A month ago I turned thirty nine years old. I’ve never been one to shy away from being honest with how old I am. In fact it feels easier to embrace and celebrate another year of being alive. On the eve of my birthday I decided to dedicate this last year of my thirties to my own personal wellness.
Over the last decade I have had three babies, raised those three babies, moved three times, bought a brand new car and worked a mix of full time and part time at the same job as a labour and delivery RN. Nothing too dramatic for one person at all. There has honestly been no big regrets over this past decade. Which, obviously, is really a fantastic way to end my thirties.
That being said, ten years of pregnancy, postpartum and active motherhood has meant that I’ve put myself last most of the time. Not being a martyr here in anyway, just keeping it real. The high risk pregnancies, the overnight feedings, the morning school rushes out the door, the night shifts at the hospital with little sleep to recover. All of these things added up over time and it became normal to always feel like I was running on empty.
Realizing It’s Time For A Change
One thing I know for sure is that mothers somehow manage to survive and live on empty for a very long time. The idea of personal wellness almost seems impossible when you are in the middle of raising babies. In fact, some mother’s out there run on empty for way too long with no chance of a break. It doesn’t seem to matter if mothers have one kid, a gaggle of step kids or five kids space apart or even back to back. Motherhood requires sacrifice and the ability to constantly change whether you want to or not.
We eat leftover bites of our kids breakfast instead of nourishing ourselves with a plate of our own. Mothers are notorious for rocking the mom bun for days at a time and having too many dry shampoo days. Mothers are unintentional masters at using yesterday’s mascara as today’s smokey looking eye. The list could go on. If you are a mother and you are reading this you will know this to be true.
The Opportunity Is Now
On the eve of my birthday I had a realization that left me feeling excited and hopeful. My kids are getting to an age (10,6 and 3 years old at the time of this post) where they can most definitely do more for themselves. Which means, there’s a good chance that some of that physical time that used to be put into taking care of three tiny humans could be made available to me.
While time for myself looks a lot different than it did a decade ago, I’ve changed what is important to me right now. For starters, I just wanted to be able to wash my face before bed and apply all my fancy serums and night masks instead of exhaustedly collapsing into bed like a hot mess. Sounds so simple but being able to do this has been a game changer to my wellness.
Basic self care that used to easily happen eventually disappeared when my third baby was born. Actually, I am sure that act of personal wellness went out the window when the first baby was born. All three children would be bathed and put in fresh pyjamas on the regular, however, it was always seemed easy to forget about myself.
Mothers Are Universally Strong
The last ten years has taught me that I can be pushed outside of my comfort zone and live to talk about it. It is possible to have less and still enjoy life more as a whole. A decade of motherhood has gifted me with the ability to be able to feel uncomfortable and to be totally okay with being in that space.
Thinking about mothers around the world I’m overwhelmed at the idea that we might just go through a similar journey. While motherhood looks different depending where we live in the world and what experiences shape our lives, the essence of motherhood is universal. Mothers will do whatever it takes to care for their children.
No longer am I in the trenches of babyhood, my kids are getting older. I am looking forward to this new season in my life. With that, I am excited for more potential moments of wellness that are just for me. Here is to hoping that seeking out wellness for me will allow it to overflow into my family. I wish the same for you.
More motherhood stories can be found here:
Are you planning a trip to downtown Vancouver with your kids? Here’s the inside scoop from all of us at Mama in the City on how to best tour downtown Vancouver with kids. From low cost gems to the cleanest bathrooms, it’s rounded up right here.
Over the last ten years we’ve enjoyed living in downtown Vancouver as a family and have explored every inch of the city, mostly by foot. With three kids and Vancouver as our backyard, we make sure to make the most out of all that this city has to offer. We hope that you will love this city as much as we do.
The Heart Of Downtown Vancouver
Right smack in the heart of downtown is the Vancouver Art Gallery. With its current location you can take in the city vibe starting from the outside steps of the VAG. Visiting here is a must do for kids ranging in ages and there is elevator access for your little ones in strollers.
If you aren’t sure if your crew is quite up to an art gallery visit yet, check out the lobby. Here you can find clean bathrooms and the Art Gallery shop. Enjoy the vibe of this beautiful space at your own pace. Finish up with a stop into the cafe on the upper level to complete your experience.
Plan your visit for a Sunday and children under 12 can gain free admission to the gallery with a paying adult. There’s also lots of family fun happening each Sunday at the VAG, such as hands on art making activities. More information can be found here.
Check Out Canada Place
If you have someone in your family that loves all things aviation then watching the float planes fly in and out of the aerodrome is a perfect fit. The loud buzz of the float plane taking off and landing in the water is an event most kids will find captivating.
There are many places to stop and take a family photo along the seawall. The gorgeous water and mountain backdrop is a true Vancouver icon rain or shine. Next head over to Jack Poole Plaza to let your kids hop, skip and move around. All while checking out the 2010 Olympic torch that permanently resides there. You will also see larger than life art installations like the Digital Orca by Douglas Coupland.
Coffee, Treats And More
Vancouver has a great coffee culture and you can find many amazing coffee shops within a short walking distance. This is one of the reasons we love living here. If you are in need of some tasty eats just walk across the road from Jack Poole Plaza to the ‘giovane cafe + eatery + market‘. Housed inside Vancouver’s Fairmont Pacific Rim this spot is a favourite. From their hand crafted hot beverages to house made pastries, there’s something for everyone here.
The market inside the cafe also has a wide array of locally made items to shop and the stock changes seasonally. If you come during Christmastime, this is the perfect place to get unique gifts for everyone on your list. We also really love the baby and kid items that this cafe + market stocks.
Inside scoop, the bathroom is just inside the attached Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel and it’s gorgeous. A truly perfect powder room to refresh from your walk around the city. You will be sure to take your time with your littles in the loo.
Stomp Around Stanley Park
If you’ve had enough of the concrete jungle you only have to walk the seawall and head North! Soon you will be greeted by Vancouver’s lush Stanley Park complete with train rides, water parks and playground fun. Stanley Park is one of our kids favourite places to roam free and is surprisingly just steps away from the downtown bustle.
Out of town families can rent a bike or just walk your way to the forest and enjoy a little nature break. Visiting during the Spring/Summer months will let you visit the infamous Rose Garden. There you will be greeted with many varieties and colours of roses. It is an amazing sight to see them all in bloom.
Voted as one of the best city parks in the WORLD, Stanley Park can be a full day trip or an added extra excursion. We love taking our time walking through and stopping to explore along the way. Most importantly, go from the buzz of city life to being fully immersed in the forest in a surprisingly short time.
We HEART Van
Currently downtown Vancouver has some really great revitalized spots to find and discover. From pink and yellow painted alley ways to the giant light up cloud swing that has popped up in Lot 19. There are many little spots that would be fun to discover with your kids. Like the new Ackery’s Alley that has had a spectacular visual and audible makeover. Your kids can dance their way down Ackery’s Alley and change the size of the lights with the movements from their bodies.
Have a question about visiting downtown Vancouver? Feel free to ask in the comments or send an email to email@example.com. Here is to hoping you love Vancouver as much as we do! Check out our other posts about life in the city of Vancouver.
This summer I made it my personal mission to have fun with my three kids. While I didn’t get the time off work I was hoping for, I still made a nurses schedule work. With chunks of days off to spend time with them I was able to execute my plan. I wanted a great mix of fun summer camps, time at home and lots of outings too. I’m very pleased to report that the mission was accomplished and memories with my family were definitely made.
Sending Kids To Summer Camp
This summer my nearly ten year old boy did a total of five different week long summer camps. One was an overnight week long camp, a few half day camps and the rest were full day. My two girls both did one week of afternoon camps. Which was the perfect amount for their personalities.
Going to summer day camps has been part of our usual summer holiday plans for the last six years. In retrospect five camps might have been one too many but my son loved everyone of the camps and there was a wide variety.
In my years as a parent I have found that tacking on a full day camp near the end of our summer break is a great way to ease back into the school routine. For the kids and for myself! Having to set an alarm to get up on time to pack lunches is not my favourite thing. Then comes the feat of making sure to get out the door on time. Our morning hustle is still a bit rusty but we are definitely ahead of the game for when the school bell rings.
Visting A Berry Farm
This activity was on a previous summer bucket list and I added it again because I knew despite the age differences of the kids that we would all have fun. The girls enjoyed picking blueberries to bring home and we all enjoyed the fun activities that this particular berry farm had to offer. So much so that we stayed for almost five hours on the farm.
This berry farm was out in Langley, BC and had everything we needed for a full day of fun with the little cousins. There was even a wine tasting for the moms and we tasted a variety of berry wines and ports. I think the best part was seeing my kids being active outside and also getting the experience to see how fruit grows.
Down Time At Home
This one was so important to me. Our family is out and about a lot so making a conscious decision to have an at home day is so needed. It allowed us to enjoy our time at home together and just have our immediate family around helped create needed rest and relaxation for all of us.
As it was our first summer in our townhouse we decided to make the most out of the very tiny front patio and bought a super cute blow up pool. There were many afternoons that I filled up the big spaghetti pot with hot water and made dozens of trips back and forth. Hauling the heavy pot from the kitchen to the patio to fill the pool with warm water.
This blow up pool actually fit on our tiny patio. Can you tell I was skeptical? I was actually a tiny bit worried as I hadn’t really measured the area. So, when it arrived and it was blown up it fit like it was meant to be there!
If you like the look on this pool you can find it over at Minnidip. We picked out the Banana Leaves print and even I could relax on a floatie in the pool. It was also simple to blow up, you can use a hair dryer on cool.
Visiting Local Attractions
Fun really is waiting around the corner wherever you may live. It might be roller coasters and cotton candy but it could also be big green space to run around in. We were lucky to have a couple of fun adventures outside of downtown. Not as many as I was really hoping for but we did our best with my days off.
What I Really Know
My oldest turning ten in a few weeks and there are a few things I’ve become more aware. Summers spent with kids, where they want to hang out with you, is limited. One thing I can do is spend active quality time with my kids.
I am quite proud of the time we spent together this summer. I feel like many memories were made in the process. With the close of summer I’m looking forward to getting back into the school routine. Especially all of the things that a new season seems to promise.
There is something about horses that most children find inviting and exciting. The idea of riding on their back and helping with their care can really boost kids self confidence. When we heard there was a local horse riding camp this summer we signed up our middle kid right away.
Last week we did a week of pony riding camp at a nearby farm. A total escape from the city life even though it was just a short drive. The overall experience was so positive for this six year old rider. Like ridiculously positive. We’ve had so many requests to go back for another week of camp. Even if it is just to say hello to the horses.
This middle girl of mine is a sweet sensitive child who is definitely aware of her boundaries and her own comfort level. In new or even familiar circumstances she shows us that she feels her strongest when a parent is with her.
She isn’t an outwardly shy or introverted kid and when she’s in her comfort zone she can be hilariously sassy and funny. Which is probably is why it felt so unexpected to us when she started school and had a rocky transition at drop off.
We did what most parents would do and sought the wisdom of various professionals and they all told us the same message. Continue to be her safe place and she will eventually discover the courage to separate when she is ready. Be her familiar in the unfamiliar.
To be honest this isn’t really what parents are hoping to hear. It sounds like it is going to take a long investment of time and there is no quick fix. There also happens to be a lot of tender emotions involved and it can be so hard to see your child feel so visibly uncomfortable.
While we were developing our new parenting tricks to help our child cope with separation anxiety we started to read. Soon we were reading about how amazing horses can be with helping children. Not just with anxiety but with so many other developmental skills too. Thanks to the wealth of on line knowledge we read many articles about how horses can even help build children’s character.
Reading so much about horses helping with children’s emotional sense of well being really did impress us. Horses have such a great reputation for sensing human emotion and it made us eager to go to horse riding camp.
Horse Riding Camp
Going to a horse riding camp was great for overall emotional growth. It was also so good to see our city kid come home with dirty boots and dusty pants. Plus a huge smile plastered on her sweaty face. It really was just wholesome unplugged fun on the farm.
Getting the chance to learn how to groom a horse and put on their tack was really a great experience. The actual act of doing this care also helps children with their overall fine motor skills development and a sense of responsibility.
We are so happy that our girl got to experience horse camp and was able to learn safely how to ride and care for horses at a farm. Nothing felt better for me as a mother than when she turned around and told me, ‘It’s okay mum. You can just drop me off at camp. See you later!’. We literally could see her self confidence bloom as the week went on.
More summer fun right here:
There are a few things that really make it feel like summer in Vancouver city. Vancouver offers so much natural beauty that continues to shine exponentially through out the summer months. From sea to sky there is so much to see and do in and around the city including the annual Theatre Under The Stars. Theatre Under The Stars has just started and we’ve got a pack of four tickets to giveaway.
A Vancouver Experience
Theatre Under The Stars has been happening every summer in Vancouver since 1969 and returns to the city showing two musical performances. Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella and 42ndStreet are running July 4 – August 18, 2018 at Stanley Park’s Malkin Bowl.
This annual event is set up to be great for adults and families alike. If you bring your little ones they can move around and hang out on the grassy side lines and not be confined to your usual theatre seating. At the same time more serious theatre goers can pick a seat and enjoy the performance.
Enter below to win one pack of four tickets to Theatre Under The Stars. You can choose which of the two shows you would like to see and which date. Mama in the City was given a family pack of tickets to attend and enjoy TUTS.
Looking for more summer inspiration in Vancouver? Check out our other blog posts.
One thing I get asked quite frequently in my work is, ‘I want to prepare for my upcoming birth. What do you think about having a birth plan?’. I love being asked this question as it opens up a great conversation about preparing for birth and what it will look like. It also helps identify any personal expectations that we hold.
Having A Specific Birth Plan
A birth plan is a personally curated list of all the important things a woman wants to during her labour and birth. It often can include specific do’s and don’ts about what should happen during the labour and birth. Some women will write down that they do not want any medications at all and they do not want to have an intravenous put in. Others will write a plan for an early epidural and to ‘labour down’ when they are fully dilated.
Having a written out birth plan allows the care provider and support people involved know what the woman wants to happen. Overall, the idea of the birth plan is meant to empower the birthing mama on her journey to meeting her baby.
Over the years I have seen many different birth plans. Some come to me as preprinted papers with tick boxes. Others are humorous letters written by the baby detailing how to be kind to their mama. Some birth plans are multiple pages long with very intricate details. Whatever the birth plan looks like, there is always a variety of detail and expectations listed out.
Why You Should Consider Skipping A Birth Plan
If there is one thing I know for sure about birthing babies is even the best laid plans can go completely sideways. In the process of creating a plan our minds can sometimes get stuck on the exact details we have put together. For some of us having a birth that did not go as according to plan can leave us feeling like we’ve failed. Some women will feel emotionally let down when the plan didn’t work and hold on to this hurt.
Over the years I’ve worked closely with many different woman. Some who felt like they let themselves/their baby/their partner down because the birth did not go as they had planned. Nothing is as raw and fresh as a newly post partum mama. Couple those normal feelings with a birth plan that went out the window and the disappoint can be huge.
Your Birth Story
I always like to tell my patients, ‘we don’t know what your birthing story will be until the baby is here on the outside‘. Going into your labour with an open mind and allowing expectations to be fluid is really key. This will help in embracing our individual birth. As well this is exponentially important when birth veers from what was expected. Especially so if the birth became an emergency or has interventions that weren’t planned.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t feel disappointment or that you won’t experience trauma from a birth that went in a different direction. Those are valid feelings. No one makes a birth plan indicating they would like to include an emergent caesarean birth with lots of random unfamiliar faces in the delivery and every single intervention under the sun.
A Wish List For Your Amazing Birth
A birth wish list is similar to a plan but it allows for that flexibility that is so important in birth. Creating a personal wish list allows you to think through different things that might work for you. A wish list is a lot less firm than a birth plan. The process of creating a general wish list that allows the flexibility that birth requires.
The human body is a marvel and growing a human is stunningly amazing. Just like every other system in our body, birth can often be straight forward and sometimes birthing requires specialized help and intervention. Again, and this is the take home message, we don’t know our birth story until our baby is out of the womb.
Creating Your Birth Wish List
Creating a birth wish list can be as simple as taking the time to mindfully thing about the things you might like to try in your labour. Often our terminology and words can often play an important role in birth. For example, what does having a “natural birth” mean to you? Does it mean drug free or no epidural? Does natural birth mean a vaginal birth with no instruments like forceps or vacuum? The answer will range from person to person.
Having a birth wish list allows for the mental space for when back up plans come along. You don’t know what your birth story will be until that baby is here in your arms. I don’t know if you’ll be the mama to rapidly dilate and have an unplanned home birth. I don’t know if you’ll be the mama that has prodromal labour that lasts for days.
Before you go into labour take some time to understand the process of birth. Take a prenatal class. Read a variety of books from authors who come from different backgrounds. Let your idea of your labour and birth be open. Remember your birth story belongs to you and your baby. However you may birth your baby, you are amazing. Absolutely amazing. Be proud of yourself.
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