Striking the right balance as a parent

Striking the right balance as a parent

Parenting today seems very polarized when viewed through the idealized lens of social media. On one hand, you have the Pinterest perfect colour coded craft rooms and coordinated family planning binders. On the other, you have the “messy house, happy kid” movement where each moment of life is absorbed by awesome fun. You have fat shaming and fit shaming. You have obsessively planned pre-k homeschool modules and you have articles that suggest the same hyper-attentive parenting practices cause narcissism.

It’s almost dizzying. And it makes me tired.

Until you realize that one thing is missing in every one of these scenarios. Balance.

And what really could be better for kids than a balanced mommy and a balanced home? I know I’ve had days where my life has swung out of balance… and it feels terrible. Maybe it’s bedtime and the house is a mess, maybe we didn’t even read one book, or maybe (cringe) I missed my workout. It feels like I’m off my axis. Slipping.

I know it too when my life is in balance. For me, that doesn’t mean a spotless house, a day full of planned and perfectly executed preschool activities or a day full of workouts. It means that I’ve contributed a bit to each area in my life that keeps me healthy and happy. It’s a peaceful feeling.

Of course, balance is different for everyone. If they are truly happy in a messy house, they are probably better parents for it. If putting in an hour to finish knitting a scarf is what keeps them in balance, get the needles out.

Mothers spend more time now with their children than they did in the 70s – when most women didn’t work outside the home. I think that’s a good thing. But I also think it’s ok to leave kids to their own devices every now and again to make sure the house is in order or get some exercise.

I know, it’s not particularly glamorous and it’s hard to post a picture of perfectly balanced mediocracy on your Pinterest board or Facebook wall… but it’s what I strive for. And I’m ok with that.

Exercise, Breast Feeding and Milk Supply.

Exercise, breast feeding and milk supply.

You’re a new mother. You breast feed. You have a mommy tummy. Maybe you do not have a mommy tummy. Maybe you just like exercise. You are probably worried about starting back into exercise. Not because your body just went through the most difficult thing it will likely ever have to go through. You’re worried about your child. Welcome to motherhood.

Got milk?

The evidence suggests that exercise does not negatively affect milk production. In fact, the feel good hormones, boost in self esteem and “mommy time” are all hugely beneficial to establishing a strong breast feeding relationship. In all instances that I’ve seen where milk production drops with exercise, it has been partnered with a calorie restricted diet. So, in essence, it’s a calorie thing – not an exercise thing. You need enough to support you, your activity and your milk production.

You may have also noticed that the minute your LO latches on you feel as if you have been lost wandering in the full sun of the Sahara for days. The thirst response in action. Many women restrict water intake before workouts since they fear their bladders may not hold up. Do not be that woman. Think of it as a workout for a pelvic floor and stay near a bathroom.

In my own experience, I have found that breasts are much smarter than we give them credit for. They make as much milk as your baby drinks. The only time my production dropped is when we started supplementing. Outside of that I was like an Elsie-the-cow-race-horse hybrid. At Tough Mudder I had to stop half way so that my husband could hold Ama up to my chest since I was too muddy to hold her. You do what you have to do to make baby happy. And as the old saying goes, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Fitness and health make Mama happy. I have even exercised and breast fed at the same time thanks to the Ergo carrier.

I think it’s all about listening to your body and listening to your baby. My take home is this:

1. Eat nutritious food whenever you are hungry.
2. Drink whenever you are thirsty.
3. Feed baby when baby is hungry or thirsty.

The rest should take care of itself.

Kelly Mom has a very informative article here – http://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastfeed/lifestyle/mom-exercise/.