 minutes and the score is 0-0. It’s all about which team has more hunger. Your dreams must inspire you. However, dreams are just that…dreams….they are insufficient if they do not stretch your comfort zone at times.
Mikhail Baryshnikov once said, “I do not try to dance better than anyone else, I only try to dance better than myself.” This is my truth. I just want to dance to my own music, I want to be successful by working at what makes me happy and by being inspired by my dreams. Being motiviated and checking in with myself to make sure I am where I need to be is starting simple and that is the first step.
Peace & Blessings,
Last week I had the best vacation in Italy! I visited the cafes and museums, had a fabulous time at a few fashion shows and enjoyed the company of an old friend that I had not seen since high school. We decided to reconnect in Italy because we both have always wanted to go there. On our first night there we dined at Centrale, a beautiful, hip, chic restaurant/lounge in Venice. The food was amazing! I had a succulent parmesean farfalle pasta with chicken and mushrooms that was to die for…yummy! My friend had the spaghetti carbonara and a glass of white wine. Afterward, we decided to return to our hotel in order to rest up for the festivities on the following day. Okay, people, I didn’t literally go to Italy last week, but I did take a mental vacation there, and it was almost as nice as the real thing.
Mental vacations are like retreating to that quiet, relaxing place that your yoga instructor tells you to go to when you are doing the final relaxation pose at the end of every class. They are fun, free and can take you anywhere your imagination allows you to go. Mental vacations are a nice way for moms/stepmoms, working women and just about anyone to escape from the norm. I usually take my mental vacations during my “me” time in a relaxing bath with soft music playing. For those 3o minutes I am not mom, wife, business woman or counselor, and I don’t worry about the challenges of stepmamahood or motherhood. I allow myself to mentally escape to a place where I get to choose who goes along for the ride.
Next week, I think my business partner and very dear friend, Diane and I, will take a relaxing trip with our husbands to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We could all use a couples only vacation right about now. If anyone else wants to join us, please let me know. The plane tickets, hotels, food, and activities are all FREE!
What about you, readers? Describe your ultimate mental vacation in the comments section below and win a brand new Sirius Sportster 5 XM Satellite Radio!
Can you not stand the thought of upsetting others? Or, maybe you are like me and you put everyone elses’ needs and wants before your own? If any of these statements describe you, you may be guilty of being a “people pleaser.” Granted, just being a busy parent and spouse, one can easily fall into the trap of as I have often been called the “be all, do all and go to person” for everything. Being a people pleaser has been something that I have personally struggled with in the past. I am the immediate “go to” person at work as well as at home. Recently, I came to the conclusion that I cannot and will not “be all and do all” to and for everyone in my life whether that be to my children, my husband, my boss or my friends. I have many friends that fall into this same category. I watch them bend over backwards, like me, to help everyone and get little to no time for themselves and when they do seem to find a little time, they feel guilty….just like me. My problem lies in the fact that I have a hard time saying the simple word “no” to anyone, any favor, any task asked of me. I felt like it was more important to please and impress that person or family member and endure the pressure and sometimes the stress that it brings along with it just to seek their approval. At times, I even found myself making excuses to myself for my people pleasing ways. Hence, my recent conclusion to “just say no to people pleasing!”
I have determined that the approval I may have thought I needed was really only my issue. I need not anyone’s approval. I have also determined that when my children are grown or when I am no longer here, how many miles I drove them to soccer practices or to games or how many times I stressed about buying them the latest and greatest clothes or toys or given them my last $5.00 until payday for little extras that they really could have gone without will not be remembered by them at all. What they will remember is the time I shared with each of them, my caretaking of them when they were sick, my unconditional love for them; not my people-pleasing because I didn’t want them to be upset with me and they definitely will not remember all of the times I gave into their excessive wants. My boss will appreciate me for my hard work and tenacity not for my accumulating 150 hours of paid time off because I never call in sick when I need to out of fear of displeasing anyone. You get the point? I do not have to be a martyr.
In my research on this subject I found out that people pleasers are really just fearful of rejection. Some feel that if they don’t put everyone else ahead of themselves or their needs, they will end up alone. They are afraid of setting boundaries out of the fear of disappointment. Something that I found out during my research really hit a note with me personally and that is people pleasers usually were raised in environments wherein their needs and feelings were pushed aside and not considered. Bingo! Boy there is so much truth to that statement. A lot of children of divorce end up being people pleasers in some aspect or another. They have been pulled in between their parents and often find themselves having to take sides. They didn’t have a choice in the decision of their parents to divorce, and after the divorce, their feelings often get pushed aside because their parents can’t find time to step off the battlefield long enough to see that their children need their attention. In turn, they end up trying to please both parents all of the time and this behavior continues and carries over into their adult lives.
The following are some tips that I found very helpful:
1. Focus on your own best interest instead of avoiding conflict;
2. Do something for yourself;
3. Learn how to say no;
4. Learn when it is appropriate for you to take responsibility for an action and when it is someone elses’ issue. Do not bear burdens that aren’t yours to bear.
You are important. Your self-worth is not based on how much you do for other people. Learning to say no is not easy for a people pleaser, but having an assertive attitude without being aggressive is the key. Wanting to please everyone all of the time is stressful and even hurtful to our physical well-beings as well. Remember, there is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself first and then you will be more able to effectively and lovingly take care of the others in your life.
Peace and blessings,