Little Ways to Make an Ugly Room Spark Joy!

As many of you have seen on my Instagram account, I did a $0 surface “renovation” on the ugliest room in our home last week, our laundry room / guest ensuite bathroom. In case you’re feeling inspired to brighten up some of your own spaces, here’s what I did:

  1. PREP: I cleared everything out, vacuumed every nook and cranny, taped off some edges, and sanded a couple rough wooden cabinet doors
  2. PAINT: next I painted (almost) everything two coats of white, including the walls, cabinet doors, and inside of the open shelves. It looked SO much bigger and brighter after just this!
  3. PAINT again: this time I did a little wallpaper style design that I saw on an article my bestie sent me (click here to check it out!)
  4. “SHOP” my own home: last I scoured my own home for items I thought would freshen up the space! I found: a small towel rack, a hanging plant, a wicker garbage bin I’d found on the side of the road last year, an extra picture frame, and some cute plants (I have an endless supply of plants since I propagate cuttings from my healthier, older plants all year long!). I also looked on Marketplace and Instagram if anyone was getting rid of a mirror and got a gorgeous round one that suits the space perfectly.

And voila! A transformed laundry room that isn’t perfect but that I love a LOT more than I used to.

It’s important to add that this was a $0 renovation for me because of what I already had on hand, but it certainly might not be for you. We had multiple half-gallons of white paint and a small amount of leftover grey paint in our tool closet so I combined them for the walls and “wallpaper” marks. I also snag things I love from friends, garage sales, or at stores when they’re on massive sale (recently I had a massive discount for H&M home and bought some clearance picture frames and hook shelving for about $5 a pop and just stored them until I needed them). If you keep your eyes peeled and only buy/take items you really love, you can throw together little spaces like this much more easily.

I personally have absolutely nothing against clutter or having a lived-in looking home, but I do think that when a space just really doesn’t reflect the spirit of the rest of the home (aka: I think it’s ugly af) then there’s always something I can do to make it better. I used to feel like I could never start a project until we had enough time/money to see it through to it’s perfect completion, but quickly realized that was holding me back from doing anything at all (because three kids don’t leave any time or money, haha). Once I let go of those notions I felt so free!

The goal (for me, at least) is never perfection, it’s just to make some changes that spark joy! I just wish I’d thought to do it sooner.

And of course, the before:

Parenting After the Trenches

Something has felt different lately for me and I’ve been trying to figure out what it is. Why am I more content lately? Why is life just a liiiiiiiiittle bit easier to handle? Why am I a fraction less stressed, less anxious, even though world events are still just as bad as they’ve ever been? Have I been doing something differently?

Then this week I had an epiphanic moment and I realized in an instant what it was: I’m not in survival mode.

I’ve never not parented in an extremely heightened state. I’ve never not parented in survival mode. And guys can I just say……it’s like, a little bit fun sometimes? I finally get it!

I mean, having three kids back to back to back is no joke. In hindsight, I wish I had spaced things out so I could have been able to enjoy my pregnancies more, rest during postpartum more, and try to be more mindful about how I spent my time with my kids. I was unable to do any of that because we’ve been in the trenches for six years. After Hennie’s first year with so many medical unknowns, cardiology visits, medical genetics visits, and severe colic (UGH), we got pregnant on Hennie’s first birthday and were right back in it trying to survive another pregnancy and postpartum while navigating toddlerhood for the first time. Wells wasn’t colicky but he was an extremely fussy baby with a tongue and lip tie, intense gastrointestinal issues, and a deep aversion to sleep . Then when he was seven months old we moved from the city to the coast and spent a summer settling into our new fixer-upper before we decided to get pregnant again. While I was navigating the nausea of the first trimester with a toddler and preschooler we heard about this new thing called the coronavirus (UGH) and embarked on a year in lockdown. Finallyyyyyy in late 2020 our last baby was born. Phew! But with three kids under the age of four at home (and one who had to be bounced 20 hours a day) it was pretty tough that we weren’t allowed to have anyone over to help us out. Again we found ourselves with a baby with severe colic and every moment felt like the hardest moment of the day. Sometimes I thought it was going to break our family forever, but I knew that there were so many in the world who had it much worse. I cried every day those first few months but somehow we survived the sleeplessness and back-breaking baby-bouncing of those first few months.

We’ve seen three babies teething. Three babies nap striking. Three babies sleep regressing. Three babies learning to crawl and getting into trouble. We’ve painted and DIYed every little corner of our home with three kids awake and running wild and drawing their tiny, horrible masterpieces on the wall. And I never realized we were on the other side until this very week.

So now our kids are 2, 4, and 6.

Life is nowhere near perfect but the crucial, significant difference is: it feels manageable.

So if you’re in the trenches with your first or second or third or fourth baby, please know that one day you will sit down again, if only for a moment here and there. One day you will sleep again and not wake to a screeching monitor but to a sweet whiny face. One day you will have a really, really, really hard day with your kids and it won’t cause you to spiral into despair or wonder if your life will every go back to normal. One day you will eke out small moments of time for yourself and hear yourself think your own thoughts and maybe, just maybe, you will pee alone. Some of us are still waiting for that one.

A Few Fun Things

I’ve been loving these headphones (I call them my Cool Guy Headphones) and recommend them to anyone who, like me, often falls asleep to meditations or podcasts in bed. I love my Sony headphones for working out but they’re so clunky in bed (I’m a side sleeper) and my tattoo artist told me about these back in the summer. I finally pulled the trigger and I’m so glad I did! The perfect invention for me (or anyone else who is obsessed with their Calm app!)

I’ve been mucking around the house this January, as I usually do — painting, rearranging, putting up shelves and art, and doing small scale projects, and it gives these dark winter months a huge boost for me. I have an Inspo album in my phone (don’t we all!?) but I have a steadfast rule for it: only doable, achievable, relevant-to-my-house photos are allowed to go into it; no pipe dreams allowed! Then when I get the itch to change things up at home I scroll through and can see affordable options. These are never big renovations, just small things, but they always spark huge joy for me. A pantry re-organized. A mudroom freshly painted. Little corners of the house, improved. Plus, Tom just loves being shown a blurry screenshot of a random person’s Instagram stories and being told to replicate it in our own home. Bonus!

In related news, I have become utterly ruthless at home; if we don’t love it and don’t use it, it goes. And if I love it, I frame it (lol). I bought a heap of new photo frames on a super super sale after Christmas and it’s been so fun! I’ve been framing the kids’ art, albums, cute totes, magazine pages, pretty much anything I love looking at. Above, I framed a favourite Lonely Moms Club makeup bag, and I’ve always thought the cover of this Kate Baer book was so strikingly beautiful, so I ripped it off and into the frame it went.

Since I no longer get the time to go running (too many kids!) I started jumping rope in the summer. Fast forward to now and it’s the best part of my day! I love the cardio and the progression, love the challenge, and love that I can do it during nap time without leaving my driveway. The first time my neighbours saw me they said, “can you do 20 without stopping?” and now….I’m way past that, lol. It’s so fun and frivolous that it brings a child-like joy to my life.

Last thing – spending less time on social media has freed up a lot more time for writing and it turns out, I actually enjoy doing it again! I’ve been toying with the idea of doing more freelance stuff from copy editing to blog writing and more. It takes time to build a portfolio so it’s a work in progress but just sitting here at my laptop (when I can!) has been a really revitalizing start. And yes, this is my kitchen table workspace even though we have multiple offices. Kids, I tell ya!

What has been brightening your January? I’d love to hear it, if you’d like to share.

Holiday Post: Tiny Milestones

How was your Christmas, if you celebrate?

I got my only real wish this year, which was to have no sick kids on Christmas Day. Last year all of the kids were sick and they were too miserable for us to enjoy ourselves and it pretty much ruined Christmas. This year I just wanted to make some healthy Christmas memories. Luckily the kids were on Winter Break from the 16th of December so we were able to sort of isolate at home the week before Christmas to ensure that no one got ill. Our Christmas this year was therefore a huge improvement on last year, no matter how many holiday meltdowns there were! Haha.

Over the course of the 5 days we spent on the mainland staying at my mom’s house, Tom and I started to notice little milestones here and there. These things kind of define where we are in our journey through parenthood and life, so I started writing them down.

  • this is a huge one (for us!) but it was the first Christmas since we became parents SIX years ago that we got to sit down and have a conversation while our kids ran off and played. Since none of our kids were ever babies who we could really put down or pass around, we have spent every single holiday before this one with a baby in a carrier, walking around the block to help him/her fall asleep or stay calm. Our kids are finalllllllly of the age and disposition to run off and play with their cousins, though they only do this at my mom’s where they’re most comfortable, not at the extended family’s homes. Maybe next year.
  • we had our first family Christmas dinner since before covid (and before Rumi!). There’s just nothing like family cooking and an endless amount of lingering hugs to heal the wounds of trauma that the last few years have wrought.
  • our five day stay at my mom’s is the longest and furthest we’ve ever traveled with all three kids! I know, laaaaame for all of you keen travellers, but our pandemic babies have only ever slept in their own beds, so it felt like a substantial milestone for us. Can’t wait til we have more money so the five of us can travel together a little further! aka never! Lol
  • and for the last, and most insubstantial milestone, I went out in sweatpants for the first time (ha!). I have never felt comfortable wearing sweatpants in public, I didn’t even do it in high school when it was all the rage. I just don’t think it’s the right choice for me, I guess? But I did a quick grocery shop with Tom on Boxing Day and I didn’t change into my jeans for it. Nothing bad happened. I did not explode. None of the Boomers in the grocery store in my mom’s neighbourhood even looked at me. I made Tom take a photo to commemorate the occasion (see below, lol). I know, this is so silly and not worth writing down or reading, but here we are.

Now it’s January and the kids were back in school for three days before all three kids got the barfing flu, so I guess it’s back to reality for us!

Regarding my Instagram break so far, it was actually really nice to be off Instagram in December. I popped on here and there without thinking but every time I was quickly reminded why I’m enjoying the break. I absolutely do not miss seeing everyone post their gd elf on the shelf every single night (eek, sorry). It also feels pretty needless to scroll through endless stories about what everyone got or what their kids got. The space away from seeing everyone else’s Christmas left me with more energy and focus for my own family, which is probably just as it should be. It also made the texts and calls with close friends feel more special; it’s fun to catch up, just not always with everyone on the internet maybe?

I also enjoyed the space away from everyone’s end-of-the-year recaps. I’m happy for everyone and love to see people thriving, but an annual recap is a highlight reel on an app that’s already built to be a highlight reel. As humans, it’s in our nature to have a propensity to remember the good moments and let the bad stuff fade (whaddup Faded Affect Bias!) but I’m sure seeing all of those highlight reels makes some people feel as though their year / achievements are lacking. I love to get introspective about my year, but it’s more effective for me to look back at my own journey without the visions of everyone else’s dancing in my head.

THAT SAID, I miss everyone! I miss many of the faces and spaces I’ve come to love on the app and I really miss the spaces that help me learn and grow and sharing the books I read. I try to be mindful about my follows, so I’m missing the exposure to new recipes, budget DIY inspiration, social justice reminders, and familiar faces that add to my life and genuinely propel me to try to be a better person.

But the break from absolute and constant overwhelm is really nice, too. Clearly I am still figuring it out.

Ten Days Off the Gram

I said my goodbyes to the Instagram app last week Thursday right after I published my last entry on this blog. Some people asked me some great questions about it and it seems like we all have a touch of curiosity around the app and its usage, so I’ll try to chronicle how life goes without it. Here are some of the frequently-asked questions I received as well as my answers, should you care to read them! This is a long winded post but let’s not overthink it all, it’s essentially just an experiment I’m running on myself 🙂

Why Not Go Off All Media / Why Just Instagram? the reason for this is simple – I’m not against technology, I’m against the mindless scrolling. It’s the ability to scroll endlessly, which is what apps like IG and Facebook provide, that heightens my anxiety and probably triggers an addictive tendency for me. For anyone who wants to know more about the algorithm, I strongly recommend watching The Social Dilemma on Netflix, which explains a lot about how your addictive impulses and your brain are targeted by these apps. For me personally, there’s nothing addictive about being on line in general because I log on, look up a few things, shop around, and close my laptop. With writing it’s the same: I log into my website, write an entry, edit it (or not), publish and leave. For me personally, it’s specifically Instagram that’s the problem.

Why Now / Why Not Jan 1st? At first my plan was to start the new year fresh; I like things neat and tidy so a hard start made sense to me. But then I realized December is the perfect time to go offline. Seeing everyone else’s holiday activities often makes me feel like I’m not doing enough even though I definitely am and I don’t need my nasty inner critic telling me I’m not making enough magic or hosting enough parties or buying enough presents. I also realized I didn’t need to share our Christmas. No one needs to see the gifts we chose, the meals we make with our family, the cocktails we’re drinking by the fire, the traditions we share with friends and neighbours. It didn’t feel special or fun to share anymore, it felt performative.

The first week away from the app was a little weird. The first few days after I deleted IG my thumbs were twitching and wriggling, wanting to open the app, and I had to find things to do to distract myself. This was unexpected for me, though it probably shouldn’t have been. When I was on my phone my finger kept pressing the spot where the app icon used to be, which is sad and embarrassing. Haha.

Then I went through a very weird, short phase where my brain reaaaallly wanted to scroll something (anything!) and I found myself scrolling through emails and junk mail folders a couple times a day, scrolling amazon or other shopping apps until I caught myself and flung my phone far away. On weekends I’ve taken a few photos for my own scrapbooks but I’m not constantly filming funny constant or harassing my children to take a good pic for the gram. This has allowed all of us to be in the moment much more, and it’s nice. I am still catching myself thinking a lot about content. The kids will say something hilarious and I’ll think about how that would make a lot of people laugh, or I’ll have thoughts about motherhood or womanhood that I know would resonate with others. Maybe eventually I’ll go back to putting those things in a notebook for the future book I’m definitely never going to write 🙂

The worst thing is that I got super sick the day after I deleted the app. As other parents will know, being sick and having sick kids in a post-pandemic world is a veerrry isolating thing. It means no playdates, no school or preschool, no daycare, no other human contact, really. So I’ve been off instagram for ten days with no lifeline to the outside world (except for when I logged on to show everyone my sad, raspy voice), which was tougher than I expected.

The Pros: because I haven’t been scrolling before bed, I’ve been falling asleep earlier. Since I’m sick, I’m sleeping terribly, so I’ll have to wait and see if sleep quality improves (I’m sure it will). I’m learning new things because I have more time for podcasts and books. When I let my body rest (though it’s not often), I feel less anxious and can relax more fully because I’m not worried about what I’m “missing”. I’m still on my phone sometimes around the kids because we have to call the school, call doctors, make plans etc, but I’m leaving the phone on the charger for long sections of the day without looking at it and that obviously makes it possible for me to be more present with the kids. In short, there’s less mindlessness. I use my phone much more intentionally and rely on it a little less.

The Cons: it’s hard not being able to use my platform to highlight issues or voices. I believe that even though I have a small following on social media it’s still important to be responsible and share things that matter or that will lift others up, so losing that ability has been tough for me (but maybe I can figure out a way to do that without using Instagram, it’s only been a week!). It’s also been tough to not feel like I’m part of the “community conversation” because in a small town like ours it sometimes feels like the banter in the comments section of some of the local businesses is an important type of communication and networking, especially during these winter months when we’re inside a lot more and not seeing others in public. But I trust that in the spring I can come out guns blazing and see some faces in person to make those connections and have those conversations. Another con is that since we have such a big family who lives all over the globe, I know that many people have missed seeing daily videos of our kids. I know it’s nice having those updates when you’re far away, and our family appreciates my sharing.

It seems like nowadays so much advertising for businesses is done on Instagram, so those of us who run small businesses or operate Instagram accounts for small businesses really can’t afford to take a social media break. It’s been tough to still be on the app professionally while foregoing it personally, but I’ve noticed that these habits change quickly and are adapting with my adapted usage. I don’t linger in the app when I use it for work, and I anticipate being able to cut back drastically as we approach the slow season of January-February.

I know this is a lot of info! But I’ve gotten so many texts asking me to expand my thoughts about why I’m taking a break, so hopefully there’s some good info here for anyone who has made it this far! The point is: this break is an experiment, and the goal is to make more space in my life for FUN!

Hope y’all are doing great and not missing me! It’s very liberating to not have to take a photo of every little thing, like the good oat nog I found or whatever.

Something’s Gotta Give

Anyone who’s been following along on my social media account or blog has watched me approach Critical Breaking Point (haha, I love a bit of drama!). Life has gotten busier and busier for me this year with one kid in school, one kid in preschool in the next town over, and one kid still at home. We’re constantly busy without a moment for ourselves and it really feels lately like something’s gotta give.

Life is too precious and too important for the thing that I cast aside to be time with my kids, or time for my husband, or time for my friends and community. For a long time the thing that has suffered has been the time to myself, but it feels unbearable for me to continue that trend. I feel like I’m at a crossroads and I have to choose something to let go of, something to make my life lighter and easier, something to take out of my mind to create more space.

That thing is Instagram.

I looooove Instagram. Since moving to a small town from the city I’ve found it to be a major tool for connection. By following local businesses and a few other local moms, I slowly enlarged my network and found a ton of small town events to attend where I met new friends and was able to support small businesses. Since most advertising is done on Instagram these days, the app allowed me to find out about and share new ways to support the community around me. As I take a hiatus from IG I am a bit scared about my isolation increasing without having access to those things, but I have enough friends in town who know my real phone number that I’ll hopefully still be able to find out about all the fun stuff this winter.

Another thing I love about Instagram is the community that comes from sharing. I know, it sounds narcissistic to want to share my life, and trust me, I don’t think I’m like, a real treat or anything. I don’t have unique opinions or anything special to offer. But over the years the DMs I’ve received have made it clear to me that I’m relatable and validating in a way other parents find helpful, and sometimes even stupid and self deprecating in a way others find funny. In kindergarten I took off my rainboot, filled it under a drainpipe, and dumped it on my head to make my peers like me so I guess I’ve always been inclined to diminish myself for a laugh 🙂

But despite the merits of the addictive app I love so much (lolz), I definitely need a break from it. I am feeling like my brain is too full, and when I log onto Instagram my brain thinks (buckle up…) “I need to bake that! I need to donate to that! How do I make more money so I can give to every single thing? Why is everyone traveling except me? I need those boots. I should get my kids that toy. I should do a sensory bin with them or I’m a bad parent! I should share this hack I learned so it can benefit other moms! I bet other parents aren’t on their phones in the middle of the day like I am. I should go for a run. Wowwww look at that fitness transformation! I should eat a calorie deficit to get lean. I wonder if I’m strong enough? I need to try that new beer! But maybe I should give up drinking. Should I do 75 Hard? Ohhh I should save that podcast for later.” It’s just so much noise at a time in my life when I feel called to find direction and seek stillness.

Despite the things I’ve tried (ie. making “rules” about when I can use Instagram, using the app only in black and white so my brain is less stimulated, limiting the accounts I follow) I can feel that the constant exposure to so many people, objects, lifestyles, ideas, traumas, deaths, renovations, travels, tips, strategies, and strangers is harming me. It’s contributing to an increase in my growing anxiety. It’s clouding and confusing me. And it’s taking a lot of time away from the people who are right in front of me.

I’m really just telling everyone so people don’t think I’ve died, which is what I assume whenever anyone goes cold turkey off Instagram for a while without explanation. I doubt many people notice when someone leaves Instagram. It always makes me chuckle when I come across a post that says “I’m back!” and I never noticed they were gone. There’s just so much static on the app that it’s impossible to notice when someone disappears (I’m picturing the Homer-in-the-hedge meme right now).

I’ll still be here though, writing in longer form and doing the odd blog post when I have a brand new, never-before-thought-of idea that has definitely been thought of by tons of people already! Byeeeee!!


If they ask me for something one more time, I’m gonna scream.”

I miss my old life. I miss being a woman. I’m not a woman anymore, or a wife, I’m just a snack dispenser.”

I’m so bored of this. I’m sooooo booooored. I’m SO BORED.”

All I do ALL DAY is clean and then evening comes and I make dinner and afterwards I’m exhausted and I look around the house and the entire thing is a shitshow again. It doesn’t even last a day. It barely lasts a few hours. I’m so sick of it.”

I can’t handle the constant whiiiiininng anymore. I miss being spoken to like a human being.”

I can’t wait for life to just slow down a little bit, just enough that I can organize my thoughts.”

These are just a few of the things I thought or said aloud to my partner last week. It was a doozy. And I might be waiting for it to “slow down a little” but I’m also keenly aware that it’s not going to. I’ve been cruising steadily towards burnout for six years and I’ll keep on cruising for many more.

I need help. I need to ask my community here for ideas how to avoid burnout when you don’t live near family. For those of you who moved away from family or don’t have a large family, if you are somehow able to avoid the deep, deeply felt burnout of never having a break from your children, how do you do it? How do you avoid the burnout?

And I know what so many of the mothers of the older generations will say: the laundry can wait. The house doesn’t need to be spotless all the time. Slow down and be present and take a breath because it all passes by so quickly.

But here’s the thing, it can’t wait. It’s too much. We are five people generating a colossal amount of dirty laundry, dirty dishes, dirt dirt dirt. We have recycling to be sorted, garbage to be taken out, meals to be prepped, groceries to be picked up, kids to be dropped off, school, ballet, football, art class, work, yard work, spring bulbs to plant and fall leaves to rake, holiday presents to add to wish lists so that magic can be generated for memories. Friends to check in with, emails to send, PAC meetings to attend, homework to check, rooms to be tidied, bedding to be washed, bums to be cleaned, hair to be braided, fundraisers to be donated to, and after all of that has been taken care of, time and energy must be mustered so that I can find something for me, some kind of hobby or project so that I don’t lose my mind the way I’ve already lost myself.

Anyway, I may not know who I am anymore, but I still know what’s important to me: family, friendship, community care. Learning and growing.

So please let me learn from you; teach me how to combat burnout. Help me grow into a functioning, happier mother (and hopefully, eventually, a person) by telling me what works for you so I can try it and see if it’ll work for me.

I’m gonna go do some laundry now and I’ll check back later to read your gems of wisdom 🙂

Shifting Seasons (and Attitudes)

Where are all my SAD gals at? Our Seasonal Affective Disorder is gearing up to hit hard as soon as the clocks change this weekend and I, for one, am not ready for it. I mean, I’m never ready for winter to come, but this year’s hot, summery Autumn has really contributed to my lack of preparedness for winter’s arrival. Yet here we are, a few days away from Daylight Savings Time, the holiday season, and the freezing temps.

My least favourite months of the year have always been November, December, January, and February. The darkest, coldest, most dreary months. Every year at this time I start an internal countdown because I can’t wait until March. The spring time change, increasing daylight hours, crocuses and tulips popping, sun setting a little later each evening….sigh. The anticipation of a coming summer is so grand and full of promise.

But as a parent I am keenly aware that constantly looking to the next thing has consequences. It’s so easy to wish away the sleepless newborn phase, then wish away the whiny toddler phase, then wish away the energy-sucking preschool phase, then wish away the demanding school years. All of a sudden we have a kid who we didn’t enjoy raising nearly as much as we could have! This is something I’ve ruminated on endlessly these past six years. Though some stages (and some winters) can feel truly unending, it’s crucial to our happiness that we try to sit in a place of gratitude for the present season (and if not gratitude, at least growth. I’m looking at you, Colic Phase!).

So here I am, at the outset of another dark and dreary Canadian winter. I know I prefer the summer. I know I’ll miss my daily walks in the sunshine up local trails. I know our beach dinners will be few and far between so that our children’s fingers don’t freeze off while they clutch their stone-cold snacks and look out at the stormy sea. But what would happen if I chose to focus less on these losses and more on the potential opportunities?

The opportunity to unplug.

The opportunity to turn inward.

The opportunity to grow.

The opportunity to move slow.

The opportunity to be still.

The opportunity to ask questions.

The opportunity to focus.

The opportunity to get close.

The opportunity to hibernate.

Some winter seasons the thing that gets me through is the hustle; I find a thing that makes me feel passionate and excited and I work toward it with that renewed New Year Energy that I love so much. I do DIYs around the house, get stuff done, and plow through the dark winter until I see the light of spring on the horizon. But this year I’m curious about using winter to slow down, to mull some things over, ask questions and seek answers (this is sounding far more cryptic than I mean it to). Being still and slow is the thing that I am the worst at, the thing that I rail against every day.

But I think this winter I wanna try something new, try to stop, and log off, and look inward.


[For more practical tips for enjoying a long winter, I love this article from my favourite blog Cup of Jo]

Making Peace with Imperfection

Writing is a tool that I rely on to organize and make sense of my thoughts and feelings. Whenever I feel anxious, confused, or overwhelmed I often can’t find clarity until I’ve sat down to write it out. Somehow during the process I start writing truths that I don’t know until they flow from the pen, though I spend plenty of time thinking (and overthinking); it’s like my brain doesn’t know the thing, but my hand does.

Sometime in 2020, amidst the pandemic pregnancy and the long lockdown, I stopped writing here and even journalling for myself – probably the worst time to take a break since I had so much to work through! The fact that I stepped away from it at a time when I felt particularly isolated and didn’t have access to my other form of mental processing (running!), probably explains a lot of the inner discontent I struggled with that year.

The main reason I stopped writing in 2020 was because of the self-imposed pressure I felt from Instagram. After scrolling past all those perfect, curated squares with their carefully edited captions, I started to feel like I couldn’t (or shouldn’t!) post anything that wasn’t in its final finished state and this kept me from writing at all. Part of this pressure came from myself; a part of me believed that as your average stay-at-home-mom, I’d never have anything important to say. But the other, more rational, part of me failed to see that Instagram is a collection of finished products; no one is posting their shitty drafts or their unedited photography. We’re putting our best foot forward on that app at all times.

For creatives (or anyone really) this can be discouraging to witness on the daily. We don’t see the countless hours that artists devote to their crafts, the workshops they attend to get better, the terrible rough drafts and pages and pages of brainstorming for ideas, the time when an interior designer paints an entire room the wrong colour and it just doesn’t work, the unfinished novel that never made it to print, the poem that sucked, big time. We don’t want to mess up our perfect feeds by posting the ugly processes we go through to achieve end results.

So this is me recommitting to imperfection.

It’s tough for a Type A to come to terms with, but most people have to commit to the mess before they get to the beautiful ending. A runner needs to go through the sweaty, slow training sessions before they can run a marathon. A writer needs to carve out time to write the messy rough draft before they can publish the novel. An illustrator needs to sketch out their ideas before they arrive at the finished canvas. These are necessities of art. We’ll all be amateurs on our way to greatness, and if we’re growing and evolving there’s a good likelihood that we’ll look back one day and think the great art we’re doing now was the work of an amateur.

So I’m gonna lean into the knowledge that I don’t have to be perfect and give myself the freedom to post often and fret less. Hopefully this will help me get back to writing and processing, even when my thoughts are unpolished. Whatever space you’re in, I encourage you to do the same!

I’ll leave you with [this awesome graphic] I found recently (on Instagram of course. Eyeroll, lol). Here’s to making shitty art, so we can maybe one day make better art.

Colic Mama Trauma: What Do We Do When Crying Triggers Us Years After Colic Has Ended?

Well, you’ve done it. You’ve made it to the other side of colic, though every day (or every minute) you swore you wouldn’t survive. You’re an incredible and resilient bish and you’re ready to leave the Colic Days behind you! But what happens when months or even years later, you still find yourself getting triggered every time your child cries?

Unpacking our triggers is one of the hardest parts about parenting. Sure we can skate by without doing the work, but we run the risk of having excessive reactions when our kids do something mildly annoying and developmentally appropriate that probably wouldn’t bother us if we didn’t have some kind of PTSD / trauma surrounding it. Sometimes these emotional reactions are even fuelled by our own negative experience being parented a certain way.

OBVIIIIII, therapy is the best route for us to work through our baggage but we don’t always have access to it when we need it, especially in countries that don’t have affordable health care. So where does a parent who identifies as a Colic Survivor even start?

I really don’t know, but I’ve thought a lot about it in the past six years. Like, daily, because that’s how often one of my children cries and triggers what I call my Colic Mama Trauma. I’m very much NOT a therapist, just a two-time colic mom who’s been through the wringer with crying kiddos, but if you’re in the same boat as I am and want a jumping-off point, I’d love to share the only thing that helps me, in the hope that it’ll help someone else. What I’ve found when I’m being triggered by post-colic crying is grounding myself in reality in as many ways as I am able to in that moment. Let’s get into what that looks like mentally and physically.

Mentally, this looks like reminding myself what is true rather than getting swept away by emotions that are not rooted in my current reality. I repeat truths to myself in my head as I hold my crying child and reassure them that they are safe and loved (sometimes this reassures me as well, ha). The truths I have to remind myself about are going to seem glaringly obvious to someone who doesn’t have a tendency to spiral, but this is just what helps me. Some favourites include:

“The colic is not coming back just because they’re crying in this moment.”

“They won’t be crying forever, this moment will pass.”

“They won’t be sick forever. Everything is just a phase. Nothing is permanent.”

“I am the best mother for my child.” (this is one I tell all colic parents)

Say whatever you need to say to yourself to bring your mind back to those truths. As you can probably tell, my colic PTSD tends to manifest as catastrophic thinking (“this is my life now! I’m going to have a crying child forever! I can’t do this! I’m a bad parent!”) so the grounding truths I have to tell myself might seem silly. Write out a few that you think will help you and put them somewhere you can find them again next time you’re feeling triggered by excessive crying.

Grounding myself in reality in the physical sense means getting myself outside in any way I possibly can. This advice is some of the first I received as a mother, back during the colic days with baby Hennie. I had become a total hermit, terrified of leaving the house in case my infant cried. She was a November baby and I stayed inside almost the entire winter, just bouncing on my yoga ball and crying. Finally I confided in a friend who encouraged me to go for short walks around the block every day. “It’ll make you feel good” she told me, “and if worse comes to worst, her cries won’t seem as loud if you’re outside.”

She was right, of course. I found that my colicky baby cried less when we were out walking around, and when she did cry I felt much less anxious about it. Being outside made me feel like a more capable first-time mom, even though they were very short walks at the start, and seeing other people going about their normal days offered perspective that I desperately needed and reminded me that the phase I was in wouldn’t last forever.

These days, in my post-colic, three-kids life, I still try to get outside every day and it still helps and offers much needed perspective. As I cart my whiny kids to the park around the corner or school drop-off or even just playing in the yard, I often find that their moods change and take on a lighter feel when they’re outdoors. And if they don’t, well, their whining doesn’t seem as loud when we’re outside. Thanks for the advice, Amber.

When all else fails I try for a Hard Reset. Sometimes it’s the kids who are being difficult but sometimes it’s me. When one of the kids is having a tough time I find it manageable but there are times when all three are struggling. When that happens I often wake up with an attitude of discouragement and defeat right off the bat, and that makes it pretty much impossible for any of us to get out of our slump (do you also find sometimes that parent’s attitudes set the tone for the day rather than the other way around?). When I find myself in that headspace I choose a high energy activity to do and decide it’ll be a hard reset for my attitude. Then I do it for as long as I need to to feel a little better. Sometimes this means doing a peloton ride while the kids watch a show or going for a solo run if my partner’s at home. If I have the kids and it’s not raining I’ll go for a fast, long walk and put a podcast on my headphones. If it’s pouring rain sometimes I’ll blast a killer playlist in the kitchen and bake/dance. For me, this helps me get out of my head and back into my body.

*Please note that the Hard Reset really only works for a bad day, not a deep dissatisfaction in general. I am absolutely not suggesting that dancing or going for a walk are going to solve your probs if you’re in a critical burn out stage of life or going through something exceedingly difficult. It’s just for when we wake up a little crabby and impatient and need to run it off.

Once again, I’m not a therapist and I’m certainly not trying to tell anyone how to live their life. But I’ve spent six years working through my Colic Mama Trauma and have developed a few coping tools that make my tough days just a tad easier for me. There are a lot of us Colic Parents out there, so I hope one of them helps you, even if it’s just a little.