Guest Post with Sierra

Happy Friday! I’m bringing in a post from Sierra. She’s with Basic Invite and she was amazing to work with! Thank you, Sierra.
I graduated from university recently, and while I’m grateful I got my degree, college was a very difficult experience for me.

In the middle of my college career, I had to go see a psychologist for anxiety disorder and depression.

Dealing with anxiety and depression at the same time was hard, but I learned a lot about myself from this experience.

One thing that really helped me deal with my feelings was making things. Every so often I would paint or do origami and it really helped relieve my stress and fear.

As graduation loomed closer, I knew I wanted to send out graduation announcements to my friends and family.

By this time I had my mental health problems better under control, although I usually still felt uneasy and prone to sadness more often than normal.

I was also really worried about finding a job after graduation, where I would live, and everything else that comes with leaving school and becoming an adult.

Despite my worries, I decided to knuckle down and find some cute graduation invitations to send to my loved ones.

I googled “graduation invitations” and stumbled upon Basic Invite.

I really liked their designs.

I went with their vibrant anemone graduation invitation, shown below since I love flowers.

Although I must say, all their floral graduation invitations are pretty awesome.

Their graduation brunch invitations are cute too.

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What I really liked about Basic Invite was that I was able to edit the font and colors for the card.

I changed the background of the vibrant anemone invite to a lighter shade of blue I liked better, although I kept the font the same.

Designing the invitations was really therapeutic for me, like origami or painting. It kept me from feeling stressed.

I was knocking something important off of my to-do list.

I told my friends about Basic Invite and how I got to design my invites, and a couple of them tried it out too.

One of my friends really liked their elegant graduation invitations and used their sophisticated swash graduation invitation, seen below.

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They also have colored envelopes, so I chose an envelope that matched the background of my invite.

I ordered a sample from their site to make sure I liked how everything turned out, and it was perfect.

I placed an order for all the invitations I wanted the same day.

Designing my graduation invite with Basic Invite was one of the best choices I made at the end of my college career.

It was super fun and relaxing, and I got to show off my work to all of my friends!

If you need graduation invitations, I hope you’ll give Basic Invite a shot. I hope you love their products as much as I do.

 

Guest Post With Gina

I have a guest post today! I haven’t had one in a while- enjoy Gina’s post on getting kids to embrace healthy habits.

We all want our kids to be fit, whole, and healthy for at least some of their lives. The problem is that kids learn best from what they see, not what you say. Healthy habits for kids begins with you – the parent – taking care of yourself first. That’s your best way to create a family-health home.

6 HEALTHY HABITS FOR KIDS THAT YOU MUST DO FIRST

If you want to create a great life for your kids, begin by helping yourself to have a great life. Here are six ways to get started:

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1. Staying – Or Getting – In Shape

I’m not going to lie – getting in shape takes discipline. Starting a fitness routine when you’ve never really committed before takes a huge act of will. The trick is really to trick yourself. You can make goals and push yourself to get them down. Here are some things that have worked for me:

  • Find partners to keep you accountable. Or, go to a gym or sign up with a meetup group of like-minded people who want to get fit together.
  • Do a workout you like. Right now for me, that’s Crossfit, but other fitness routines that have worked for me have included yoga, kickboxing, hiking, and Zumba. What is the workout that you’d like to do for yourself?
  • Set up a reward system. After a year of workouts, I received a shirt at my gym for my 150th visit. My next reward comes at 300 visits. To inspire myself, I’m setting goals in increments of 50. At each level (200, 250, 300), I will reward myself, with each treat getting better. This will culminate in a full day spa treatment for my final reward!
  • Make it easy. Whether or not you are a member at a gym, you can work out at home. That way, there are no excuses – even if it snows. (Although shoveling *might* be a good enough workout for you, depending on how much snow there is!) Go on Youtube and watch free videos that feature yoga, dance or workout programs; you may even want to buy some workout videos,. Do whatever you need to make sure you can exercise in your home.

2. The Food In Your Fridge

We cannot expect our kids to develop healthy habits if we are squirreling away treats for ourselves. And guess what? Even if you think they don’t notice, I assure you, they DO. TRUST ME ON THIS.

So stop it. Extra sugary treats aren’t going to help your waistline or your gut health. Seriously, if you want a sweet treat, have an occasional glass of wine, or do the MIND diet and have a small glass of wine daily. (No kidding, this is part of the anti-Alzheimer’s diet!)

Now, go take stock – what’s in your fridge and cabinets? It should be mostly legumes, fruits and veggies that your system can tolerate, a lesser amount of healthy cuts of meat, fish, and poultry (as in, grass-fed, MCS certified or pastured), and fewer carbs.

For example, I LOOOOOVE pasta and was raised with eating it every few days. Today, I try instead to eat bean pasta or spaghetti squash. (This is not for everyone – my husband won’t get on board!) If your kids love pasta, you can make this switch depending on their age. (Kids love the sauce mostly!) For others, it might take some time, but again, if you experiment with different vegetables and love it, then they’ll likely follow suit!

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3. Drink Your Water!

I’ve heard you need to drink anywhere from 50-70% of your body weight! That’s a lot of water but again, the kids are watching! I love drinking water because my dad made a ritual of it: special glass with a handle, loaded with ice cubes, that sat out all day and no one, I mean NO ONE was allowed to touch it. (I did one time and that’s one of the rare times I incurred Dad’s wrath before my teen years.)

So go ahead, make your water drinking a daily ritual. And make sure it’s clean water too, ok? You can buy a special glass, keep a bottle with you at all times, drink seltzer with fruit, eat water veggies, consider buying a water cooler – whatever it takes to make sure you get your daily intake of water.

4. Sleep – It’s Not Just For Kids!

Parents agonize over getting their kids to sleep…it took Zoe until she was 5 to sleep through the night!! We know that our kids require this health habits, but when it comes to our needs, we just stay up as long and as late as we like. But impaired sleep can affect everything, from your heart health to your focus, your productivity, and your mental well-being, not to mention derailing your workout. If you don’t know why you aren’t sleeping, you have to solve this issue. Some possible contributors include:

  • adrenal fatigue
  • sleep apnea
  • dietary issues
  • menopause
  • bladder problems
  • stress and overwhelm
  • poor mattress
  • other health issues, like restless leg syndrome

Getting to the bottom of stress or physical health issues is critical in making your sleep better. If you’re not sure of the cause, consult with your doctor.

5. Well Care When You’re Sick

Now I’m going to say something you won’t like: take care of yourself when you are sick! Way too many people simply keep their same schedule and then dose with OTC drugs. Unfortunately, you are often extending the life of your illness by doing this because you are suppressing the body’s system for clearing illness – such as a fever. Naturally, we all have commitments we cannot avoid, but as much as possible, use sick time for when you are truly sick. Or work from home, if you can. Rest, relax, and make a fresh bowl of chicken soup.

I’ve told this story before but last year, we all got some version of the stomach flu. My kids, the healthiest people in our home because of my diligence, were each sick for about 8 hours. I was sick for nearly 25. My husband? 3 days. It matters what you eat, how you sleep, and if you take care of your gut health, just like exercise matters too. None of us did any OTC drugs; we just chilled out and let it runs its course, mainly because when you’re only sick for a few hours, you don’t even think about the doctor (although my husband did)! In fact, he might have gone – I can’t remember.

healthy habits for kids

6. Taking Care Of Your Own Mental Health

And finally, you need to take care of your brain. That means a lot of things, including getting exercise, good food, enough sleep, and having healthy relationships. It also means:.

  • Taking time for self-care and moments of rest or relaxation throughout your day.
  • Managing your daily stress.
  • Cutting back on an oppressive workload or overcommitment.
  • Working through issues that impact your mental health, like childhood trauma

PARENTING THROUGH YOUR CHILDHOOD TRAUMA

Not everyone has childhood trauma but for those who do, it’s important you deal with your trauma so those issues don’t impact your family in a negative way. Making the connection between childhood trauma and adult illnesses and relationship problems can be challenging, but it can be tremendously freeing. It can guide you on the road to creating healthy habits for your kids.  It also enables you to start the healing process.

If you feel like you’ve been swimming against some invisible current for years, it’s a relief to know where it may be coming from, says science journalist Donna Jackson Nakazawa in Psychology Today’s online forum.

Taking the quiz on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is the first and most important step toward healing, according to Nakazawa. Understanding whether you’ve been affected by childhood trauma can help you start taking steps to undo it – and perhaps try some new approaches with your children.  Here is some science-based advice from StressHealth.org:

healthy habits for kids

  1. Realize it’s not your fault. As experts on trauma have pointed out, “It’s not about what is wrong with you; it’s about what happened to you.” This is the start of a healing journey.
  2. Stressed out? Take some deep breaths. Stopping what you’re doing for a few minutes to breathe tamps down your stress response, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Encourage your kids to breathe deeply or even join you in a few minutes of meditation. If you find you’re continually on the verge of a meltdown, consider seeing a mental health professional for help.
  3. Build in some rituals. Scientists say that routines and rituals are critical for healthy child development. Cooking and eating together, playing Scrabble and other board games,  taking a walk around the neighborhood, reading to your kids at bedtime, even sorting clothes together – all these “anchoring” rituals can help create closer, more loving relationships with your children, according to Barbara Greenberg, PhD, a teen, child, and family psychologist licensed in Connecticut and New York. All of these ideas are a great foundation for building healthy habits for your kids. Participating in community traditions that build a sense of belonging is also invaluable, says ACEs expert Dr. Robert Sege of Massachusetts.
  4. Consider taking a parenting class, especially if you often find yourself yelling or acting in ways you’d rather not. A recent study found these five parenting programs especially effectivein reducing drug use, aggression, and anxiety in the teen years. “Of course, it’s important to realize that when it comes to parenting, not one size fits all,” said Dr. Greenberg. “The class has to make sense for your parenting style and temperament. If the class doesn’t feel right for you, try a different one.”
  5. Give your child more undivided attention. Start by putting away your smartphone when you talk with your kids – or when you’re interacting with your baby. Scientists have found that babies develop back-and-forth “conversations” without language by the time they’re 11 months old, but they need to know that you’re listening. She may not develop the needed brain circuitry if her brain isn’t stimulated by talking with an attentive parent, so be sure your phone doesn’t come between you and our child.

With these steps and knowledge of your own childhood trauma, you’ll likely find it easier to help your child be happy and resilient.

Remember that healthy habits for kids start with you and your physical and mental health. Learn how to heal from toxic stress at Stress Health.

Broken Wings Part 5: What I Wish My Spouse Knew

What I Wish My Spouse Knew About Our Child With Special Needs

This series was inspired by a Facebook post I read six weeks ago. A member posted this question “Does having a special needs child affect your marriage?” Post after post, people shared examples of how their marriage was tested. Some made it, others did not. I always wanted to create a platform where people could talk and share their experiences, the good and the bad. I cannot thank my collaborator Wrae Meredith Sanders enough for her open and honest contributions. Whatever your decision is, I hope you know you’re not alone and you will make it.

This is the last part of this series. Please feel free to like, comment, and share.

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There are many things that I can look back on now and wish that I could change. I’m unable to change the damage that was done to our marriage- both of us did things that we regret but we have been able to move forward together.

If I’d known that we would disagree so much and loudly, I would have shut the door a little more. I would have stopped and asked for a break–this would have helped more than we realized at the time. I would have asked why we had to be right all the time instead of coming up with a compromise.

Julian Needed Us to Come Together, Not Fall Apart

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If I’d known then that I’d spend many nights crying myself to sleep for so many reasons, I would hit the rewind button. I would figure out each separate reason instead of letting it all become a big ball of depression.

I thought I was doing the right thing–fighting you for Julian’s needs. This turned out to be two evaluations, a diagnosis of ADHD (combined), traits of Asperger’s (later amended to High Functioning Autism) and medications. He also needed group therapy.

Moms are supposed to do what it takes for their kids, right? The only thing is, I did it alone. I didn’t listen to you. You didn’t want any of these things to happen because you were in denial. If I had known what to say and not be confrontational, I would have done it. But I didn’t. That’s where I went wrong.

I tried explaining, even in a way you could understand but that didn’t do it. In your family, disabilities aren’t real unless you see it. Julian has the kind you can’t see. You couldn’t see it, so it didn’t exist. This even applied when Julian almost broke my nose and I had to get X-Rays.

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I sought out ways to deal with the loneliness. When your husband is in denial and emotionally bashes you daily, you have to find a way to cope. I drank. That was not productive at all.

I went out a lot with people who turned out to not be good for me, you even tried to tell me, but I didn’t trust you enough to care. I worked out in the gym obsessively and lost 60 lbs. Even my doctor was concerned. I barely ate for days on end. This didn’t help my decision making.

What I Know Now

We worked hard to put this family back together. I still have problems opening up to you this day. I finished therapy two months ago. You were there from day one to the last and cheered me on the whole time.

During that time, Julian has grown, and he has done well. He finished group therapy and dealt well with a change in providers. He is going into the seventh grade after a few bumps adjusting to middle school.

You’ve become so supportive of Julian and I. When he has a bad day, I know I can tell you about it. You’re happy when he does well. Raising kids isn’t easy and we have three. Having a kid with special needs makes things a bit more interesting and sometimes difficult. I’m glad that both of us decided to make this work.

Thanks. I know Julian wouldn’t say it but I’m sure he likes his mom and dad being together.

Love always…

Wrae

What I Wish My Husband Knew About Being A Special Needs Mom

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Dear Husband,

Never at the age of forty did I dream I would marry, then become pregnant a few months later. It took us both by surprise yet we agreed to go on this wild journey called parenting. I had a little more experience with raising a child as my daughter was fourteen when we tied the knot.

I was fat, tired, and cranky–everything a pregnant woman is and probably will be as long as little humans continue to beautifully invade our personal space. There were precautions because of my age and health, but I was sure I would go full term.

But I didn’t. He came nearly three months early. After a long stay at the hospitals, oxygen tanks, and therapy, our baby boy could live a normal life.

There’s Something About Keith

We both noticed how energetic he was, how once he started talking he couldn’t stop, and how sleep evaded him. No worries though, I sleep trained him. Plus, kids are naturally talkative and hyper, right?

But he never slowed down. After being kicked out of two daycares, we had him evaluated. I already knew, but I wanted to hear the doctor say it. He had ADHD.

Now here’s where the story starts to fall apart

I ran straight towards the ADHD armed with books, natural medicine because our pediatrician refused to help him, and age-appropriate behavioral techniques. You ran in the other direction, straight to the door of denial.

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Days grew into weeks, months, and even years. Six years isn’t much time to some, but when a person feels like they’re carrying the load alone, it can seem like a millennium.

The feeling is familiar because I went through the same thing raising my daughter alone. I felt overwhelmed all the time. I feel that way now.

As the primary caregiver, I stay on top of his meds, homeschool him, and take him to the doctor’s appointments.

I know you can argue that since I don’t have a nine to five, I should be doing this anyway. I remember carrying the same load as a full-time working mom too.

And when you did participate…

Yes, you went to the doctor with us sometimes. You ‘yessed’ your way through the appointments, but the heavy part of the load rests on my shoulders.

When he’s having a bad day, I try to redirect. You punish him by sending him to bed.

If he talks back, I remind him that his behavior is inappropriate, you yell at him and say things he will repeat later when he’s frustrated.

Even when you excuse yourself from spending time with him, he loves you anyway.

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If I thought you would really listen to what I have to say, I’d tell you that you are creating an insecure man who will be afraid to share his feelings, think he isn’t good enough and may do inappropriate things to get attention.

But I’m not brave enough. What I am is strong. I’m strong enough to walk away and do it on my own.

I don’t want to, but his well being comes first. The only reason I haven’t walked away now is that much like a little girl, I have hope.

You’re not a bad person. That’s why I haven’t left yet.

Until then, I pray we can fix these broken wings.

Love,

Bonnie

Comments? Leave them below.

Thank you so much for reading this series! We appreciate your support during this month. If you missed any of the previous parts, you can catch up here:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Guest Post with Kirsten

I found this to be so helpful and hope that others do too! Thanks so much, Kirsten!

5 Effective Ways to Overcome Squirrel Syndrome

You’re in your home office. You sit down, power up your computer and get logged in. You think, man this computer is slow, I should look into getting a new one. It’s time to upgrade anyway. The computer finally boots up and you do your normal routine of checking emails, checking your site stats and then you decide to really hunker down and get some real work done.

You’ve got your list of things that you know you need to do and start working on them. Halfway through that first task, you realize another more urgent task you need to get done. So you switch to that task. 15 minutes later, another task catches your eye and you start working on that.

The more you think about it the more your to-do list piles up. Then you start to feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done and worry if you’ll actually be able to get any of it done. As you try to get a grip on all of these things you need to get done you realize that you’re not really handling anything. Somehow, you’ve worked yourself into a mini panic attack without doing anything in particular.

You realize it was like this the last day you worked. In fact, almost every day you’re working you always seem to be chasing squirrels. You work yourself into exhaustion, yet you somehow can’t recall anything specific you did. It’s all kind of a blur.

Life and work don’t have to be this way. If you struggle with anxiety and depression you may realize that this type of thing happens way more often than you’d like.

And odds are you may even have ADD or ADHD mixed in. That’s quite the mental illness cocktail! However, let me tell you there are steps you can to overcome this. Like creating a new habit, mental focus takes practice and lots of it. Get into a routine and follow these 5 effective ways to overcome squirrel syndrome.

Prioritize.
You can’t do everything at once. The old myth of multitasking has trained us to think that by doing several things at once we’re being more productive. However, studies have shown the opposite to be true. By multitasking productivity is reduced, there are more errors, stress is increased, and memory is impaired.

Instead, make a list of all the tasks you need to get done that day. Do spend more than 5 minutes making this list. After you’ve made your list highlight the top 3 things that you MUST get done that day.

Start with the first most pressing task and work on that. Do NOT move on to the next task until that first one is finished. Only when you’ve completed the first task should you allow yourself to move on to the next. You’ll work more efficiently this way because you won’t waste time switching gears and then back again. It will also stop you from getting so overwhelmed you do nothing at all.

Radio Silence.
You’ve decided you’re not checking your messages, yet you are still aware that your phone is buzzing. If even after turning off notifications you find you’re still thinking about your phone, you’re still distracted. Don’t be afraid to put your phone in your desk drawer and close it so you don’t see that flashing light alerting you of another new notification. Truly disconnect here so that you are not distracted. If it’s important enough, they’ll leave a message.

Admit you’re distracted.
Yes, it’s ok to admit this. It happens to the best of us. Just telling yourself “I’m distracted” activates a brain circuit that makes it easier to drop what’s irrelevant and get back to focusing on what’s important. But make sure you do not dwell here. Admit it and immediately take action to remedy it.

Take breaks.
I’ll admit, I’m the worst at this. I tend to forget to take breaks because when I am focused it’s hard to pull away. Luckily what I have found works for me, is to have an accountability partner (“AP”). My AP reminds me when it’s time to take a break. And sometimes just knowing that she is going to remind me, triggers my brain to realize when it’s time to take a break as well.

A study found that workers were most productive when they worked for 52 minutes and then took a 17-minute break. Ideally, that break time should be spent away from your desk.

If you work in an environment where taking breaks every hour isn’t possible, try to at least take mini-breaks, even if it’s just mentally. Most workplaces are pretty good about letting their employees take frequent breaks because they realize the stress that overworking can cause. If you’re an entrepreneur and work from home, you may need to be more mindful of this task.

Set reminders in your calendar to alert you when you should be taking a break.
Instead of eating lunch at your desk, find time to eat lunch away from your workspace. Focus on the food you’re eating. Indulge in the smell and taste of your food. If you can go outside. Either eat outside or go for a walk. Notice the smells. Breathe in the fresh air.

Witness the vibrant colors of the trees, buildings, cars, or sky around you. Be present in the moment and do not think about what’s waiting for you back at your desk.
Once your break is over, return to your desk and attack your tasks with a vengeance. You’ll be surprised how much clearer your mind is and how much faster your work gets done.

Rest.
How do you know you’re not getting enough sleep? You may find yourself nodding off during meetings. Or you feel foggy and slow. Exhaustion effectively lowers your IQ and reduces (if not entirely eliminates) your ability to concentrate.
If you’re feeling fuzzy or especially sleepy, squeeze in a 10-20-minute power nap instead of ignoring your drowsiness.

Resist the urge to power through with caffeine. Of course, it can provide a temporary boost, but studies have shown it stops being effective after multiple days of sleep deprivation. Also, the post-caffeine crash can be devastating.

Instead of trying to band-aid the gaping gash of tiredness with caffeine, fix the issue. Take the necessary steps to get enough sleep at night. If that means you need to adjust your routine, do so. By getting enough sleep, you’ll awaken ready to take on the world with renewed focus.

By following these strategies regularly you’re exercising your brain to have better mental focus. This not only helps in the workplace with tasks you need to get done but also for tasks that need to be tackled throughout your life. Training your brain this way will greatly reduce your anxiety, depression and any attention deficit you may have. Give these a try!

About the Author
Kirsten Weinzierl is the owner of ObtainingBliss.com. She loves and truly believes in the power of personal development, self-care and self-reflection. She writes with humor and discusses topics like relationships, parenthood, body happiness and her love of food. However, she also writes about tough topics like depression, anxiety, suicide, and domestic violence.
You can check out her blog at:
Obtaining Bliss
You can also connect with her on the following Social Media platforms:
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