Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

What I Learned from 5 Movie Dates in 10 Days

Monday, August 20th, 2018

What I Learned from 5 Movie Date in 10 Days

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

I don’t go to the movies that often. Normally. It’s not uncommon for friends to mention a very popular movie, look at me and realize I haven’t seen said movie, and sigh deeply. But this summer I had a brief season of intense movie-watching. It was a fluke, and I can’t imagine I’ll repeat the experience anytime soon (because, tickets are almost expensive as the babysitter) – but it sure was a fun few days!

As I was thinking about the movies I watched, it occurred to me that not only was this random movie blitz a blast but it also taught me a few things. Just in case you’re gearing up for a month full of movies or excited to get your money’s worth out of your MoviePass, I’ll share what I learned in case it helps you, too.

The first thing you should know is that while I had five movie dates in 10 days, I only actually watched four movies. Why is that? Well, because I cancelled one of those movie dates. But even that taught me something about myself and the movies!

Are you wondering which movies I saw? Well, let me tell you. I saw:

  •    Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
  •    Ocean’s 8
  •    Ant-Man and the Wasp
  •    Mission Impossible: Fallout

And I didn’t see, after all, The Spy Who Dumped Me. Here’s what this movie mania taught me:

mamma mia 2 hip bump

1. Sometimes a girl just needs to have fun.

The movie that launched this stretch of dates was Mamma Mia, which I saw with two friends. On opening night. Because we just couldn’t wait. All three of us have gone through stressful or rough seasons lately, and we needed a break. We didn’t need thought-provoking or challenging; we needed colorful and catchy! And boy, did we get it! This movie is so silly and so pointless – and we had a blast watching it. (Also, Lily James is radiant, and I want to watch her in All The Things.)

Sometimes you might need a movie that makes you think or cry or debate. And sometimes you need sequins and disco and sunshine – and that’s okay.

oceans 8 breakfast

2. I can do new things.

Since the day I heard about Ocean’s 8, an all-female heist movie set in the world of the other Ocean’s movies, I have been just dying to see it. I love heist movies! I love Ocean’s movies! I love anything that screams girl power!

I thought I’d be going to this one with my best friend, since it was released near her birthday. Long story short, though, that didn’t work out. So I’ve been waiting for an opportunity…and waiting…and waiting. Finally, I got tired of waiting – and went by myself on a Friday night when my husband was at work, my kids were at my parents’, and my friends were busy.

Yes, I did. I just walked into that theater and bought myself one ticket and watched the movie all by myself!

Maybe you go to the movies alone all the time, but I don’t. The only time I’ve done it was on a weekday morning – you know, when nobody else was around to witness my solo screentime? But this time, I joined the couples and the groups of friends and watched that movie all by myself. And while I kind of wished for someone to discuss it with afterwards (spoiler alert: the movie was fine but not that great, which was altogether disappointing after all my anticipation), watching it alone was nice. I might even do it again sometime.

ant man

3. Spontaneity can add sparks.

For the last seven years my husband has worked nights. I won’t bore you with a long explanation of all the many ways that’s made our life difficult (and I’m going to assume you will give me the benefit of the doubt and know that I’m incredibly grateful for a hard-working husband and a job that provides for our family). But suffice it to say, weekends – when he tried to adjust to a normal daytime schedule – have been rough.

A few weeks ago, though, he switched to working days and no longer keeps vampire hours! It’s been adjustment for our whole family but also feels like a miracle. The first weekend after he began this new shift, we found ourselves wide awake and alone on a Saturday morning. On a whim we decided to go see the latest Marvel movie, and it was so fun! Even though I knew our kids were safe at my parents’ house and we didn’t have anywhere else to be, it felt a little bit like playing hooky or being on vacation.

Mission Impossible

4. But planning ahead is good for relationships, too.

Remember when I said I didn’t get to see Ocean’s 8 with my best friend? That’s because we “played it by ear” on the day we decided to get together for her birthday. We know better. After all, we’ve celebrated birthdays together for more than three decades! We are well aware that making plans is a must. But we played it too cool this time, and we ended up doing a big, fat nothing.

I’ve seen that be the case with far too many friends and family members. How many times have I said, “Yeah, let’s get together soon,” and then NEVER GOTTEN TOGETHER? How many times have you done the same thing?

So, my friend and I learned from our mistakes and planned ahead. When we saw the official date for the opening of the new Mission Impossible movie, we marked our calendars. And then a couple weeks before the release, we confirmed plans to make it a double date with our husbands. And then three days before our date, we bought tickets online. We weren’t going to miss another opportunity to see a movie or spend time together!

spy who dumped me car

5. Not everything is for me.

The fifth movie date is the one that didn’t happen after all. I planned to see The Spy Who Dumped Me with friends on its opening weekend. But the morning before we planned to go out, I read a couple reviews – and decided to skip it.

The reviews were good; the trailers still look hilarious. The cast is super funny, and the plot seems clever. I really did want to see it! (I love spy movies! And more girl power! Also, laughing is my favorite!) But when I learned that the R rating wasn’t just for language (as I’d assumed) and was instead for some graphic violence and nudity, well, I knew I need to forego this one.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t see it! We all have our own boundaries and criteria for what types of media and entertainment work for us. Much to my dismay, this one crossed some boundaries for me. (Just like Incredibles 2 unexpectedly crossed the “too scary” boundary for my youngest daughter. The rest of us thought the movie was fun, but she didn’t like it one bit! Not everything is for me…or for her…or for any of us.)

I didn’t expect to see this many movies in such a short amount of time, but it sure did make for a really fun summertime experience. And hey, I even learned some things!

Do you like seeing movies in the theater? What’s the last good one you saw?

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog, MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts.She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

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How to Create an Anniversary or Date Night Playlist

Monday, June 25th, 2018

How to Create an Anniversary or Date Night Playlist from MomAdvice.com

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

This month my husband and I will celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. And, thanks to my parents keeping our girls the weekend before the big day, we’ll actually get to celebrate with a night on the town.

Lest you think we are exciting and fancy, let me reassure you that “night on the town” really means eating dinner at Olive Garden, strolling around Target, and possibly renting a movie from Redbox. Still, any occasion – fancy night out, casual night at home, and everything in between – can be made a little more special with a playlist.

To help you do that, I’m going to walk you through my process for creating a playlist of songs that mean something to my husband and me – and just might create a romantic mood!

We’re going to talk about a set of decisions you’ll need to make before beginning, as well as how to pick the best songs for your list. And just in case it sparks your memory or creativity, I’ll share some of the songs that might make my own anniversary playlist!

How to Create an Anniversary or Date Night Playlist from MomAdvice.com

First up, decide what tools you’re going to use. Will your list be played on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, or another site or app?

Next, choose a genre. While you and your husband might enjoy all types of music, a collection of songs works better when those songs have something in common (other than your emotional attachment to them). So you don’t have to commit to a dozen New Wave tunes from the 80s, but your songs should at least have the same feel to them.

Finally, decide how long you want the playlist to be. Is it just for the car ride to and from the restaurant? Does it need to last for an entire road trip? Will you only play it during dinner at home after the kids are in bed? Figure out an estimated time frame and select your songs accordingly.

And speaking of selecting songs, here are the types of songs I’d recommend for your anniversary or date night playlist:

What song was playing the night you met or on your first date?

For us this would be What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes or Kissed by a Rose by Seal. Hello, mid-90s!

What song makes you think of your dating days?

Dust on the Bottle by David Lee Murphy, It’s Your Love by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, or anything by John Michael Montgomery, Tom Petty, the Eagles, or Boyz II Men – clearly this will be a challenge for that same genre step!

What song played when you got engaged, or makes you think of your engagement?

I was away at college during our engagement, so Save Tonight by Eagle-Eye Cherry and A Bad Goodbye by Clint Black and Wynonna make me think of that season of long-distance love.

What song(s) played at your wedding or wedding reception?

From This Moment by Shania Twain, You Are the Love of My Life by Sammy Kershaw, One Friend by Dan Seals, and I Know How the River Feels by Diamond Rio were our wedding songs. Yes, we went full country!

What song reminds you of your honeymoon?

You can interpret and answer that song any way you want to… (You could also choose a song that you both liked or that was popular during your days as newlyweds.)

How to Create an Anniversary or Date Night Playlist from MomAdvice.com

What song reflects a difficult time during your relationship?

Without a doubt, this would be Say Something by Great Big World for us. But since I can’t listen to that song now without tearing up, I might lean into the country sound and go with the just-as-fitting Hard to Love by Lee Brice.

What song reflects a season of reconnection or resurrection in your relationship?

I Hold On by Dierks Bentley is one of my favorites, because the lyrics talk about the good side of being stubborn – which is something it took my husband and me a long time to figure out!

What song(s) remind you of your children?

Since I can’t seem to escape the “gone country” theme my list is taking, I guess I’ll put I Love a Rainy Night by Eddie Rabbit and Elvira by The Oak Ridge Boys here. For some reason our girls got a huge kick out of those two songs for most of last year, and even the memory makes us chuckle now.

What current song makes you think of each other?

I don’t know if my husband likes it; I should probably ask him. But Greatest Love Story by Lanco – yes, I’m finishing strong with another country song – makes me think of him and our story every time I hear it.

This started out as a hypothetical idea for me, but thinking through all the songs that mean the most to my husband and me has me feeling nostalgic and lovey-dovey and just maybe like bursting into song. Clearly I’ll be making this playlist today! How about you?

What songs would be on your perfect anniversary or date night playlist?

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog, MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts.She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

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How Rewatching a Favorite Show Made Me a Better Wife and Mom

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

We live in a time of peak television. It’s a real golden age of entertainment – or so the critics tell us. But what is an actual embarrassment of riches when it comes to endless viewing options often translates into overwhelm, decision fatigue, and DVR avoidance. Because while I truly think many new shows sound amazing, when it comes down to picking a show to watch, I skip past the premieres and head straight for the reruns.

Real life means that most nights, I’m too tired to take on a new show — and instead crave the familiarity and comfort of old ones. I think that’s okay. I’ve written in defense of “comfort food TV” before, and I stand by that argument. I must, because a couple months ago, I found myself rewatching “New Girl” from the beginning.

new girl watch tv all day

“New Girl” is a half-hour sitcom starring Zooey Deschanel, and I vaguely recall loving it when it first came on in 2011. Somewhere along the way, though, I got a little bored or it got a little stale, and I stopped looking forward to new episodes. I watched out of loyalty and a mild curiosity about how the story would end. I didn’t even care one way or another when the show was renewed for a final season.

But all that changed when I started back at season one.

I’m not sure why, out of all the sitcoms on Netflix, I picked this one to rewatch — but it only took a few minutes to remember how much I’d once loved it.

As I binged one episode after another, I laughed out loud, often so hard I had tears streaming down my face. I found myself falling back in love with characters that had started to annoy or bore me, and I smiled at their most ridiculous antics with bemusement and affection. I cheered for their victories and ached at their disappointments. I couldn’t get enough of those crazy kids and was suddenly anxious for that final season to begin.

Maybe you’re wondering how on earth this delightful yet inconsequential experience could have anything to do with my life as a wife or mom. I get that. It seems like a stretch. But it’s not really. Not to me.

See, as I thought about how much my appreciation for this show was renewed by watching old seasons, I remembered a conversation I had with a friend several years ago. I was struggling with my oldest, whose behavior and sassy attitude were making it incredibly difficult to like her. OF COURSE I LOVED HER. But I think most moms know the feeling of loving our kids (or, ahem, our husbands) while not particularly liking or enjoying them much.

new girl murder someone

My friend listened with kindness and understanding — and then suggested I start each day by looking at my daughter’s baby pictures. She wondered if looking at photos of my daughter at her sweetest, most innocent, and most adorable might help me dig up some affection for her, even on the most challenging parenting days. We discussed how that act might just give me a likable anchor to hold onto when backtalk and disobedience threatened my patience once again.

And you know what? It works.

No, looking at Facebook’s On This Day reminders doesn’t magically drown out my daughters’ tantrums or arguments, and flipping through scrapbooks doesn’t erase the memory of a call from her teacher or a messy room or a dinner declared, “disgusting.” But it does balance out the harder parts of parenting with the sweet ones. And it does fill up my heart and my mind with all the good things about my kids that get overlooked when we’re dealing with the hard stuff.

This strategy works for my marriage, too.

On days when I’m most frustrated or disappointed with my husband, taking a look at our wedding photos or a vacation album really does pull me back from the edge. It doesn’t move his shoes out of the middle of the floor or write a love note inside the belated anniversary card. It certainly doesn’t teach us to communicate better or force us to consider one another’s feelings more. But glancing at a moment of joy captured and framed (or scrapbooked) reminds me that this irritating man is the one I chose and the one I love — and that though everyday challenges feel like they’ll never end, we’ve been in sync and happy before (and will certainly get there again).

Rewatching a favorite show that I’ve lost interest in reminded me why I fell in love with the show and the characters all those years ago. It refreshed my affection for the characters, bringing back to mind all the times I’d been moved or inspired or simply entertained by them. I remembered how much the good times outweighed the bad ones, and my desire to spend more time with a new season grew with every relived memory.

new girl bathroom

Reminiscing about my favorite people, who just might drive me crazy at times, does the same thing. It takes me back to the early days of our relationship, when I basically looked like a heart-eyes emoji and only saw the good in him or her. It reminds me of all the amazing times we’ve had together. And it gives me a big picture perspective, interrupting my in-the-trenches belief that the [hard] way it is today is how it will always be. I’m reminded how happy we’ve been in the past and feel hopeful that we’ll feel that way again. I remember that I’m in this — parenting, marriage, even friendship — for the long haul, through the best seasons and the worst.

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog, MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

Bringing Back the Art of Storytelling: Circle Round

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

Circle Round Storytelling Podcast from MomAdvice.com

This blog was sponsored by WBUR’s Circle Round.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

It’s been no secret that I have a mad love affair with my record player. Although I have many beautiful and distinct memories of listening to music on it, my plastic record player was my original love.

record player

record player

The reason it held my heart was simple…it read me stories.

I had piles of books, complete with matching records, that I would flip through and listen to over and over again. The magical chime to turn the page conjures up so many memories of sprawling on my shag carpet and closing my eyes to imagine those stories coming to life. Even before I was able to master reading, I knew a good story when I heard one.

As you know, MomAdvice is ALL about books and storytelling. This is why it brings me immense pleasure to share with you about a new storytelling podcast that your kids will flip for.

In fact, I listened to a few when I heard about it because of the captivating storytellers that they secured to read these beautiful stories.

Have I intrigued you yet?

3 Wishes source: Circle Round

Circle Round is a storytelling podcast for kids ages 4-10, and comes from the WBUR producing team behind the popular podcasts Modern Love, Dear Sugars, and Kind World. 

These episodes are narrated by Rebecca Sheir and the original music is composed and performed by Eric Shimelonis (he introduces a different instrument for each episode!). This dynamic duo also happen to be a husband and wife creative team and the two partnered together to share their storytelling gifts with the world.

I know, as a parent on-the-go, it can be difficult to squeeze in a story hour, but these stories have been tailored to a length that works for a busy family’s lifestyle. Each episode is around 10-20 minutes in length, with a strong focus on offering global perspective by using voices that represent cultures from all over the world.

It’s such a fun way to share a different part of the world with them.

Even as an adult, I am thankful for books and their ability to transport and expose me to different parts of the world or cultures that I didn’t know about!

I also love that these podcasts focus on topics like kindness, persistence, and generosity.

In today’s world, I can’t imagine better themes for our kids.

lion source: Circle Round

The reason I was so intrigued to hear these stories for myself though are because of the amazing talent that they were able to secure for their shows. Circle Round stars some of today’s most exciting theater, film, and TV actors (e.g., Jason Alexander from Seinfeld, Kathryn Hahn from Transparent and Bad Moms!).  These familiar voices make these stories even more fun and a joy to listen to as a parent.

Seriously, share this fun storytelling podcast with your kids and be sure to subscribe to get the updates. Circle Round already happens to be wrapping up its first season, offering thirty stories for you to share with your kids, so there is PLENTY to listen to!

Circle Round Storytelling Podcast from MomAdvice.com

Subscribe to Circle Round via iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app and download episodes!

This blog was sponsored by WBUR’s Circle Round.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

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5 Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter

Monday, March 26th, 2018

Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

My daughter loves to read. I mean, the girl LOVES reading.

I mean she refuses to leave the house without a book. I’m talking about a kid who stays up way past her bedtime reading, every night, unless I remove all books from her room. I’m saying she burns through books like…I don’t know, but something that doesn’t last a long time. Even all the resources of both her school library and our city library cannot keep this kid in books.

Please know I don’t say this as a criticism. I’m not mocking her. Oh no. Because my book-obsessed child is basically a mini-me in this regard. The bookworm does not fall far from the bookworm tree.

She’s also a teensy bit obsessed with Harry Potter. She was Hermione for Halloween. She began planning her Hogwarts-letter 11th birthday party the day after she turned 10. She has a Harry Potter-themed shirt for every day of the week. And last week? I registered her for a Harry Potter day camp coming up this summer. She’s a big fan.

But my daughter is also sensitive. And innocent. And, much to her great dismay (and the fantastic combination of tween attitude and gnashing of teeth), she was not ready to read the fifth Harry Potter book after devouring the first four.

Despite her protests that she was the only kid in the fourth grade who hadn’t read all the Harry Potter books, I know I’m not alone in navigating the challenge of a tween who loves books and can read at a higher grade level than she’s in – or ready for. So just in case you have a kid who loves Harry Potter (but has already read them all or isn’t ready for the next book in the series) in your life, I’ve got a few other series that might keep your bookworm busy.

Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter

5 Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter

The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer – Twins are transported to a fairytale land through a mysterious book. The stories are more Grimm than Disney, but still suitable for my fourth-grader who is reading the fifth book in this series (and loves giving me a play-by-play WHILE SHE READS. It’s fine. It’s great. It’s FINE.).

Reportedly, a movie based on this series is in development. But since no cast, release date, or other news has been announced yet, you and your kids still have plenty of time to read the books first.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan – It may be sacrilegious to Harry Potter fans, but this is my favorite middle grade series of all time. So when my daughter finally showed interest in this book about a boy who learns his father is Poseidon, an actual Greek god, I was super excited! And nervous. Would she love them as much as I do?

Well, I won’t keep you hanging – she did. Because it’s the best series ever, said the totally unbiased and definitely cool mom. It really is a great series, though, with funny, complex characters who go on incredible adventures. And readers learn a whole lot about Greek mythology along the way.

Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley – This nine-book series about two sisters whose parents have disappeared and who learn that fairy tales are true begins light and gradually grows darker. Like with Harry Potter, parents may want to set the pace for their kids’ progress through these books. But also like Harry Potter and the other series I’m recommending, parents may enjoy them just as much as their kids! So reading them together may be a great option, as the messages of girl power and the strong bond between sisters enhance the clever nature of these fractured fairy tales.

Story Thieves by James Riley – Life was pretty boring for Owen until he discovered his classmate Bethany could jump inside books and interact with the characters. The two students go on adventures in different types of books over what is so far a five-book series, and while reviews call these books more simplistic and clichéd, my daughter loves them. I legitimately just requested the fourth book in the series for her from the library.

 My 10-year-old still enjoys these books but they are geared toward a younger audience than these other series (which makes them a great alternative for kids who aren’t quite ready to advance to the next Harry Potter book!).

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – It may be experiencing a resurgence in popularity because of Disney’s recent movie release, but this series has been captivating and inspiring kids for decades. I wasn’t sure how my daughter would respond to this book, with its old-fashioned roots and sometimes complicated syntax and vocabulary. I shouldn’t have underestimated either my daughter or this series. She was hooked from the beginning, as I read to her, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Significantly different than the 2018 movie, this book captures readers and encourages them as well. I’m thrilled that my daughter wasn’t content to wait for me to read another chapter each night and has finished the first book on her own and begun the second.

I looked up each of these books on CommonSenseMedia.org, and they are all suggested for readers ages 9 and above (except for Story Thieves, which is appropriate for kids 8 and up). This site also has a great guide for both the Harry Potter books and movies, if you’re unsure about what age is best for each of the installments in this series. You can watch a quick video here and read a more detailed guide here.

It can be hard to hold our kids back from books that may be too intense for them, but it’s worth it. Reading the books when they can truly comprehend the storylines and handle difficult situations emotionally will protect their love of these books so they can enjoy them for years to come.

And if taking a break from one series leads to interest in reading another, well, that’s just an added bonus as our kids grow into great readers who love all sorts of stories.

reading harry potter

Harry Potter Illustrated

Isn’t Mary so great?

As I was titling these images, I ran across these photos of our Harry Potter fans.  They look so little, don’t they?

The days are long, but the years are short.

I can’t believe how quickly time has been passing.

Savor these reading moments with your kids because they, truly, are gone in a blink of an eye.

What to Read After Harry Potter Book Series from MomAdvice.com

If you want to explore a couple more authors and where to go next, check out these two posts from Mary:

What to Read After You’ve Finished the Latest Kasie West Novel

What to Read After You’ve Finished the Latest John Green Book

Do you have any recommendations for a great kid series after Harry Potter? Feel free to drop your suggestions in this comments below!

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog, MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

 

5 Pop Culture Parenting Goals for 2018

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

5 Pop Culture Parenting Goals for 2018

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Though I noticed weeks ago that this new year began on a Monday, I didn’t take advantage of it. Which is a real bummer, because it’s exciting enough for this type-A planner when a new month starts on a Monday. But the first day of a new year?! Starting on the first day of a new week?!

Well, that’s like a perfect storm…or the holy grail…or a magical unicorn!

But because I’m a mom as well as a list-maker and goal-setter, that so-called special day passed in a blur of puzzles and leftovers and pajamas and Netflix. And it was a solid week before I even opened my brand-new planner or organized my thoughts into resolutions. Luckily for my sanity, I decided years ago that if I can set some goals and take down holiday decorations before February 1, I’m doing okay.

When I finally did sit down to make some plans and set some goals for this year, I realized that not only did I have a list of things I wanted to change or improve, but I also had a list of experiences I want to have with my kids. And while several items on that list were the usual road trips and field trips and cooking lessons and finally sticking to a chore chart and allowance system, several others were related to pop culture.

This is no surprise, since books and movies and music and TV shows are pretty much my favorite things. Of course I’d want to share those things with my favorite people!

Do any of your parenting goals for this year involve pop culture? Here are 5 of mine:

1. Read the book before the movie. Last year my daughter read Wonder three times. She asked me to read it, too, and I said I would, and I wanted to – but I didn’t. That didn’t stop me from taking her to seeing the movie as soon as it came out (and sobbing for two hours straight), but it did mean a missed opportunity to bond even more with my daughter.

This year we’re both going to read A Wrinkle in Time before the movie comes out. I read it when I was younger, but decades later my memory of the storyline and characters is pretty faint. So I’ll re-read it while my daughter reads it for the first time, and we’ll discover the magic of this story together.

If you’ve already read this one or aren’t interested in it, plenty of children’s books have been and will be made into movies! You could choose an older one, like Bridge to Terabithia, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or How to Train Your Dragon. Or you could get caught up on the Maze Runner series before the third movie comes out later this year. No matter what story you choose, enjoy meeting new characters and entering a new world with your child on both the page and the screen!

2. Attend a live concert or play. Our city has tons of free musical performances, especially in the summer. Everything from barbershop quartet to a string quartet can be found playing on one stage or another. Festivals, library programs, carnivals, Friday night shopping promotions – they all have a soundtrack, and frequently, it’s live. When my girls get a bit older, I’d love to take them to not-so-free concerts to hear their favorite artists, but for now, the free shows featuring talented musicians in all genres work just fine.

We also love watching children’s theater and try to get in at least one show at year. That’s not free (and not always fun with squirmy little ones), but I love creating the tradition of making art a priority for our family.

3. Introduce my kids to old movies or TV shows. Between Netflix and Hulu and On Demand and DVDs and YouTube, my kids have hundreds of options for entertainment. This is great and fun (and scary – but that’s a conversation for another day!), but it means they haven’t been exposed to some of the quintessential children’s programming I consider classics. When I realized a while ago my kids didn’t know who Popeye or Bugs Bunny or the Flintstones were? I was shocked – and determined to remedy the situation.

In addition to introducing them to my favorite old-school cartoons, I also decided to show them some of my favorite movies. So last summer, we watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Princess Bride, and Flight of the Navigator. On my list for this year? Mrs. Doubtfire, Sandlot, Hook, Mighty Ducks, and Karate Kid (the original one, not the new one!).

4. Go to the drive-in. I’ve never seen a movie at the drive-in. So, obviously, my kids haven’t either. I’m determined to visit our city’s one drive-in theater this year, eat all the popcorn and candy we can handle, and sing, “Stranded at the Drive-In,” from Grease to them at the top of my lungs.

(“Embarrass my kids” is ALWAYS on my to-do list.)

5. Try something new. – Something new slides into my Facebook feed or inbox or actual mailbox every single day. Nobody can possibly keep up with all of it! But when I see a new magazine for kids or article about geocaching or a creative subscription box or local art show, I take note and try to fit it into our budget and schedule. It doesn’t always work out, but if we can try one or two new things this year, I think we’ll be doing all right!

What are your parenting goals for 2018?

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog, MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo 

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Burning Mouth Syndrome…Maybe Not?

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Burning Mouth Syndrome

It has been awhile since I have checked in with you about my own personal health journey, but something occurred this year that I thought would be a vital PSA since I had such a hard time locating information on the topic and finding the correct diagnosis. In fact, I can’t tell you how many people have written to me that have finally found answers to their health issues (or their children’s) when I wrote about my connective tissue disease. It was through this that I realized that transparency about our reality really does help people.

For example, when I discovered a life-changing way to manage my pain without drugs, I was able to connect other people to this incredible device that got me off painkillers.

Today’s post has been a few months coming and it’s a long one…

Say Goodbye to Your Normal Jaw

My biggest struggle with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is my body’s ability to dislocate/subluxations with no real rhyme or reason. It creates a lot of anxiety when you wake up and don’t know if all your bones are going to stay in place throughout the course of a day.  My biggest issues have been my shoulder blades slipping, ribs subluxations, fingers (which I brace now with these), and hips.

This Fall though, I had my first dislocation of my jaw and it was as awful as you might imagine it.

I opened my mouth and the pain shot through my jaw all the way to the top of my head with a loud pop. I woke up the next morning in excruciating pain and my teeth were so out of alignment that I had chewed my tongue through the night. I hit the emergency dental office the next evening, after attempting to tough it out for the day, and they put me on muscle relaxers and fitted me for a night guard that would hopefully help relax my jaw to move back in place.

To shorten the drama-filled post-I had an allergic reaction to the night guard, got fitted for another night guard, the allergic reaction progressed, and my tongue swelled and now REALLY didn’t feel like it belonged in this jacked up jaw of mine.

My tongue had scalloped and looked like this and hurt along the sides and tip.

Almost even worse than that though was that my mouth started to feel like it was ON FIRE and it was a 24/7 kind of pain that it was all I could think about.

Imagine burning your tongue, but imagine your whole mouth feels like that all the time.  It was utter misery.

I spent the next three months seeking the help from every medical professional I could find.

I tried to mediate and use yoga to quiet my mind from thinking about the burning in my mouth.

I saw a chiropractor.

I saw a massage therapist.

I consulted with three dentists.

I visited my GP and got seven different prescriptions.

My physical therapist tried to calm the nerve pain.

NOTHING worked.

NOTHING.

I spent hours and hours trying and hundreds of dollars in agony.

I did not sleep through the night for months.

This lead, admittedly, to some bad habits. I drank A LOT of wine to try to relax in the evening- to stop my mind from thinking about the burning.

I consumed a pot of coffee during the day so I could drive my children to and fro, driving them in a foggy haze that bordered on unsafe every day from the lack of sleep.

I called the doctor for anxiety medicine because all my mind could think about was my tongue.

I ate like crap since I felt like crap anyway.

I would sleep for an hour and walk around the house crying from the jaw pain and the furnace in my mouth.

MONTHS of this! My quality of life went to absolute (for lack of better word)  shit.

Burning Mouth Syndrome or Your Own Personal Hell

After doing a lot of research and talking with my medical professionals, we concluded that I had Burning Mouth Syndrome, brought on by the dental disturbance in my life.

Burning mouth syndrome is the medical term for ongoing (chronic) or recurrent burning in the mouth without an obvious cause. This discomfort may affect the tongue, gums, lips, inside of your cheeks, roof of your mouth or widespread areas of your whole mouth. The burning sensation can be severe, as if you scalded your mouth.

Burning mouth syndrome can appear suddenly or develop gradually over time. Unfortunately, the cause often can’t be determined (like in my case). Whatever pattern of mouth discomfort you have, burning mouth syndrome may last for months to years. In rare cases, symptoms may suddenly go away on their own or become less frequent.
Basically, it can just start up for no reason and never end. It can also start up as a secondary syndrome, where it is triggered by other circumstances (like in my case).
According to  the Mayo Clinic, underlying problems that may be linked to secondary burning mouth syndrome include:
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia), which can be caused by various medications, health problems, problems with salivary gland function or the side effects of cancer treatment
  • Other oral conditions, such as a fungal infection of the mouth (oral thrush), an inflammatory condition called oral lichen planus or a condition called geographic tongue that gives the tongue a map-like appearance
  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of iron, zinc, folate (vitamin B-9), thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and cobalamin (vitamin B-12)
  • Dentures, especially if they don’t fit well, which can place stress on some muscles and tissues of your mouth, or if they contain materials that irritate mouth tissues
  • Allergies or reactions to foods, food flavorings, other food additives, fragrances, dyes or dental-work substances
  • Reflux of stomach acid (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD) that enters your mouth from your stomach
  • Certain medications, particularly high blood pressure medications
  • Oral habits, such as tongue thrusting, biting the tip of the tongue and teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • Excessive mouth irritation, which may result from overbrushing your tongue, using abrasive toothpastes, overusing mouthwashes or having too many acidic drinks
  • Psychological factors, such as anxiety, depression or stress

Burning mouth syndrome usually begins spontaneously, with no known triggering factor. However, certain factors may increase your risk of developing burning mouth syndrome, including:

  • Recent illness (BINGO!)
  • Previous dental procedures (BINGO!)
  • Wearing dentures
  • Allergic reactions to food
  • Medications
  • Traumatic life events (BINGO!)
  • Stress (BINGO!)
  • Anxiety (BINGO!)
  • Depression (BINGO!)

The side effects are depression, anxiety, and no sleep.  I am not kidding when I say that when I visited forums on this topic that people were often contemplating ending their lives after decades of living like this. 

Hello, TMJ Specialist

I ended up seeing a TMJ specialist, a costly but necessary investment, and we talked about what my goals were for my visit. For my case, I needed a night guard that was not made from acrylic material and I needed a resolution to my Burning Mouth Syndrome.

I was put through a battery of tests and the biggest takeaways I learned about myself is that I have a narrow airway and my body had been in fight-or-flight mode all night because I don’t get enough oxygen. I was pushing my tongue in weird places at night to try to make oxygen for myself and gritting my teeth because I couldn’t breathe.

It was advised that I pursue this type of nasal surgery (a relatively new option) and that I start Cold Laser Therapy weekly to help calm down my mouth.

With a new night guard and the mild relief from the cold laser therapy, a little lavender essential oil on my tongue, and a proper night guard, I felt like I was back in business.

The burning was still there, but manageable

Feel the Burn

Back to crappy eating, excessive Christmas Cheer consumption, and a load of coffee to make the Christmas magic for my kids and I found the burning started to increase again. Once again,I am pacing the floors and crying at night because of the pain. I have, seriously, been the most miserable person to be around.

It is one of these late night sessions that lead me to a forum where a woman shared that she had been misdiagnosed with Burning Mouth Syndrome. She, in fact, had Acid Reflux and this had been the culprit.

Acid reflux?

I’ve never had heartburn so that couldn’t be right….

That is when I stumbled upon something called SILENT Reflux. 

Silent Reflux, Say What?

Silent Reflux or the term Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) refers to the backflow of food or stomach acid all of the way back up into the larynx (the voice box) or the pharynx (the throat). LPR can occur during the day or night, even if a person who has LPR hasn’t eaten a thing.

Not everyone with reflux has a lot of heartburn or indigestion. In fact, many people with LPR never have heartburn. This is why LPR is called SILENT REFLUX, and the terms “Silent reflux” and “LPR” are often used interchangeably. Because LPR is silent, it is sometimes difficult to diagnose.

Check out the symptoms list– I share this because most people don’t know they have this condition and it can potentially be dangerous and lead to cancer. Any untreated reflux increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer; in fact, reflux-induced esophageal cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the United States. 

Remember how I shared about my excessive coffee and wine consumption? It isn’t just so you can judge me (although you totally can!), I basically was adding fuel to the fire all day long.

That night I popped a Pepcid and my mouth calmed down about 80% and I realized that I was on to something. I talked with the TMJ specialist and he congratulated me on solving the riddle in my body and that we would no longer need the cold laser therapy sessions.

Now What?

Well, now that we have solved the riddle, I have to make some major dietary and routine changes. I need to book an ENT to resolve my oxygen issue and get guidance on my silent reflux. I consider the fact that my mouth was doing this a very serious cry for help. With all my health issues, I’d be a fool not to take that seriously.

I checked out this book and realized that everything I love to eat had been contributing to the burning sensation in my mouth. I’m a late night snacker, I love my all day coffee habit, I love wine, I have been known to sit down and eat two or three tomatoes with a load of vinegar, give me all the red sauce and heavy foods, etc…

Here are some things you should avoid if you suspect you might have silent reflux too.

I’ve got a lot to work out still, but I would do anything, ANYTHING to feel like my old self again. I need to figure out my new normal again.

I feel like I’ve been through hell and back.

But, you guys, I DID THAT and I’m back, still standing.

Also, I need to distribute medals to my friends, family, and medical professionals this year- thanks for still loving me.

Feel free to shoot any questions to me about any of this or tips on dealing with acid reflux!

This post contains affiliate links. I promise to only recommend what I truly love!

 

5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays

Monday, December 18th, 2017

5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays

This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

The holidays, while lovely, can be a stressful time of year. I don’t know about you, but each day has been filled with a running to-do list, a million activities, and a lot of food preparation.

Oh, and science fair.

For the love.

I will confess that I have NEVER had an issue with self-care, but I will also confess that my idea of self-care has evolved so much over the years.

Today I wanted to share with you 5 ways I make self-care a priority around the holidays and I would love to hear how you make self-care a priority in your life.

Take a “Sick Day” Once a Week

An epiphany came to me the last time I got sick. I spent an entire day at home sleeping, but wished that I was able to have a day like that when I was well and could really enjoy it. I decided to implement a once-a-week “sick day,” where I allow myself to enjoy a day just for me.

On this day, I rarely get out of my pajamas, I read all day, watch my favorite shows, don’t check email, take a nap, and indulge in crafty classes to allow space for creativity. In the evening, I do not do housework or make dinner (thank you, loads of leftovers!).

It is my FAVORITE day of the week and, believe me, if anyone interferes with mom’s “sick day,” it has to be moved to another day. I crave this day to myself.

5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays 5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays

Indulge in a Rewarding Soak

Is anybody else crazy about magnesium and all of its benefits on the body? Adding an Epsom soak to my daily routines has been incredibly beneficial to my body AND to my mental health. Did you know that stress can be a cause of magnesium deficiency, and a lack of magnesium tends to magnify the stress reaction, worsening the problem?

The holidays can be a particularly stressful time on our bodies and contribute towards deficiencies.

In studies, adrenaline and cortisol, byproducts of the “fight or flight” reaction associated with stress and anxiety, were associated with decreased magnesium (source).

I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like me around the holidays!

To get the benefits add two cups of Epsom salts to your bath and soak for 15-20 minutes in warm water. While you are doing this, combine it with other healthy habits:

Meditate- Add an app like Headspace to your phone and use this time to deeply breathe and meditate. They have a ten-day free beginner program that you can use to give meditation a try. This is the perfect time to give it a spin!

Add a Smart Beverage to Your Routine- Coffee can dehydrate the body so try replenishing it with a glass of Florida Orange Juice. While you soaking in your magnesium, you can also be enjoying a glass of Florida Orange Juice. Every glass (the recommended daily intake of Florida OJ is eight ounces for adults) of Florida Orange Juice has the Amazing Five. In just one glass you have Taste, Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium and No Added Sugar. Fancy it up with a slice of orange and serve in a pretty glass to add to the experience.

Read a Book- When people ask me how I’m able to read so many books, I have to say that these soaks have been where I have done some of my best reading. A book tray has been a smart investment for this bookworm and it feels like I’m really escaping when I can dive into a little fiction.

5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays

Add Small Indulgences to Your Daily Routines

Wrapping, cooking, organizing, and cleaning are things we are all doing to prepare for the holidays. There is no reason that these routines can’t be coupled with small indulgences though, that can make the experience a little more pleasurable. I love to upgrade my boring routine to-do list items with something that brings me joy.

Wrapping gifts?

Why not belly-laugh to ELF while you are wrapping!

DIY Orange Sugar Scrub

Doing dishes?

Add a jar of this diy orange scrub (recipe below) to your agenda and give your hands a little pampering.

Cleaning the house?

Snag an audiobook from your library, strap on some wireless headphones and your fanny pack (this is TOTALLY what I do) and listen to a great book while you clean.

Pairing something that’s pleasurable with something that is not makes tasks like these much more bearable!

Marco Polo App

Make Time for People

This is the season where we can get really swept away with spending and shopping. It has a tendency to pull us away from the heart of what the season is about and into a frenzy of bad spending. In fact, an alarming number of shoppers are still trying to pay off their debt from holiday shopping last year. Instead of giving so much, what if we all just spent more time on each other.

Don’t have time? I have the perfect solution!

The Marco Polo app, shared with me by my sister, is my new favorite way to communicate with the people I love. It’s essentially a video walkie talkie that allows you to send a video back and forth to talk to each other, but doesn’t require you to hop on FaceTime or Skype at the same time. When schedules are impossible to coordinate, this can be an amazing solution for a busy mom.

I now talk and see my sister and best friend every day and even have virtual wine dates with my girlfriends in town. You can even do big group video chats if you can’t schedule a coffee together! How cool is that?

I consider time with good friends and family to be an essential part of my self-care, especially as a work-at-home mom.

Focus on people, not presents!

Rethink Your Idea of Self-Care

The last thing that I want to say is that self-care is much more than these acts.  I linked to this article in my notebook and I still am thinking about it. Self-care is setting healthy limitations that require self-discipline, setting healthy boundaries in relationships, not loading our calendar up so we get run down, and ridding our life of things that are negative or drain us.
Self-care means going to bed on time, giving yourself unscheduled spaces during the day, not going overboard on the food and drinks of the season, and saying no (even if we have to experience FOMO).

Did you notice that everything in this list is FREE? Self-care isn’t a treat yo’self experience that costs a lot, it is making time and space for things that help you feel emotionally and physically balanced! 

Thank you to the Florida Department of Citrus for letting me share about these tips with you! Be sure to make Florida OJ a part of your daily routines to help boost your immune system during this fun season!
DIY Orange Sugar Scrub from MomAdvice.com

DIY Orange Sugar Scrub
Recipe type: Beauty
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
This DIY Orange Sugar Scrub is a wonderful self-care treat for your hands and body! Thank you to Florida Department of Citrus for sponsoring this fun DIY!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of Sugar
  • ½ cup of Coconut Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Orange Essential Oil (like this)
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, heat the coconut oil over low heat, until it is melted.
  2. In a large bowl, mix sugar, melted coconut oil, and a teaspoon of orange essential oil until fully combined.
  3. Scoop into a mason jar (the one in the picture has been doubled) and store with an airtight lid.
  4. When using, scoop a small amount into your hands, scrub gently (allowing the sugar to exfoliate), rinse, and pat dry.

This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

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DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

This blog was sponsored by Simon & Schuster. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

It feels so strange to be talking about our baby hitting the tween years, but we recently hit this milestone age and all that comes with it. Today I am partnering with Simon & Schuster to celebrate girl power with the launch of the incredible series, “The Littlest Bigfoot,” written by Jennifer Weiner. If you are an avid reader like me, you may know Weiner from her fun chick lit novels and now she is penning a trilogy for girls that encourage self-love, positive body image, and friendship between girls.

DIY Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

“The Littlest Bigfoot,” and “Little Bigfoot, Big City,” are the first two books that are out in the planned trilogy. These books explore the good old-fashioned themes of friendship and belonging through this modern day fairytale.

The lead character, Alice Mayfair, twelve years old, is ignored by her family and is being shipped off to her eighth boarding school. She longs to have a friend and when she rescues Millie Maximus from drowning in the lake one day, she finds the friend she has always been looking for.

Millie happens to be a Bigfoot though, a part of a clan who dwells deep in the woods. Most Bigfoots believe that people—NoFurs—are dangerous, but Millie is fascinated with this human world and feels that they understand her own dreams and aspirations better. Alice protects Millie’s secret, but they must face a league of Bigfoot hunters who are trailing them.

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

The story then continues into the next novel where the friends sneak off to the Big Apple in search of Millie’s stardom. Unfortunately, they end up getting trailed by a shadowy government organization and are finding cryptic clues that force them to confront their history, choices, and find out what it means to be a true hero and friend.

At this in-between stage of life, I love finding books like this that are filled with positive messaging and heartwarming dialogue about inclusion and belonging. Definitely pick up these two books for your tween and keep your eyes peeled for the third book, coming in 2018! This series is just perfect for your middle grade readers, between the ages of 8-12!

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

I remember how much I struggled with self-confidence at this age and also remember all the new territory that came with all of these changes. My parents wanted to encourage me to embrace good hygiene habits and to help me understand all the upcoming changes that would be happening in my body. As the oldest of three children, I felt that I had to share everything with my siblings so anything that I got that was just for me (not for them!) was really special. It could have been something as simple as not sharing my french fries or as grand as getting a date with just one of my parents, these simple moments made me feel special because they were mine alone.

Instead of just talking about good hygiene and caring for my body, my mom put together a pail of items that I would need to start implementing good habits of self-care and explained why and how to use these items. This pink pail housed my new face washes, a loofah with body soap, and deodorant. All I could think about though was that all this stuff was JUST FOR ME and I didn’t have to share it.

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

This week I gave my daughter a Tween Confidence Kit of her own and I could see that sheer delight she had to have items that were just for her. Truth be told, many of my own items were starting to magically disappear from our bathroom, and after this came up, she explained how she wanted to wear or add some of these things to her own routines.

This kit of supplies had everything she needed to get started implementing her own big girl routines! We talked about implementing a good skincare routine (daily wash and moisturizer, weekly exfoliation scrub), the importance of washing our body and deodorant, and dry shampoo for days when we need fresh locks, but don’t have the time. A few things to make the routines more fun included her own little scrubber, a shower cap for busy days, and a quick absorbing towel to wrap her hair in after she hopped out of the shower.

We also dipped our toes into some of the things that might be coming up and how to prepare for those circumstances too. She had lots of great questions and this was a great way to open up the dialogue about what we might need to know for the future.

She also expressed a desire to start wearing makeup and I gave her a set of her own blush, lip gloss, and a little concealer as her first starter kit into that. I worked with her to apply the makeup and shared the importance of keeping her face natural and just enhancing the beautiful girl she already is. I loved working with her on this together and hope that she feels confident coming to me in the future because it means a lot to me to get to be a part of these new stages with her.

I hope that these ideas to help build tween self-confidence too. Each stage has been such a gift and I love being a part of the process with her.

To learn more about these incredible books, follow Simon Kids on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram or visit them on their website!

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

This blog was sponsored by Simon & Schuster. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

 

5 Natural Ways To Stop Anxiety Quickly

Friday, August 4th, 2017

5 Natural Anxiety Remedies

Do you struggle with anxiety? When we met with the specialist to talk about my diagnosis, she asked me this very question. Embarrassed, I responded that I did.  She quickly assured me not to be ashamed of my anxiety because it is often a symptom that goes along with all my other health issues.

Anytime there are big changes in my routine, it often sends my anxiety into a tailspin. Big things like discovering you have a connective tissue disease definitely sent me spiraling. Little things though, like the start of each school year and doing allthethings, can also send me down the tunnels of anxiety.

An admitted perfectionist and people pleaser with anxiety?

Yep, it is often the reason why I suffer from sleepless nights and stomach aches.

This year I have really been working on my responses to things and have been finding natural remedies to curb my anxiety symptoms. I wanted to share them with you today because they have helped me so much.  Here are 5 things I’ve discovered can stop my anxiety quickly.

mark-twain-quote

Working through the “then what” scenario

I shared that this year I decided to see a counselor to help me get my life back on track. We talked about changing some of my routines and habits to reduce stress and help me be more productive at my job. As a people pleaser, I find it difficult to let people down in my life. He worked with me on talking through these situations and now I use this trick when talking myself through tricky conversations or scenarios I might be faced with.

For example, my body’s new limitations made working and lifting food at our food pantry hard to do. Instead of admitting that it wasn’t a good fit for me, I continued to do it and flare up an elbow issue that I had. I told my counselor how it was causing strain, but I worried that I would let the director down.

Him- Why can’t you tell her that you can’t work the food pantry?

Me- I made a commitment and I know that there aren’t a lot of people to help. I love doing it, but it is causing pain.

Him- What do you think she would say if you told her that you couldn’t work the food pantry?

Me- Well, she will probably be very disappointed in me. She will think I’m a flake. I told her I was going to do something and then I didn’t do it.

Him- Do you think she will be angry?

Me- I don’t know.

Him- What if someone told you that they had an injury and couldn’t do a job for you?  What do you think you would say?

Me- I would be disappointed that I didn’t have help.

Him- Then what?

Me- I would tell them I’m sorry they are hurting and I understand.

Him- Then what?

Me- I would probably find someone else to help.

My initial reaction is everyone will be angry with me if I change a routine or have to bail on a commitment, but a lot of times these scenarios never happen. Of course, as soon as I told her that I couldn’t do it because I had an elbow issue and was starting physical therapy she told me she would miss me, but COMPLETELY UNDERSTOOD. She graciously said she would be happy to have me back whenever I felt better.

Really?

It was NO BIG DEAL.

Working through the then what, then what, then what helps me guess what might happen and put away irrational fears about situations in my life, but it also helps me prepare a response ahead of time for the changes I make that are healthy for me. You can’t plan for everything, of course, but it has helped tremendously.

The stop sign trick

Joanna Goddard, from Cup of Jo, shared a really great trick that she learned from her therapist that helped her with anxiety. Her therapist told her that when her spiraling thoughts started that she should start visualizing a stop sign.

A small switch that is completely free?

Sign me up!

This week, for example, as we prepare for the new school year, my anxiety really starts to ramp up. I will lay awake thinking about the physicals I forgot to schedule, the new bus schedule, the school supplies we haven’t bought, the uniforms…. Once the floodgates are opened, the anxiety of the upcoming year starts pouring out.

Now I have started to use this tip once my mind starts going and it does, truly, help interrupt the anxiety routine.

I didn’t get the school supplies… STOP SIGN

I forgot to schedule physicals… STOP SIGN

I…STOP SIGN.

The 7-second rule

One element of my anxiety is saying the wrong thing in social situations. I will be having a great day with friends just talking and enjoying each other’s company- all in all, a perfect day. On the drive home though, my mind starts thinking again about EVERYTHING I said. Did I say too much? Was that wrong of me to say? What if their feelings were hurt? Why did I share that?

It goes on and on.

I read about the 7-second rule though and I have started to apply it to my life. I’m generally (*ahem*) good people and I try really hard to say the right things. I would never intentionally hurt someone with my words and the things that I typically worry about, I’m pretty sure no one else is replaying over and over again in THEIR mind.

Only allowing myself 7-seconds to replay things has changed this routine of replaying the night over and over and over again in my head to a mere few seconds. I also try to extend the same grace to other people and even share the tip with them when they apologize to me for something they have worried about. Seriously, 7-seconds and moving on.

Stop looking for it

I have a BAD habit of looking for things to become anxious about- do you do this too?

For example, I had a terrible nighttime routine of checking Instagram and Facebook right before I would go to sleep. I would, essentially, look for things to be anxious about and then try to go to bed. Social media, for me, has ALWAYS been a trigger, but it is also a necessary part of my work.

Yet, let’s be honest,  it is not a necessary part of my work to start scrolling at 10PM.

Now I turn off all social media in the evenings and keep normal “business hours” with my time. I also don’t go hunting for things to be upset about (another REALLY bad habit) on my feeds. In the morning, I seem to have the ability to distance myself more from things that cause me anxiety and I can apply that ol’ stop sign rule when my thoughts start spiraling.

Peace Over Worry

Get involved in an anxiety interrupter

I am sure you have heard that yoga is helpful for anxiety, but it isn’t necessarily the movement that helps my anxiety. It is the fact that it is a mind interrupter.

When doing yoga, the instructor is guiding us through movement with directions and oftentimes isn’t demonstrating the movement. I have to think really hard to stay with the flow of the class and remember one pose to the next. I become so focused on moving through poses that I can’t let my mind spiral.

Anxiety interruption also happens when I go to dance class because I’m so focused on following the movement that my brain doesn’t have time to think about anything else. When all my brain cells are dedicated to one thing, there are no brain cells to contribute to my irrational worries.

I have been looking more for healthy anxiety interrupters like this in my life. Walks with husband around the neighborhood, a good book, podcasts, volunteering, a documentary, doing things (and being present) with my kids are all good examples of good things that have helped interrupt my anxiety routine.

Of course, do not be afraid to talk to your physician or a therapist about your anxiety. You don’t have to suffer alone!

Natural Products/Services That Also Help My Anxiety

Calm Now Supplement (I take this in the afternoon)

Natural Calm The Anti-Stress Drink (great bedtime routine)

L-Theanine (I used this with great success before taking the Calm Now supplement)

Calm Meditation App (the sleep stories really help me in the evenings)

Epsom Salts (I buy them in bulk) with 5 drops of lavender oil for a nighttime bath

Sleepytime Extra Tea

Kill News Feed Plugin

Facebook Unseen

What YOU Say Helps

T. says, “I read somewhere when in the middle of an anxiety/panic attack is to tell yourself I can anything for 10 minutes. It’s what got me through a 6 hour drive just hours after we were involved in a car accident that totaled my car.”

J. says, “I  was on medication for anxiety/depression for years and found that while it helped the anxiety, it was affecting other areas of my life so I went off them and started looking for natural options.

I do a lot of the things you talked about in your article, especially the interrupter. I use exercise, and I was thinking that it was the exercise itself that was helpful, but I think it is also the interrupter. I often do a workout on my lunch break at work and it really helps me to shut off the stress of the morning and get back to a more neutral head space.

I am also a creature of routine and habits, which is great for organization and generally keeps the anxiety manageable, but when things throw the routine off, it is often extremely difficult to deal with. Sometimes I get worries that play on a loop in my head, like when I’ve texted my son who is out somewhere and he doesn’t text back when I think he should and I start imagining the absolute worst and it won’t stop until he either texts back or gets home. If my husband is home, I can tell him specifically what is in my head, what the specific worry is and he helps me to break it down and either get rid of it or at least lessen the anxiety a bit.”

H. says,“I replay my conversations or what I post in my head all of the time, like you! When my anxiety gets out of control I have meds, but one time I didn’t have any on me and I was having a panic attack and luckily my husband happened to be with me and he told me to get outside with him and go for a walk. That interrupter (like the yoga you mentioned) really calmed me and stopped the attack from happening. Interrupters are really good for me. I found that coloring in the adult coloring books helps a lot too. I really try and go more natural unless it gets to a point where I can’t control it.  I also use Tulsi Tea and it helps, but it could probably be a placebo thing, but I don’t care!”

M. says,  “I have been trying to get into a routine of meditation. Just 10 minutes a morning. I have been using the app 10% Happier. I love their logical approach and the concept of ‘just begin again.’  Since I have been doing it I’ve noticed that when my mind starts racing later in the day, or even when it wakes me up at night, if I take 30 seconds and focus on my breath it really does reset my brain. I think it is the same idea as the interrupter.”

Katie says, “I take a magnesium supplement before bed that has really helped me with sleeping. Since I started taking it, for the first time in years I am able to fall asleep easily. Another thing I’ve noticed is I get significantly fewer headaches taking magnesium. In general, getting on a vitamin routine has helped in a lot of ways. For example, I found out I tested low for vitamin D and that had a correlation with my stress too. Taking omegas and B12 has helped managing moods when I’m stressed.

Another trigger for me is if I am not drinking enough water or eat meals too late. My husband is really good at letting me know that I need to eat or drink something when he can tell I’m getting stressy and it’s a nice gentle reminder to take care of my physical needs but also “check myself” on my emotional state. It works well for us because I know he is doing it out of love and not to poke at me.

I love my essential oil diffuser with lavender or other calming blends in the evening in our bedroom.

I have moved the FB and Instagram icons off the front page of my phone and put them in a separate folder on a page I have to scroll to at times to help break the habit of getting on just because I pick up my phone.”

Another J. says, “I’ve had success in managing my anxiety with various herbal tinctures and elixirs, which I always fear makes me sound all “woo-woo crazy”, but I’m so much more consistent about taking them than sipping tea. They’re fast! 🙂 My favorites are Motherwort (<– the real workhorse of the bunch!), Borage Flower elixir (calming and mellowing), Milky Oats tincture (<– also a great one for dulling intense responses), Wild Rose Elixir (awesome for brightening mood and promoting optimism), and Skullcap tincture (my go-to for stopping racing thoughts in their tracks at bedtime.)”

A. says, “One thing that my therapist worked with me on was journaling, which I use not only as a way to get my thoughts out, but as a way to keep myself organized. When things get chaotic and disorganized I can always feel the anxiety start to ramp up.”

 

5 Natural Anxiety Remedies

If you liked this article you might enjoy my natural ways to relieve joint pain article! I’d love to hear from you some natural ways you have found to reduce anxiety in your life?