Don’t Forget About You!

CalvinHobbesParenting

The number one thing people tell you about parenting?

Kids come first.

End of story.  No discussion, no questions.

Now, I don’t disagree with this advice, but there’s a fine distinction between the “kids come first”, and the “I have to do what’s best for my kids” approach.  The moment you do something for yourself, there are plenty of people ready to write you off as a selfish parent.  Don’t listen to them.  Listen to you kids.  Ask your kiddo, “Do you like it better when mom and dad are stressed out, or when we’re happy.”  Gee, I wonder what they’ll say.

Thankfully, people are starting to realize that if you want to raise happy, healthy kids, you have to be healthy and happy too!  This is important to remember, and I noticed it the most in this Proud to Parent program.  Every meeting, we go through a few questions at the beginning.  Guess which question is the hardest to answer….

“What have you done for yourself this week?”

This might seem like a strange question to ask, especially coming from the “drop everything for the kids” approach to parenting.  But it makes a lot of sense, and I think people need to remember that.  Any parent, no matter what age, will tell you that parenting is exhausting at times.  Parenting is a tough job, no doubt about it.  But it’s also so incredibly rewarding, and in order to get the most out of parenting, you have to be able to take a step back and reflect on it.

If you’re like me, it’s always hard to take time for yourself.  Between work, school, kids, and every other obligation I’m signed up for, “me-time” isn’t exactly a top priority.  You feel guilty, you can’t stop thinking about work tomorrow, or that exam coming up, you miss your kids.  But I’ve also started to see how important it is.  Trust me, if I’ve had time to hang out with a friend or relax and read a book, I have way more fun with my son.  Sleeping too; man does getting enough sleep help…

So don’t be afraid to help yourself help your kids.  If you need a break, that’s ok.  If you need a night out or time to yourself, don’t let anyone tell you you’re not entitled to that.  Parenting is a full time job, and full time jobs have vacation time for a reason.  Everybody needs a vacation, even if it’s just one night.  Trust me, taking a day to recharge, catch up with an old friend, do some yoga, take a nap, whatever, will pay back tenfold.  If taking a night to yourself lets you be able to relax and have fun with the kids all weekend, it’s totally worth it!

So let me ask, what have you done for yourself this week?

Breastfeeding is Empowering!

I breastfed my daughter for a year and six months (maybe a little more). I do not remember exactly when I stopped breastfeeding, even though it was a huge moment in both Lily’s life and mine. I tried to stop breastfeeding as soon as she became 11 months but breastfeeding was heaven for me. I gained an amazing connection with my daughter that I will forever be thankful for. I believe that our bond became stronger because my daughter felt safe, happy, and comfortable through this experience. After lily shots or when she was sick I would breastfeed her and that would calm her down in seconds. I never had to struggle to put my daughter to sleep as soon as she was on the breast she would drift away. My daughter and I were in our own bubble when I was breastfeeding her.

My daughter’s health is great and I believe breastfeeding was the cause of this. It is rare for my daughter to get sick; she does not get as sick as other children in the winter. So I am thrilled that she does not have health issues.

Breastfeeding was comforting to my daughter. I know that when I breastfeed lily she was more relaxed and happy. Everyone in my life supported my decision for breastfeeding. I would have my mother Spanish remedies to increasing my milk supply. I think that having this support made a difference in the connection that I had with my daughter. Having people cheer you on about breastfeeding is great and makes you want to continue and make the experience last a little bit longer.

I weighed 150 lbs. when I gave birth. After I stopped breastfeeding I weighed 98. Losing this weight was bittersweet. It was bad because I wanted to gain more weight after birth, but the good thing is that my body looked great afterwards. I could not believe that breastfeeding could cause such a weight change.

I stopped breastfeeding because I was becoming too skinny, my daughter used my boobs for comfort, and my schedule did not work with breastfeeding. My daughter would want to stay on the breast all day. She would pull my shirt and position herself for it, would play and watch TV while still being on the breast. It was weird to have her do this. But even with those negatives I wanted to continue breastfeeding.

It was empowering. I felt like any other mother out there. I did not feel just like a young mother, I felt like a powerful mom. Breastfeeding makes you feel powerful. That’s what I loved about it. I feel that my body was made to nurture a child. If I could go back in time, I would do it all over again to gain those emotions and awesome breastfeeding moments.

Tips on breastfeeding:

  • Always have that medical soothing for sore breast. It helps to apply it when the breast hurts. Helping to prevent sore breast.
  • Drink lots of fluid throughout the day. The more you drink the more your breast supply.
  • Remember what you eat and drink will influence what your child eats and drinks
  • Wear clothing that is easy to pull your breast out easily.
  • Turtle necks are a hassle when trying to breast feed
  • Breastfeeding bra are great but not necessarily needed.
  • Do not through away all your old bras, you may actually go back to the same cup.

Leave a comment below with your questions and tips!

And Then I Remember…

There are days when hiding in my closet is an option

There are days when pulling out my hair is an option

There are days when I can scream ’til my voice is no more

And then I remember I have the strength of two lions

That I’m not the same person I used to be

That bald may not be the look for me

That my closet doesn’t have a light and I really don’t like the dark

That I like talking

There are days when running is an option

There are days when crying is an option

And then I remember I have enough babies for that so turning into one may not be the best idea

That I’ll get one hell of a work out running and I’m sure I’ll get chased

Point is when the negative comes creeping just remember I do. 🙂

Getting Started on Your Anthology Submission

Our current culture is often having discussions about young parenthood without including the voices of young parents. We’re often told what should motivate us, why we should be happy, and our dreams are defined for us – without our input. As we advocate for respect, autonomy, support, and recognition, our viewpoints have often been considered unconventional.

I know how frustrating this can be.

The idea that all young parents need the same things is inaccurate and unjust. We all live different lives with different stories, backgrounds, and histories. The one thing we do experience is feeling like way too many people are trying to narrate our lives from their perspectives.

The annual young parent anthology is an opportunity for young parents to share stories, views, opinions, art, and creativity through their lens. This anthology is a collection of honest and genuine pieces created by young parents for young parents. Our mission is to publish and distribute these anthologies to other young parents and continue spreading positivity and empowerment throughout our communities.

If you are interested in submitting a piece, the submission guidelines are simple. There are 3 themes (motivation, happiness, and making your dreams a reality) and all submissions can be in writing or art form and in any language!

If you need help getting started, here are 10 prompts to think about:

1. Share a story about a time when you felt the happiest.

2. How would you define success as a young parent? Does it differ from others’ definitions?

3. What are some of your dreams and how are you achieving them?

4. How do you find and maintain your happiness?

5. If you could create an ideal environment for young parents, what would it look like?

6. What are some of the amazing things you have learned about yourself through struggles, obstacles, and hardship?

7. What motivates you? Write about the good, the bad, or the weird things that have motivated you to keep going.

8. Tell a story about a time when you challenged someone else’s definition of happiness or success.

9. Describe your epic journey. If your child wrote you a letter to you in 20 years, what would you hope he/she would say about your journey?

10. Write a letter to a younger you. What motivating and inspiring things would you tell yourself?

Comments? Ideas? Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! More details about the anthology can be found here: BeProudToParent.org/Anthology.

Getting Your Body Back

Having a baby is tough. There’s no time for anything, going to the gym can be pricey, looking for a babysitter is the worst so I came up with a few ideas to getting your body back. I think the first thing we have to do is admit that we are beautiful – embracing our motherhood is key. There and three things that we can do to get our body back.

Number 1: Eating healthy making it a lifestyle, not a diet. Use your phone, laptop, whatever you may have look on Google. There are many healthy recipes choices. Remember to buy more fresh foods and less packaged. Shop more in the fruits and veggies aisle, rather than the snacks, walk around the supermarket and try to stay away from the middle sections. That’s where a lot the oils, sugars, and unhealthy choices are. You can also watch the movies “Fat Sick” and “Nearly Dead” for more exciting ideas on weight loss.

Number 2: Playing and having fun with your child is exercise. Exercising can feel boring, so why not go to the park with your baby and play, even if they are small. Take a family member a friend to help you hold your baby so you can run around. If your child is a toddler, well, you know how much energy they have. Play with them and have fun. You can also get a running stroller!

Number 3: Make time for yourself.  This is very important! If you’re stressed, your body feels it. You may begin to develop acne, lose hair, and even not be able to lose the baby weight – it becomes a vicious cycle. So take a bath, read or do anything you like to do to de-stress for a little while. You can nap with your baby.

Find ways to not spend money or have to look for daycare on your journey to a healthy body. Best thing you can do to de-stress is laugh and make your baby laugh. Laughter and happiness is the best de-stressors!

Download a free weekly dinner planner here! 

Young Parent Ambassadors at STEPS

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

Leilani’s Back to School!

Last year I imagined myself being a super involved mom at Leilani’s school. After all it was her first year of school and I wanted to be the chaperone, the class volunteer, the PTA attending, class party planning mom.

However, I wasn’t.

I was the mom that dropped her off late numerous times, the one that didn’t attend a single field trip, PTA meeting or class party. More than once I left my school so late that I was horribly late to pick her up! In fact I missed her earning the title of Student of The Month.

All those things considered, I was the mom that attended most of the monthly grade level assemblies, I watched Leilani not enjoy kindergarten and pushed for her to be put into the first grade. I was heard and then I watched my five year old thrive in the First grade.

I admired her when she memorized choreography and verses to material she would perform with the rest of her class on stage in front of the school. I helped her with her homework, read her bedtime stories and when I did walk the halls of her school I was known by the teachers and staff as the title I absolutely love being called, Leilani’s Mom.

See being a mom is an honor but being Leilani’s Mom is more than I could ever imagine. Being Leilani’s Mom and watching HER defy stereotypes she doesn’t even know exsist means more to me than any class party or field trip.

As Leilani enters the second grade this year I plan on being more involved and I plan on learning from my missteps of last year.

However, I plan on most importantly not trying to become The Mom and continue to be Leilani’s Mom.

Check out Gloria Malone’s blog, TeenMomNYC.com.

Recap: Live Twitter Chat with @TheYoungMommy

Last night, @STEPPSboston and @TheYoungMommy joined forces to host the first Live Twitter Chat on the @STEPPSboston twitter feed. Young parents, near and far, joined the chat by using the hashtag #YPsupport.

After becoming a mom at 20, Tara decided to turn her personal story into a movement to create more opportunities for other young mothers. She is a avid blogger, posting daily on the thrills and challenges of being a 20something mom at TheYoungMommyLife.com, one of the top blogs on the web for young moms.
 
We knew Tara was the perfect person to host our first chat. Being a teen/young parent is tough and sometimes, you just feel like you are alone in this world battling all the challenges on your own. However, last night we saw that the online community is an amazing source of support.

Throughout the 90 minute chat, young parents asked Tara 15 questions related to teen parenthood, education, postpartum depression, and the advantages of building an online support system. Here is the first question and answer session:

Between each question, young parents were given the opportunity to chat more with Tara, ask subquestions, and show each other true support. It was truly phenomenal to see how many young parents connected and shared their own experiences in hopes of helping others. Thankfully, social media has changed how young parents are perceived because it has given them a new platform to share their stories with the world.

If you would like to read the entire twitter chat, search #YPsupport on twitter.

Thank you to @sugarplumplum1 @AriellaFaith @JazzyJ1112 @lovebirthllc @Cristianamihael @kaishax23 @Maira56254886 @Shaleaka23 @coolguymorales @Maira56254886 @colonxjp @GloriaMalone @MzTai84 @NatashaVianna @jandellyvonne @SeedsMommySoul for joining the chat! We hope to see you there again next week!

STEPPS will host weekly twitter chats on the challenges and rewards of being a young parent on a weekly basis. Please stay connected by following us on twitter and liking our facebook page.

STAY CONNECTED!

Live Twitter Chats for Young Parents

Every Tuesday at 8:00 PM EST

Follow @STEPPSboston

Parenting Young: Hard, but NOT Impossible

I often think back to myself at 19…scared, pregnant, and alone. How beautifully unaware I was, attempting to make sense of the complicated situation I was facing. I look back at the challenges I have faced parenting young and have no idea how the hell I made it through. I had no idea how to change a diaper, care for a colicy newborn, or how to deal with a temper tantrum in CVS with a newborn who throws herself on the ground while screaming at the top of her lungs. Am I the only one?

For a long time I was suffocating parenting young, letting the pressures and stress of raising a young child consume my spirit. I was trying so hard to fit myself and my situation in those that I would see, but it seemed the harder I tried the more I failed. It was so easy for me to identify my faults and imperfections than to embrace my individuality and strength in being a parent. I wasn’t good enough is what I told myself. And it was as if society was silently telling me this as well. That I would never fully bloom being a young parent. For a long time I felt like the world was against me. But I pressed on. In my head I had no other choice.

Fast forward to almost seven years later and I am here writing this post as my six year old daughter is snorely awfully loud next to me. Is life perfect? I threw out the idea of perfection a long time ago. Look at my daughter’s smile, listen to her laugh, watch her dance. She is everything I never knew I could help create. I can look back at my struggles working fulltime, being a single mom, and being a fulltime student, commuting with a two year old back and forth for an hour and a half every morning and evening for over six months. Walking home from a snowstorm holding a sleeping toddler. Head slung low as I walked into a food pantry because I couldn’t afford enough food for myself and my child. What I have gone through, the tears, the struggle, the doubt has all made me a better woman and mother.

While parenting young has presented its fair share of challenges, those aren’t what I dwell on. I focus on all the happiness and joy having a child young has provided me. I focus on the day in swimming class she is able to swim under water on her own. I focus on her in her winter play singing all the words to her classes song in Spanish. I focus on her reading a book all by herself. These memories, these memories are what parenting is all about for me. Every day I make a decision on how I want to parent my daughter. And every day I wake up wanting and willing to be the best Mother I can be, and my age has nothing to do with the love I have for my daughter.