PRESENT DAY MOMS

Maxed out Moms

Emily DaFoe
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“With every act of self-care, your authentic self gets stronger, and the fearful, critical mind gets weaker. Every act of self-care is a powerful declaration: I am on my side.”

Maxed out Moms

Many mommas are overworked and exhausted. In fact, a recent study showed that moms work an average of 100 hours per week and that the average super mom only gets about 10-15 minutes of quiet time a day! 

The truth is some days I feel I barely have time to take 5 minutes, let alone 15. I have friends that locked themselves in the bathroom to get a break, all while they watch little fingers poke under the door in a ploy to lure poor mother dear out. I have friends that hid in cupboards to eat a piece of chocolate in peace and a good friend that recently confessed to locking the bedroom door to cry while their little ones banged and screamed relentlessly on the other side. 

My situation is currently quite tough at the moment, I’m now going through a painful separation (aren’t they all painful?!), have two girls under 5, while taking part in a hands-on renovation and working full time. Not only am I busy and burnt out but I am faced with the extra burden and sudden uncertainty of where I will live in the next 16 months, or what my kids and my future will look like. To be honest, maxed out mom doesn’t even cut it. Many of my girlfriends who know what I’m going through are asking me often ‘how are you so positive and how are you keeping it together?!’ The truth is, in some moments I’m barely coping, and you know what, that’s ok. What not ok is not looking after ourselves. I’ve literally had to create commitments with myself to reduce my anxiety, stay focused, and positive in an endeavor to be the best me and mommy I can be while going through a trying time.

Here are my top 7 personal self-care tips that have helped me reset and be more compassionate with myself over the last year. 

Stop talking:The biggest thing I’ve had to do is stop asking people for directions to places they’ve never been to. What does that mean? Well, at the start of the breakdown of my relationship with my ex-partner, I would ask all different friends, what should I do? Some friends that haven’t been married and some that have never had kids. I had 100 various sources of advice, which obviously complicates the situation and sent me into a stressed-out tizzy! My recommendation: get quiet and if you need to speak to someone hire a therapist or choose a good friend or two that you can confide in.

Meditate or try my Mini Mindfulness Moments

Cut out time for yourself to meditate even if it’s only 5 minutes a day. If you don’t want to meditate, the act of merely being mindful helps. Often when I drive, I truly focus on being there, watching the surroundings, and being super switched on. I feel the leather underneath my hands on the steering wheel, and I focus on the road and my breath. It helps me feel less stressed, more focused, and calmingly centered when I arrive at my destination.  No road rage here.

Dance the night away!Put on some disco music and pump up the volume the kids love it, and it helps take out any aggression. You’ll be left feeling powerful and empowered! Here are some of my picks!

Happy (Pharrell Williams)

Lose Yourself (Eminem)

Eye of The Tiger (Survivor)

Roar (Katy Perry)

Stronger (Kelly Clarkson)

Titanium (David Guetta)

Walking on Sunshine (Katrina and the Waves)

Get up 20 minutes earlier and enjoy your tea or coffee.This is not just a cozy morning ritual but can set the tone and mood for your entire day. Just make sure you don’t bring your phone or computer to your breakfast nook! Just put your feet up and enjoy your drink and quiet time! 

Be kind to yourself.I found myself crying in the car after dropping after my children to daycare on Monday. Between the lawyers, renovation and work and sleepless nights, I was just feeling broken. I heard the inner voice, the judge saying, ‘how the f&$k did you let yourself get here!’ This inner voice, this judgmental voice is not helpful. We think over 7,000 thoughts a day and if a majority of them a negative you’ll be heading in a negative direction. Sometimes I make a priority to tell myself ‘I’m awesome, I got this, I did great today!’ So, go on, give yourself a pat on the back and change the direction of your path from negative to positive!

Chant the Serenity Prayer:I’ve always loved this one!! It helped me a lot over the years, and I’ve even inscribed it on a bracelet. Write it down on a post-it note and pin it on your fridge!  ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the difference to know the difference.” 

Watch funny movies: I’m currently on a funny movie bender watching old comedies like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Parenthood, Ferris Bueller and Coming to America. Not only are they a good laugh and bring back memories from my childhood, but laughter can boost your immune system and decrease the hormones associated with stress too! 

It is true what they say, ‘Self-care is giving the world the best of you, not what is left of you.’

Whatever you choose to do to look after yourself, the first step is realizing its importance; a necessity not a luxury. Your relationship with yourself is just as meaningful as your relationship with your closest friend and family. So like those, commit time and watch your confidence and positivity flourish.

 

The Power of NO

Emily DaFoe
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How many times have you realized that you have committed yourself to 3 kids’ birthday parties, a 40th birthday party, a baby shower, and a wedding, all on the same weekend? The logistics alone turns you into a frenzied militant time master, calling on babysitters, friends, and family for help so that every obligation can be met. 

Or, you’ve found yourself backed into a corner at the school PTA meeting saying YES to make 1000 paper flowers for the spring carnival, while working a full-time job, and juggling your household obligations. What, they need to be made this week? “Yes, ok,” you cringe, “I can do that.”

How many times have you heard yourself saying yes to the wrong things—overwhelming requests, bad relationships, time-consuming obligations? How often have you wished you could summon the power to turn them down?

Well, I know that answer for me… TOO MANY TO COUNT. 

For the past 5 year’s I’ve been working hard building my career as an artist ( www.alanaclumeck.com ). Being very determined not to be a ‘starving artist,” I found myself saying “YES” to all sorts of random commission requests. Don’t get me wrong, I am intently grateful and humbled that someone would consider me to create a centerpiece for their home. However, I found over the years, saying YES, when I really should have said NO, created a lot of STRESS in my life. Pile all of these YES commitments on top of my family obligations, and before I knew it, I was strung out, impatient, and my family life felt chaotic. 

Then something clicked. I had my “Ah-ha” moment where I realized that my YES’s in life needed to become NO’s.

I realized that if I were going to make it as an artist and mother, I would need to set boundaries. And I started saying NO to doing commissions. Yep, I pretty much said ‘NO’ to guaranteed money. But, here’s the secret. No amount of money is going to make you happy. Sure - you can purchase a whole lot of stuff with it to cram into your already overpacked home. Or, you can buy some experiences with it, to take a trip on an already over-packed schedule, that will leave you needing a vacation after your vacation… But if you are not happy in the process of making the money, then it’s not worth it! 

I have discovered the POWER of NO. When I said “NO” to too many commitments, obligations, stuff, and too much of anything; I received the most valuable commodity in this world... TIME. I created space and time in my life for things that were really important to me; my relationship with myself, my family, and my friends. 

A well-placed “NO” can not only save you time and trouble, but it can also save you your life. 

Do you wish you could put your foot down sometimes and say no? Many of us feel compelled to agree to every request, and would rather juggle a million jobs than refuse to help, even if we are left with no time for ourselves. Learning to say no can earn you respect from yourself, and give you more time to focus on the things in your life that matter. 

Here are some valuable steps to saying no from Psych Central:

Keep your response simple. If you want to say no, be firm and direct. Remember, you’re not asking permission to say no.

Buy yourself some time. Interrupt the ‘yes’ cycle, using phrases like “I’ll get back to you,” then consider your options. Having thought it through at your leisure, you’ll be able to say no with greater confidence.

Consider a compromise. Only do so if you want to agree with the request, but have limited time or ability to do so. Suggest ways forward to suit both of you. Avoid compromising if you really want or need to say no.

Separate refusal from rejection. Remember you’re turning down a request, not a person. People usually will understand that it is your right to say no, just as it is their right to ask the favor.

Don’t feel guilty for saying no to your children. It is important for them to hear “NO” from time to time so that they develop a sense of self-control. It is hard to negotiate adult life without this vital skill. Rather than cave into their protests, let them know who is in charge by setting boundaries.

Be true to yourself. Be clear and honest with yourself about what you truly want. Get to know yourself better and examine what you really want from life.

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Having an Only Child

Emily DaFoe
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As one of three kids in our family, I always assumed I would end up having more than one child!  

For me, having siblings around created a bond of trust and camaraderie. There were times we wanted to kill each other; case in point when my brother came running at me full speed, and karate chopped me in the stomach and pushed me into the washing machine when he was 13, and I was 15. But aside from that brawl, we have always had each other’s back regardless of the situation or who’s at fault (which is usually my siblings, as I am the middle child, and therefore, perfect!)  Of course, I’m joking, but that is the banter between siblings, and regardless of how old we are, that cheeky banter is always there, even into our 40’s!

While having an only child has its perks, it’s not as easy as people assume it is, and there are some very trying moments.

In my experience of having an only child, Rob (my husband) and I are the ones who get called on as the constant playmate, the kicking post when he is emotional or needing to express himself, the continuous entertainers, the best friends, and the list goes on. Sometimes I love it, and sometimes it drives me nuts. The standard for parenting, right?!? The juggle of life is 100% real, no matter the size of your family. 

Because our little man wants to be the center of attention (as most kids do) finding the balance of making him the priority, and teaching him when it’s grown up time can get tricky. There is no opportunity to tell him to go play with a sibling during the times we need a minute to talk, work, or just have a minute of alone time. As I have gotten older, I realize how much quiet time I require to feel productive and human. Admittedly, I have locked myself in the bathroom more times than I can count in order to finish an email or project. Even then, there are little fingers under the door as he sits on the other side asking me what I’m doing, or that he wants to show me something. I realize this isn’t because he’s an only child, but I find myself getting irritated because I think he should be more independent…until I remember he’s just 3!

I have zero experience in having multiple children, but I have been caught off guard several times by other mothers (mostly strangers) that say , “Oh it must be so nice having just 1” or  “ I remember having 1 and it was sooooo easy” or even  “Are you having more, kids need siblings?!”  

I try to remain polite and smile, but what I want to say is one of these responses;  

“Well, I find it very hard with 1. "

"Is being a mother ever that easy? "

"You have no idea what my circumstances are that have determined the number of children I have." 

"Maybe I don’t want more than 1.” 

Honestly, it's nobody’s business if I have 1 child or 20..  

My story is straightforward. I got married and started a family later in life, and now that I’m 40, things have changed in my body and mind. Yes, I would love to have another baby, but we don’t always get what we want. Over the past three years, there have been months where I cried when I started my period, followed by countless tracking of my ovulation. I have had blood tests to make sure my hormone levels were ok and having an HSG test. Lets not discount the having done acupuncture, practiced clean eating, and daily exercise. For me personally, I have chosen to keep my conception methods natural and avoid taking fertility drugs. While this might prohibit another baby at my age, whatever is meant to be, will be. The most significant relief, is that we have one beautiful little man who I love so much.  

Whether I have another child or get to hang with my boy and be his playmate, kicking post, and entertainer…I feel so lucky to have my only child happy, and that’s all that matters! I'm hoping this post shines some light, if only a little on why some mamas only have one child. So next time, you want to say “Oh it must be so nice having just 1”, think of me and my solo man.

xx, Emily 

pic: Blue Gabor

 

 

                                                          

How Disconnecting is Reconnecting

Emily DaFoe

I can't tell you how many amazing memories I have from camping as a kid. I remember the fishing trips, the surfing, the crabbing, the beach days, the gold hunting, the bug hunting, the bead heads, the campfire smell... And the grimy, dirty dustiness of it all. There's a freedom that comes with camping, where routines fall by the wayside (and so do showers), and it becomes a time of connection and exploration.

Recently I joined a couple of mom friends on a mommy and kid camping trip. We loaded up our cars and heading into Big Sur, California, for three days to disconnect from the world and reconnect with our kids. There was no cell service, no internet, and no electricity, which forced us to be captivated and present in each moment.

We emerged, tried, smelly, dirty, and achy, but the adventure was worth every bug bite, and sleepless night. Most surprisingly, when modern distractions were taken away and made unattainable, we no longer thought about them or wanted them. 

Technology has some incredible benefits, however, it is becoming increasingly apparent that society is developing an unhealthy attachment to it. While I highly recommend a camping trip in nature as a wonderful remedy to disconnect from the world, sometimes that is not obtainable for everyone.

Here are 5 scientific reasons you may want to inject some 'unplugging' into the daily rhythm of your lives. 

YOUR OVERALL QUALITY OF LIFE MAY IMPROVE:

In a study from the University of Maryland, researchers discovered that when students went on a 24 hr detox from the technology they spent more time with friends and family, got more exercise, and even cooked and ate healthier foods. In short, the less time they spent on their phones gave them more time to spend on quality interactions elsewhere! 

YOU MIGHT SLEEP BETTER:

The vast majority of Americans – 96% – now own a cellphone of some kind. Data from a 2013 study by PEW Research Center shows that 44% of people sleep with their phones by their sides because they do not want to miss a message or notification. That is almost 40 % of the American population being woken up intermittently by messages, tweets, emails, etc, in the middle of the night. Which accounts for a lot of grumpy Americans. By placing your phone in another room when you go to sleep, it will allow your body to disconnect properly, recharge, and get a restful night's sleep.  

UNPLUGGING AFTER WORK HELPS YOU RECHARGE:

Researchers from Kansas State University found that when people "unplugged" from work-related tasks, such as checking their work email after hours, they reported feeling fresher and better recharged when beginning work the following day. Findings indicate that segmenting work and non-work roles can help employees detach and recover from work demands. For anyone who has ever experienced burn-out at work, this isn't too surprising. So when you leave your place of employment, leave the work obligations at the door!

UNPLUGGING MAY IMPROVE YOUR INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS:

A 2013 study points out unplugging from technology might benefit your in-person communication and interpersonal relationships because it encourages you to communicate outside of the screen- and text-based medium. It also suggests that sharing too much on social media may negatively impact your interpersonal relationships. While technology makes communication fast & convenient, it also removes body language and tone, which helps us form bonds. In short, human interaction is better for us than interaction through technology. 

YOU MAY FEEL HAPPIER:

Disconnecting from technology helps remove feelings of jealousy, envy, and loneliness. Researchers discovered that one in three people felt worse after visiting Facebook and more dissatisfied with their lives. The most common cause of frustration came from users comparing themselves socially to their peers, while the second most common source of dissatisfaction was "lack of attention" from having fewer comments, likes and general feedback compared to friends. Powering-down will provide you with the opportunity to reset and refocus your appreciation and gratitude on the life you have. 

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Getting Back in the Groove For School

Emily DaFoe
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Catherine Rankin is a Drama and Dance teacher at the International School Manila. She has a Bachelors of Education and a Masters of Applied Theater. She also happens to be Stella’s sister so we are lucky to have a first hand account of kiddos from a teacher’s perspective. Here is what Catherine has to say about heading back to school after summer break.

“Wow! It’s that time again!  You need to think about your children going back to school.  You are either celebrating or commiserating but whatever the situation, the key to a successful transition back to school is planning and talking.  It is important that everyone involved in the transition is involved in the process then they become responsible stakeholders, whatever their age. 

 Here are some key tips - 

  1. Get back to “school” sleep routine- Holidays are great for the sleep ins and staying up late but about a week before school starts, you should go back to the wake up and bedtimes that allow kids to function successfully at school.

  2. Detox from devices- Holidays usually sees an increase in device use, whether it be video games, iPad, computers or TV. As well as getting back to waking up for school, you should also start limiting their device time to help them adjust.

  3. Shop for school supplies together - Make it part of the planning process that your children help with the buying of what is needed to make a successful start. This also may include a “first day” outfit if it is a non-uniform school. If it is a uniform school, making sure those uniforms fit.

  4. Sorting out a schedule- Through discussions, you should work out how they are going to get to school and home, an afterschool plan if you are a working parent and what are the plans if your child gets sick day and you have to work - who will look after them? A discussion covers the “what if this happens” is always helpful in calming nerves of both kids and parents.

  5. Doctor checkups- It is advisable to have a full check up and get any immunizations that are needed and having the doctor talk to your child about the best ways to stay healthy at school.

  6. Help with homework -Before homework has even started, work out an area that homework is going to be completed. Helping students learn to organize and schedule their homework is a great skill that parents can help with. Either a homework diary or an electronic schedule like iHomework can be set up before classes start.

  7. Review school material - It is important to review the key material from the school - emergency numbers, important dates (especially holidays or pupil free days) as well as transport and dress code.

  8. Practice the routine- Routines make people feel comfortable. A day or so before, do a dry run of the school day’s important starter - getting up to an alarm, having time for breakfast and getting to the bus stop in time.

  9. Packing the school bag, the night before- Avoid the first day mayhem and have everything organized the night before.

Talk it through - Communication is the key.  Sit down and have a chat about what your child is excited about and nervous.  If they are nervous, discuss some strategies to make going to school as successful as possible.  

Good luck Present Day Moms!”

 

 

REAL TALK: Diane Gorgievski

Emily DaFoe
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Diane Gorgievski is a fierce mother of two living in Bondi, Australia. She opened the celebrated and highly successful Hairdresser, KODA Cutters, right off the beachside of the iconic Bondi.

A leader in the Hairdressing and Hair Styling field, Diane’s ambition, focus and drive have led her to be a regular contributor on the international show circuit.  She’s worked for some of the leading brands in the world, traveling the globe working on International Fashion Shows in  Paris, London, Milan and New York. An editorial stylist for over 12 years, Diane is behind some of Australia’s most Influential editorial shoots  – her vast list of clients include Vogue, Russh, Harpers Bazaar and Elle. Diane regularly works with Aussie celebrity clientele such as Rose Byrne and Sarah Murdoch. She’s impressive. Between friends she’s known for her loyalty, drive, fun loving nature and passion for her family and life. 

Present Day Moms was able to slow her down for a few moments to get her insight on finding balance while kicking ass, being a boss lady and trying to stay present.

Where are you from?

Newcastle, Australia

Tell us about your family.

I have 4 1/2 year old and 5 mth old and my partner and i co-parent these beautiful girls and share a company.

What’s your thing? 

I love to innovate and create. 

What do you find most challenging about motherhood and your career?

Time. There isn’t enough time in the week and balancing that selfless that is needed to be a mum. Putting everyone first and insatiable patience a somethings I strive to perfect

What are your most favorite things to do with the girls?

I love to hang in bed and chat just observe their faces, I have been known to enjoy little dress up now and then too.

Do you feel like you need to be more present?

Always. But my girls are with me when I am out or at the salon sometimes even on set so they are exposed to all the facets of my life -no exclusion. So they have to see it all and understand the intensity of it all whilst being a momma.

How do you practice being present with your children in a time when there are so many distractions?

When I close the apartment door I know its OUR time to just be and I encourage play time and I play too - I get on the floor and get on their level. The best thing my partner did is buy a camper van when our first daughter was born - getting away and going bush has helped our bonds and development family time rituals.

Any tips for the mums out there?

  • Take 15 mins a day at least for yourself

  • Get back doing what you love whenever you are ready - everyone is different.

  • Read lots and lots off books to your children.

  • Listen and enjoy to all the great things they say.

  • Hugs and Kisses always - it goes so fast.

What does KODA stand for?

KODA means the tail in italian. So pony tails it is.

What are some of your favorite pearls of wisdom?

  • Every stage is just a moment in time - IT WILL PASS

  • Love your body - it made babies and brought them into the world just like that

  • Kiss your partner and tell them that you love them A LOT

  • Make that call to your bestie when you need too.

  • Never ever judge other parents - we have no idea what they have been through.

Mindfulness & Reconditioning Learned Behaviors

Emily DaFoe
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Mindfulness is definitely the buzz word of 2019. But among being one of the more used words in pop culture, the act or cultivation of mindfulness gives us the ability to see learned behaviors that may no longer serve us.

For the majority of us, the role model we have for parenting is our parents. And I often laugh amongst close friends it's not so much if your parents screwed you up but to the level that they screwed you up; even if they are the most wonderful of parents. 

We are by design human, and therefore imperfect, and it is only as a mother I realized the level of my own parents' humanness and thus, mine.  As a mom, we are continually learning on the job, thrown straight into the wild journey of being a mother. No mother I know, attended a school or university specializing in parenting when they held their bundle of joy for the first time. And while many things are instinctual, there are just as many that are not. 

My biggest challenge as a mother has been recognizing and admitting that I inherited my fathers' temper. My father was and is, like a Buddha both in body build and temperament. He is loving, kind, generous, and open. My greatest supporter and biggest fan. However, he also harnesses the temper of a tsunami; quick, ferocious, and almost always unexpected. Sadly, I inherited this trait. My anger rarely comes out, but since becoming a parent, I have seen her. She comes uninvited, unannounced, and brings nothing but fear. And, as hard as this is to admit, I've seen the look of fear in my daughters' eyes, that I once experience in my childhood.

Since becoming a parent, my little one and I have learned to deal (with this mostly doormat) rage - through mindfulness. The triggers are often when my eldest girl tests me, doesn't do what I want, and our egos clash against each other, neither one wanting to lose control. Unfortunately, that is exactly what starts to happen.  

If I slow down my emotions and really tap into them, I can see myself from above, or as the thinker 'Why won't she listen?  Why won't she do as I ask? Why is she testing me? Why?'.  I place all these additional meanings on the situation. Mind made stories that don't actually exist. My face and skin start to burn, to turn red, my breath disconnects from my belly and becomes shallow and quick. I'm angry and mad, and then I snap.  I realized I needed to work on my anger when my daughter started crying and said, 'I want my mummy.' I realized the tigress she had just met wasn't her mummy but an uninvited guest neither of us wanted in our house. It was heartbreaking.

The journey of change is not often comfortable and takes courage. I sat with my daughter and explained to her how her grandfather, my father disciplined me when I was a little girl. I asked her for forgiveness for my behavior, and for her help. I explained, "When mummy gets mad, she needs your help to stay present. Can you help me?"

We've been working on it. When I get angry, my daughter says, "mummy don't get angry, you promised". It is all I need to bring me back to the present moment, away from the mind made constructs. It helps me center myself. I simply focus on my breath and count to 10. Of course, I now understand my daughter isn't trying to make me angry, she's 4. This isn't about disrespect (which my father always used to tell me), this isn't about me needing to be in control or her being out of control and other runaway train emotions such as guilt, failure, and fear. But merely a tiny person, who has been on this earth for 4 years trying to find her way. 

My father has given and taught me so much, loved me, guided me and for that I am truly blessed. There are many things I take from him, many I embrace in my parenting and harness, but there are things I can cut loose, let go of, as they no longer serve me. I can leave them behind in the past and hopefully teach my little ones to walk a new path, on which when confronted with conflicts, you work together as a team, communicating continually and playing on the same side. In the end, I feel we both win.

As a self-control method, mindfulness allows a greater tolerance, understanding and control of my emotional states. And for that I am truly thankful.

REAL TALK: Lindsay Knaak-Stuart

Emily DaFoe
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I met Lindsay Knaak-Stuart on a business cold call in NYC. I was working as a sales director, and she was in Marketing at Gap Inc. My call was patched through and bam! We found we had a lot in common; I mean, she's married to an Australian, and I'm Australian (enough said). She soon came to meet me, and we bonded even further over Polo Ralph Lauren models, prosecco, NYC restaurants and the recent planning and execution of her destination wedding. She was refreshingly cool, and we've been great mates ever since. 

Lindsay is smart, driven, and wildly inappropriate (when you get to know her). She has a dry sense of humor that could only be compared to the funniest of the British. She's honest and tells it how it is. She's worked for some of the best corporate fashion and retail companies including Kate Spade and Rag and Bone. She's the real deal.

When I caught up with her in 2016, she told me she was rarely seeing her family and was finally done with working in the grueling space of the corporate fashion world. Lindsay was busy interviewing at start-ups; her goal to spend more time with her growing family or at least the ability to enjoy them more. Six months later, like the smart woman she is, she had come to the realization, if she was going to work her butt off for a start-up, it might as well be her own. And that's how Meant was born. An organic brand that aims to make our lives a little more straightforward with hard-working products that can multi-task, like the DO-ALL WASH, a 3-in-1 wash that works as an indulgent shampoo, hydrating body wash, and gentle face wash. 

I caught up with Lindsay over email and managed to snag her for a few moments:

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Colorado but have been living in NYC for close to 15 years which sounds crazy even typing it because I never thought I’d move to NYC and stay here for 15 YEARS!

Who are your small folk?

Ellie, age 6 1/2 and Hugo, age 5

What’s your thing?

I am the CEO & Founder of Meant, a do-all body care brand. Prior to founding Meant I worked as an executive in fashion and retail for close to 20 years.

What do you find most challenging about motherhood?

Balance. Balancing myself, my husband, my business, my kids and our household. There are not enough hours in the day.

What are your most favorite things to do with your kids?

Anything outside. Living in a small NYC apartment with two kids is tough so I’m always planning things to do that get us out of the house and moving. Our favorite activity is taking the ferry to Governor’s Island and spending the day bike riding, playing soccer, eating oysters and drinking (the adults, not the kids!). 

Do you feel like you need to be more present?

Always. Because I run my own business and I’m the only employee my job never stops. I’m either thinking about the million things I need to do or doing the million things I need to get done. But I have enormous flexibility and working for myself allows me to take my kids to school, pick them up and attend school events in the middle of the day. So it’s the trade off I suppose, because when I worked in the corporate world I only saw my kids in the morning and evening. 

How do you practice being present with your children in a time when there are so many distractions?

On the walk to school each morning and when I pick them up after school I use this time for little heart-to-heart chats. I ask what they’re excited about, what’s bugging them, or what they’re learning at school. You’d be surprised how chatty kids are and how much they’ll actually tell you about their day if you can catch them early.

Do you have technology free time?

Not really for the entrepreneur reasons noted above, but when we’re on a family vacation I’m pretty good about disconnecting and leaving my phone back at the hotel room. As for the kids, I do try and limit them to an hour a day of TV but sometimes it’s less and sometimes it’s more. I try to not beat myself up over it because let’s be real, I grew up in the 70’s/80’s and I watched A LOT of TV and I think I turned out okay?!

Any tips for the moms out there? 

Be kind…to yourself. I’m a perfectionist and classic type A personality and I’m super hard on myself and how I’m doing as a parent. But then my kids do something really kind or show so much empathy for someone and I think, “okay, maybe I’m not doing so bad after all.”

 Any good books you can recommend us PDMs?

I recently read the book Raising Lions by Joe Newman and I found it really interesting and a new perspective on kids and challenging behaviors. He talks about “the cultural shift that has reinforced anxiety and behavior disorders in children by negating parental authority. Current childrearing techniques seek to develop children who are confident, self-assured and unafraid to speak their minds - lions instead of lambs. Although largely positive, this shift has brought with it some very serious problems in our children's behavior.”

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The Village

Emily DaFoe

As I look back at the last three plus years of being a mama, I have one thing that still keeps me going and encourages me everyday, my girlfriends, my village. We are family at this point and have journey through some turbulent waters and incredibly joyous moments together I wrote this on my blog last spring, yet it still holds a dear place in my heart. The village is no joke, and we all need one!

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April 2017 - The Goods Blog

It is a fact (at least in my fact book) that NOTHING in life can prepare you for becoming a parent. Whether you are a mother or father, as soon as that baby enters the world, your life has changed forever.

When I became pregnant, it only took about 6 weeks before I learned that 3 of my oldest girlfriends were knocked up also! The 4 of us were due within 3 months of each other. Everything changed at that moment and a new support system was born. Though I had other girlfriends who were offering sound advise, and my sister was just about to have her second baby with a 14 month old to take care of, they were in the thick of their own transition to motherhood, so I didn't want to burden them with silly questions and exciting but constant baby talk.

Our "Preggo Support Group" started as a text between the 4 of us. These girls were my saving grace with questions about my body, the baby, the changes in my mood, our relationships with our husbands...and the list goes on...There was no conversations too embarrassing or disgusting to talk about, and thankfully there is a nurse in the crew so we had a direct line to all the medical questions. It was evident, and we swiftly learned, just how much we needed each other.

They became my council in this ever-changing time of life. Through the ups and downs, ins and outs, and highs and lows, we are there for one another. Together, we have experienced pregnancy, miscarriage, birth, c-section recovery, breast-feeding, teething, going back to work, hemorrhoids, potty training, tantrums, sleep training, pure exhaustion...and the list goes on.

Now our "Bad Moms" group consists of 8 girls who all met while waiting tables together in 2000. The additional 4 mamas have kiddos just a bit older and their advise is AMAZING because they can help us new moms navigate the uncharted waters of the terrible twos and beyond. Even though we are in Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, Los Angeles, Sonoma, Portland, Nebraska and Mexico, we are always there if someone needs an ear or voice of reason.

Over the past two years and too many texts to count, I know with certainty I could not have gotten through some...if not most...of the hurdles of motherhood without them. Everyone says it takes a village to raise a child, but this tribe is making me a better mother to my crazy and funny 18 month old.

They are my very own cheerleading squad and I am thankful for them each and every day! I love you girls and the mothers you all are. These girls are my forever village!

XX, Emily

The Essence of Presence.

Emily DaFoeComment
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Presence (noun) the state or fact of being present, as with others or in a place.

Mindfulness is an everyday capacity, not some kind of grand and esoteric state. Children, the elderly, and even those suffering from minor mental health issues can all develop mindfulness.

We can feel it immediately when someone else is mindfully present with us. Their phone is away, they look us in the eyes, and they listen.

After strengthening the muscle of mindfulness, you'll start to find yourself becoming more settled into being fully there with your children, partners, and others. More peacefully relaxed in a moment-to-moment awareness of them and you and what's happening around you.  Less worried about more things you think you need, replaying this from that from a mind movie of the past or planning for a 'better' future. Anxiety lessens, blood pressure lowers, sleep improves.

It's not an unachievable fantasy world. It's simply mindfulness. And the best thing is, it's free.

Try this easy exercise to get you closer to mindfulness. Relax, take a deep breath. Move your attention away from thoughts, if thoughts continue to come, say hello, and watch them go. Do not judge them or get involved with them. The mere fact that you can identify that it is a thought, or the voice brings more present awareness to your sitting. Thoughts or the voice can be like strangers sitting next to you at a table talking. You simply block out the incessant noise.

Once you have a moment of space, you will begin to recognize this thoughtless space as presence. 

Continue to find time in your day to practice this, and you will notice the space (presence) getting larger and larger.

Minimizing and House Rituals

Emily DaFoeComment
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How many of you out there have household rituals? I never thought of myself as a real ritual person, but over the years, I have realized that my Type A personality has created some good habits that help our household more a bit more slowly.  For instance, the first thing I do in the morning is to make the bed! I can’t feel good about the start of the day with an unmade bed, and thankfully, this practice - or morning routine - has rubbed off on my son! Every morning he asks me to make his bed - winning! While I am not a crazy clean freak, I do like a tidy house. Since I work from home, I also like to see order and everything put away, so I don’t sit and stare at it while I am trying to focus my tasks elsewhere.

Taking rituals aside, I am in the midst of a very cool lifestyle e-course designed by Courtney Amado from the blog Somewhere Slower. She is a mother of 5 who moved her family from London to Byron Bay after traveling the world for a year with her family in tow. Sign me up for that! Last week our topic was in our home. Thank goodness we have all taken a page out of Marie Kondo’s book and started purging all of our crap! After this past week, it really made me think of our home, what we had, and what I could eliminate. Apparently, it struck a cord, because the trash bags came out the very next morning for a good purge - starting with my son’s room!

When I got pregnant, my husband and I always joked that he could play outside with rocks and sticks. I have never been one to have a house full of toys, but my ideas of getting rid of all the cheap plastic toys we have gathered along the way became solidified when I listened to a great podcast on Goop by Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting, that stressed the importance of a value-centered home. Give the podcast a listen, it’s really wonderful. 

So, this podcast, in conjunction with Courtney’s topic of home, encouraged me to purge the toys and old books. Yes books, listen to the podcast and you will get it. Along with my son, we chose to keep only his favorite toys: Matchbox cars, Legos, the Brio Train Sets, Magna-tiles, all the horses and animal figures, and a few airplanes. This may sound like a lot, but everything managed to fit into a few baskets! We went through all of his books, and he chose the ones he didn’t like as well. We did have to negotiate on one thing - his wooden farm set - and that was 100% ok. I may have snuck in a few things here and there, but all in all, he was very happy with his assortment he was left with. One of the things I love most about our little boy is that he loves to collect rocks and feathers. We hunt for the best ones when we are outside, and keep them in sweet jars in his bedroom. They are his treasures, and I love that!

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Next was just clearing the space in the rest of our home. While I admit I haven’t had a chance to purge everything, I am going with one room at a time. Now with a little less clutter, at the end of each day, I have my son pick up all of his toys and put them into their designated baskets. We call this the Clean Up Game and I picked this trick up from his pre-school. It works like a charm and he’s happy to have a clean room before he goes to sleep. 

Having adopted a kind of evening ritual in our home, I now have a few of my own. At the end of each day ( most days at least ) after Waylon is asleep, I clean up the kitchen, tidy up the living room, light some candles - or palo santo - and try to relax. Whether I am scrolling the web, reading a book, looking at insty, or binge-watching my new favorite Outlander, it’s nice to know the house is clean and I am not waking up to a huge mess. The perk is the more I purge, the less I have to tidy!

What are some of your favorite household or daily rituals?

xx, Emily

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Real Talk: Kassidy Love

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Have you ever dreamed of packing up and moving to another country for an adventure? Well, this mama and her husband did just that. From Nicaragua to Napa and down to Mexico, Kassidy and Ben Love realized that their lives would feel more complete and fulfilled by living a simpler life in San Pancho, Mexico. They recently opened a real estate and development office called Wanderlust Real Estate and have embraced all that Mexico has to offer with two boys under 5!

Where are you from?   

Born and raised in Wyoming, lived in California for 11 years, Nicaragua for 6 years and now Mexico for the last 3 years.  Loaded question.

Who are your small folk?

We've got two BOYS.  Five year old Maverick, creative storyteller who loves to dance, and raging three-year old Indio, who we also call "Stan", future linebacker, aggressive hugger and kisser, loves to crush anything. 

What’s your thing? (career, business, ambition etc)

I'm a photojournalist and filmmaker by trade, but wear many hats.  I have run an all inclusive surf lodge in Central America and am currently running a Real estate and Development firm in San Pancho, Mexico, in the Riviera Nayarit.  

What was the most challenging thing about relocating to a foreign country with babies?

The most challenging is missing our family.  We aren't even that far from them, but internet is shotty so Facetime is in and out.  

Also, finding organic foods and natural medicines are a bit more difficult, but they do exist.... just a bit more of a drive.  

Other than that, I find it a much easier place to raise kids.  We can walk everywhere, and people in the town really look out for each other's kids.  The pace is perfect... I don't ever feel the pressure.  I can sit down and have a margarita with my kids and my dog in the restaurant, and no one looks at me cross-eyed.  And the staff will always try to make the kiddos smile.  It's a win-win.  

What do you find most challenging about motherhood?

Finding time for myself.  And wondering if I'm teaching them what I'm supposed to be teaching them.  I always feel like I should be doing more, like teaching them to ride a bike or write their names or read!  I don't know the standard protocol!

What are your most favorite things to do with your kids?

We love to walk through town and pretend that we are searching for dinosaurs.  We pick up clues like feathers or a leaf that has been torn (or chomped by Triceratops).  I make them believe I saw a glimpse of a tail down the next street and they run like maniacs to catch it.  Good source of exercise:)

Do you feel like you need to be more present?

Absolutely.  But what working parent doesn't??

How do you practice being present with your children in a time when there are so many distractions?

I like to sit down and do a puzzle with them or a game of memory or read a book with them.  Most times, I end up finishing the puzzle (because I'm OCD like that) while my 3 year old tries to destroy it, so I take it as a hint, relinquish control over the play and move on to whatever they want to do at that time.  You've got to be flexible.

Do you have technology free time?

They are allowed to watch a movie or play pre-school on their ipad in the afternoon after school for an hour or two.  Then it's play outside time.  If they wake up too early in the morning, we will put on a quiet movie as well.  

Any tips for the moms out there?

Take time for yourself.  Hire a damn babysitter.  Don't try to control everything.  It's okay if your house is a mess, just sit down for a second.  Hell, take a nap.   

I tried to do everything myself the first two years of my first born's life, and the moment I sent him to daycare, it was like the clouds opened up and I was free again!  And it was good for him too!

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4 Simple Reminders

Emily DaFoeComment
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4 Simple reminders to turn the DAILY MUNDANE into the DAILY EXTRAORDINARY. 

I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t struggle with my Instagram and Facebook relationship... Constantly checking to see if I have one more ‘like’ or ‘comment.' Feeling validated because you know, this perfectly constructed image that I just posted (with the most age-affective filter), exudes my perfect life.  Well, my ‘perfect life’ that I want people to believe I have anyway. 

My mind keeps on taking me back to a time when I traveled the world all by myself at the tender age of 18 (circa 2001). This was a time when there was no social media, no iPhones for that matter, and I had to check into the local Internet cafe once a week to send an email to my parents to tell them that I was still alive and well. I had a certain confidence that comes from a kid who doesn’t know too much. Naivety if you will. But it was a beautiful kind of naivety. I was confident in the person who I was, with all my flaws. I dressed in what fit me well, not in the ever-changing fashion. I had to rely on the goodness of others to help me navigate traveling around the world, and I was more open to accepting interaction with others. I paved the way to the road less traveled. It was my journey, all mine, and not one part of my self wanted someone else’s life. 

But then social media came along, and everything now feels a little askew. A little off-kilter. I began to compare my life to others. Insecurities crept in, and a desire to be validated by ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ became important. I’ve noticed that this feeling has overflown into my friendships, relationships, and the way I embrace motherhood. 

When I reflect on the travels of the carefree 18 yr old girl that I was, the one thing stands out the most to me was that each day was relished and enjoyed because I was 100% ALL IN PRESENT. I didn’t care one bit about what the rest of the world thought about me… And MUMMA, I’m fighting to bring that carefree blissful contentment back into my life as a mother, wife, friend, woman, and so can YOU!

Here are a few simple reminders to keep you engaged and present with your children, that will turn what seems like the daily mundane into something extraordinary.

MARIA KONDO your mind and get rid of the clutter. 

To do lists, laundry lists, got to get back to the email lists, school PTA lists, grocery lists, lists, lists, lists… All these lists filling up our mind space and it’s time to simplify. Have you ever found yourself playing with your kids, interacting with them, but your mind is actually off somewhere else? I remember a time when my then 3yr old daughter was drawing on the wall with a crayon. I was cooking, but also daydreaming, and she said to me, “Mommy look at me, I am drawing on the walls.” I replied, “That’s nice dear,” and went back to my daydreaming. She actually told me THREE MORE TIMES before I stopped what I was doing and said, “YOU’RE WHAT? You’re drawing on the walls!” You can be physically present, but not mentally. 

Every morning I make a list of all my 'TO-DO’s' that need to be tackled for the day. Writing them down gets them out of my head and free’s up space to concentrate on what is before me. When I get a little downtime during the day I can usually knock off most of my list with less effort than trying to get them done while being distracted by my little people. I’ve also found that waking up 30 mins before my kiddos, carves out some valuable time to bust out my to-do list before the day gets ahead of me. 

Recap: Write out your to-do list.  Keep a note pad close by; adding to it as tasks pop into your mind. This will free up mental clutter and allow you to concentrate on being in the moment. Be sure to schedule a little time in your day where you can knock off items on your list. 

PUT THE PHONE DOWN.

I know, I know… this isn’t groundbreaking news. But it is easier said than done. I try to do all my iPhone ‘work,’ ie emails, social media checking, googling, etc, when my children are at school, or not around. Leave the phone in the car when you go places, and give yourself a fighting chance to engage with your children without the distraction of the iPhone. I promise you that you have enough photos on your phone of your children to be without your camera for this outing. Show your children that they are the most important thing in the room… not the iPhone.

Recap: Put your phone down. Leave it in the car. Give yourself technology free time just as you would give your kids. This allows you to focus on your life, rather than the life of others!

PRETEND PLAY WITH THEM.

Yes really, play with them. This is something I personally find really hard to do. But, without a doubt, every single time I spend 20 minutes playing with my children, they are elated and so am I. This means to take time to leave the mental clutter and the to-do list at the door, and getting down to your child's level, allowing them to create a magical Never-World that they can master. Playtime will give you a glimpse into your child’s world, and through this, you will learn to communicate more effectively with your child. Which then provides you with the perfect setting to offer gentle, nurturing guidance.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics; Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears… When parents observe their children in play or join with them in child-driven play, they are given a unique opportunity to see the world from their child’s vantage point as the child navigates a world perfectly created just to fit his or her needs. The interactions that occur through play tell children that parents are fully paying attention to them and help to build enduring relationships. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182

Recap: Carve out time to PLAY with your children. No iPhones, no mental clutter, just you and the kids. Soon you will be seeing the world in the same magical lens that your children see it in!

TALK TO THEM.

When was the last time you had a REAL back and forth conversation with your child? Sometimes I find that my life gets so busy racing from one place to the next that I forget to talk to my kids. Sure, I tell them what to do, they tell me what they want, I diffuse arguments, and I referee their day-to-day tasks from the sidelines. However, before I know it a few days have past and I haven’t had a real back and forth conversation with my kids.

Researchers from MIT, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania found that the best thing a parent can do for their children is to have frequent back and forth conversations. The findings suggest that doing this from an early age with help foster and develop one of the most important life skills: COMMUNICATION. Furthermore, a number of studies show that good communication skills can attribute to high self-esteem, longer marriages, healthier relationships and over-all better quality in life. Not to mention, that talking to your kids can be downright funny at times - so it benefits your quality of life too!

Recap: Try to implement daily conversation time with your children. We usually do this at the dinner table or at bedtime. We talk about each others day, we ask our kids what their most memorable part of the day was, and what they didn’t like so much. Kids a funny, the back and forth banter has me and my husband in stitches every time!

DISCLAIMER.

Mumma, at the end of the day you are ALL that your child needs. I know that the days can be long, the challenges are always different and the celebrations are ever changing. Somedays you will be up to your eyeballs with your workload, to-do lists and all you can do is feed your kids cereal for dinner and put them in front of the TV to get your ever-growing list done, and that is ok too.

But I will tell you, that when I implement daily slivers of 100 % PRESENT MOMENTS, my little moments with my kids become something extraordinary. THE DAILY MUNDANE BECOMES A BEAUTIFUL LIFE.

xx, Alana


Did You Hear Me?

Emily DaFoe
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Do you have rocks in your ears? Can you turn your listening ears on? Did you hear what I asked you? Are you listening to me?

How many time a day do you have to remind your child to listen or to complete a task? For me it’s about 1 million! Of course I am exaggerating, but I can not express the frustration I get from my child not listening or acting up. These times are not always my finest moments of motherhood, but we are here to be real, and I sometimes I just don’t have any patience.

I have to sit back and ask myself, why does it bother me so much that he doesn’t listen to me. Does this go back to my need for control, is it that I expect should respect me, is it because he’s 3 and he’s testing and learning boundaries, or all of the above. Naturally it’s the latter, but I feel like learning good habits right off the bat set the tone for the house and the child I want to raise. Because I like structure and feel manners are vital, it makes me nuts when he chooses to have “selective hearing.”

My major mom fail with having him NOT listen is when he bolted out of Costco and ran into the parking lot. Yes, that did happen and it was terrifying. When I finally caught him and basically threw him into a planter to stop him, another mother approached me and told me what a great job I did at handling the situation. I thanked her while my hands trembled, and returned to discipline my naughty boy. Not only was I scared half to death, I was so mad at him for not listening and putting himself in danger. That was a huge turning point when I learned that changes needed to be made. Naturally, I went in and bought a leash. Just kidding, but I totally get them after that experience!

Here are a few things that I have modified in our household that have helped minimize distractions and keep him focus a little more on mom and dad. These also remind him that he’s not in charge of our family and that it’s important for him to know that he needs to listen to us.

  1. No TV. Yes, we watch TV and while his screen time is limited, if I need to sneak in some work or a Peloton ride before the morning commute, we watch Baby Einstein. It’s rare that we have a show on, but that is a privilege and if he’s not paying attention, then he doesn’t get it. Having the TV on in the morning became a fight because he didn’t want to get dressed or eat breakfast, which in turn set the tone for the day and it wasn’t great for anyone. Now, there is NO tv during the week and the mornings run a bit more smoothly and his listening and focus is more clear.

  2. Getting him ready first. For workdays, I always get him fed and dressed before I get myself ready. This might seem backwards, but if he’s ready to walk out the door, I minimize the need to ask over and over again to put on his shoes, grab his jacket and get in the car.

  3. I have a new mantra I say to him daily “Good behavior is rewarded, bad behavior loses privileges!” I am not giving him treats or gifts for good behavior, but we will go on an adventure or a walk, or blow bubbles if he’s being a good listener. If he’s not listening, we will not go to the park or the river because those are fun privileges to earn with respectful behavior. Ok, now you might be thinking I am a nutcase, and that’s totally fine…but I have a 3 year old only child who wants a LOT of attention. I have always told him that if he’s a good listener, polite, kind, and sweet, the world is his oyster. BUT if he’s not going to listen or is acting naughty, we won’t get to do as many fun activities.

  4. Picking my battles. There are times I feel like I am talking to a brick wall and need to lower my expectations. It’s now become a family theme that my dog and my child both don’t listen to me, which my husband kindly enjoys pointing out.

  5. Extra sleep. Yes, this is obvious that a tired toddler is a nightmare, but sometimes it’s a slippery slope. I have keep his nap schedule pretty strict when we are home which allows him to get solid rest, I get a break to catch up on my work and when he wakes up, we are all better and more respectful of one another.

So there are some things I try to remember when I am at the end of my rope with not listening and talk back. The talk back just started and will be a whole different conversation. If anyone has tips for creating good listeners, I am all ears…pun intended!

xx, Emily

REAL TALK: Moon Bloodgood

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While most moms have tackled the art of multi tasking, Moon Bloodgood stands in her own arena. This gorgeous actress, mom to Pepper and Archie has graced the screens for over twenty years, and is now raising her kiddos while fitting in TV shows and movie roles in Hollywood.

We love talking to moms who march to their own drum and love hearing about their philosophies, ideas, methods, and how they manage motherhood. We sat down with Moon to ask her some of our most curious questions and love how honest and real she is.

Where are you from?

I was born in Nebraska and I was raised in Anaheim California. I am first generation Korean American or technically 1.5 because I was born in the states but my mother is Korean.  

What’s your thing? 

My “thing” is always about how to live an authentic life. How to feel connected to myself, the world and my crew. I also love being creative and being around people who are allowing themselves to be creative. I believe it be essential to any kind of joy we want to experience. 

What do you find most challenging about motherhood?

Where do I start? Everything. Sometimes I’m frustrated with how much we shame moms who tell the truth about the struggle. 

Like, how hard sleepless nights are, or how hard it is in general. We feel that we are failing as women if we can’t “keep it together,” or if it’s not going the way we expect. I find myself getting bored around moms who don’t keep it real, because being a mother is intense. There is no book, sorry! There is no right way. You make choices and you hope your kids don’t have to go to therapy one day!

What are your most favorite things to do with your kids?

I think structure is overrated. I like to be fun and impulsive. I regularly blast loud, obnoxious pop music in my house and let them run around crazy and dance.  I dance around them all the time.  I also wrestle with them. Knowing how to P L A Y with your kids is the most important thing to me. My kids are young ( 3 and 6), and they need to be free and unrestricted. 

Do you feel like you need to be more present?

Of course. Who doesn’t? Finding balance in your life is extremely challenging. You also can’t be present all the time.

How do you practice being present with your children in a time when there are so many distractions?

I don’t have a good answer other then I just keep trying. I also don’t over-plan. I try not to overwhelm my kids or myself. 

Do you have technology free time?

Even if I did, I’m not going to talk about it. I get annoyed with everyone hating on technology. Getting high and mighty is something motherhood can bring out in any good intentioned mom. I just try to do my best. I fail at a lot of things but one thing I know for sure… My kids love me and I love them deeply. I will never stop kissing their faces!  

Any tips for the moms out there?

Yeah. Don’t be hard on yourself, and don’t be hard on others. We are ALL trying to do right. Even if it appears contrary to your norms. Be goofy with your kids. Show them you can laugh from your heart and belly, and most importantly, apologize when you have hurt them. Show them vulnerability. It doesn’t make you weak, if makes you BRAVE.  

Big hug to all the moms out there kicking ass! 

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Reducing Tantrums through Mindfulness Exercises

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Reducing Tantrums through Mindfulness Exercises: Stella Rankin

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Today I had a tantrum. I screamed at my 4-year-old. It wasn’t for long and it was more of a high pitch screech, but it stops us all in our tracks. My 4-year-old froze in a stunned position, eyes peeled open like a deer in headlights. I too stood still, surprised by the sound that echoed through my ears. The only thing that broke the stillness was my 2-year-old who suddenly screeched too, mimicking her mothers sounds.

I’d totally and completely lost my cool over something silly. I’m not proud, it wasn’t pretty, and the almost violent sound actually scared me too.

I pride myself in being calm. Being mindful and really trying to be present with my kids and within my life. Daily building a life of purpose. But still even with all that focus and attention, I lost my cool. Is it any wonder that children have trouble self-regulating their behaviors? I mean, if I, an almost 40-year-old can lose their cool over something small and scare the very life from her kids, then how is a toddler or child expected to always behave themselves?

Tantrums, being overly fussy, aggressiveness and whining are all not-so-great behaviors that can be helped and reduced. And the fantastic news is that developing skills to calm down instead of acting out are simple lessons that can be taught by any parent or carer.

Here is an easy exercise to uncover your child’s inner angel.

NOTE: When deciding to implement any new mindful lessons with your children, the key is little and often. These little people need consistency, repetition and your patience to develop these skills. So, don’t expect change overnight, like anything good, it takes time.

1.    Lie down on the floor with your child. Ask them to feel the floor underneath their backs and legs, arms and heads.

2.    Ask them to move their heads. Play around with getting them to move different areas of the body.

3.    Ask them to now tense up their faces and hands like a squishy ball and then release. Repeat this a few times.

4.    Now, get them to sit up. Talk to them about what feels better, the tight fist and face or the relaxed one. Explain that when they are frustrated or sad or angry the body tenses up – you might want to talk about a recent episode where they were angry and how they felt better when it was over. Ask them how their body feels when they are angry.

*You’re basically try to teach them a simple awareness between the sensations of the body during anger and the sensation of the body during calmness. This is similar to teaching a child the sensations of the need to use the bathroom during potty training. (And remember how long that can take!)

5.    Now ask them once more to tense up all their body to the count of 10. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 and release

6.    Ask them to take a deep breath to the count of 3, breathing in the beautiful light from the sun.

7.    Now tell them to blow out an imaginary candle.

8.    Repeat the last two steps a few times.

The last two steps are the imagery I use almost daily with my children. If they are fighting or angry and not listening, I simply say “breath in the light from the sun and blow out your candle.” If it doesn’t work for both of them, it will at least work for one of them and helps them reset.

I can’t say it will eliminate tantrums completely every time, but it certainly has reduced the duration of tantrums, anger and moodiness in our house and strengthened our relationship. It’s something positive we do together in the middle of chaos that helps us return to our day as a team.

Don’t get discouraged if at first it doesn’t work, use the imagery daily and then one day when you’re angry your child will say ‘Mom, breath in the light from the sun and blow out your candle. And, it will melt your heart.

xx, Stella

You Reap What You Sow

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Sowing seeds of JOY

By Alana Clumeck

I have been gardening a lot lately. I enjoy seeing the rewards of my labor bloom into something beautiful. I love pulling weeds from the garden, allowing enough space for the plant of choice to grow to its full potential. I love that you can fertilize the soil, plant a seed, give it water and sunshine and watch it grow. 

Joy is a lot like gardening. Weeds of ungratefulness and the disease of discontentment can quickly choke up space or kill your joy. If there is not enough light (or love) the plant will wither and be stunted. If there is not enough water, and nutrients the plant will die… The joy will die. 

Gardens take daily tending, just like joy. Seasons of life change, just like seasons will change a garden. And with every season change, there is something different that you have to do to nurture the plant. Sometime you have to prune back all the leaves, strip it bare, start again, so that new springs (of joy), can grow, and when summer comes along the plant is blooming to its full potential.

Here are a few ways to HARVEST JOY in your life. 

MAKE SPACE - Get rid of your weeds. 

I’ve had a lot of seasons with weeds in my life. Sometimes you need to start pulling out the things from your life that do not bring you joy. This could be in the form of commitments, relationships, stuff, or thoughts. Clear enough space in your life to refocus your energy on what really matters… tending to your garden. 

PLANT SEEDS OF THANKFULNESS. 

President Roosevelt said it right, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It is easy to look over at your neighbors law and think it is really green. But friends, I am here to tell you that your lawn can be green too, if you water it. It starts by looking at what you have and being grateful for it.

It’s as easy as saying out loud, “I am thankful for my messy house because it means that my children have played freely in a safe space.” When I am cleaning my kitchen I often say to myself, “I am thankful that I get to clean my kitchen, because it means that while my husband works, I can stay at home with my children and create memories with them.” Your seeds might look different to mine, but by planting seeds of thankfulness (even if sometimes you don’t feel that thankful), they will grow. Seeds grow. 

TEND TO YOUR SEEDS

Water your seeds, give them nutrients, give them sunlight. If you don’t they wont grow. Your joy wont grow. It’s way too easy for us moms push our needs aside for the good of the family, or even for your friends. I’ll admit first hand that this can be extremely hard to do, especially if your plate is already full with work and after school commitments. But, if you don’t look after yourself, just like a plant, you will wither.

Even if it is something as simple as taking the dog for a 20 min walk, or reading that book you’ve always wanted to read (instead of watching Netflix), take time out for yourself on a regular basis and do something that brings you joy. 

WATCH OUT FOR DISEASES

I’ve noticed that sprouts tend to get eaten up by bugs and diseases much quicker than a full grown plant. I guess it’s because the sprout is small and fragile, so it is easier to see the damage. The quickest and easiest way to get rid of diseases in your life is to diffuse their power. Diseases can come in different forms; in forms of addictions, toxic relationships, in anxieties, in fear, in depression, in health issues etc.

I personally had a shocking knock to my joy recently when I was diagnosis with a 1 in a million rare genetic blood disease. Fear, anxiety, and health illnesses were quickly eating up my joy and I realized that if I am to live with this illness I will not give it the power to kill my joy. So I started thanking my body for my disease. I know that sounds really weird, and I can tell you right now if I could give it back I would. I don’t want it. But there is no cure for it, so it is here to stay. So I tell my body that I am thankful for it, I tell my blood cells that they WILL sing with joy. I concentrate on all the good things in my life that I can be thankful for, and in doing so I diffuse the power of the disease, and I become a mature plant. 

SEASONS CHANGE - SO DON’T BE ALARMED

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall… and then it happens all over again. It’s interesting that sometimes when life’s seasons change we feel like we’ve been hit by a truck. I know that some of you are going through really hard stuff, so I don’t want to make you feel like what you are going through isn’t valid or big. But, I am here to tell you that sometimes we need to prune and strip things back in order to find joy again. Sometimes the leaves need to fall, and then the storm needs to roll in, before the sunlight comes. 

But friends, the sunlight always comes. It does. Hold onto your joy, tend to it daily, ward off bugs and diseases with thankful hearts and full hearts. And it will bloom into the most beautiful fragrant garden. 

xx, Alana

REAL TALK: Jaye Ganibi

Emily DaFoeComment

REAL TALK: Jaye Ganibi

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There is no horsing around with this mama! Jaye Ganibi, mom to Sunny (8) and Oakley (6) runs one of the hottest must-do’s the Santa Ynez Valley has to offer, Vino Vaqueros Horseback Riding! While tourists flock to the Estelle Vineyard to ride through the vines and rolling hills, Jaye makes sure that no stone is unturned and that the operation is seamless. From feeding to wrangling, saddling to mucking, Jaye is on it!

We love talking to moms who own and operate their own successful businesses to get tips, info, and insight into how everyone manages life. We recently sat down with Jaye to ask her some of our favorite questions:

 Lets just go for it, what is your biggest motherhood challenge”

Balance! Motherhood is about the biggest catch 22 there is in my opinion. On one hand, if your “full time” job is motherhood (which it is regardless of your side hustle ;)) then women tend to lose themselves and forget who they are, and who they once were before children, which can lead to resent and depression. On the other hand, too much work outside of the home can create chaos because nothing else gets done (unless you have a “manny” at home, but let’s face it, that’s a million to one chance). When this happens,  in comes the resent again, and instead of taking the time to be present with your children you are doing domestics-BALANCE!

What are some of your favorite thing to do with kids:

Anything outside away from responsibilities that I might have for work or home. This includes-riding, fishing, nature walks, swimming, picnics-these are all my favorite things 

Do you feel like you need to be more present and engaged with your children?

YESSSSSS! 

How do you practice being present?

Lately I have made an effort (don’t tell my “business partner”) to leave the business phone behind when I am with the kids. I make it a point for them to see me do it, not because of the business but I also want them to see the phones can STAY home and the world won’t explode. 

 Are you a tech free family? How do you monitor screen time and technology?

Luckily my kid’s aren’t super into screen time, I know they would be if allowed, but we have fought it pretty hard. It’s definitely tough because they see me on email, phone calls, and I also run the social media as well. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t catch them taking the phones and looking at Instagram! We make it a point at meals to have music only. No phones, and definitely no TV. It kind of blows my mind that people watch TV during dinner. My family growing up did and it’s appalling. 

If you had any tips for moms, what would you recommend?

Moms take heed. If you don’t need to make your life more chaotic please don’t. I see a lot of moms taking on way too much that don’t need to. Right now I work weekends, and it sucks. I miss so much of my kid’s activities and important family time that people often wonder if I even exist! I am only doing this now because I HAVE to and trust me when I can be available on weekends I am out of there! During the week, however, I am there for them and I am SO grateful for this. Yes, there are days I take them to meeting, managing the barn and they have even guided rides with me, They also know when the “Vino phone” rings they have to be as quiet as a mouse-which doesn’t always happen. So I say to moms-if you are living a comfortable life financially or even with a little struggle do your kids a favor and please raise them. Wait until they are out of the house to create chaos if that’s your jam. These times are soooo precious and once they’re gone that’s it. Remember to that resentful moms raise resentful kids-Kids don’t want crazy moms, they want happy ones 

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