Category Archives for "Mom friends"

Apr 20

Meet some really rad boss moms

Boss Mom , Business as usual , East Coast Living , Life of a Mompreneur , Mom Boss , Mom friends , Solidarity

Genny Shaw, Owner at Hazelnut & Rose, Nursing and Maternity Boutique. 

I met Genny when I was pregnant. I wandered into her little shop in search of some maternity clothing that, quite simply, made me look and feel good. I hadn’t had much luck at the one maternity store in the mall. Their styles were all wrong for me and quite frankly, the quality was crap.

I fell in love with Genny’s shop and soon after, Genny herself. She is a kindred spirit. As we’ve gotten to know one another, we’ve discovered just how aligned we are in our desires, approach and personalities. Also, it’s damn refreshing to meet someone who can decipher and translate your jumbled, tired, mompreneur ramblings into thoughtful ideas and inspiration. We do this for one another and it’s magic.

Her shop has the most beautiful collection of nursing and maternity wear for women who want to be fashionable and who are willing to invest in quality pieces that last. And you want them to last! She features unique brands and clothing that is versatile, intended to fit and flatter in pregnancy, postpartum and in many instances, beyond the baby years.

Genny has two daughters, Hazel and Rosalie. You can see where the shop name came from, huh?!

Check her out when you’re in downtown Dartmouth or have a peek at her online shop. Follow her on Instagram @hazelnutandrose

Jill Jackson, Illustrator at Jack + Jill Paper.

Jill is one of those people that you want as your friend, as soon as you meet her. She’s so kind, humble and doesn’t seem to be rattled by too much. Oh, and did I mention how talented she is?! Yeah that too.

Jill is a mom to two sweet little boys, Paul and Ellis.

I’ve had the extreme pleasure of getting to know Jill more as we work on this super awesome top secret project together that you’ll know about soon enough.

Be sure to follow Jill on Instagram @jackandjillpaper

Carolyn Crewe, Owner/Maker at Duckish Natural Skin Care.

Carolyn has a plethora of talents. Serious. A background in design, marketing and small business and she’s one busy new momma as well. She started Duckish Natural Skin Care when she was pregnant with her now, 8 month-old son, Quinn. He’s travelled and tagged along to shows and been a major cornerstone of the business thus far. Her awesome baby care line is also Quinn approved!

Carolyn is driven and hardworking and is bound for huge success with her company.

Check out her full product line up at Duckish.ca and follow her on Instagram @getduckish

Rachel Blair-Johns, Artist/Owner at MENT Jewellery.

Rachel is a force. She is vibrant and passionate and her jewellery is GORGEOUS; “modern adornment with everyday wearability”. Her work is inspired by Eastern shores and Northern Lands as well as the Urban + Natural. Rachel hand-crafts her jewellery in her Downtown Dartmouth Studio. Also featured in her impressive juggling routine is an organization, Dartmouth Makers and being momma to two young children.

Shop her new 2017 collection here and follow MENT Jewellery on Instagram @mentjewellery would ya?!

Andrea Janzen, Co-Founder at What Not To Yell & Consultant at Andrea Janzen Consulting.

A third-time momma who makes it all look so easy, Andrea provides highly sought-after consulting and coaching to corporate and independent clients.

Andrea is the co-founder of What Not To Yell a leadership development company that helps organizations to embrace conflict through leadership coaching and interactive workshops. The company has offices in Halifax and Toronto. Andrea is passionate about developing people, setting goals and getting results. She has over 15 years of marketing leadership experience in consumer packaged goods, retail and not for profit. Andrea takes a direct approach to conflict and believes that embracing conflict drives better results. Andrea is a Certified Executive Coach from Royal Roads University, has a BBA from Wilfrid Laurier University and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

I can say, from my experience, she has a serious knack for asking the right questions and guiding people where they need to go. Enough said.

Her personal consulting website is in the works. Check back here soon. Or check her out on LinkedIn.

https://www.ohmother.ca/join-momma-wellness-community

Apr 20

A Momma’s First Night Away…

Adventures in Motherhood , Business as usual , East Coast Living , Life of a Mompreneur , Mom Boss , Mom friends , Mom Self Care 101 , Navigating Motherhood , Self Care , Solidarity , Truth-telling , Womens' Health

Six hundred and forty-four days…Fragmented sleep. Night wakings. Sickness. Teething. Developmental leaps. More sickness. More teething. And so and so forth.

I can’t recall what a “full night’s sleep” feels like, nor do I remember what I use to do with all my “free time”.

I’m bloody friggin’ tired, and despite feeling like “how the F am I going to keep doing this?”, somehow, I do…even as a new series of shit storms emerge on the horizon. I handle it.

Sure, I’ll admit, some of this exhaustion is self-inflicted. I set impossibly high standards for myself and always choose the non-path, path when embarking on new adventures.

To be real though, striving to create a successful small business while also being a super present and engaged momma to boot has been met with resistance. I can tell ya, these two gigs are in direct opposition to one another A LOT. And burnout happens easy enough when you’re burning the candle at every damn end.

I know I preach a good game on the momma self care front. But there’s also no naivety here about how difficult it is to make time for yourself. I have the occasional bath, with candles and salts. I meditate. I journal. I drink tea. I attend a weekly yoga class. I try to do the things to fill up my cup whenever I can. My self care, like everything else in my life, ebbs and flows.

Lately though, I’ve been craving a complete overhaul of my self-care regimen. A reprieve from it all. An escape from reality, even if just for one night.

On top of this, I’ve also been desperately craving community and connection. Being a momma is lonely work and it’s doubly lonely when you’re running a home-based/e-commerce business.

It’s a beautiful thing when the universe conspires to give you exactly what you need at exactly the right time. It also helps when you’re a “make things happen” kinda person, like I am.

Not only did I feel ready to leave my son for the first time, but I knew it was necessary.

Immediately, I knew where I wanted to go. The ultimate retreat location just 45 minutes from downtown Halifax. Oceanstone Seaside Resort in Indian Harbour, Nova Scotia.

I’d been there once, years ago with some girlfriends and we had such an amazing stay. We still reminisce about it. There may have been a stupidly, scandalous dip in the ocean in November.

Oceanstone has luxury without being pretentious and provides serenity and calm without stifling.

After connecting with Lizzie from Oceanstone (who is completely lovely) and putting feelers out to some of the rad boss moms I know locally, we found our group of six, booked a reservation and fortunately, only had to wait a couple of weeks for our getaway.

It was hard to leave my son. Like the actual act of packing a bag and walking out the door, knowing I wouldn’t be back for 24 hours. I knew he would be more than okay with his dad for the night. I knew the world would not implode but it pained a little all the same.

Once we arrived at Oceanstone, I barely thought about how it was going back home. No guilt. No worry.

I mean, c’mon…when your back door steps right out onto the ocean shore – how do you not get lost in that?

Admittedly, it felt amazingly self-indulgent to be sitting in this beautiful cottage, overlooking the ocean, sipping drinks and connecting and conversing about motherhood and entrepreneurship with five other inspiring business women/mommas.

My blissful ignorance about how things were going back home continued into the evening and into our dinner at Rhubarb (a delightful restaurant that is literally steps away from the cottages). And get this, Rhubarb agreed to stay open just for us because normally they are only open for lunch on Tuesdays this time of the year. How sweet is that, right?! Yay to not having to cook for ourselves!

Oh, and when you come stay at Oceanstone (because you will) and eat at Rhubarb, be sure to order the fish and chickpea salad folks – AMAZING!

Being so wrapped up in the company and conversation of smart and powerful women was just so good for this here momma. It was exactly the perfect distraction and distance I was needing. It also helped to locate and name the common struggles we have as moms and business women. There is an inherent loneliness in this work. That is for certain. At times, it’s crippling and destructive. This is when we must gather and band together because even in the smallest and most unlikely of groups, we will find solace in our many similarities and differences. We will discover that while we are lonely, we are definitely never alone.

Our time together as women is sacred and forever impactful. It can easily be utilized for vent sessions and unloading our demons (a necessary thing sometimes) but we must not take it for granted. After all, its greatest outcome is in cultivating support, advocacy, accountability and friendship. I’m so grateful to these five women for helping me get back to this place and perspective. I’m slowing feeling more grounded in myself again and it is good.

Of course, this sunset also helped. [sigh]

Alas, my temporary lapse in mom worry/separation anxiety ended just as the conversation winded down around midnight and we all parted ways for bed.

Even though I had a giant king bed, all to myself, I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about sleep. This retreat had the promise of sweet slumber that I had been fantasizing about for nearly two years. I would be free and clear of toddler limbs jabbing me in the eye sockets, jugular or ribs. No early 6:00 am wake up. It was a gift that I didn’t want to squander and yet, it felt all wrong. I lay on my back staring at the ceiling. I could hear my heart thumping in my throat and I felt a heavy lump in the pit of my stomach. I turned from one side to the other and then onto my back again. I wasn’t even worried about anything. This was the frustrating part. I just wasn’t accustomed to this sort of alone time. It felt awkward and uncomfortable. I took a deep breath and then another and another, until I heard it…

Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.

The gentle movement of ocean waves just outside my window.

Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. Gawd. Talk about a show stopper. Forget the sound machine folks, this is the real deal!

Once I focused in on those gently crashing waves, I was out like a light in less than 5 minutes.

Being an East Coaster, I have always appreciated the ocean. Her proximity eases my mood and soothes the soul. But this. Yeah, this was something extra special because let’s face it, she totally saved my ass and transformed a senseless threat of insomnia into a really successful and rejuvenating first night away from my child.

And hey, it helps that the beds at Oceanstone Seaside Resort are hella comfy!

And…I woke to this!

I’m completely bias here but I believe any visit to Nova Scotia or any resident of this province, needs to experience Oceanstone Resort. It would make an ideal getaway for any scenario (e.g. babymoon, anniversary or family vacation). Personally, I’m quite partial to the momma’s first night away/women’s retreat myself but hey, you make it whatever it needs to be. Just get here.

Mar 17

Gifts To Get A Rad NEW Baby Momma That Don’t Suck [Postpartum Edition]

Adventures in Motherhood , Gift Ideas , Helpful Lists , Mom friends , Mom Self Care 101 , Navigating Motherhood , Oh Mother Care Kits , Postpartum Care , Self Care

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Babies get all the good stuff. Serious. I mean, baby things are itty-bitty and thus, friggin’ adorable, yes but that’s besides the point. Where is the love for momma? After all, she’s the one that just grew and gave life to the lil’ fooshnicken, right?! And she’s the one that will carry the weight of care, worry and sacrifice. Okay, yes, Dads are great and important too. But let’s be real. Moms are the superheros here.

I’m all about advocating for the new momma and her needs because reality is, her needs have to and will come in second A LOT, especially in the early months.

So, in honour of new mommas (and all the incredible feats that they have and will have to endure), I’ve compiled a list of fabulous, hand-crafted gift ideas (from Canadian makers) that will make her the star attraction and you, her favourite person.

Made with Local (Dartmouth, NS)

Local Love Box (includes Real Food Bars & Loaded Instant Oats) $30 – 50 + shipping

New Mommas need fuel, and fast.

Made with Local Real Food bars are by far one of my favourite snacks to have on-hand and on-the-go. No weird ingredients here. Their Loaded Oats instant oats are also staple in our household. Breakfast is fast, easy and delicious, which is exactly what you need after having a baby! And even beyond the newborn stage, their oats and bars are super toddler and child friendly!

Food is one of the best gifts you can provide new parents. Order a sampler box of Made with Local Instant Oats and Real Food bars (they have 3 sizes to choose from) and have them delivered to a new momma in your life. Easy Peasy! You will be a hero!

Econica (Ottawa, ON)

Organic Handmade Wrap Shirt $131.49 + shipping

Comfy clothing is a must as a new mom but it’s also great to have comfy clothing that is versatile and can be worn lounging around the house or out and about.

This organic wrap shirt is all kinds of gorgeous. It’s breastfeeding friendly, loose-fitting for c-section mommas and comes in a variety of colours. Also, it’s a very flattering style for any body type, which is great for postpartum when your body is going through many changes and transformations after birth.

Vancity Stitch Co. (Vancouver, BC)

Embroidered Floral Pendant Necklace $30 CAD + shipping

Do people even bring flowers to new moms? I dunno but if this was your line of thinking…Forget the flowers. This lovely little hand embroidered pendant is just the right gift to acknowledge the incredible feat of bringing a little human into the world. There are quite a few colour and style choices in Vancity Stitch Co’s etsy shop so have a little peek around.

MiNiTiPi (Gatineau, ON)

Black & White Bird Nursing Scarf $30 CAD + shipping

Breastfeeding or not, this scarf is so lovely and also, rad. Some women are more comfortable nursing from the get-go, others need time and practice. For me, there definitely was a hot mess phase where the latching was awkward and the milk let down was vigorous and shooting out in all directions. Needless to say, it took some time to perfect. So having a cover that can be used when you’re wanting more privacy in a more public setting can be wonderful. No shame either way.

Oh Mother Care Kits (Dartmouth, NS)

New Momma Care Kit $109 CAD + $9.95 shipping

Unfortunately, it happens easy enough, new moms will completely neglect themselves in their quest to meet their baby’s every need. In many instances, they have to hold their bladders, delay their showers and forgo brushing their teeth. It’s inevitable that self-care takes a pretty severe nose-dive as a new mom. However, some gentle care and attention is necessary and possible.

The Oh Mother New Momma Care Kit contains all the specialty items a new mom needs after giving birth.

Hands down, this is the perfect gift for a new mom (of course, being the curator of these little kits, I have some bias but my customers will confirm the awesomeness of my kits). And the reality is, new moms always have enough baby things. Be the person whose thinks of the new mom herself. She will wholeheartedly appreciate and LOVE that you’re looking out for her.

So, what’s in this genius care package you ask?! Click here to find out.

Replicca Clothing Co. (Hamilton, ON)

Bamboo Jersey Cowl Shirt $75 CAD + shipping

Again, comfy but still stylish clothes are fabulous when you’re a new mom. I LOVE LOVE Replicca Clothing Co. I have a few pieces from them and they are so well-made and are really flattering on many body types, especially curvy ones. Also, there are many fabric colour options. Make sure you order in plenty of time, handmade goodies take a little more time to create, largely because they’re injected with love and care.

Life i design by Nicki Traikos (Unionville, ON)

Coffee Mug $20.76 CAD + shipping

YEP! Let’s debunk this idea that mothers have to be perfect to be great moms. F-bombs will be dropped. It’s inevitable. Also, show your support for her soon-to-develop coffee dependency. Somedays, it’s the only thing keeping you upright.

Thief and Bandit (Halifax, NS)

Hand-printed Floral Leggings $117.74 + shipping

Leggings are a mom’s best friend. Serious. And these are incredibly awesome. That’s it.

607 By Davie and Chiyo (Vancouver, BC)

Name Bar Necklace $51.25 CAD + shipping

I love the idea of getting this for a new mom – with hers and babe’s name engraved. So adorable and yet, not tacky. Because, let’s face it. There is a LOT of tacky, cheesy, cheapo mom jewellery out there and don’t nobody need that. This double name bar necklace is really minimalist and tasteful. Also, it’s made from solid sterling silver, 14K gold fill and 14K rose gold fill for durability and longevity. Quality for the win!

Jessica Makes (Abbotsford, BC)

Hand Embroidery Hoop Art, Punch Today in the Face $75 CAD + shipping

Because there will be days when this messaging is needed. Motherhood is damn hard and some days you really have to rally to get through. This little nugget of hand-embroidered awesomeness speaks to this and inspires a deep, inner gusto to push through.

Mini Street (Edmonton, AB)

It Takes A Village Raglan Long Sleeve T-shirt $42 CAD + shipping

Remind her that she’s not alone. This is everything.

Moon and Sparrow (Montreal, QC)

Custom “Awesome Mom” Portrait $150 CAD + shipping

Custom gifts are so great. They definitely take more consideration and planning but they really up the ante on gift-giving. I love the artwork from Moon and Sparrow (Sandra Dumais, artist/illustrator). So fun and refreshing and something that a new momma will love and appreciate for a long time to come.

Oct 06

The 5 MOST important areas of self care that you’re probably neglecting

Adventures in Motherhood , Helpful Lists , Mom friends , Mom Self Care 101 , Navigating Motherhood , Truth-telling

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Sure, I adore luxury pampering sessions; pedicures, massages and baths, who doesn’t? But these are only one piece of the self-care equation.

The reality is, it’s the accumulation of small daily acts of self-care that really help us to be our best, most authentic selves.

Here are the 5 most important areas of self-care that you’re probably neglecting/lacking, especially if you’re a mom.

Sleep.

This is the big one. Nothing messes with your emotional well-being, mental state or physical health like sleep deprivation. It’s a beast and most of us parents are well-acquainted with this ugly state.

Yes, there are lots of legitimate reasons why sleep is incredibly difficult as a parent, especially with newborns or toddlers or both. My memory of life with a newborn is foggy but I’m still close enough to it to know there were some pretty awful days and nights when sleep was just not happening, for any of us. I would drop down into survival mode, only doing the bare minimum of anything to keep myself going and care for my baby. It was intense.

With a first baby, everyone tells you it’s temporary and it is, it totally is. However, in the midst of the newborn days or even what I’m currently experiencing as “no sleep” toddlerhood, you’re still a bit skeptical of this alleged “temporariness”. I’ve caught myself silently objecting when people would say “it’ll pass” with “yeah, but what if my baby is the one exception to the ‘this too shall pass’ rule” and I have to do this FOREVER. Wha-do-ya say to that, huh?!” I’m happy (and slightly embarrassed) to report that 15 months in and…it always passes!

Sleep is probably the biggest struggle that new parents face. No joke. Despite the fact that we all hear; “sleep when the baby sleeps”, I believe very few of us actually heed this advice. I wholeheartedly commend those who can do it. That is some real self-care badassery right there!

For most of us though, it feels like there’s too much to get done. Not to mention the fact that naptime and night are often the only moments mommas have to themselves. Who wants to waste that time sleeping?!

Admittedly, sleep is probably my least favourite thing to do when I get a free moment. I’d honestly rather untangle knotted balls of yarn or scrub a toilet, namely because I convince myself that these mundane tasks matter more than resting. (It’s definitely a preoccupation with productivity.) I’ve got limited free time. Some days it amounts to mere minutes. Lying down to take a nap or going to bed early are just not my go-to acts of self-care. Regardless of how tired I am.

But, let me tell you….lately? They really ought to be.

When you start mistakenly running red lights or having frequent meltdowns about things that really are non-issues like running out of brown rice and having to make basmati instead, you need more sleep.

Sleep is the ultimate equalizer, it can single-handedly transform you from hot, steaming mess to functional human. It’s the miracle cure for all mombies.

My theory is that sleep feels too self-indulgent and when you’re a mom and you have a to-do list that’s a mile long, you forgo your needs in the interest of others’ needs, general efficiency and productivity.

I can assert that I share this sentiment. I get the dilemma. However, I also know that nothing on your to-do list will ever satisfy or nourish you the way sleep will.

For me, sleep is a serious work in progress. I know I need, I don’t always get it or make the time for it, so if anyone has ideas for me I’m listening.

Healthy eating.

The irony here is that I write this as I’m polishing off a giant hunk of fudge that I bought this passed weekend at a craft fair. In my defence, my son just received his first black eye and I’m a bit of wreck. But ya know what else, I love chocolate and I won’t apologize for it.

As women, we get shamed too much about what we eat and how thin or not thin we are as a result. It’s BS!

So this “eating healthy” bit of self care isn’t about dieting, body shaming or depriving yourself of sweet treats. Screw that noise! It’s about moderation but also about acknowledging your nutritional needs. I know far too many mommas who subsist on coffee and convenience foods (which is usually high in sodium and low in nutritional content). I know moms who tell me they literally forget to eat all day because they’re busy and distracted with other responsibilities. I get the struggle but no one is getting off the hook here.

Another piece to this whole eating healthy thing is taking the time to sort out your own personal food friends and foes. Simply put, these are the foods that make you feel really good and the ones that don’t. This is a definite act of self care but it can be a challenging one to maintain, especially if you have a weakness for your food foes.

I went through a period where I was getting stomachaches and cramps A LOT. I decided that I needed to take the time and figure out what was going on because it was really impacting my overall health and well-being. A naturopath suggested I keep a food journal and eliminate things from my diet and then slowly introduce them back in one at a time. I examined two common culprits; wheat and dairy. It took a lot of effort and discipline but it was worth it because I discovered that my body is not a fan of wheat. This was devastating and sometimes I like to pretend it’s not so but I cannot deny the fact that I feel better and healthier when I maintain a wheat free diet.

Embracing this fact has lead me to discover some great substitutions and alternatives that are actually healthier. Occasionally, I relapse and I feel awful and then I commit myself back to the “no wheat” regiment and all is well again.

So you see, food has such a huge impact on how we feel, which makes it a crucial part of our self-care. What we put in our bodies impacts our energy, stamina and mood so it’s important to make steps toward good food habits.

I’m working on another post that offers some great tips and insights on family meal planning and preparation and I’ll share that soon, but for now here are 3 of my good food habits:

  1. Having quick healthy snacks on hand. This usually means taking the time on the weekends to make a batch of Glo bars (Oh She Glows) or some energy balls for the coming week. I also ensure that I have lots of chopped fruit and vegetables in the fridge.
  2. Not skipping breakfast. It’s tempting to do because mornings are hectic. However, our bodies and metabolisms need that kick start. Breakfast in our house is usually oats. They can be prepared in a variety of ways, they’re filling, inexpensive and packed with good nutrients. We usually rotate through these options: oats and chia pancakes, baked overnight oats, cold overnight oats, slow cooker steel cut oats and instant oats (Made with Local Loaded Oats are our fav!).
  3. Meal planning. This is key for healthy eating. I know when my husband and I neglect to plan our meals for the week, it leaves us scrambling to get something made fast. It’s stressful and it typically means we order crappy take out or pick up something pre-made from the grocery store. These aren’t always the best options, especially if we do it a lot.

Exercise.

I’m not a gym goer. My husband, and even a few of my close girlfriends are, and they love it. I appreciate the discipline it takes and even the benefits of doing frequent cardiovascular workouts where you can really sweat out your stress. I also like the community or social aspect of attending a class like Zumba or spinning, especially if you attend with a friend. I actually do enjoy this on occasion but it’s not my preferred way to get my weekly quota of activity in.

Me, I’m more of an experience gal, which is probably why I love hiking, walking and yoga. I also like my exercise to come with a side of adventure and for me that usually takes place outdoors. These activities help ground me, but they also help me to feel energized, even when I’m tired, and positive, even in the face of some hefty obstacles.

Physical activity of any kind is great because it gets endorphins running, resets our mind and helps meet many of our core psychological needs.

Exercise can sometimes feel like the thing you should do and for women, it’s often intricately entangled with dieting and weight loss. I know I have felt this way, especially when I’m trying to conform to some BS standard of fitness and beauty. I’m not down with the fitness regiments that have us hating on our bodies and obsessing over weight loss.

You have to find activities that suit your lifestyle, but most importantly make you feel good in the body you’re in. Maybe this is running marathons but it doesn’t have to be. It could be attending a weekly yoga class, joining a recreational badminton league or just getting off the bus a few stops away from home and walking the remaining distance. Whatever it is, do it often and create a routine around it. Typically, we can integrate exercise into our everyday lives and the more we do this, the more habitual it becomes.

Saying “No”.

You can do anything but not everything. I frequently have to remind myself of this, especially since I became a mom. I have limited time and energy to invest and I can’t possibly juggle numerous projects and responsibilities, no matter how small they may seem, or how passionate I might be about them.

I did the overflowing plate a lot before having my son. I love being helpful and generous with my time, especially when it concerns a shared passion or interest. The thing is, I would usually underestimate the time it takes and rarely account for my recharge time when taking on projects. The result? Burn out! Every time!

I’ve had to learn to say “no” more. When I was pregnant, I made a conscious effort to focus on this big upcoming transition and turned down several opportunities to collaborate on things that could have been really fabulous. This is just it, you have to know what it is you want and keep reminding yourself of it because there are inevitably going to be things in your peripheral, direct line of sight and hell, even in the rear view mirror that seem far more appealing than what you’re doing at the time. It’s hard to stay the course but if you have goals you want to meet and values you wish to uphold, you have to learn to decipher what’s for you and what’s not for you.

I find saying no to social invitations especially difficult right now because I really want to see my friends, have adult conversations and go out after dark but it just rarely meshes with my current reality. My marriage, mothering and business consume my life, and while there isn’t room for much else, this is okay with me and I know it won’t always be like this. I miss my life of leisure and my awesome friends but a lot of them are busy with their own circus and their own monkeys. Sometimes, rather than saying a definitive “no!” I say “no, but…” and offer an alternative date and activity that could lead to me hanging out with said friend.

Saying “no” feels like a purely selfish act and it is. That doesn’t make it any less necessary. Sometimes the person on the reciprocating end of the “no”, won’t understand but that’s okay. You taking care of you and that’s awesome.

Play.

Adulthood is a complete buzz-kill. Most of the time, we’re walking around with our “take me serious” faces on, trying to look and act the part. Undoubtedly, something that’s missing from many of our lives is play.

This is largely because Western culture is ultra focussed on productivity, and play is in direct opposition to this. There’s no tangible outcome to play. No projects completed, no dishes done, no 7 year old’s birthday party planned.

Play is the quintessential, important, yet not urgent thing we need in our lives. It is what fosters our curiosity, creativity and wonder about the world. Not to mention, it can bring us a lot of joy and contentment.

As a new parent, I’ve had to rediscover and reconnect with play. I mean, it’s children’s job to play and explore, it’s how they learn. But, why as adults, do we stop playing? Do we have nothing left to learn?

I definitely feel more permission to be playful when I’m with my son. In fact, I’ve got quite the line-up of silly faces and sounds. We roll around the floor, growling like bears and make pillow forts (well I make the forts and he knocks them down- this is the game at this stage). It’s hard to let go of my inhibitions and the serious adult side that tends to ridicule and judge. It’s also challenging to relinquish the urge to check something off a to-do list. The truth is, it’s really fun to get down on the floor and spend time observing and playing with my son. It’s a great stress reliever and a fabulous way for us to connect.

Playing with children and babies, yeah that’s fairly easy. However, engaging in play as a solo act, that’a a tough one! I certainly struggle with it, both with allowing myself the time but then what do I do when I get it?

Start small and simple. Start with scheduling in play dates with a partner or friend. And this is important: create a routine around it, mark it in the calendar!

My husband and I have periodic game nights. This is a fairly basic way to get in some adult playtime. I can even recall times when we spread out a big sheet of paper on the kitchen table and spent an hour doodling on it. He would draw a squiggly line and then I would continue drawing on it based on what I saw. We’d go back and forth like that. It was quite entertaining. There’s also crosswords, sudoku or other brain teaser puzzles.

And your play doesn’t have to be oriented around board games or art. There are plenty of physical ways of enjoying some playtime; bowling, rock climbing, indoor trampoline parks (yeah they exist!) or going dancing. I have friends that are really great at the play thing. Friends who surf and make it a priority to do this as often as they can. And they have kids.

Having children also means you have lots of tools on hand for play. Grab some play doh or lego even. It’s usually uncomfortable and frustrating at first but we know how to play, it’s hard-wired in us. We just have to let go of the idea that it needs to be something specific; losing ourselves in the moment. It definitely offers you a renewed outlook on adult life and serious recharge of your energy and who doesn’t need a zap of that?!