COVID-19 Self-Care – by Kayla Madder

2020… what a wild ride! COVID-19 has brought us a world full of new challenges and unknown outcomes. So many things are up in the air that it’s hard to find much that we have an answer for anymore, which can be overwhelming to say the least. More than ever, self-care should be at the forefront of our minds, but it’s probably not. We are too busy taking on new tasks and responsibilities and being overcome with worry and change.

I hope in reading this you can shift your gaze back to self-care, because at a small level it’s something we actually can have control over. Our wellbeing as Mothers is crucial right now, for us and for our families. Here are a few more self-care tips I’ve been thinking about with respect to our current times:

Low or no expectations

Something I often tell my doula clients is to keep low or no expectations for themselves as far as accomplishing tasks, taking on responsibilities, etc during the postpartum period because there are so many unknowns during this time (recovery, sleep, nutrition, and so much more). We now are living in an epic “time of unknowns” so I think the best self-care you can actually offer yourself right now is to keep low or no expectations.

Do what you can each day to:

1) Meet your basic needs,

2) Meet the basic needs of your children,

3) Try to be present and engaged as much as possible.

Everything beyond that is a bonus.

Low or no expectations can apply to your children as well. They’re living through this time of change, just like we are, but with even less control. They are uncertain and are being resilient nonetheless, but it has been reported that changes in sleep, eating, and behaviour are all common during these times of change.

Time vs. Capacity

There was an incredible post awhile back from @thebirdspapaya about this idea of time vs. capacity and it literally stopped me in my tracks of being hard on myself for not “taking advantage of” all the time we’re having at home. To paraphrase the post – yes, we likely have more time on our hands than ever before, but the emotional load we are carrying is heavy.

This load will tire us out, will knock our capacity right down, and we will need to rest and care for ourselves before much of anything can really be accomplished again. And that’s ok. A funny thing about humans is that when they are stressed, they tend to not function at their highest potential. So expecting yourself to be Super-Mom and teacher and chef and counsellor and employee/business owner/family manager and everything else all at once during this time is just not practical. We can’t be everything to everybody if we don’t take care of ourselves first. The time might be there, but the capacity may not be. And that’s ok. Again, lowering our expectations for ourselves and prioritizing self-care at this time can only help.

Radical kindness

You know that feeling you get when you’re being judgmental towards others or critical of yourself? It doesn’t feel very good, right? It can be toxic, and now is not the time to invite toxicity into our lives. This isn’t a new idea but practicing radical kindness towards yourself and others during this time can only improve our situation. I know this is easier said than done because it’s an engrained defense mechanism for many of us to criticize when we are feeling unsure of ourselves or our surroundings. COVID-19 has brewed the perfect pot of uncertainty, but in the grand scheme of things, everyone lashing out will only bring about more fear and negativity. 

When isolation started, this toxic feeling was definitely seeping in for me. I was frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed, and was lacking the feeling of control over literally anything (this is extra stressful for a recovering Type-A person like myself).

Every day I was sinking into more judgmental and critical thoughts, and my anxiety was rising. I decided to step away from both the news and social media for a week. I was so serious about it that I literally would stop my husband mid-sentence if he was trying to tell me something he’d read or seen on the news. Poor guy! I needed some real separation from the misinformation, judgements, and comparison game online because it was dragging me down.

After my week-long break, I came back to these platforms with the perspective that I could walk away again whenever I wanted to and I could take or leave any information I saw/read. I decided to invest my time in engaging with content that was completely unrelated to COVID-19 and in connecting with my friends, family, and supporting local businesses however I could. 

Judging others for their choices or becoming a keyboard warrior against misinformation will likely change 0 people’s minds and actions. On the flip side, lifting others up who you believe in and support can only bring about more positivity. Checking in with and encouraging our friends has a positive impact all around. They feel cared about, we feel more connected, and good about ourselves too. This feel-good-ness then seeps into how we interact with our partners and kids and so on. So if we can shift our time away from criticism and towards creating good memories and conversations, it might just lead to a brighter life.

*This is not at all saying that you shouldn’t complain about your situation or commiserate about how hard this year has been. Not at all. We need to process our feelings and experiences and that’s incredibly healthy. These are just my thoughts with respect to how we view and vocalize our opinions of others.

Self-care Ideas

1. Self-care ideas to do at home/with what you already have:

-make dentist/other physical or mental health appointment (taking care of yourself is huge self-care, even if the appointments aren’t super enjoyable, the long-term benefits are worth it)

-long, warm, uninterrupted shower

-set up a spa night with the family

-do some writing

-time for reading

-bubble/epsom salt bath 

-glass of wine and Netflix

-organizing cluttered areas

-enjoy a cup of coffee/tea/beverage of choice in peace

-doing crafts

-baking/trying a new recipe

-getting outside for some fresh air/go for a walk (alone, with the family, with the dogs…)

-get a workout in at home (yoga, weights, body weight, cardio, go for a run outside, etc)

-taking and protecting time to do something you enjoy

-visiting with friends via phone call or video chat

-napping/sleep in/getting a full 8 hours

-knitting/crocheting

-listening to your favourite music

-having a family dance party at home

-face/foot mask

-spending time with husband/partner

-spending quality time with each child independently

-stretches/ball release at bedtime

-laying in bed

-painting nails

-meditating/deep breathing

-fifteen minutes of quiet time in the morning 

2. Self-care ideas to do outside the home/bigger splurges:

-pedicure/manicure

-massage/spa visit

-going to the gym/bootcamp

-walk around your favourite store 

-getting nails done

-spending time with friends

-going to the dentist/doctor (just like vehicle maintenance, this counts as self-care for your personal wellness)

-getting your favourite coffee 

-getting lashes done

-sitting in your favourite coffee shop

-getting hair done

-grocery shopping solo

-going out for dinner 

-date night

-facial

-escaping to the cabin/take a trip

Self-care for Mamas: What I’ve Learned – by Kayla Madder

1) Routine 

I wanted to start my self-care week off with establishing some sort of routine so that self-care would be a little more organic in my day-to-day. I have a tendency to ignore self-care, and then when I start to get really stressed out, it’s quite the task to make it happen again. 

Because of this, I knew a routine would probably be a better strategy. My “routine” consisted of making and enjoying a tea each morning and doing my daily practice. This was an amazing habit for me to get into to centre myself and focus on what needed to be done that day. 

2) Use the resources available to you and don’t be afraid to ask for help! 

It stresses me out when I know I have attainable tasks or self-care practices to get done but then #momlife happens and I don’t get to complete those tasks. Anyone else?!

This makes me feel like my work/goals/happiness/wellness aren’t a priority and that breeds resentment. I’m a huge Brene Brown fan and she talks about resentment being a sign of needing to set boundaries.

So when I’m feeling stressed or resentful, I know my first steps need to be setting boundaries, asking for help, and being a little selfish about protecting the time I need to accomplish the tasks that are important to me.

This usually comes down to having serious conversations with my family about exactly what kind of time I need, then asking the supports we have in town if they can help out with watching the kids some days, and then following through. All three of these steps can be uncomfortable at first, but trust me, they get easier and easier and the end result gets better and better!

3) PLAY AS A FAMILY 

This does not mean you need to be playing Barbies as a part of your self-care. The kind of play I mean is something that your whole family enjoys. During my self-care week, my family decided to go to family swim time at the nearby leisure centre because we all love to swim. And we had a blast!

So why would play be important for adults?? Prioritizing time for play is connected to wholehearted living (again – Brene Brown) and is also great for overall family dynamics. An extra bonus – It’s amazing how patient kids can be sometimes when you’ve put in some time playing with them before moving on to a task that you need to accomplish while they play independently.

4) Remind yourself that self-care is guilt-free

Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. Don’t be afraid to get childcare. It’s not selfish even if you’re not doing it in order to work – we all need a break sometimes! I would suggest @skbabysitters, one of the amazing Ask Mum directory members, if you ever need childcare.

While taking advantage of my children being cared for out of my home during my self-care week, it felt great to get some chores and work done around home without someone hanging off of me or making a mess on top of the area I just cleaned. It was a big mental health win, so that’s never selfish!

5) Self-care doesn’t have to cost money! 

Days 1 & 2 of my self-care week were more low-key, affordable ideas, as most self-care practice probably would be. For most people, the “splurge” type appointments (which I did in the later days of the week) would be less frequent, but also effective. All options are great, but self-care doesn’t have to be expensive. There are so many options!

6) Self-care is individual and involves choices 

My self-care will not look exactly the same as anyone else’s because we all have different likes and dislikes. For the longest time, I thought self-care was silly because I had the impression that self-care only involved a handful of activities which I had no interest in doing.

 The reality is that self-care is what you make it. There is something for everyone because as long as you enjoy spending time doing SOMETHING in your life that is good for your mental or physical health, then you know of a self-care activity to engage in.

There are so many options to try and we just have to see how things feel. If they feel enjoyable and beneficial, then that’s great. If not, it’s ok to decide that’s not a self-care practice for you. Self-care really starts with weeding out the good options from the bad as far as what is going to work best for you!

7) Permission

Give yourself permission to make self-care a priority or it won’t happen. I struggle with thinking I could be making better use of my time than taking a bath (or any other self-care practice).

But in reality, self-care tends to make me more productive, more patient, and a better Mom! 

So it’s worth it, and I constantly have to remind myself of that. I know that if I don’t think of self-care as important enough or make it a priority, no one else will. And the extra special part of this is by giving yourself permission to hold your wellbeing up as a priority, you’ll be teaching your kids to do the same 😊 

8) Sustainability 

I’m sure most of us typically couldn’t do a week solid of just focusing on self-care. So what little things can you build into your every day? What things can you build in weekly? Monthly? 

What things do you enjoy that you also know will make a difference for your mental/physical health and can be easily incorporated into your life?

Like I mentioned in #1, I focused on building a bit of a daily self-care routine of tea and my daily practice. This is easy enough because I only need about 15 minutes each morning to complete it. And I find that if I don’t consistently do my daily practice, my to do list becomes completely unattainable and I start feeling very anxious in all the overwhelm = not great for my mental health.

So that’s just one small example of how committing 15 minutes each day to self-care can go a long way!

Additionally, kindness goes a long way. Be kind to yourself if you don’t follow your self-care routine perfectly or if you don’t get everything checked off your to do list. It’s okay!

Late is better than never and tomorrow’s always a fresh start. Self-care shouldn’t be stressful or feel like a chore. Sometimes you just have to roll with letting it be what it will be and get back on track or make little changes whenever it makes sense to do so.

Do you have any tips and tricks to share, Mama? Comment below!

Self-care for Mamas – by Kayla Madder

While it seems a little frivolous to be writing about self-care during a time of total disruption in our world today, some would say this is the exact moment we should be worrying about it the most. Anxiety and other mental health struggles tend to rear their ugly heads during times like these. Times of uncertainty, where media and social media seem to only be breeding more judgement than love and support.

This was meant to be a light and breezy blog discussing all different sorts of self-care and finding what works for you, and in many ways it still will be, because some version of our “normal” will return, but I’ve also included a section on making sure you prioritize your self-care during these COVID times and what that might look like.

I will be sharing on three topics:

  1. What I did: My experience with being fully immersed in a week of self-care
  2. What I learned: Some big and small self-care ideas and what it takes to make them a priority
  3. COVID-19 self-care: I have to pause to give credit to my Instagram community as well because a good chunk of the ideas shared here are thanks to you all answering my question of “What is your favourite self-care?”. So thank you for your input throughout this little adventure.

In this blog article, we will be chatting through topic one above. Stay tuned for more blog articles from me to hear about topic two and three.

What I Did – My self-care week experiment

If you follow me on Instagram, you can also find some more detail on my self-care week in my highlight reel under IWD Giveaways. Some quick background on my relationship with self-care – I tend to work full-tilt until I either crash or realize I’m about to crash, which is when self-care becomes a focus of mine. Over the past couple years, I have been working hard to make self-care a part of my daily life in smaller but more sustainable ways, but I am definitely still a work in progress!

Day 1:

I made and enjoyed a tea (before starting into the coffee) while doing my daily practice, which is somewhere between a gratitude journal and a to do list. I unfortunately didn’t go to bed early or sleep in like I’d hoped because of my baby not sleeping well – Mom life, right?! I took my kids to my parents’ house for the morning so I could get some work done because my oldest was home from school (PD day, this was before COVID hit). I tried listening to music while getting my work done, and it put me in the best mood! For dinner, I made @skipabeet meal service freezer meals, which is becoming one of my best life hacks because I don’t have to worry about prepping a healthy meal on busy nights. That evening, both of my boys had swimming lessons. After lessons, we decided to stay for family swim time at Lakewood Civic Centre with Abuelita and Papa. We got the best mix of fun/PLAY time and family time, even if staying meant missing bedtime by about 45 minutes. Thank goodness we did because this ended up being our last opportunity to swim/go to swimming lessons before everything closed!

Day 2:

I started my day again with a morning tea, missed my daily practice, but added some multivitamins to my morning routine. I took my kiddos to my parents’ again for the morning so I could go to work and get some things done around the house. I work as a Postpartum Doula and work for me is self-care because I’m so passionate about it. In a quick poll I did on Instagram, 67% of you also agreed that your work is self-care for you too! I thought this was both so interesting and impressive. In the evening, I got distracted and binged a Netflix show, which ended off being a tradeoff of bad self-care by missing out on sleep, but I really enjoyed the “me time”. It’s all about balance, or so I’m told! After my Netflix binge, I took a relaxing bath with some bath salts by @1968soapco_soap_and_pottery. This was a treat for sure!

Day 3:

Day 3 again started with tea and vitamins, followed by my first ever facial at @jfyspa which offered a super relaxing atmosphere with highly knowledgeable staff! My daily practice didn’t happen until much later in the day, but better late than never! The afternoon brought with it a deep conditioning hair treatment and blow out at @hairtechdesign, and in the evening I made the call to put the kids to bed early (best idea ever, FYI). This was definitely one of the more luxurious days, and one I typically wouldn’t have the chance to do too often, but these types of treatments are so nice as a treat every now and then (or more frequently if you’re able!).

Day 4:

It was my husband’s birthday and was generally just busy, so I typically wouldn’t have had any self-care on a day like that. But since I had committed to an experiment of getting some self-care in every day, I made a point to do what I could (which ended up being quite a lot) even if it was busy. I think we all have days that self-care is an afterthought. The trick might just be making sure those days don’t turn into weeks, months, and years! So my day started with tea and vitamins again, followed by Coffee + Connection at @thewellcollab. A big part of my self-care is community and being around and cheering on other women (especially women in business), so events like these are almost like therapy for me. My husband and I then went for his birthday lunch at @revolveyxe with NO KIDS!! This was amazing – great food, sunshine, yummy coffee, played some of the fun games they had there, and just enjoyed each other’s company. In the afternoon, I had a massage at 2nd Ave Family Chiropractic, which was so needed with the lack of sleep that I’d been getting used to in the weeks prior. I decided to do some reading right before bed, which helped me relax and fall asleep (81% of you agreed in another poll i did).

Then there was day 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3 where I had to keep myself away from people as my family and I had come down with a cold (not COVID, we were assured many, many, many times). This meant I needed some “getting well” self-care. This looked like: lots of rest, fluids, stepping away from as many responsibilities as possible, then alllll the cleaning so the family wouldn’t get sick again. That type of self-care is definitely not as glamorous… but boy is it ever necessary!

Day 5:

Again the day started with tea and vitamins with a dose of daily practice as well (I was starting to get the hang of this!). I had a pedicure at @glambeautyspa_sk with massage chairs!!! As this was at the beginning of things shutting down, it was encouraging to see such a beautiful brand new business take cleanliness and relaxation so seriously. Masks and distancing were already in place, even though they were far from mandated at that time. My husband and I did a virtual @wemovesk work out from home, which was a really fun thing to do together. We rarely work out together, and if I’m being honest, it takes a lot to get me to work out, period. So this was a fun option for sure!

Day 6:

This was meant to be the last day of the self-care week, but my anxiety was seeping in with the school closing announcement that came on this day, gas prices dropping, and the COVID-19 reality starting to set in. I decided not to do my float at @thetawavefloat even though I was so looking forward to it. Theta Wave’s owner, Jon, and I both agreed it was best to postpone the visit but I will definitely be going for a float there when we’re all up and running again! I have floated before, but @thetawavefloat is much different than anywhere I’ve been before (open room floats, not in a pod, and big enough for 2 ppl for prenatal couples if you want, and it’s a full multi-step relaxation experience, not just a float) and I can’t wait to try it. By chance, some oils I had ordered from @theolfactoryshop came in the mail that day. Their oils come in scents that are lovely and always make me feel relaxed/happy even if I use them just to make a room smell nicer! 

Side note – I had full intentions to de-clutter during the week of self-care, but it ended up happening the following week, which is totally okay! Some things get pushed aside, but for most things to get done was a win for me for sure!

That’s my “self-care” week, folks!

Stay tuned to see what I learned, and for more great tips + tricks!

Meet Kayla Madder

Kayla is a Mama to two boys, and owns Crocus Doula & Wellness Services, as well as Kids Closet YXE here in Saskatoon. She loves connecting with Moms and is an incredible asset to our team! She left a career in the Sciences to be able to stay home with her boys while chasing other dreams and passions.

She is a great listener, connector and force of nature.

Kayla not only plans and hosts our events in Saskatoon, she is also part of many strategic business decisions and plays a huge role operationally as our on-the-ground Ask Mum Saskatoon representative.

Follow Kayla on Instagram: @prairie_girl_enjoying_life

The Things They Don’t Tell You – by Erin McCrea

I recently admitted to somebody that I can’t keep indoor plants or fish alive. I can’t keep a plant alive, and I kill the fish every single time I clean the tank! I can’t keep plants and fish alive, but somehow… I am responsible for a four year old boy.

In May of 2016,  I was released from the hospital, two days after an emergency c-section. When they told me I could go home, all I could think was, “How can you let me leave? I don’t know what I’m doing. My baby won’t even breastfeed! I have no idea how to be a mom.”

I didn’t tell them I couldn’t keep a plant alive. I probably wanted to. At that point, I didn’t know yet that I was a fish killer. I wasn’t ready to leave yet because I didn’t think I could do it. Nobody told me how to do it. I didn’t believe I had the ‘Mom Instinct.’  

I had Gestational Diabetes while pregnant, and needed insulin to control it. I had sciatic pain during the last trimester. I had to pee at least eight times during the night. I was focussed on one thing before my son was born, and that was getting through the delivery. I didn’t think about what would happen after he was born. I didn’t think about the fact that I had no idea how to be a mom.

Nobody told me that the scariest part of having a baby was not giving birth, but taking a little tiny newborn home. Nobody told me that breastfeeding would be the hardest thing I’ve ever learned to do. Nobody told me the feeling of defeat I would get the first night that he cried the entire night, and I didn’t know how to comfort him. People don’t talk about these things. You hear that breastfeeding is important, and that you will feel an instant bond with your baby. 

I did a prenatal class at Fitbump. I will forever be grateful I took it. There were only three of us in the class because she had just opened. One had a toddler, and the other two (myself included) were going to be moms for the first time. I was grateful to Amanda (the owner of Fitbump) and the other participant for telling us the truth. The truth is – it’s not always easy. In fact, it’s hard.

We came home with our son, and people texted to ask how my son was. They came to visit, and they asked how breastfeeding was going. They held the baby, but didn’t ask anything about how it was being a mom. I didn’t tell them. I didn’t tell them I was exhausted, and anxious, and had no idea what I was doing. 

A nurse stopped by to check in. I remember sitting with my son while she sat across from me. She asked me how I was doing. When I tried to answer, I cried instead. I was so embarrassed. At that moment, all I could think was that she’d know I didn’t know what I was doing. I was worried she would see that I wasn’t a good mom. This fear was real, and all these thoughts went through my head in about five seconds. She looked at me, and said, “I know it’s hard.” Something about the way she looked at me and said it made me realize I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only mom feeling this.

When I did my first phone call from the nurses with questions about postpartum depression and anxiety, it came out as borderline for Anxiety. When I did it the second time a few weeks later, I didn’t have anxiety from the answers I gave. I want to be completely honest right now and say that I knew the answers they expected both times. I was not honest during the questions. The first time I was more willing to admit my struggles, but not all of them.

Even though they were asking these questions to help me, I still didn’t want them to think I was a bad mom. I didn’t realise that having anxiety didn’t make me a bad mom, it made me a real mom. If anybody follows me on Instagram, you know I admit to my anxiety all the time now. It was a long journey to that point. In the early days of motherhood, I wanted to share cute photos of my son, and pretend things were perfect. I wanted to convince myself it was perfect.

If you’re reading this, and are part of the Ask Mum Community, I’m sure you’ve already learned this: motherhood is not perfect. Not ever. In fact, it’s hard as hell. The only thing I’ve learned is that it’s okay to be honest about it. I love my son more than anything in this world, but I have struggled many times during these four years. Every time I think I have it figured out, things change. He changes. I change. Covid-19 happens. I’m forever grateful for the community of moms I’ve met and connected with.

Our first month was really tough. I came home from the hospital with a little stranger that was all mine. I made him, but I had no idea how to be his mom. I knew he was mine, and I loved him from the start, but I didn’t know if I was going to do a good job. I have never been one of those people confident enough to say “I was made to be a mother.” I never knew if that was true. There were points in my life when I didn’t think I’d be a mom, or that I wanted to be a mom. The moment I found out I was pregnant with him, I knew I was made to be HIS mom, and it is a privilege to be a mom. I’ve seen people who should have been moms, never get the chance. I didn’t realize how lucky I was in my first month with my son. I was too busy trying to survive. 

I know now, with four years of experience, that every moment with him is something we’ll both keep forever. But every moment is not easy. I don’t love every moment. I wish somebody had told me that getting through the birth would be the easiest part. I wish somebody had told me that being a parent is the scariest thing you’ll ever do. I’ve always prided myself on jumping into scary situations (except for bungee jumping… I tried, and couldn’t do it), but I had no idea what I was getting into when I decided I wanted to be a mom. With most of the scary things I’ve done in my life, I have no regrets. It’s worth it – anxiety and all.

Sometimes, when I know a new mom, all I want to say to them is, “I know it isn’t easy.” Then I remember what I was like during the first few weeks, and I remember how hard it was to admit I was struggling, and I can only hope they are able to talk about it with somebody. 

Motherhood for me is constant learning. It’s adapting, and it’s adjusting. For me, it’s also admitting that I don’t always know what I’m doing. It’s admitting that I will always have more to learn. It’s knowing how grateful I am to be able to raise my beautiful boy, but knowing that it’s not easy. People constantly tell you that every new age is harder than the one you are currently on. I think every child is different and every parent is different. You aren’t a bad mom if you struggle. I still catch myself thinking I’m a bad mom. I think about how I could have done something better, and I have to stop and remember that I’m the best mom for my son, and tomorrow is another day. 

In conclusion, my indoor plants are currently dead (my outdoor ones are great though). We have three fish left (I’m not telling you how many we started with), and I have one happy toddler. We are growing together in this journey, and even though I wish somebody had told me that I should look farther than birth, it’s going to be the most amazing adventure of my life. I may not be able to keep a succulent (yes, I’m serious) alive, but I can make my toddler laugh. That’s got to count for something. I’ve got this. So do you.

Thanks for reading,

Erin McCrea

3 things about grief I want loss moms to know

Hello, I am Wendi.

I grew up charmed and sheltered. I still have all of my grandparents at age 31 and have never lost so much as a pet. Pregnancy loss was not something I had ever encountered until I began working on the labor and delivery unit at our hospital.

And then, the unthinkable happened… We lost our first baby when I was 37 weeks pregnant. Again, I had coasted through nursing patients on labour and delivery convincing myself it wouldn’t happen to me. This is an ode to all of you dear mothers who also wished it had never happened to you. This is what I want you to know about your loss, and the path you find yourself on.

There are stages of grief, and they are not linear.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published a widely accepted grief model that is a basis of where to start to understand the grief you will experience. In my opinion, your family and friends should develop an understanding of this too, for it can dramatically affect our behaviour. The stages are: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I thought I would go through each of these and once I was done, I was through it and would be done grieving. That would be so nice. In my experience however, I bounced back and forth, some of the stages would only last a day or two while others lasted weeks. Now, four years later, the stages come in spurts. 

Everyone experiences grief and baby loss differently.

Someone may have lost a baby at an earlier gestation than you and they may seem to be grieving much deeper, or vice versa. Grief is individual and we never know what another person is going through on top of their grieving. Our health, relationships, spirituality, finances, and more are all affected by this tragic event and may all be wreaking havoc on our ability to grieve. So we must all remember loss is tragic and everyone deserves whatever support they need. 

It gets better.

I vividly remember feeling a deep black hole in my heart, the grip of grief on my throat preventing me from breathing. But now, four years later, life is easier, grief is easier, finding joy is easier. It is not this way for everyone (see number 2), but I have confidence that with proper support… healing can and will come. 

Meet Wendi

I have a wonderful husband, and we both get to work as registered nurses in Saskatoon. We have two beautiful girls, Aurora (3) and Behati (5 months). There is another child who is missing, his name is Harris and he would be 4 years old.

We lost Harris when I was 36 weeks pregnant, and we will never know the cause. I had a wonderful and blessed pregnancy, but he was taken before we were ready. We believe that he is in heaven, watching over the four of us now and we live everyday to its fullest because of him. We want to make him and our most capable babysitter (Jesus) proud!

One of the things we are passionate about is raising awareness about perinatal loss and helping support other parents the way we were supported. Our family has done an outstanding job supporting, protecting, encouraging and listening in the last four years especially and we want to make sure others have that same experience.

We would also not be where we are today without the local non-profit organization – Empty Arms Perinatal Loss services. The men and women who devote countless hours to the work Empty Arms does are all heroes.

Motherhood is the most rewarding and challenging job I have ever taken on. There are many different kinds of amazing moms – working moms, stay at home moms, moms who are minorities, refugees, single moms, the list goes on. I am a kind of mom I never asked to be… I have a son in heaven.

Being a mom to these two angels with us and our son in heaven is the greatest gift. There is no other teacher like motherhood of love, grace, humility, strength and endurance. I’m so grateful to the mothers in my life who I continue to glean from, and from awesome communities like Ask Mum.

Motherhood through my eyes

By Shannon

I always wanted to be a mom. I told my mother as a child I wanted to grow up to be a regular mom. Whatever that meant. I didn’t realize at the time that my mom was a hardworking, often solo parent, while sitting on various volunteer boards and continually being an advocate in our community, amidst working full time and raising two girls! She was my hero. Still is. 

What I didn’t know about motherhood was how it would come as a surprise to me. I hadn’t romanticized motherhood as an adventure with my new little best friend, I think I had a pretty realistic expectation, but motherhood found me earlier than I intended. My husband and I laugh about it sometimes. Our daughter came into our lives like a little energetic whirlwind. We had a plan. I had an IUD, and it migrated… and failed. It happens sometimes, we learned. We also learned not to make five year plans, and that’s become a running joke between him and I! 

I had just started my career as a social worker, and was looking forward to establishing myself and making a name for myself as someone to be trusted, and turned to. The reality is, I worked a short 7 months, secured a mat leave, and entered a totally new role – mom. 

Pregnancy had some really lonely days, as much as my husband cheered me on and was a huge supporter, he couldn’t feel what I felt, emotionally or physically. And at the time, I didn’t have any mom friends to connect with. There were some tears, in both pregnancy and postpartum, for sure! 

I remember lying awake one night crying, and thinking about the loss of identity I felt. I knew others must feel what I felt. I think I googled something like “loss of identity in motherhood” and came across the term matrescence. No one talks about how when a child is born, the mother is born too. A new identity, and we try to reconnect pieces of the old us, and sometimes find they are lacking continuity. I felt so far from my old self.

It was around this time that I also found the work of Sophie Ebrard. She expressed the feelings of loving her son, but rejecting the uncool image of motherhood. She didn’t want motherhood to own her, or ruin her. I felt that. I also felt alone. I remember doing things to minimize the image of motherhood for myself. I didn’t want to push a stroller, I often wore a baby wrap. As if I could hide my little babe, or hide the way she transformed me. There is no going back, and I’ve come to appreciate that. I have grown into being a mother, much like the experience Sophie describes in her work and photography: https://www.sophieebrard.com/projects/didnt-want-mum/ 

Shortly after having Leighton, I found the Ask Mum community. I remember chatting with Mandi and commenting to her that I didn’t know any other mothers at the same stage as me, at all. She was visibly shocked, and in that brief kind interaction I realized this community was for me. She was creating a place where moms could feel heard, and understood, and talk about the kids, or talk about really anything else at all. I had many conversations that lifted me up, at events following that first one! 

The first year of motherhood was tough. Lots of beautiful moments, and lots of exhaustion. Due to working in the health authority previously, I put a lot of pressure on myself to exclusively breastfeed. I remember feeling that anything else was a failure. But I kept these thoughts to myself, except for sharing this with my husband. I have to say there were times I’m sure it compromised my mental health. I would be at my wits end trying to hand pump so I could go out with a friend. I remember the first time I left my baby, I attended a bachelorette weekend where only one other woman was a mother. Everyone was so confused and worried when I disappeared for a while. I had to go pump, but they didn’t know that. It hadn’t occurred to them. 

I have become so grateful for other moms in my life. My mother, my mother in law. More than ever before. My girlfriends who mother, and understand how I’m feeling with just a look. I can say “Toddlers, you know??” And they do. 

I don’t have it figured out, not by a long shot. But I have fallen into the rhythms of mothering, and parenting. There is so much joy in watching my baby grow. My husband continually supports me, and partners with me in the best ways. We have our patterns about who tends to what tasks, and share the work equally. Most of all I am thankful. Thankful for one baby, to take me by surprise, and another, to come along during a pandemic, of all things! I am counting down the weeks to meeting our little baby boy. 

Motherhood is such a journey, and I’ve only just begun, but I’m so grateful for the challenges it has presented to me. I have challenged myself and grown individually, and pushed myself into so many unknowns career wise, socially, and emotionally. Motherhood taught me to dig even deeper for strength within myself and to unashamedly ask for help when I need it. Something that is very humbling, when I’m used to thinking I can handle it all. I am so thankful for community, and for other mothers. We need each other. And together, we’ve got this! Thanks Ask Mum for creating a place for us to share and come together. 

Hi, I am Shannon. Wife. Mama to Leighton, and another on the way (due August 2020). I live in Saskatoon, Canada.

Follow on IG: @shanannigins/

@abstractbyshan

Our family is simplifying Christmas this year…

A Simplified Christmas (1)

I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hard to tell everyone we wouldn’t be giving or accepting gifts, unless they were for the kids. I would be lying if I said it was easy to turn away from something I saw at a store that I knew would make the perfect gift for one of my friends or family members. But I would also be lying if I said it hasn’t been a bit of a relief! We have already been able to focus more on spending time together, on building traditions, and less on spending money.

This is actually our second “simplified Christmas” as we took some baby steps into it last year. And what brings us comfort in those tougher moments of essentially saying “no” to gifts is reminding ourselves what we love about Christmas, what the important parts are, and what we want our kids to understand about this time of year. In short, we wanted to bring the focus of the holidays back to quality time with family and friends and as long as we kept our eyes on that prize, we didn’t feel like we were missing out or depriving our boys of anything.

I’ve always loved the traditions and the family time during the holidays. While I LOVE giving gifts, my favourite parts of the holidays are: Christmas and Boxing Day activities (skating, tobogganing, card games, snowshoeing); the messages, photos, and letters I receive from my friends; and of course sitting down to eat Christmas dinner with family.


What do I think is important about the holidays? Family and friends being home, the catching-up, the quality time, the gathering for meals, the rest, the recharging, the laughs. I will also note here that clearly faith is a massively important part of the holidays to many, regardless of what that looks like in your home.


And what do I want our kids to know about Christmas? The togetherness, the love, the special excitement and magic that comes at this time of year whether it’s through the music or the lights or the time spent together or your faith or a combination of all of those. 


Notice how none of those things involved gifts?! So first, I’m 100% not an expert at this, but here are my top 5 alternative ways of enjoying the holidays without feeling like you have to spend a fortune:

1. Limit physical gift giving.

This could mean many things – doing away with gifts all together, cutting out gifts except for the kids, $10-20 limit gift exchange (secret Santa or taking turns picking and stealing, etc). 

2. Give experiences instead of gifts.

Tickets to a show, do a paint night together, plan a trip or staycation, try out a new leisure centre pool, take a cooking class, a fitness or workshop enrolment, ANY VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCE (choose a local organization that is doing something you believe in, call them up, and ask what you could do that would be helpful this holiday season, then do it – who knows, this may even become one of your family traditions).

3. Handmade gifts from the heart or second-hand gifts.

Write notes or letters, give family photos or photo gifts, bake something delicious to gift, really anything handcrafted/baked/created gifts (Hint: Pinterest is fantastic for ideas). Another idea is offering up some of your skills as a gift, like offering to help with a family member’s website or setting up their smartphone for them, offering to help plant a family member’s garden in the Spring, offering to take family/graduation/engagement photos, offering to do someone’s taxes (ummm who wouldn’t love to get this gift?!), etc.

Second-hand gifts – There are so many shops/businesses opening that offer curated second-hand items. This gift option checks off a few boxes by being more environmentally friendly, often cheaper, and potentially supporting local too! Both handmade and second-hand gifts add that sentimental aspect to gift-giving that you just can’t beat!

4. When you need to buy, buy local and/or from a small business.

If you are going to spend your hard-earned dollars, why not support the community you live in? Those around you busting their butts to produce quality items while facing the uphill climb of running their own business? Trust me when I say, your purchases from small local businesses will be much more appreciated than if you’d bought from that place that rhymes with “smallmart” (bear with me, I was not an English major). This goes for supporting local businesses that offer services as well – offering an opportunity to combine supporting local with gifting an experience. 

5. Focus on traditions that don’t revolve around gifts or spending.

Christmas Day tobogganing or skating or having a bake off at home. Start a holiday memory book, take silly family photos, spend all day in your pjs watching movie marathons. The world is your oyster here with endless possibilities! Story time – When I was growing up, my one side of the family would get together every second year on Boxing Day for a massive (it’s a big family) curling bonspiel where everyone was encouraged to wear the wackiest outfit they could come up with. The teams included kids as young as 3, and adults well into their 90s, and many who had never played, so the caliber of the curling was sub-par to say the least, but the memories made and the laughs we had were seriously the BEST. We stopped that tradition about 15 years ago and I miss it SO much! It definitely made up some of my absolute best Christmas memories, and I wish my kids could experience it too. But anyway! Do whatever you and your family enjoy. The fact that you’re all doing something fun together will make the gifts not matter at all, I promise.


Lastly, I just wanted to give some tips on where to find local businesses to support. Last year I gave a big run-down of all of my favourites, but I’ve learned of so many new favourites this year and honestly we just have some of the best makers and small businesses in Saskatoon, so it wouldn’t be fair to try to name them all in this format. Ask Mum Saskatoon has an amazing local business directory and also posts about these businesses frequently on Facebook and Instagram so that you don’t miss out on any fun events or upcoming deals! Joyne Marketplace and the Saskmade Store are great places to find locally-made gifts, and for both local makers and service-based businesses, searching some common hashtags (#shoplocalyxe #supportlocalyxe, etc) on social media can often help you find great local businesses too! We would love to hear your favourite local businesses in the comments too! 

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 #simplifyingchristmas #homefortheholidays #thelittlethings #theimportantthings #friends #family #christmas #holidays #love #supportlocalyxe #supportlocal #rethinkingyourgifting #supportsmallbusinesses #shopsmall #yxeliving

 

An ASK MUM Exclusive Shopping Experience + Pamper Party at JOYNE!

Ask Mum Exclusive Shopping Experience at JOYNE (1)

Hey Mama

 

We are thrilled to announce our latest event, and invite YOU to join us! This event is all about community AND ->

Pampering. Drinks. Treats. Shopping. SWAG. And much more!

JOYNE MarketPlace (249 2 Avenue South, Saskatoon, SK S7K 1K8)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM CST

 

We welcome you to come sip and shop AND be pampered, all in one evening! Arrive and attend anytime between 6:30 – 9:30pm – stay for it all or just pop in.

We will have a first-come-first-serve Pamper sign-up list available from 6:30pm as doors open (pampering slots from 7-9pm). Write your name down and mingle, shop, sip and snack while you wait for your pampering to begin!

AND walk away with a SWAG bag put together by our Title Sponsor, JOYNE, filled with local goodies straight from their store.

We have 50 tickets available! Register ASAP to avoid disappointment (link to purchase below).

As always, our events are focussed on COMMUNITY, and bringing local Moms together is what we do. There will be plenty of opportunities to meet and mingle and make new friends, all while being pampered, having some drinks and treats, and of course SHOPPING local.

Thank you to our Title Sponsor, Joyne Collective Marketplace, for hosting this exclusive shopping experience, and spoiling our Mamas with incredible SWAG and some appies + treats too!

We will also be announcing our Pamper partners soon – watch this space.

We cannot wait to have you “joyne” us for this wonderful event!

 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ask-mum-exclusive-shopping-experience-at-joyne-tickets-82221718373

*Ticket cost is $25 and includes your drinks, appies, treats, exclusive shopping experience, pampering AND a loaded SWAG bag filled with local goodies from JOYNE! Oh, and of course the opportunity to meet and mingle with many other local Moms!!! Yassss.

Happy FIVE YEAR Anniversary Donald Physiotherapy!

DonaldFamily2019

We are always excited to work with family-friendly local businesses, and are so honored to represent Donald Physiotherapy on our Ask Mum online directory. This month, they are celebrating FIVE years in business and we wanted to capture some of their journey and share this with our community.

 

Donald Physiotherapy opened in Stonebridge November 3rd, 2014. Starting with Trevor Donald, answering phones, booking appointments and seeing clients, Donald Physiotherapy quickly evolved into a full service health and wellness centre.

family, community and quality of life

They do local, they do family!

Donald Physiotherapy is a locally owned, family run business, thus lending to their core values of family, community and quality of life.  This has lead to the evolution of the core services of Donald Physiotherapy to include Physiotherapy Rehabilitation and Prevention, Pelvic Health for Women, Men and Children, the Management of such Persistent pain presentations as Arthritis, and Massage therapy.  Donald Physiotherapy serves the entire family from babies and families, to seniors.

 

Donald Physiotherapy is all about Community!

Donald Physiotherapy are always getting involved one way or another to help and grow our community in Saskatoon. Every year, they participate in the C95 event raising money for Breast Cancer Research, and this year more than $1400 was donated!

It’s also nearly time for Santa Pictures – every December Donald Physio hosts pictures with Santa for the community (this year picture day takes place on December 7rd). They gather non-perishable food items for Rock 102 Stuff the Bus Campaign for the Saskatoon Food Bank!

They are also heavily involved in the Irish Dance Community, supporting the local FEIS competitions in the Fall.

The Donald Physiotherapy BLOG (click here to access) is always a great place to go for information and education re: various topics including pelvic health, muscle and tendon injuries, etc. AND Donald Physio also host the occasional free seminar for the public (the last seminar hosted in September – focussing on how to prevent and manage dance injuries for your children).

 

They are all about improving quality of life

Donald Physiotherapy delivers quality of life to their clients. Whether getting back to a sport the client loves, being able to run with their children, or the overall management of pain, Donald Physiotherapy individualizes each individual client to what they want to achieve through knowledge, experience and expertise.

They do excellence!

In the five years that Donald Physiotherapy has been operating, they have been nominated four times for the SABEX Awards – the Business Excellence Awards for the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce.  Award nominations and finalists have included New Business Venture, Small Business of the Year and Customer Service.

Events happening this week to celebrate the Anniversary:

We will be having in-clinic draws for the clients who have supported us throughout the journey! Join us.

 

To read more about this business, and to view their services and contact details, head to their listing on our Ask Mum Saskatoon online directory here.