What Moms Are Thankful For

November 25, 2015
family, inspiration, motherhood

What Moms Are Thankful For - Joy of Mom

 

As mothers, our to-do lists stretch on over the horizon. Our heads swim with field trip dates and names of our children’s new best friends. We kiss boo-boos while simultaneously fixing dinner and scheduling a doctor appointment.

We just keep going.

That’s why, when Thanksgiving gives us a reason to take a moment and reflect, we eagerly let our brain slow from the constantly flurry of thoughts for just a moment. We think about what we are most grateful for, not only at this time of year, but each and every day.

We start to make a mental list:

  • We are thankful for that moment, just before our child wakes up, when she looks so warm and peaceful. Dreaming of the happiness that will surely find her today.
  • We are thankful for imperfections. How that one big “mistake” wasn’t such a big deal after all, and became yet another loving inside joke to our family’s history.
  • We are thankful for that first cup of coffee in the morning, with the promise that, yes, we can make it through this day, too.
  • We are thankful that we can all be together as a family this year for the holiday. If not in body, then in spirit.
  • We are thankful that our children are growing into loving, kind humans. That they will continue to make this world a better place.
  • We are thankful that we know that even though the world can be scary and unpredictable, we can always find love and support amongst our family and friends.
  • We are thankful for the friends who know us better than we know ourselves. Who can laugh when we share the latest hijinks of our children, and who can be there with a hug when we need to cry.
  • We are thankful for every moment we are able to share with our family. Looking past the hustle and bustle that comes from motherhood, we see a group of people who we can’t imagine life without. Our loves.

In that moment, we are truly thankful for the blessing that is motherhood. We close our eyes, take a deep breath, and say a prayer of gratitude. Because we know that the second we open our eyes again, we just need to keep going.

When the Unthinkable Happens

November 20, 2015
inspiration, motherhood

When the Unspeakable Happens - Joy of Mom

 

What do we say when the world goes crazy? When we want to cry and hide. When we want to shut our eyes.

What do we say when our children ask us why Facebook is plastered with photos of the Eiffel Tower? When they hear the news. When they look into our eyes and see our tears.

When our children leave toddlerhood in their wake, they become an active part of the world and all of the wonders that go along with it. They celebrate our holidays. They begin to understand history. They make an impact with their thoughts, words, and actions.

But they are also a part of our world’s sadder, darker moments. When heartbreak ripples through humanity, they feel it, too.

As parents, our first instinct is to shelter them. To hide them away from the shadows. But for our children to truly appreciate how beauty and love spread and change lives, they also must learn that there is hardship, loss, and imperfection ingrained in us. In life.

When the unspeakable happens, we can always give them a hug, look into their eyes, and tell them…

  • Terrible, terrible things sometimes happen.
  • For every terrible thing that happens, there are hundreds and thousands of people who are joining together to make this world better. To make it safer for everyone. To bring the flowers and candles.
  • We are lucky because we are a family who will always be there for one another. We will always protect each other. And we have the power to make our little piece of the world better every day.
  • Not only that, but we have the power to make it better for everyone else too. By being kind. By giving a hug. By helping a friend. By telling the truth. By standing up for what is right. With that power, we can change the world.

We are all a part of this uncertain world, and together we will make it better. Slowly. Patiently.

Tomorrow will be safer, more peaceful, and more full of light. And it starts with us. All of us. Even…especially…our children.

 


 

This post was inspired by this moving video from Now This, which has since gone viral. The interaction between the boy and his father is simply beautiful. A must-watch…

 

When the Unthinkable Happens - Joy of Mom

 

 

Staying Happy Through the Holidays

November 13, 2015
inspiration, motherhood

Staying Happy Through the Holidays

 

With the holidays coming up, there is so much to do: shopping, decorating, hosting family, preparing meals, and more! And all this work can easily create stress. But we have some tips from health and wellness expert Dave Romanelli to help us moms keep our happiness and joy during the holiday season.

If you need help staying positive while you’re staying on top of all the details, here are Dave’s top tips:

Meditation: Dave calls meditation a game-changer when it comes to stress. Meditation helps you work through anxiety and even sleep better at night-and who couldn’t use a great night’s sleep?! He also believes meditation can be light-hearted and fun. Another benefit: “Meditation is amazing for allowing your mind to relax so you can be more present with your kids.”

One-minute hug: Try to take one minute each day and dedicate it to love. Write an email to a family member or call an old friend. Kids are great cuddlers – when you feel the stress overcoming you, stop and hug your child for one full minute. Both your body and mind will relax! And your kids will love it too!

Beautiful, funny, and delicious: Try to find moments in each day that are beautiful, funny, or delicious. This is a great topic to talk about around the dinner table. Use this as a chance for the whole family to remember the special moments of each day so you can focus on the positive.

Vitamin G: Gratitude. When you turn in for the night, instead of letting your mind worry about what you have to do tomorrow, focus on what you were grateful for today. Talk with your spouse about three things that happened that you were grateful for. Dave suggests that you, “Train your mind to be strong, positive, and grateful when it’s otherwise negative or self-doubting.” You will see the benefits so fast!

Embracing imperfections: Don’t strive to do everything perfectly – no one is able to accomplish perfection all the time! Dave says, “The best you can do is show up fully for the people you love.” No one else is expecting perfection from you – they want your presence more than anything. Being there is enough!

~

Dave Romanelli is a leading health and wellness innovator. He played a pivotal role in the modernization of yoga into mainstream culture. His Yoga + Chocolate, Yoga + Wine, and Yoga for Foodies experiences were featured in The NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Food + Wine, and O Magazine. He is now focusing on the modernization of meditation. In 2013, he launched an online company, Meditate ON, which makes meditation fun, light, and accessible for the whole family.  Dave’s new book Happy is the New Healthy hit the shelves in January and reached #1 on Amazon’s Healthy Living Bestseller list. The book shares secrets and meditations on relaxing, letting go, and enjoying life (not tomorrow) but NOW. Discover more about his journey on www.yeahdave.com. Dave lives in New York City.

Taking a Breath: Reflecting on Motherhood

October 21, 2015
inspiration, motherhood

breathe horizontal

 

It can be hard to find the time to breathe. Ballet class. T-Ball. Pick up kids from school. Change diapers. Clean the bathroom. Soothe a teething toddler. Make dinner.

Some days, it feels like motherhood is a constant chain of chores. Help with homework. Load the dishwasher. Go to the pharmacy. Run the PTA meeting.

It may feel like we never stop moving. RSVP to classmate’s birthday party. Pay the bills. Make Halloween costumes. Vacuum Cheerios from the car seats. Grocery shopping.

In the constant whirlwind that is motherhood, it is important to find time catch our breath. We have the strength to give 110% to all we do. We have the power to knock off everything from our to do list without blinking an eye.

But, sometimes, we must slow down. We need to remember the first minute we held our children. When they were soft and snuggly and desperately needed us. We need to appreciate all the accomplishments. The first steps, the first words, the first day of school.

We made these events happen. We helped to shape our son into that confident little boy strolling into his first day of kindergarten without a look back. We encouraged that tiny ballerina on stage to twirl with all her might and pick herself right back up when she falls down.

This is motherhood, too. These small moments that don’t have a line item on our To Do list. We may forget them in the day-to-day hustle and bustle. We may be so buried in “What’s Next?” that we forget what’s special.

So we encourage you to stop and breathe. Take a moment for yourself and remember how far you have come, how much you and your children have accomplished. Savor every memory that floods into your heart.

Wrap up that feeling, and the next time you wrap your arms around your child, remember to breathe. Remember all you have done. Remember the joy of mom.

Photo courtesy of Colibri Photo

Favorite 5-Free Nail Polishes!

September 15, 2015
family, lifestyle, motherhood

Favorite 5-Free Nail Polishes! #joyofmom

 

A mom’s hands are priceless.

We use them to pick up our precious children and to wipe away the tears after tumbles and stumbles. Our hands are often the first touch of the day…and the very last.

As moms, we want to create the safest environment as possible for our little ones – and that includes the nail polish that we put on our busy hands!

Whether you can get away to the salon for a mani-pedi or you’re putting on a new coat of polish on the couch at night, fresh nails always seem to feel good!

As both a mom and consumer, I’ve always been passionate about what’s safest, healthiest, and best for our families health and well-being. And when in doubt, I do my homework – and then some. I’ve been concerned about the toxins in regular nail polish including toluene, which is added to gasoline and is a solvent. This particular toxin can wreak havoc on your respiratory tract and eyes. Many polishes also contain formaldehyde, which is not only flammable, but has been classified as a carcinogen. If your polish has DBP in it or dibutyl phthalate, you’re wearing a substance known to cause hormonal imbalances, liver and breast cancer. In fact, DBP is banned in Europe.

The good news is that there are polishes out there that are natural and toxin-free.

A few of my favorite 5-free include:

Zoya: Zoya was voted the longest lasting nail polish in Lucky Magazine’s Green Guide and a Top 10 Nail Polish by Glamour.com. I love their colors including deep reds, subtle pinks, natural tones. Some of my faves for fall are Rue, Rowan and Normani.

SuncoatThis company has been around since 2001 and creates their polishes with a water base and no toxins. They use mineral pigments and natural ingredients instead of chemicals, so they are free of acetates and parabens. They even have peelable polish, so you don’t need remover.

Sheswai: This is clean, fabulous polish with beautiful bamboo toppers. The colors are sweet as their names! Just a few… so pretty, for real and nice. They have the most perfect violet and even an awesome yellow.

Piggy Paint: I love businesses created by moms! Piggy Paint is a great choice when our little ones want their nails done just like Mommy’s! Melanie Hurley created this brand that is “natural as mud.” Her polish is water-based, non-flammable, non-toxic, and cruelty-free. Say goodbye to harsh, smelly chemicals and hello to mommy daughter mani pedis and Piggy Paint!

WatercolorsThis line from Honeybee Gardens is also a water-based polish formula that’s odorless and doesn’t include synthetic food dyes. There are 25 amazing colors from blue to red and even black. It’s free of formaldehydes, toluene and dibutyl phthalates.

Whether this is your time to escape or you have a set of small fingers lined up next to yours, enjoy the guilt-free fun and treat those busy hands!

Seven Things You Should Say To A Mom

September 6, 2015
inspiration, motherhood

Seven Things You Should Say To A Mom! #joyofmom

 

In honor of a different kind of “Labor Day,” I’ve got some mama love for you today! Today {like everyday} is a great opportunity to celebrate the hard work that moms do 24-7. Here are seven of my favorites:

One: Do you need a hand? You see that mom juggling ten things as she tries to help a four-year-old and a toddler on a plane? Or perhaps you see that same mom trying to juggle a baby and groceries. There is nothing nicer than saying, “Can I give you a hand?” Nine out of ten times, moms will say, “Thanks, I’m good.” But there will be that one time when the mom might say, “Can you help me lift this box?”

Two: You look great. Moms often have three seconds to get themselves ready in the morning after tending to their families. It doesn’t take much to tell your mom friends, “You look great. I love your shirt.” It’s just a little daily pick-me-up for a mom who might be wondering if she has had a shower in the last 36 hours.”

Three: One day your kids will thank you. It might not be today, and a seven-year-old isn’t really programmed to thank you for everything. But reminding a mom that someday her kids will be grateful for her love is life affirming. You never know just how much someone needs to hear those words.

Four: Take a little “me” time. Help a family member or close friend who needs a little break. Call them and say, “I’ll watch Rowan. You need a little me time.” Maybe that mom will want to get a haircut or just take a nap. But those two or three hours you offer to babysit might be just what that mom needs to recharge and regenerate. For you, it’s a little time to spend with the kids. For the mom, it might just be priceless.

Five: You’ve made me a better mom. All of us borrow parenting tips from moms we know and admire, but we might not give them the credit they deserve. If you have a mom role model then tell her. Send her a card or just say, “You’ve made me a better mom because…” then list the ways that this mom has served as a mentor to you. Your words will tell the other mom that she’s not just influencing her own kids, but other mothers around her. Now, that’s an amazing feeling!

Six: It’s okay to mess up. Maybe your friend didn’t take little Liam to the doctor yesterday and then his fever spiked. Or she didn’t sign up for that baseball team and now it’s too late. Moms have so much to do and so many decisions to make in one day. We blame and guilt ourselves to the extreme when things aren’t perfect. Stop and tell yourself and your mom friends that it’s okay to mess up now and then. You’re only human.

Seven: You’re doing a fabulous job. There are days when many moms feel like they’re failing everyone because they’re pulled in so many directions. There are other days when we just maintain as we do our best. And we never give ourselves the credit we deserve. Celebrate yourself and others as a mom and remember that you have happy, thriving kiddos! That means you’re doing a really great job!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your little ones snuggled close ~ and maybe even a little time to put your feet up!

Photo courtesy of Colibri Photo

Tips For a Successful School Year

September 1, 2015
family, lifestyle, motherhood

Tips For a Successful School Year! #joyofmom

 

There’s just something about seeing the bright yellow school bus rolling down the street and little ones excitedly (or nervously) waiting for it to arrive to climb aboard. Even through it’s been many years since my kids have taken those sweet bus rides, I warmly smile as I see the bus approaching on my early morning walks in my neighborhood, and I feel for the mamas who have a whirlwind of emotions during this time of year. School is just back in session. As much as it’s an exciting time for both parents and their kiddos, it can also be a bit stressful. As a mom of three, I’ve gone through many back-to-school days that taught me about how to help my children through this special and all-important transition time of year.

Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned:

Children Handle Change Differently: One child might welcome a new class filled with faces that will soon become close friends. Another child might withdraw because they’re shy and have trouble meeting new peers. As a mom, it’s important to take special note of how each one of our kids embrace and handle the new year. The shy child might need a play date on the weekends with a good buddy. Or perhaps you might spend a little more time asking about the new classmates, giving examples on ways they can say hello and meet new friends.

A New Teacher Can Be Your Best Resource: Although teachers themselves are easing into the new school year, I’ve found they warmly welcome e-mails from parents. This is a great time to introduce yourself and ask if perhaps the teacher needs any help in the classroom, if your schedule permits. If you have concerns and insights you’d like to share for them to better know your child and make the transition period a little smoother, it’s a good time to share this or ask to schedule a quick conference chat. Perhaps your daughter had a very hard time with math last year and feels a little bit reluctant about the subject. Teachers need to be aware so they may best work with your child and their special needs or areas of attention that may need a little extra encouragement or TLC.

Don’t Complain About Homework: As Moms, we set the tone. When you pick up your child on a busy day, it’s fine to hope there’s not a lot of homework because it takes away family time. Just remain positive about it even if your young one is swamped. A project on the Grand Canyon? You say: “Great! Let’s go collect some rocks. That will be fun.” Have to draw a map of the states? “Cool. Let’s make a family list of what places we want to visit.” Your enthusiasm is contagious!

Make The Little Things Easier: Please don’t sweat the small stuff. Pack those lunches the night before. Choose their favorite (healthy) lunches to prepare. Don’t immediately jump into carpooling. A little one-on-one time to start the school year can make a world of difference. In other words, make it as uncomplicated as possible to have a smooth start.

Send Sweet Surprise Notes: There’s nothing better than getting a happy “I love you” note in a lunchbox! A sweet, simple note to let your child know you’re thinking about them can be just the warm hug they need while away at school. If you have little ones still at home, they can draw special pictures along with your note. A touch of home is so welcome especially during the first couple weeks of the new year.

Moms, you’re the permanent and most influential teacher in your child’s life. If you teach your little ones to love school and welcome new adventures, then your newly minted first or third grader (or any grade) will go out there with the best of attitudes.

Here’s to our kids having an amazing school year! And to the moms having one, too!

Put A Hold On Back To School Time

August 12, 2015
family, lifestyle, motherhood

Put A Hold On Back To School Time! #joyofmom

 

It started with that special aisle in the market.

My heart began to sink FAST. It was filled with Mead notebooks, lined paper and three ring binders in every color.

“No,” my mind screamed “It’s not that time of the year!” Then I glance again and asked myself, “How can it be here so soon?”

I think every mom feels a bit melancholy when you see that first Back to School sale despite the fact that a clean, beautiful new backpack for your little one does seem like a really good idea. Or maybe it’s that special comforter for the child who is going away to college. Will it be Batman or SpongeBob this year for the little one’s lunchbox? Will it be… STOP. NOT YET.

The first whiff of back to school also begged the question: Where does the time go?

Five minutes ago, it was the last day of school and kids were literally running out those big heavy doors with their hands in the air cheering on summer vacation. Or maybe it was that college student who is finally back from a different time zone with a new maturity. As a mom, I’ve always loved the last day of school because it signals to me that it’s time for some “family time” with the kids.

Gone are those endless nights of homework and projects. Gone are the hectic school schedule of rehearsals and games. Gone is the fact that I can only reach my child through a phone or device, but can’t give him or her a real hug.

Summer is one giant improv where you can find an adventure with your kids at every turn, if you just look for one. I love every part of it from the backyard barbecues where the garden hose attack is on to the lazy family car trips and those big breakfasts at a diner in the middle of nowhere. Summer is sleep overs and sleep ins. Early morning walks. And sweat from that breathless bike ride up the hills. It’s outdoor cafes for heart to heart talks.

Those three months of summer are golden and not just because of the bright morning sunshine declaring another free day to turn into something memorable. Just having this mental break with the kids is priceless, but it moves too fast.

June went by in a blink and suddenly July 4 was over. Gulp, did I hear someone mention Labor Day? Did I really go to the craft’s store and see all the Halloween stuff? Is a giant turkey far behind?

And now…..now, I’m supposed to think about a sale on multi-colored pencils?

Stop the summer. I want to get off the back to school train already.

Quickly, I swung my cart to a different aisle. Then I convinced myself that it’s only mid August and there was precious little time left.

There was still time for another dip in a pool and the promise of movie night at my local park.

But just as I was buying some veggies to grill, my heart sunk. I saw those mini pumpkins in a bin about to be put in the produce aisle as a signal that fall was nipping on my sandals.

Darn it! It’s coming…..but until then I’m enjoying every moment.

5 Best Sunburn Remedies

August 3, 2015
family, motherhood

5 Best Sunburn Remedies #joyofmom

 

August is here and the days are already getting starting to get shorter. {Yikes!} With hot days ahead and school just around the corner the kiddos along with many of us want to get out there and soak up the last days of fun in the sun. It’s important to protect ourselves in the sun. Despite our best efforts, sometimes we arrive home to find out that our child is tomato red despite all that slathering of 99 SPF block. This weekend there were photos and stories shared about well known sunburn creams that aren’t working despite the fact that moms are trusting these healthy, organic products. Here our tried and true list of sunburn treatments if your little one has unfortunately experienced too many rays.

*Milk has healing powers and works wonders for a sunburn. Grab some gauze or a soft, washcloth and pour milk in a small bowl. Pour the milk in the bowl and make a cold compress, draining the extra liquid. Put the bowl of milk back in the fridge. Leave the compress in place for at least ten minutes. When it becomes room temperature, dip it into cool milk again and reapply.

*Baking soda is another great home product that will soothe your child’s sun issues. Make a paste using cool water (not cold) and place on sunburned areas. Leave on until the sting of the sunburn has diminished. Wash with cool water.

*Aloe is your best friend during a sunburn. Leave your aloe in the fridge, so it’s extra cool and soothing. You can also keep an aloe plant in the house and extract your own gel. Slit the plant leaves down the middle, but don’t cut through. Spread them flat and place what you extract on the burn. You can do the same thing with the store bought gel.

*Even though it might not be your child’s favorite choice, a bath with two cups of plain rolled oats will help heal burned skin thanks to the polysaccharides in the oatmeal. Grab some fun bath toys and make a tepid or cool bath for your child. The cooler water will also be soothing. Another way: Fill a clean, cotton tube sock with the uncooked oatmeal and cinch off the top. Toss this into a cool bath. Then squeeze out the sock to get all the healing properties into the water. Gently pat dry your child with a soft towel.

*If you’re on a car trip and don’t have time for a bath just head to the nearest grocery store and buy a few cartons of plain yogurt. Packed with enzymes that are true healers, yogurt is a great help. Apply the yogurt directly to the burn area including your child’s face and let it remain for five minutes. Then rinse with cool water. The probiotics also help with the healing. You can reapply this treatment several times throughout the day.

*One thing never to do with a child’s sunburn is run a bubble bath. The soap will dry out the skin and make it hurt more!

Here’s to fully enjoying and cherishing the last days of summer, sans sunburn pain, with your precious family!

We Time Vs Me Time

July 29, 2015
family, lifestyle, motherhood

We Time Vs Me Time! #joyofmom

 

I remember the early days when my son was a baby and taking a shower was an actual event. Could I leave the baby for a few minutes even though he was sleeping? Was my husband watching? Should I pop out of the shower in my terry cloth towel and check one more time? Do you know how many little drips were in the hallway when I checked on the person who was checking on my son?

As mothers, our time goes from “me” to “we” the minute that we gaze at our beautiful children for the very first time. It begs the question: Is it selfish to take a little time for yourself? I was reading a recent story on Yahoo Parenting where “The Biggest Loser Host” Alison Sweeney said, “I try to impress upon parent contestants the same thing I tell myself: It isn’t selfish to give yourself the time and energy you need to be healthy.”

I think Alison makes an amazing point. I know so many moms in yoga class or who run around the track by my house who feel so guilty about taking that bit of time to work on themselves. Surely, there are a million things to do at home or with their child. Was it fair for them to take that hour (door-to-door) to do something for themselves. I say a resounding yes! A healthy mother can only give so much more to her children, and so can one who is engaged in life and striving to be her own personal best.

In this interview, the lovely Alison went on to say, “Working out, getting to sleep on time…those things make me a better parent. Being the strongest me I can be allows me to be there for my family.”

Absolutely, 100 percent, true. I believe that you’re a child’s first and number one teacher. Your lessons are the 24-7 kind and those little eyes are always watching. Do you want your child to see a frazzled Mommy who eats junk food and never exercises, only to lament the fact that she feels those extra pounds? Do you want your son or daughter to have a mom with little to no energy reserve? Or would you rather defy the age on your driver’s license, take time for yourself in the name of health, and be on that playground kicking that soccer ball and running like the wind? You also want your child to see you in other roles: as a caring child to your own parents, as a good friend and a great partner to your mate.

I know that it’s tough to take any time away from your child, especially in a world where many of us have to spend hours away due to work. The idea of another chunk of time away isn’t optimal, but it’s often necessary. Perhaps you can involve your child in exercise. If not, take a little “me time” and then bring all your gusto to your “we time.”

It isn’t selfish. It’s your best self that will be on the Mommy front lines – for your child, your family, and you.

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