Thursday, December 22, 2011

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

Are you getting ready for the holidays?  Are you excitedly preparing or running around like a mom trying to find a bathroom while holding a baby who has had an explosive poop?  I thought I was the first scenario, but yesterday I turned into the second.  Not that Tornado Xav had an explosive poop, but that would have been easier to deal with.

The short version of the story is that I waited fifteen minutes in line with a mountain of groceries (so many groceries for just one party!) trying to keep Little Man calm.  When I was finally at the checkout, and the cashier was scanning my last couple of items, I realized that my wallet was still in the car.  So I had to scramble to get my wallet as I wheeled little man in the cart to the car (why had I taken my sling off in Chapters?).  I hastily opened the door and leaned in to get my wallet and heard a smack.  Yes I had hit another vehicle with my door.  And the driver was inside giving me unbelievable stink eye!  And I knew that inside there were about six people with full carts waiting for me to come back in and pay!  I apologized profusely to the lady in her van (apologies made stink eye worse!) and then ran back to the store yelling over my shoulder that I would be right out if she needed anything.  Got back to my groceries.  Paid and slinked back to my car awaiting the worst (the lady had left, but I had been anticipating a nasty note or payback dent in my door).  Yikes!

Phew.  Did I say that was the short version?...

That, of course was just the lead up to that night when we had put Xavier to bed and gone to the basement to watch some much needed Netflix.  I thought I heard Little Man cry at the start of an episode of "Bones" so Pete paused it and we listened.  With the heat blasting through the vents it was hard to hear anything and I said "maybe I should go check."  After the day I had had, however, I was totally wiped out and decided that I was hearing things.  Instead I just sat back down and we kept watching our show.  It wasn't until at least twenty minutes later that I finally did hear Little Man crying over the volume of the TV.  I quickly went upstairs and his cries totally broke my heart.  I have never heard him cry so intensely.  It seemed like he was terrified and thought that we were gone forever.  I fed him and spent a lot of time holding him and getting him calm and happy again, but I felt awful.

I have to say that that night for me, made me feel worse than the time he cut himself on the drain after a bath and the time he started choking in the kitchen and we had to do the choking back smacks to get the food out.  Each of those times I felt like I should have protected him, and failed.  It is so difficult to shake those kinds of feelings as a parent.  And what I find worse is that when I talk to other parents some of them act as though they are flawlessly raising their children, and have never had anything bad happen.

I don't believe that Pete and I are the only one's out the re making mistakes, and an article I read today by Marc and Angel Hack Life called "30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself" really put things into perspective for me.  At the end of my entry are the thirty things listed in the article, but here are a few things that dusted the cobwebs off my mommy brain:

Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. 
I know for sure that, in terms of mommyhood, I keep focusing on those mistakes I just mentioned where Xavier is hurt or scared, and I feel responsible.  I beat myself up with a lot of "I should have..."  Pete, especially, had a hard time after Xavier choked.  

We have always made an effort to make sure that there is absolutely nothing on our floor (especially because our driveway is comprised of little rocks that easily find their way onto the soles of shoes).  Pete and I were cooking dinner and Xav was playing at our feet.  We were right in the midst of a conversation when we heard the worst sound coming from Xav as he struggled to swallow what was in his mouth.  Pete dropped down and did the first aid for choking and Xav just kept struggling and then threw up a few times.  Whatever was in his mouth was swallowed by him and didn't come back up, but what did come up was breast milk and blood.  We were so panicky about the blood that we called 9-1-1 and then took him to the emergency room.  We waited 8 hours before they scanned his tummy and didn't see anything that would cause concern.

That event was horrible.  Pete and I both beat ourselves up for various reasons.  He always remembers the feeling of panic and gets so upset with himself for not being in control during an emergency.  I think about how Xav got something in his mouth right in front of us and we still don't know what it was.  I also beat myself up about the fact that there was anything on the floor in the first place.  Neither one of us can forget the sounds that Xav made and the panic on his face as he was choking.

So where does the article come in for this?  While I will never forget what happened that night, I know that I have to stop thinking that those few moments make me an unfit parent.  I love Xav, and we make him happy 99.9% of the time.  That 0.1%, as heartbreaking as it is, should not define me as a parent.  It seems easier to remember the negative situations than the positive ones, but I am going to make an effort to put my past mistakes behind me.  I have learned from each situation, and now it is time to let them go.

Stop trying to compete against everyone else. 
A I said before, it seems as though some parents around me try to act as though they have never made mistakes with their children.  I remember telling the choking story to a family member and her response was very judgemental.  Pete also got that response when he was speaking to a family friend.  The thing is, I know that those around me are not flawless.  Yet I allow myself to enter into private competitions with others in regards to parenting.  What a wasteful use of time.  It is hard to remember that the few individuals who make snarky remarks are generally judgemental in all areas.  They are the energy suckers that you know you should avoid, but have to interact with once in a while.  If they really were as perfect as they try to put on, they would not be such crab shacks (yes, that is my official term for crabby people).  Who cares anyway what they think of me.  In the end it does not really matter.  Parenting is not a competition.  

Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.
This one is especially important to me for this blog.  I know that when I am around someone who complains nonstop it totally zaps my energy.  I don't want this blog, or my life, to be one retelling of crappy circumstances after another.   As with anything negative, it is way easier to focus on what went wrong today instead of what went really well.  I find that even though I have always been a very happy and relaxed person, the stresses of raising a child and the lack of good rest has really changed that.  If remaining positive requires effort, the surely it is easier to use that energy on Xav instead of myself.  So that is the very thing that I inter to change.  Life goes a hell of a lot easier when you are  taking responsibility for your own happiness.  I can't raise a healthy boy with  an exhausted stressed demeanour.  That is for sure.

Stop worrying so much.
Like I said before, I have always been pretty laid back and content.  So this worrying thing is pretty new to me. And there is definitely so much to worry about as a parent.  Can I raise Xavier "right"?  Is he eating the right food and enough of it to grow properly?  Is my tutoring business going to work well enough for me to still be at home with Little Man?  Etc.

This may sound a little touchy feel, but when I was pregnant I used to take the time every night to write down things I was grateful for and hopes for my little one.  I have not done anything like that since he was born.  I think I want to get back to that sort of positive thinking.  I know some parents write letters to their minis that they intend to give them in the future.  I would love to do something like that.  Not only would it be meaningful, but I know it would help me to stop worrying so much and focus on the positive.  After all, who wants to read a letter that starts out with "Dear son, you were such a douche today."  Ha ha.

[Zen exhalation]  Aaaaaah.  I know I feel better now.  That was very after school special, don't you think?  Don't you feel more enlightened?  I am clearly a budding Budda.  ;)

The List (Check out the article, it's really interesting)
Stop spending time with the wrong people.
Stop running from your problems. 
Stop lying to yourself.
Stop putting your own needs on the back burner.
Stop trying to be someone you’re not.
Stop trying to hold onto the past.
Stop being scared to make a mistake.
Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. 
Stop trying to buy happiness.
Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness.
Stop being idle.
Stop thinking you’re not ready. 
Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons.
Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work.
Stop trying to compete against everyone else. 
Stop being jealous of others. 
Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.
Stop holding grudges. 
Stop letting others bring you down to their level.
Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others.
Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break.
Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments.
Stop trying to make things perfect.
Stop following the path of least resistance. 
Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. 
Stop blaming others for your troubles. –
Stop trying to be everything to everyone. 
Stop worrying so much.
Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen.
Stop being ungrateful.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Day

Little Man is at grandma/grandpa's right now and Pete and I are scrambling to do as many items on our endless to-do list as possible before we pick him up this afternoon.  While I have a lot of things to do to get my tutoring studio up and running, my main focus this morning is on cleaning.  I am glad that we live in a small house, I can't imagine how people keep up on their cleaning in 1500+ square foot houses.  Yikes!  I have several homemade cleaning recipes that I have tried out now.  Two of my favourite cleaners are found on the Macheesmo blog.

The first is a great antibacterial spray made of lavender and water.  I am not a fan of spritzing everything in a crazy attempt to create a completely anti-bacterial house, but I recognize that there are times that I need to provide Xav with clean surfaces to play on.  I spray the obvious things like garbages, the recycling box and toilet regularly and other surfaces once a week or so.  So far I am very pleased with the results of the spray, and it makes our house smell slightly like lavender without being overpowering.

The second cleaner I have tried is the Bath, Sink and Tile cleaner.  It is basically made up of water, baking soda, castile soap, vinegar and tea tree oil.  I washed our whole bathroom top to bottom with this cleaner and the results have been really great.  Because of the baking soda, the cleaner is grainy.  To get all of the cleaner off without leaving a residue, I filled a mop bucket about 1/4 full with warm water and then dipped in a hand towel that I then used to clean a small patch.  I rinsed the towel often as keeping it as clean as possible helped to grab more of the cleaner at a time.  I found I had to replace the water in my mop bucket once in order to get my whole shower rinsed clean.

If you are used to spraying cleaner and then gingerly wiping it away, then you will definitely be disappointed when using a natural cleaner.  You need to put more elbow grease into it.  I made friends with my toilet today as I scrubbed every nook and cranny with my hand towel, but I didn't mind it.  It reminded me of when I used to do housekeeping.  I would have to spray every last surface with toxic chemicals (no gloves or mask) and then use a ton of water to wash everything away.  The last part of cleaning a bathroom was to get down on my hands and knees and wipe the floor down by hand.  So that's part of what I did today, except this time I wasn't thinking about the carcinogens and other scary chemicals I was absorbing into my skin.

It feels good to have a clean house (though I still wish magical elves would do it for me instead).  I am trying to think of what to move on to next, which is why this blog entry has manifested.  It is buying me a little bit of break time before I do the next menial task on my list.  If you are looking into cleaning something today too, why not try a homemade natural cleaner.  The recipes of the two I mentioned earlier are listed below (thank you Macheesmo!).  Be sure to check out Macheesmo's blog for some more great solutions to try.  Happy cleaning!

Lavender Anti-Bacterial Spray
- 1 Cup water
- 20 drops lavender essential oil

Bath, Sink, Tile Cleaner (Watch out for some bubbling.)
- 2/3 Cup baking soda
- 1/2 Cup castile soap
- 2 Tablespoons vinegar
- 1/2 Cup water
- A few drops of Tea Tree oil
      NOTE: Ideally, mix this one in a SQUIRT bottle, not a SPRAY bottle.
                   It’s pretty thick and almost a paste.