Saturday, October 29, 2011

Do moms feel like they lose themselves by design?

A few days ago I wrote about an amazing moms retreat I attended. Today I want to expand on one of the topics we discussed, because I think it's important for all moms to think about.

Me and my kiddos on a lunch date!
The discussion was about how we as moms lose ourselves after having children. You don't really realize it is happening, it just seems to be a slow death of the woman you once were before having children. Then you wake up one day and look in the mirror and have no idea who you are looking at.

In some respects, that is good, because once you have children, you will never be the same woman.

But it's painful to feel like we lose touch with our true selves. That we forget what we like to do in our "free" time. Or as we moms like to call it, our "me" time.

As moms we crave this "me" time, but when we suddenly get it, we don't even know what to do with it. Plus, we feel guilty about taking it.

In the earlier days of having small children, I can remember wasting at least half of my "me" time just trying to figure out what to do. That was so frustrating.

When we talk about this as moms, it is as if we have done something wrong. That we have let ourselves go by not paying attention. While on some level this may be true, I would like to think about it more positively.

Maybe this "low" of motherhood is really a high. Maybe it's part of "growing up" -- a natural progression of life. Maybe through losing ourselves we are actually finding ourselves. Maybe this loss is something we all have to go through so we can become more aware of who we really are ... and what our gifts are ... and why we are here.

It can be all of that if we want it to be. I think the important point in this conversation is that once you wake up and realize you have lost yourself, it's time to start taking action to reconnect with yourself. That woman is still there, you just need to spend some time rediscovering her.

I believe the experience of motherhood is shaping me into the woman I want to be. I believe that I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I trust in the process and know that everything will turn out as it should. I hope the same for you!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are you your spouse's friend?

Image: Photostock/
I overheard a conversation at the park between a man and a woman this week that got me thinking.

They were acquaintances -- from what I could tell -- and they were being so nice to each other. Like trying really hard to be helpful and provide information about kids and parenting and the like. They were seriously trying to be nice -- on their best behavior -- like when you are making a new friend.

Their interaction made me think about marriage and what happens over time. How people stop trying so hard to be nice and helpful and thoughtful. How sometimes couples stop being "friends" and turn into roommates.

I thought about how amazing that conversation would have been if that couple was married. If they always spoke to each other like that. And if they always went out of their way to be nice to each other -- like they do when they are making a new friend.

I think a whole lot of marriages could be better off if people treated their spouses as good as they treat people they are meeting for the first time. This is definitely something Paul and I have worked on in our marriage, and I can tell you it makes a big difference!

How's that for food for thought? I think it's a good chance to look at how we are behaving in our marriages. I'd love to hear feedback on this topic!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Retreat teaches moms how to take better care of themselves

I went to a mom's retreat yesterday that really got me energized!

It was an intimate retreat with only 10 moms, plus the three speakers. The women ranged in age from mid-twenties to early 50's. (Yes, moms in their mid-twenties! Yikes!) This group of moms was awesome, impressive and inspiring. I can't say enough about them.

The group was very diverse in age, occupation and backgrounds, but we had much in common as moms. It was encouraging to hear other women's stories of how they approach motherhood and the experiences they have been through. We laughed about the funny stuff and supported each other through the tough stuff.

I think part of why I feel so great about the retreat is that the organizers did an excellent job of helping us get to know each other before the sessions started. That set the atmosphere in the room, because we were already pretty-well acquainted with one another by the time we got to the sessions.

We heard from three speakers: Lori Radun, a life coach from Momnificent; Beth Aldrich, a healthy lifestyle and nutrition expert and author of Real Moms Love to Eat; and Saren Eyre Loosli, a trainer and founder of Power of Moms.

Saren shared with us about her great website and all of the helpful resources it has to offer. I would say whenever you find yourself struggling with something in motherhood, head on over to this site for some practical tips and advice! Good stuff!

Lori spoke to us about boundaries -- a topic I was excited to hear about, because it's something I have been working on over the past few years. Boundaries can be tricky, because they are different for everyone, but if we don't learn to set boundaries for ourselves, we will very quickly find ourselves frazzled, frustrated and resentful.

Finally, Beth taught us about feeding our body and soul with a lifestyle and foods that are good for us. It was a very easy-to-grasp, holistic approach to taking care of ourselves. Loved it! Then, she served us a delicious, healthy, satisfying lunch! (Wonder if there are any left-overs! Beth, I'm coming over!)

Being a mom is the most difficult thing many of us women will do. It's such a big job, and there are no text books. It's so nice to know that we're not alone. We're not the only ones struggling. And that there are people out there who care and are willing to help. I left this special retreat feeling even more motivated to continue my work as a life coach in inspiring other women!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Haismans had a case of the Mondays

How did your Monday morning start off? I have to be honest, we usually start really smooth around here, but today wasn't quite that story.

I thought I started smoothly -- got up before the kids to get ready, and had already prepared their snacks and water the night before! Yeah, me!

But, Tyler was all upset about his hair not looking right. Then he put on the wrong school uniform for today and had to completely change. All of this caused him to be too late to ride the bus to school, which caused him to be quite whiny.

Alyssa sat at the kitchen table for nearly 20 minutes doing absolutely nothing except complaining that what she wanted for breakfast was not available. This caused her to have to rush for the rest of the morning. Then, as we were pulling out of the driveway I looked up into her bedroom and noticed her bedroom light was on. (That's a major offense in our house!)

Also, we couldn't find one of the library books that is due today. I looked for it Saturday, yesterday and this morning with no luck. Why is it always the library books that go missing?

Anyway, I talked to the kids on the way to school about them having to do better in the morning. We get up plenty early to get ready without rushing, but there is no time for wasting.

I very purposefully create a loving, peaceful atmosphere in the mornings. I want my children to start their day calm, not in a state of panic and frantic rushing around to get out the door. This morning I even had a candle lit before the crabbiness ensued.

I do feel somewhat responsible for the rough morning though, because we had a pretty busy weekend. I think when the kids don't get enough down-time, it's more difficult for them to pull everything together on Monday morning. Last night we got home with just enough time for them to brush teeth, get in their jammies, say prayers and get in bed. They had no time to relax. I think that would have been helpful.

So, now the kids are at school, and I am getting a few things done. I put dinner in the crock pot so I can assist with homework and keep things low key this afternoon. Oh, and I found the book, by the way, it was in Alyssa's closet inside a purse! :)

Here's to a more peaceful Monday afternoon!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How do you know it's time for a mommy break?

How do you know it's time for you to take a break from your children? I know I've waited too long when I start cringing or feel like I want to cry every time one of my children calls my name. I feel like saying, "What? What could you possibly need from me right now? Please just leave me alone!"

I got to that place yesterday. There are many reasons why, but I think the last straw was that school was cancelled at the last minute on Friday due to water problems in the building -- so I suddenly lost six hours of planned "me" time.

Part of me was excited for the kids -- they were downright gleeful! It was fun to see, and I remember feeling that way as a child when school got cancelled!

At the time, I didn't think it was a big deal. I was OK with it. Even though I had errands and a nice lunch with a friend planned, it could all be rescheduled. But, what I didn't realize was how much it would impact me later.

Overall the day was awesome while I was living it. We met up with a couple other school families and went to a pumpkin farm. Then we had friends over for a play date and dinner afterward. Fun times! It was a super-fun, kid-friendly day! But, looking back on it, I can see why I felt overwhelmed the next day -- it was just all kids, all day. Like 10 kids talking to you at once. Even if it's fun, it can still be exhausting.

So, when I found myself cringing every time one of my children called my name Saturday afternoon, that was my cue that I was overdue for some mommy time. So, I left home to run a few of the errands I was supposed to do on Friday. I felt great by the time I got back, but that quickly went away as soon as the demands started up again at home. I was disappointed by that. But I realized that I needed something more or different.

So, instead of fighting it, I went up to my bedroom, closed the door and rested for a while. I didn't sleep, which would have been very nice, but I rested peacefully without children asking me about or for something every five seconds.

Luckily, Paul understood and picked up the "slack" and even made the kids dinner. Another blessing was that we had a date night planned, so I knew I had that to look forward to, as well.

I'm still not 100%, but I am aware that I need to continue to work on it for the rest of the weekend -- or until I'm back to feeling like I can give again!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Teaching children how to be a supportive friend

Yesterday Alyssa told me about an event that happened at school last week that prompted a little lesson about how to be a good friend. Here's how our conversation went.

A friend pulled a piece of fruit out of her lunch and said, "Look what I got, Alyssa!"

Apparently, since Alyssa does not like that particular fruit, she replied, "Oh, I don't like that fruit."

Well, her friend did not like that remark and told the teacher on her. At this point I was perplexed. Why would someone tell on you because you stated your opinion that you do not like a particular fruit? But I knew there must be more to the story, so I pushed on.

I asked Alyssa, "Why do you think your friend told on you for that?" She said she didn't know. Then, my brain started firing -- the friend's feelings were hurt. I see what happened!

I said, "Why do you think she showed you that piece of fruit?"

"I don't know," she replied.

"Because she was excited about it," I said. "She wanted you to feel excited for her."

I continued, "Remember how you were excited to show your friends your face painting from Fall Fest?"

"Yes," she said.

"Well, your friend was excited about what was in her lunch in the same way. Do you think next time you could say something like, 'Cool! I'm happy for you.' When she shows you something she is excited about?"

"Oh. Yeah. I can do that." Sweet!

Then, wouldn't you know it? Moments later I looked at Tyler's religion homework, and it touched on the same topic! OMG! How lucky am I?

I read her the words right off the paper -- "When something exciting happens to people, many of them want to share their good news with others."

So, when people share their good news with us, it's polite and loving to respond by letting them know we are happy for them -- even if what they are excited about is not a preference of ours.

I then proceeded to practice with her for the rest of the evening in funny, lighthearted ways to help get the point across.

I know Alyssa did not intend on hurting her friend's feelings by saying she did not like the fruit, but the delicate point is that there was something better she could have said.

She doesn't have to pretend she likes the fruit, but she could have been supportive and showed her friend that she was glad she had something in her lunch that made her excited. Hopefully we've learned a lesson that will stick!

Monday, October 17, 2011

My glowing little pumpkin

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this one of my little pumpkin is, indeed!

I find myself repeatedly coming back to admire this shot, so I thought I should try to pinpoint what I love about it so much. Here's what I came up with:

I love ...
  • How beautiful Alyssa looks. 
  • How happy she looks.
  • How clear the sky is. 
  • The orange pumpkins dotted all over the ground.
  • How the setting sun makes the picture glow orange.
  • How the color of her skirt matches the pumpkins. 
  • The fact that we are in a real pumpkin patch ... on a beautiful farm. 
  • That Tyler is in the picture, even though he is walking the other way.
  • That the picture makes me feel peaceful.
  • Knowing how much fun she had that day!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bring more peace into your life through stressful situations

Did you know the best way to diffuse someone who is agitated, angry or yelling at you is to respond with calmness and love?

It seems counter-intuitive, but the truth is that you get what you give. Give grief, get grief. Give peace, get peace.

So, if you can control your emotions when you are being verbally attacked and remain calm, you will bring peace into the situation, instead of more stress.

This technique diffuses the situation much more quickly than responding with another verbal attack.

If the issue is something that needs to be addressed, you can choose to do it later, at a time when everyone is more peaceful. Simply state your intention to walk away from the stressful situation until things calm down.

This works for adults and children. Try it and let me know how it goes!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall is a Great Time to Slow Down

These two trees are across the street from Tyler and Alyssa's school. Even though I see them multiple times a day, they still make me smile every time.

They are the first trees we notice that turn red every year. They look so grand perched among all of the other trees that are still green.

Every time I see these trees I am naturally reminded to slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy the sight.

Fall is a great time to try to live in the moment and enjoy every day. Be sure to spend some time out in nature -- away from the hustle and bustle of your busyness -- and just be. It will help you connect more fully with yourself and your higher power. It will help you feel renewed and refreshed, and it will help you refocus and remember what's really important in life.

Happy Fall!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Remember that poem "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum? Boy, has that been on my mind lately.

Almost every day since school started, Alyssa has been coming home upset with stories about how friends were not nice.

The types of things we are talking about are things like excluding friends from the group, not cooperating while figuring out what they want to play, saying hurtful things like "you're not my friend" or "I wish you didn't go to this school." (Ouch!)

Initially, I was so surprised that we were having these types of friendship experiences in kindergarten, but it turns out I'm not alone. Some even say it's normal. (Yuck!)

Lately, I've spoken with many moms who have had children in kindergarten, and they all say they've experienced the same thing. REALLY? Oh my gosh! I thought kids wouldn't learn how to hurt someone's feelings until later -- much later.

I have found it difficult to teach Alyssa how to be a good friend. The dynamics seem to be so complex and mature for this age. But, believe me, I have been working on it. We've read age-appropriate books, we've had many mother-daughter conversations, we've prayed, we've asked for divine guidance, and, of course, I've done my research by reading parenting articles, talking to the teachers and speaking to other moms.

Things seem to be normalizing, but I intend to keep these conversations and lessons going. Now, instead of looking at the situation with frustration, I am looking at it as an opportunity to teach Alyssa how to be a good friend at a young age. I know these lessons will help her for years to come.

I think a couple of the most helpful things I've done have been communicating with other moms, praying with Alyssa, and bringing the language back down to her level. That's what made me think of the kindergarten poem. I think I was initially trying to help her with a complex adult mind, instead of going back to basics -- back to kindergarten -- back to the simple mind of a child.

A few of my kindergarten tips:
  • Be nice.
  • Cooperate.
  • Share.
  • Don't hit.
  • Don't push.
  • Say you're sorry.
  • Forgive.
My favorite line of the poem is this: When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.

I saw Alyssa holding hands with one of her friends today, and it warmed my heart. I know the learning curve has been challenging, but I see them all sticking together.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

An Award Brings College Memories Flooding Back

I accepted one of the greatest honors of my professional career last night. I was inducted into the Vidette Hall of Fame with three other outstanding professionals.

I worked at the Daily Vidette, the ISU student newspaper, from the first day of my freshman year until the last day of my senior year.

HOF Inductees Marc Lebovitz, Tina Haisman and Bill Mulvihill
pause for photos with Vidette General Manager Rick Jones.
To say my memories of that time are sentimental would be an understatement.

Listening to the other professionals last night was so interesting. I realized that although none of us worked for the paper at the same time or in the same role, our overall experiences were remarkably similar.

We all spoke of how well the Vidette prepared us for our professional careers -- even though we didn't really realize it at the time.

We also spoke about how the Vidette was the primary source of our ISU family and friends. I didn't join a sorority in college -- I didn't need to. The Vidette filled that role for me.

The Daily Vidette has long been one of the most successful student newspapers in the country. I am so grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to be a part of it during my time at ISU.

I will always cherish my Vidette memories and experiences, and being honored as one of its best only makes it sweeter. I am so blessed.

Written with honor and gratitude for all Videtters of the past, present and future.