Wellness certainly means something different to each of us, but I have narrowed my list to my top 7 priorities when it comes to family wellness.
Number 1: Eat. Creating a lifestyle of healthy eating for the whole family requires a proactive and flexible approach. Full disclosure: I am an unorganized eater. I rarely meal plan. I take mental notes of what my kids have eaten and try to fill in the gaps throughout the day. Like all kids, mine have gone through phases of pickiness, and it is frustrating. I can recall a night where I slaved over a delicious and nutritious meal for dinner. My husband works 24 hour shifts and was gone on this particular evening. I had a crying baby at my feet, an active toddler climbing on the countertops, and an impatient 6 year old that kept asking, “is it ready yet?” But I persevered, anxiously chopping vegetables. Finally, the glorious meal was ready and the table was set. We all sat down together, and NO ONE wanted what I had prepared. My kids don’t get off that easy. They had to stay at the table and try mom’s meal to show appreciation for her effort, but after several minutes of incessant complaining, I was welling up and feeling defeated; I gave in. I dismissed everyone from the table. My toddler proceeded to open the fridge and remove the ketchup. That night for dinner she ate a roll dipped in ketchup… disgusting. My son, noticing my defeated spirit, ate 3 bites. He probably went to bed with a hungry belly or snuck some cold cereal when I wasn’t looking, but I didn’t even care. Moreover, not every day is perfect. Most days we do pretty well, but some days are laughable. Despite my unorganized nature when it comes to our diets, our fridge and pantry are always full of fresh, healthy, and nutritious options. For a starting point, start replacing unhealthy snacks for healthier options. More of our snacks should come from the fridge than the pantry. We should be familiar with food labels and be diligent about checking them for unfamiliar ingredients and added sugar. I have a good, better, best mentality when it comes to food. Some days, I must be okay with the good options; I call these my “survival” days. But I am much happier when my family and I choose the better or best options. In our house, when my kids eat something that I know they don’t like, we all break into applause. “Yay for Lia! Everybody clap for Lia!” We all laugh and cheer, and then she eats more with a big, full-faced grin. This works for me when they go through the tough toddler years.
My children take high quality supplements daily, despite the foods they are eating. Even when they are eating as clean as possible, I know that their diets are deprived of many vitamins and minerals that it needs to function optimally. They take a chewable multivitamin, a liquid fish oil supplement, and a powdered probiotic. Their individual needs may require more specific supplementation as they grow, but for now, I feel good about this.
My husband and I talk to our children daily about being healthy and what that really means. It just happens naturally. Over the years, I have learned that most kids receive simple information extremely well, even though their little minds can’t fully understand, they try. I praise them for their good choices, and endeavor to be patient with their “less than optimal” choices. I teach them that God expects us to take care of the incredible gift that he has given to us, our physical bodies… and I believe that.
Nothing gives me more pleasure than sitting around the table and sharing a meal while looking into the faces of the people that I love. My husband's work schedule does not allow him to be home for dinner each night, but he is greeted in the morning with enthusiastic kisses. This means that we often linger longer around the table at breakfast, but these are memories that we are creating in our home centered around family meal times. Even amidst unusual schedules, this can happen, and it is a treasure to us.
My life is full of chaos day in and day out, and I can’t block it out. These are the sounds of my children laughing, fighting, playing, or crying… and someone always needs me. This is the life that I signed up for and the life that I desperately wanted for several years, but I am learning as I go. I am slowly mastering the art of prioritizing. The great thing about prioritizing my life is that I get to decide what is at the top of that list and what is at the bottom of it. Each morning I ask myself, what do I HAVE to get done today to stay sane, and what will I do to make today a great day for me and my family? As an individual that struggles with messes, I find a balance daily between surviving and making memories. Many days pass where I just want to be scrubbing my floors, but I am outdoors chasing my kids instead. To keep myself in check, I ask myself repeatedly, is this the most important thing that I could be doing right now? This question helps me to put down the mop or laptop, and redirect my energy. This is my life, and I want to remember living it; I desperately want my children to have that memory of me as well. I direct a great deal of my energy to “being well”. If I am not well, how can I help my kids to be well? Being well is so much more than eating healthy and exercising, although that will positively influence the way you feel. I used to see being well as “surviving” in a world that was suffering, but now I see it as “thriving” in a world that is suffering. The opportunities for happiness and personal growth are all around us, and our children are hungry for them. The following 7 categories outline my thoughts on family wellness.
EAT. MOVE. SLEEP. DISCOVER. SMILE. GIVE. PRAY.
Although I pride myself in digging through books and research written by people much smarter than myself, these thoughts have come from my own personal journey through motherhood. Over the course of the next several weeks, I look forward to sharing my personal feelings on these subjects with all of you rock star moms out there. Thrive on.
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Last Edited on 12/9/17
Your kids will most likely get sick this winter.... sorry mommas. They don't have perfect diets, or perfect handwashing skills, and sometimes they even pick their nose and it's just gross. But hey... this is what we signed up for! Right?? I spent 10 years working in a pediatric ER seeing illness after illness after illness. The majority of illnesses were of a viral source, and discharging these kiddos was always the same. Alternate Tylenol and Motrin to control the fever, plenty of fluids, plenty of rest, a list of things to watch for, and let the virus run its course. I learned so much in those years that I am eternally grateful for, but I definitely always felt that there was something more. It is very far reaching to think that alternative medicine will be implemented in the ER any time soon... the focus there is on emergencies, just as it should be. But there is a whole other side of healthcare that we as moms are hungry for.
So yes, kids will get sick, but I strongly believe that we can take steps to support the immune systems of the little ones in our care, and what does that really mean? It means they get sick less often, or they get better faster, or their symptoms aren't as severe as they may have been otherwise. And even a step further... we can be prepared for when illness strikes. There is an element of being prepared that gives us confidence as we take care of these precious ones.
I am anxious to share more of this with you next week in my "Fall Essentials" webinar - click HERE to join - but for now I want to share 3 of my favorite things to do to support the immune systems of my children.
1. Probiotics - we take a probiotic 3-4 days a week. Gut health is HUGE in your overall health. Get that gut healthy!
2. Elderberry syrup - we take 1 tsp. of elderberry syrup each morning along with our daily supplements. If a child becomes ill in our home, then I increase their daily dose to 1 tbsp.
3. Essential oils - we alternate diffusing different essential oils to support our immune systems, such as DoTerra On Guard, Lemon, and Arborvitae. When someone becomes ill then we kick this up, applying topically to the feet and spine as well.
More to come on this! Let's get prepared for the months ahead together!
Let's be real. Some days are rough. Like hair pulling, screaming, ugly face crying kind of rough. I don't see any way around those days... you know... the days where you question every single thing that you are doing as a mother. But thankfully the sun sets and then rises on a new day. And that day will definitely be better, right?
In my experience, simplifying life allows you to experience more of it. What are you willing to let go of? The answer will be different for each of us, but deep down we know that we can't do it all. If you are feeling bogged down, take heart. From one mom to another, you are killin' it. You are workin' it in your own way, and your children adore you (or maybe they hate you today, but tomorrow will be better FOR SURE). Other moms look at you and want to be like you; they draw strength from you. I know that, like me, you loved your first child more than you thought was humanly possible, and you thought "the heart can't love another human being in this way. It isn't possible!" And then baby #2 came along and your heart instantly expanded to make room for that child as if it was the only. And it just keeps happening! There are many things that solidify my faith in God, but the human heart is one of them.
So... back to simplifying. I dug deep into my soul for this one and it has been a process. Yes, I threw away toys, limited screen time, started homeschooling, started more traditions, played with the kids outside more, etc. Those were all lovely changes for my children, but not much changed for me. I still felt more stress and less joy than I wanted to. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I was waiting for the light bulb to turn on! It took me longer than I care to admit to figure out what changes I needed to make, but that's okay, because I figured it out! My discovery was that simplifying motherhood came in the form of self care. I started taking better care of me; I took time for me... filling my cup. Waking up before the kids to meditate, pray, and devote some time to personal growth has been crucial for me. It has made me more mindful, more grateful. I am more patient, more spontaneous, and less stressed. I still experience stress, but I handle it better. I let go of it faster. I give myself more tasks to do in a day then I should, but I have let go of the rigid order that used to rule me, and have let life happen as it happens. Sometimes, I don't want to stop washing the dishes to read a book to the toddler that is quite literally hanging from my waist, but I am always glad that I did. Yes, my children need to learn about patience and problem solving, but at this stage in my life, I am learning much more about patience and problem solving than they are. I have realized that I can't teach them things that I am not willing to work on myself. How can I teach them about kindness if I don't feel kindness in my heart? How can I teach them about forgiveness if I beat myself up every day over every little thing? How can I teach them about loving and experiencing the best of life If I'm just surviving every day?
For me, simplifying motherhood wasn't about what I thought it was. It was actually about me.
Simply stated... you won't.
Tonight at the park outside of our home, a little boy fell off of the monkey bars and broke his arm. I flew into "Nurse Andrea" mode, because this is just what I do. Being a nurse is as much my identity as any other part of me. I can't separate it, and I have no desire to do so. I don't care for kids in the ER anymore, but I love that I am still surrounded by kids, and opportunities to do something that is so close to my heart.
I wanted to mention a few things about arm injuries while it was fresh on my mind. Are there things to watch for after an arm injury? Yes. There are clear signs and symptoms to watch for. But the best part about the events of tonight for me were what the parents said. Who cares what I said... I clearly don't have x-ray vision, and it wasn't a critical injury. The dad said, "I know my son, and he does not act like this." Dad knew that something was wrong that required attention. From an outside perspective, he looked fine. Kids fall and cry, and get up and get over it. Even without my opinion, mom and dad knew that there was something wrong; they were just hoping that their instincts were wrong. I love this. You know your child. You know everything about them; always trust yourself.
Some pointers for an arm injury:
If the bone "looks" broken, then think no more and head to the ER. If there is any bone that has broken through the skin, then calling an ambulance is the best choice. There is now an increased risk of infection, as well as some other potential problems. If the injury is obvious by sight, (it is deformed or bowing, but no bone is exposed) then isolate the arm by wrapping an ace bandage, or even a t-shirt around the body with the arm at a 90 degree angle against the abdomen. This will keep them most comfortable. Apply ice to the injured area, but avoid ice directly on the skin. Having a light barrier between the ice and the skin is ideal. This injury requires an immediate trip to the ER. The immediate need of care for "deformed" arm injuries will be more obvious to a parent, but what about the injuries that appear fine? You know... the child is complaining of pain, but has only mild swelling, or none at all and can move their arm OK. Their fingers are nice and pink, indicating good blood flow, and their pain is controlled with ice and Ibuprofen. Are they bad parents for not rushing their child into the ER? I say, definitely not. But this is a judgement call for the parents. If they opt to keep them home, ice the injured area off and on, and keep it elevated to control pain and minimize swelling. If the pain continues, then go to the doctor. Your pediatrician can evaluate the injury and refer you for an x-ray. I have seen kids continue to play almost normally with a minor break, and the parents are shocked when they find out that there was an injury that needed attention. Kids will always keep us guessing, but when it comes to injuries, better safe than sorry. These little people have a lot of growing to do, and even a minor injury in the wrong place can mean trouble. Just do your best to watch for the signs and trust your gut.
RECAP FOR A MINOR ARM INJURY:
-Medicate it (Ibuprofen)
-Keep checking on it (unwrap it frequently, at least every hour to see if anything has changed)
-If child continues to complain, then get in for an x-ray
Pretty typical stuff going on around here with my little ones.. threatening to sabotage our summer vacation, but we won't go down easily! If you are interested in natural remedies, then allow me share with you how we tackled these irritations.
My littlest recently turned two, and she decided instead of blowing out her candles, she would make an attempt to eat the flames. It was awful. The thought had never even entered my mind that she would be blissfully unaware of the dangers of fire. Nonetheless, she fell victim to their enticement. Luckily, and thank heavens, she only sustained a small first degree burn to her chin, but it was painful for her. My go-to remedy for a mild burn is always, ALWAYS, Lavender. It not only helps with the pain, but it aids in the healing process. I applied this undiluted to her burn 3-4x. It definitely helped with the pain, which always makes me a happy mom. Lavender really can be a mom's best friend. It is so versatile!
My carefree middle child is always too busy enjoying life to complain about much. She lives in her own little world, and I have always loved that about her. But I knew there was something wrong when she whined and whined and whined for two days. She had had a mild runny nose for a few days which should have tipped me off, but it didn't. I kept asking her what was wrong, but she just wouldn't say. Then last night she finally came out with it. Her ear was so tender that I couldn't even touch it. Bless her sweet little heart. Her ear drum was just bulging. To get her through the night, I applied my earache/ear infection blend to her ear twice last night and again this morning. She slept peacefully, and I was able to get her in to her pediatrician this morning. The blend I use is basil, helichrysum, lavender, melaleuca, and roman chamomile. I put 2 drops of each oil into a 10 ml roller bottle, and fill the rest with fractionated coconut oil. I apply it all around and behind the effected ear. You can also apply it to a cotton ball and use the same method. Avoid putting anything into the ear canal.
My eldest child rarely has any tummy issues, but he frequently suffers from motion sickness. We have been on road trips and airplanes a few times this summer, and we are always prepared. His motion sickness comes out of nowhere. One second he is happy and smiling, and the next second he is as pale as a ghost. Before I had considered a natural option, I had finally found a medication to help him, but then he was asleep and groggy for most of the day which DOES NOT work for me on vacation. The only problem with essential oils in small spaces, such as an airplane, is that everyone around you may not be as equally enthused about the aroma as you are. Enter the personal inhaler (see it here- amzn.to/2eITA9C ). I was introduced to personal inhalers through my aromatherapist friend. It basically looks like a plastic tampon with a cap... but It. Is. Amazing. It has a cotton wick inside for your essential oil drops. We put 2 drops of Peppermint and 2 drops of Ginger essential oil on the wick. When you need it, you remove the cap, inhale the oil, and then put the cap back on. Done. Game changer for a plane. This helps my son immensely! When he feels his motion sickness coming on, he has his own personal remedy that won't bother the people around him, and actually keeps his motion sickness under control. SCORE!
Stay well this summer!
Mothers are hard on themselves... I know this, because I am one. Sure, I can always take on another task, but naturally, something has to give.
I have found that I beat myself up WAY more when I feel like I have let my children down. The days when "crazy mom" comes out are really hard days; I am heartbroken when I lose my self-control and patience. I tell myself they are just kids, and the moments are so precious, and they are growing up right before my eyes, but sometimes, it isn't enough. Even though "crazy mom" is a combination of "tired mom," "hormonal mom," and "overscheduled mom," it doesn't make me feel any better.
From one mom to another... if you feel like you are missing the mark, then you are in good company. Thankfully, I have Anne of Green Gables to remind me that, "tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it." And kids are so willing to forgive; God just made them that way. So tonight, as I tuck them in to bed, apologize profusely, and smother them with kisses, I too, can forgive "crazy mom" and promise her that she is doing alright. And maybe, just maybe, tomorrow will be a little better than today.
I have learned to have my guard up when my mommy routine is flowing a bit too beautifully. BAM! Sickness attacks. The laundry and dishes pile up, workouts cease, and sleep becomes a faint memory. On these days, my mind is certainly not functionally optimally, but I have always been thankful for my nursing background that has helped me to feel confident in taking care of my little ones when they have a fever. If you have ever wondered which thermometer to use and how to properly use it, then this is for you... AND you are not alone. This is a question that I get asked frequently, and thankfully, it has a simple answer.
With an infant, you want an accurate temperature, especially if they are under 3 months of age. The binky thermometer was a really brilliant concept; unfortunately is it not even close to accurate. The best way to gain an accurate temperature in an infant? Rectal. Yes, I know... in the tush. A rectal thermometer can seem intimidating, but I can assure you that it isn't. Apply a small amount of lubricant or Vaseline to the tip and place it in the rectum of the child, no more than 1 inch. Depending on your child, this may require two people to prevent them from wiggling. If you use a multi-use digital thermometer rectally, this is no problem! Just designate it for rectal use only, even after disinfecting it (for obvious reasons). A rectal temperature is the best option for the infant stage.
Taking a temperature orally is fairly easy, effortless, and accurate, but this is not recommended until age 4-5. My best advice is to invest in a temporal thermometer for the toddler and preschool years. These are a pricier option, but there is a great reason for that. These convenient thermometers are very accurate (when used correctly) and easy to use. They actually swipe across the temporal artery making this a "core" temperature, similar to a rectal temperature. It is also easy to use and easy to clean. But think about this for a second... if you are getting a temperature via this method, and there is hair or sweat on the forehead, will it still be accurate? No. Lift the hair off the forehead, make sure the forehead is clean and dry, and then proceed. You hold the button down, place the thermometer against the forehead above the eyebrow and swipe toward the temple, avoiding the hair. I was trained to lift the thermometer and tap it behind the ear once you hit the hairline and before releasing the button; however, the instructions to consumers do not include the "behind the ear part." Either way, the thermometer is crossing the temporal artery.
An oral (mouth) temperature is a great option for school age children that can follow instructions and hold the thermometer under their tongue. If they are actively eating a popsicle, then clearly, this might not be the time to take an oral temperature. Make sure there is no gum or candy in the mouth either... especially if you are having trouble getting a reading. Kids are tricksters.
Axillary (armpit) temperatures are not known for their accuracy, but there may be a time when this is your only option. You can use a multi-use digital thermometer and place it in the armpit. Make sure the armpit is dry, or you may struggle with a reading. Typically, an axillary temperature can be up to degrees off the actual temperature. Just be aware of that fact. Tympanic (ear) thermometers can be more difficult to use and often give a wide range of readings. Again, this is just not your most accurate option.
Just a tip... avoid taking your child's temperature immediately after a bath, and never place your feverish child in freezing water or in an alcohol bath. Just don't. The do's and don'ts of treating a fever will be another conversation for another day!
Andrea worked as a Registered Nurse in a Pediatric Emergency Department for 10 years before leaving to be a full-time/homeschooling Mommy to her three beautiful and crazy children.