Stress Free Parenting

stress-free parenting, parenting without the stress, happy parenting


*This post is sponsored by Palmer Lake Recovery*

Everyone jokes about parenting and how hard it is. The truth is, even though I babysat more times than I can possibly count, I never expected parenting to be this stressful. How did I create a tiny tribe of people who cry, simply because I put a shirt on them?

We do not spank our kids. Spanking a child teaches fear over wisdom, and is far too easy an out that allows parents to express their own frustration and negative emotions by hurting their children. There are plenty of studies that show how spanking negatively effects children, even as adults, and we agreed to never allow it in our home.

Because we were both raised in “spanking” homes, this commitment to gentle parenting takes an incredible level of calm and self-control. I will admit that I’m not always the calm parent. There is only so long I can hold it together when I have a tiny tyrant whining, asking the same question 50 times in a row and crying before he even hears the answer.

The other day, after my toddler had done a lap around the living room, intentionally destroying everything in his path because he was so tired you could almost see his brain shorting out, I put him on the couch and told him to stop. In a split second, his eyes broke my heart and changed my entire parenting. His eyes told me he was experiencing stress and didn’t know how to control himself. He looked so helpless. I turned off all the lights (except the Christmas tree), turned off the tv, and held him on the couch. He fell asleep within the minute.

It is absolutely not always easy to control my emotions. As a parent, you have little sleep, constant noise, and no alone time. It’s like a lesser form of torture. It can drive a sane person a little batty. It’s definitely stressful.

Related: Your Brain on Exercise

Setting boundaries for yourself as a parent is just as important for your mental health as it is the mental health of your children. Children learn how to interpret and react to the world from their parents first, so it is important to emulate emotional maturity and how to deal with stress.

Although it sounds silly, setting boundaries with your little people isn’t that difficult. It just takes consistency. Here are a few healthy boundaries:

Respect your children

Children are people, just like their parents. They experience stress and don’t know how to handle it. As a young child, I heard the definition of stress and off-handedly remarked to my mom that I was “so stressed” and I was told I didn’t know what true stress felt like. While I didn’t know the stress of balancing bills and keeping humans alive, I remember feeling the weight of living up to expectations placed on me, learning so many new things, and learning how to balance the discipline of completing my work when I just wanted to go play with my friends.

Children don’t reach a magical age where they all of a sudden “get it” and become an adult. It’s a process that everyone goes through. Respecting their journey is the foundation of understanding and helping them learn to work through their experiences.

Count to five

Kids go nuts. They just do. They experience big emotions and aren’t able to fully express them, so they just kind of explode from the stress. Count to five before you respond so you don’t respond in anger.

Change the focus

My toddler is the King of the Target Meltdowns. We are that family that you can hear across the store. Before kids I was making faces in the aisles, wondering why the parents couldn’t control those noises. Heh….heh….yeah. In those moments, rather than get upset by my son embarrassing me (because it’s not like he cares anyway, nor do I want to train him to behave in a way that makes *me* look good), we change the focus. I have been known to lead Tristan in sun salutations (yoga poses) with Dean strapped in my baby carrier in the middle of the shampoo aisle. This helps Tristan take a few deep breaths while doing something he thinks is silly (which helps him calm down). It also gives me a minute to stop, breathe, and recenter.

Eat well

Did you know that your gut health directly influences your mental health? Most of your brain hormones are actually formulated in your gut, so eating healthy actually helps stabilize hormones and facilitate mental wellness. Eating foods rich in probiotics and probiotics and limiting processed foods are ways you can nourish your mind and maintain your calm.

Get help

Occasionally, mental health as a parent requires extra help. In those cases, look for a therapist or a doctor with a holistic mindset, who will provide you with a toolbox of aides like recognizing and responses to triggers, nutrition suggestions, and therapy if necessary (with or without medication).

The important thing to remember is that parenting children will effect them for their entire lives. Raising the next generation of world leaders isn’t just a cutesy saying, it’s a reminder of the heaviness of the reality of parenthood – these children, who ask 50 times in a row if they can watch Teletubbies and eat M&Ms, will one day be adults, and they will learn how to be adults from their parents. These adults will vote, interact with other people in the world, and create their own families. It is our job to help these children master the big challenges (like self-control and inner strength) so they can focus on their gifts to create a better world.

For more ideas on stress-free parenting, be sure to check out the Parenting Super Bundle, with tons of ebooks, worksheets, and more to help you be the best parent possible.

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Welcome, Baby Dean! The Story of Our Second Unassisted Birth

Unassisted Birth Story #2:

Ready for a birth story? If yes, you’re in for a treat. If no, well, carry on my wayward reader.

After two episodes of false labor in the weeks prior (that left me just a joy to be around), I woke up at 5:30 on September 14th in order to be at work by 7am. Because State was in our building for our annual inspection. On my last official week at my assignment. #awesome

About 10 minutes into being awake, I started noticing that the uncomfortable feeling that often accompanies eating bad Indian food was actually going away at fairly frequent intervals. As Peter left for the gym, I mentioned that we might not have had to wake up so early after all, as I was beginning to think that these contractions, feeling different than my last two practice sessions, were actually going to lead to something. I texted my boss (and my replacement DON) to let them know I wouldn’t be in at 7. They were so excited and told me to keep them updated.

I tracked my contractions for about an hour, noticing they were fairly consistent. They were increasingly uncomfortable, but I was still able to walk through them. I rubbed some black pepper essential oil on my back to help with the back labor.

Contractions became irregular around 9am, but still uncomfortable. I decided that a hot bath sounded delightful. MY GOODNESS, I had no idea how comfortable it would be! I could feel the contractions but was still able to relax through them.

The hours marched on and contractions were still uncomfortable but irregular. I wasn’t concerned since every labor is different. I focused on relaxing. Peter made a labor playlist for me with nature sounds, Native American flute music, and several Xavier Rudd songs. We diffused Balance essential oil and I just focused on relaxing, with Peter checking in on me frequently, topping off my coconut water as necessary. I was also texting many of my coworkers and keeping updated on how the state inspection was going.

Around 3:45pm I was getting irritated at how long this was taking with seemingly little progress. I hopped in the shower because showers make everything better and after about 5 minutes I started getting little tremors and increased pressure. Recognizing this was most likely transition, I got out of the shower and headed to the bed, where I had created a nest of waterproof pads.

I was right. Transition hit hard and furious. Fetal Ejection Reflex was strong, and just after 4pm my water broke. I think most of my 50 pound weight gain had been in the waters, because it didn’t just break, it exploded everywhere (sorry to those of you who are more visual). I called for Peter and told him that my water broke, “and also we might want to get new pillows.” He asked what the water breaking indicated, and I told him that Baby K was coming fast and it would be soon.

Right again. The pressure was so intense I didn’t think I could bear it. It was pressure to the point of pain. I buried my head in my pillow so my moans wouldn’t scare Tristan, who was in the living room watching DinoTrux at the time. That didn’t work well. I yelled/screamed for Peter again, who ran in, leaving Tristan in the living room yelling for me.

When Peter came in, I told him I could feel the baby crowning, and he jumped into the role of birth coach, excitedly updating me on progress. “I see it! There are the eyes! The nose is out – it’s a cute little button nose! There’s the mouth! The whole head!” I breathed out the shoulders and caught the baby as the rest of the body slid out gently (a VERY different birth than Tristan, who shot out head and body all at once like a squid). Peter asked “What is it?” I looked down “it’s another boy!”

We were both shocked, we had been expecting a girl the entire time. Every single old wives’ tale “test” indicated girl, except the Chinese Gender Predictor chart.

Peter let Tristan in immediately and we introduced him to Baby Dean. His face lit up when he saw the baby and we told him he had a brother. He had told us months ago that it was “a brudder” because he wanted to ride bikes with him and “guys ride bikes, mom.”

I took a picture of Dean and texted it over to my boss and my coworker who had been following progress via text all day. She texted back saying that my boss announced Dean’s birth over the intercom system. There was a contest going on at the facility, and $50 went to the staff or resident who had the closest guess for birth date, gender, weight, and length. One of the CNAs won!

our second unassisted birth story
first moments earthside

Peter took Tristan to the local coffee shop to get us some coffee while I relaxed with baby Dean. I did my full nursing assessment, and was surprised to see a true knot in his umbilical cord. Gotta love that natural Wharton’s Jelly, keeping the knot slippery and open during labor!

By the time Peter and Tristan returned, the cord had stopped pumping so it was time to clamp and cut. I wiped off Dean (who had a huge healthy meconium poop all over me, just like his brother), diapered him, wrapped him, and handed him to Peter while I delivered the placenta. I felt great, so I got up and took a shower (my third of the day) and enjoyed the fact that I could fit back in my t-shirts without my belly hanging out underneath.

I drank a bottle of beet juice and snuggled on the couch with my TWO sons while Peter cleaned up the bedroom. Within two hours of birth, we were all sitting on the couch watching The Cleveland Show and texting our friends our happy news. It was so relaxing, and we marveled at how lovely it is to birth at home.

approximately 2 hours after birth

I used my Clary Calm roll on quite liberally the first few hours – those afterbirth pains are no joke! Thankfully, that took the discomfort away and I was able to snuggle with my boys without constantly squirming from the pain.

I recovered much faster from this birth than Tristan’s. I’m not sure whether to attribute that to better nutrition, drinking copious amounts of coconut water during labor, knowing better what to expect this time, or most likely a combination of all 3, but I’m thankful.

We named him Dean Alexander Sirius. He weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces (only 3 ounces heavier than Tristan! I was expecting a much larger baby), and was 19 1/2 inches long. He has super long fingers like Tristan and I did and smaller feet than Tristan, so he can fit in all those adorable footie pajamas that Tristan could never wear. He sleeps for long interludes (including overnight) and is just starting to show some lady-killer dimples.

Sometime in the near future I’ll share about our second night as parents of two. But for now, I have baby snuggles to return to.

Oh yeah, and we bought an RV.

Talk to you soon! 🙂


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Dear Tristan

Dear Tristan,

Today is your second birthday. These past two years have flown by, and I treasure every memory I’ve been able to make with you.

The day we found out you existed, we spent our last dollar to buy you this sweater. It warms my heart to see that you are now big enough to wear it.

The day you were born is one of my favorite memories. You made the entire process of childbirth magical.

Now here we are, two years later, and you’re the biggest ball of never-ending energy. You have a smile that lights up the darkest room. You love without holding back. You rock out to Daddy’s music with good rhythm. You are insulted if I try to put on your shoes for you, because you can do it yourself. You love anything related to the Minions and you have a tender heart for the hurting.

You are the coolest, T-dawg. I’m so honored to be your Mommy.



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Refuel And Recharge: The Importance Of Self Care For Mommy

keep your light shining as a mom by making time for self care

“Are you living each day just trying to survive until you can go to bed?”

I’m working through the 14-day Makeover Your Evenings course by Crystal Paine, aka the Money Saving Mom. And ouch, Crystal, that’s …kind of exactly what I do.

A brief reflection of my day-to-day life shows me that I am not actually accomplishing anything. Most days I am merely doing what I can to survive the day and return to bed. I’m not exhausted, I’m just not taking proper care of myself.

I tell myself I don’t have time to spend on myself, or that somehow I shouldn’t take time away from family life to take care of myself because I work so much, and moments with my family are so precious.

The last time I took the time just for me to do something I like was when I went to the hair salon to redeem my coupon for a free haircut from the welcome wagon.

That was 3 weeks ago.

Related: Build Your Best Evening Routine

This evening routine challenge is helping me recognize that taking care of myself is the beginning to how I can take care of my family. If I am not ever taking time for myself, I am likely to become a shadow of myself, completely lost and unable to love on my family from a place of wholeness.

Nourish Your Mind

In effort to take better care of myself, I am starting with taking care of my mind. I recently started to listen to audio books through my library’s online app. This one little act of remembering that I like to read and actually opening a book again has been so incredible for my spirit! It’s invigorating to read again. I might have gotten a little overzealous when requesting books through the app in my excitement.

Fuel Your Cells

Crystal is a big believer in her vitamins and supplements. Starting the first week of October, I’m going to be doing a 10 Day challenge through Juice Plus with some coworkers. I’m not doing it to lose weight, I’m just doing it to flood my body with 50+ plants each day for 10 days. I can feel that my body needs a reset.

Part of the 10 Day challenge is drinking enough water. I tend to forget this, especially at work. I make it a point every night to drink at least 3 mason jars worth of water, which pretty much equals out to my daily recommended intake. Since I only drink water or coffee (with unsweetened, unflavored cashew milk, no sugar), no juice or soda or milk, I’m doing fairly well on the drink options, but I could definitely use extra hydration. Those crows feet gathering around my eyes aren’t going to hydrate themselves!

I noticed that I tend to drink more water when I have a fun water bottle, so I do my best to keep one with me at all times.

Move Your Body

The last thing is the bane of my existence. As much as I dream about how awesome it would be to make a living sharing awesome nutrition and exercise…I HATE EXERCISE. There I said it. I do enjoy yoga, but I don’t make the time for it. But 3 times a day for 10 minutes? It’s not much, but it’s a start.

So there you have it. The ways I’m going to take care of myself. And easy, practical ways you can take care of yourself, too. Because no one wants to feel like a worn and tattered shadow of their pre-baby selves.

I want to be a lively, vivacious mom that sets an example for my son. I want him to greet life head on and that starts with me.

Enjoying life starts with me.

These musings are based on day 10/14 of Money Saving Mom’s Makeover Your Evenings course. Start building your most helpful evening routine today!

If you found this post helpful or encouraging, be sure to save it for future reference!

keep your light shining as a mom by making time for self care

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Just Say Yes: The Secret To Parenting A Toddler!

Being a mother has made me realize just how selfish I truly am. It is so easy for me to get swept up in my to-do lists that I rush through, and in my rushing to accomplish my tasks, I miss important moments in my son’s life.

Last year we attended a wedding and happened to be seated next to a family therapist at the reception. I asked her for her number one piece of advice for parenting a toddler, and she simply responded, “say yes as much as possible.” She gave the example, “yes, you may have dessert…as soon as you finish your dinner.” The idea is that “yes” promotes a longer-lasting positive foundation. I treasured this advice and still remind myself often.

Related: Stress-Free Parenting!

I’ve always said I’m pretty sure Tristan is already 80 years old. At 19 months, he loves to imitate whatever Peter and I happen to be doing. Most recently, he’s been very excited about washing his hands, and wants to practice at the most inconvenient times. This is when I practice saying yes.

Yes, Love, let’s wash your hands, too.

Yes, Tristan, you can help me with the dishes. Thank you!

Yes, you can help me make pancakes.

Yes, you may brush your teeth now (another recent skill he enjoys practicing).

None of these are convenient, but I  am choosing to remember that this is how he wants to spend time with me, and this is how he learns. I want him to remember that I welcomed him to live life with me and I find joy in spending time with him, no matter the activity.

Say yes today, friends.

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