No matter your profession, stay at home mom, background, mother of one or mother of ten, how are you encouraging the OTHER mamas of the world?
Not long into my journey of motherhood I quickly realized that this gig is the most exhausting and challenging thing I will ever do in my life. Two kids of my own and seven-plus years later there has not been a day that went by that I’ve said to myself, Wow! I received too much support and encouragement today. Does this sound familiar to you? Why are we so quick to judge and so stingy with our kindness? Why is motherhood so polarizing? At the end of the day we are all just women doing the best we can with this lifetime assignment.
Newsflash: there is no one-size-fits-all absolute right way to do motherhood. Are you tempted to judge another mom? Before you do, remind yourself: She has a different support system than you do. She has a different skillset and strengths than you do. She had a different childhood than you did. Until you’ve walked in her shoes and know exactly what she’s going through, you really have no place to judge. And do you know what would be the best for her? Kindness. Support. If you really want to share something with her, do so from a place of kindness and compassion instead of judgement, it will come across completely different and therefore be received much differently.
If you are privileged enough to be in a position of support or leadership to other mamas, how are you encouraging their wellbeing? How are you showing up for them in a non-judgmental way? Being in your position, there shouldn’t be a day that goes by that you don’t acknowledge and recognize that to be in your role is a gift. You are building up the women that are raising the next generation of our world.
If you see something that doesn’t sit well with you or perhaps induces a strong reaction in you, instead of getting mad or hostile, get curious. The world needs you to be helpful, not judgmental. I’m not at all encouraging everyone to go out and start giving a bunch of unsolicited advice, but if you TRULY want to be helpful and are passionate about increasing awareness around certain parenting topics, opportunities will present themselves. Maybe that means starting a book club or volunteering with an organization that shares your same values.
We owe it to our children, significant others, our sisters, friends, cousins, our loved ones, to stop contributing to society that disconnects mothers and families. Imagine what the future could hold for our children if we all got intentional about planting seeds of connection and kindness today.
Your best friend from college, a coworker, cousin, neighbor, whomever, just had a baby and you are bursting with excitement and DYING to go soak up all the new baby cuddles. Has this ever been you? I know I surely have been in this position, multiple times. How many of us have stopped to think, is it really best for baby and mama to have a visitor right now? Unless you are coming with a cooler full of food or are prepared to do dishes AND laundry AND may not even get to hold the baby while you are visiting, my answer is HECK NO! Here’s why.
Are you aware that after childbirth a woman’s body needs at least two weeks of strict rest to set her up on a proper road to recovery, no matter how she delivered the baby? The golden rule is 5 days IN the bed, then 5 days ON the bed, then 5 days AROUND the bed. The pelvic floor of a woman’s body that stretches enough to carry and birth a baby is also the same pelvic floor that holds up basically all of your internal organs. This means that if this anatomy doesn’t have the opportunity to mend from the tremendous feat of birthing new life, mama is atomically predisposed to a whole bunch of health conditions that will plague her for the rest of her life. Conditions like bowel and bladder incontinence, painful sex, organ prolapse, severe PMS and even increased likelihood of a problematic menopause. That mama is literally compromising her health for her visitors. And those are just the physical implications.
Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, this new mama is going through changes equivalent to no other period in her life. All over the world and in most other cultures, a woman’s transition into motherhood is a sacred experience. This transition has many names depending on what part of the globe you are in; Lying In. The First Forty Days. The Sacred Window. The Sitting Moon. What doesn’t vary, except if you are in America, is the reverence for rest, support, nourishment and love that this new mother needs.
Really what difference is it to you if you hold a 5 day old baby or a 5 week old baby? Chances are mama and baby would enjoy the visit exponentially more at the 5 week mark. So, I challenge you, eager visitor, when reaching out to that new mama instead of arranging a visit ASAP, figure out what her favorite soup is and drop it off at her doorstep. Encourage her to stay in bed that day and off her feet. Remind her that the best thing for both her and baby right now would be to stay cuddled up getting to know each other without interruption, if that is what she wants. Just imagine the impact, if collectively, we all did our part to contribute positively to new mothers’ postpartum experiences instead of reinforcing a culture of instant gratification and consumerism. I think it is safe to say we would see a decrease in postpartum mood disorders and an increase in women’s enjoyment of the postpartum time.
I seem to go in seasons with my cooking; sometimes the thought of finding and trying a new recipe energizes and excites me and other times it completely repels me. During those times when the idea of spending any amount of time more than necessary in the kitchen drains me, I try to remind myself that meals are an OPPORTUNITY to nourish and boost my family’s health and not just another thing I have to get done in the lineup of the evening’s events. This reminder holds a lot of weight, and if you really think about it; the food you eat either boosts your health OR it stresses out and taxes your body. One unhealthy meal may not be a big deal, but night after night if I am choosing convenience over quality then the health of my family will no doubt suffer because of it.
Several years ago, when I was working part-time and my family was on a tight grocery budget, I would create a lineup of meals that would last us two weeks and only shop every other week for all of our food. The less often you go to the grocery store the less money you spend, right? It worked for us. I continue to plan and shop according to this routine, which has proven very effective in saving us time and money.
After I have shopped for my meals and have all the ingredients on hand, I write out the “menu” of all the meals I have ingredients for, with the meals that have fresh ingredients that will expire if not used soon, at the top of my list and frozen meals at the bottom of my list. I stick this list to the side of our fridge so that when the inevitable question, “what’s for dinner tonight” comes up, we know our options.
I like to do all of my grocery shopping at Costco, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Logistically, where I live these three stores are all a short distance away from me and located within a short range from each other. Almost all of the time when I grocery shop I stop at all three stores in the same trip so I don’t have to go again for a least a week. I make my best effort to eat foods that are in season, this provides us the most nutritional benefit and also saves money. I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible but also strive for balance; in an ideal world I’d make everything from scratch but that isn’t an option for us right now. It also isn’t an option to buy all organic so I prioritize, almost always our meat/proteins and refer to the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list for buying organic fruits and veggies. Super easy to do, by the way. Check out their free app!
What do breakfast and lunch look like? We keep it pretty simple. Eggs or oatmeal. I aim to have vegetables at every meal. Does the thought of veggies for breakfast not appeal to you? It doesn’t appeal to my son either. But, I say you have to try it first. Roasted brussel sprouts or sweet potatoes with a couple over easy eggs on top never gets old. Or an egg bake with spinach, peppers, mushrooms, virtually any veggie you like…, delish! Make a big pan on Sunday morning and you’ve got a quick and healthy breakfast to last all week. You get the idea. For lunch we keep it light, veggies and hummus with some string cheese, salad, a clean protein bar, a sandwich with clean protein and veggies. Pretty much grab and go.
Family dinners consist of a clean protein, as many veggies as I can get the family to eat, and typically a starch. We do a lot of soups and crockpot meals in the fall and winter and a lot of grilling in the spring and summer. I like to take traditional meals like chili or spaghetti and “clean them up”… chili’s are typically sweetened so I use organic molasses or coconut cane sugar to sweeten instead of refined white sugar. In our spaghetti I use lean ground turkey and throw in mushrooms and a red pepper into the sauce to add more fiber and nutrients. That being said, we are also a family that LOVES pizza. I truly believe in balance and progress over perfection. With the exception of my toddler, I’ll go out of my way to offer her something cleaner on the nights the rest of us have pizza or takeout.
I prefer to spend time cooking on the weekends because on weeknights my time and energy are best used elsewhere, and it just isn’t possible to spend more than ten to fifteen minutes prepping dinner. So, Saturday night I will cook a big pot of soup that will be enough for two dinners. I will do the same again on Sunday night, either doubling a recipe or cooking enough to last us two nights, so that by the time Monday and Tuesday come around I already have a healthy family dinner all ready to go. While I’m already in the kitchen on the weekends I will cut and roast a couple pans of veggies to have on hand for the next few days for eggs, salads, and side dishes.
My hope in sharing this along with weekly menus is that you will take away the bits and pieces that work for you and implement them into your family’s routine. With just a little extra time and effort you can streamline the process of family meals to the benefit of everyone in your home. Starting Monday, I will be posting weekly Menu Plans to give ideas on healthy(ish) family dinners, tips on food prep and how to make the most out of your time in the kitchen. Follow One Loved Mama on Facebook or Instagram for these weekly updates!