Instant Relaxation

Do you own a heated neck wrap? It’s one of the things I think is essential for all new moms. We should be issued them before we leave the hospital. Or at least put them on our baby registries!

I’m wearing mine right now. I have the Herbal Concepts Herbal Comfort Fan Shoulder with Collar for extra stress relief. Pop it in the microwave for a minute or two, and you have instant relaxation! The heat seeps into those tight, sore muscles we all get from holding our babies. They also make them with relaxing scents like chamomile and lavender. The scents are activated when the wrap is heated.

I recently got a massage for my birthday. Afterward, the massage therapist suggested I schedule more treatments in the next couple weeks, because I was so tight! Well, not only is that not financially practical, but it’s hard to make time for such things and coordinate with my husband’s schedule or a babysitter. So I took her second piece of advice instead: to use the neck wrap. I bought one months ago, but hadn’t used it in forever. Now I’m trying to use it every night before I go to bed. It’s making such a difference! I’m even sleeping better. And it also helps as I sit here on the couch typing on my laptop.

If you don’t already have one, treat yourself! For about 30 bucks, you can be enjoying instant relaxation (available at Bed Bath & Beyond). Then make some time for yourself – it only takes 15 minutes or so – to use it daily!

Question: What simple things do you do to relax?

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Refocusing

For a little over a year now, my main focus has been on my son Aleksander. He pretty much turned my life upside down. He changed when and how I sleep. He changed when and how I eat. He changed my daily routine (I am one of those moms who is a slave to the naps – and don’t really mind!).

I am fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with Aleksander. I spend my days taking care of him. When my husband comes home in the evening, he takes over for the most part. But I’m never completely out of the picture, unless maybe I steal away to my office in the basement for a half hour or so. Luckily, Aleksander has gotten very good at playing by himself, so I am able to get a few things done during his waking hours. The problem is, I never really know when he’ll do this or for how long. That makes it hard to start any real project. (Even as I type this, I’ve had to stop several times to interact with him!) And despite these little respites, he can still be rather exhausting. Lately I find myself resting or napping when he naps.

I love being the primary caretaker for my son. I’ve always known I wanted to be home with my kids, at least for the most part. My own parents were both elementary school teachers, and so they basically had the same schedule as my brother and I, once we started school. I loved having them around, even if we were all doing our own thing. So being home with Aleksander has definitely been the right choice for me.

With the new year fast approaching, I’ve decided to refocus. It’s time to spend a little more time on myself. You see, I believe it’s important to be selfish. Now hold on — I don’t mean that in a cruel way that leaves nothing for my son, my husband, or anyone else. On the contrary! One thing I’ve learned in this past year is that you can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself. Every time I’ve had a meltdown (and there have been quite a few – too many to count), it’s been at a time when I’m rundown and overtired, when I’m running of fumes. And when I’m in that state, I don’t have anything left to give.

So it’s time to put some more focus on me and make sure I’m recharging my batteries. Let’s see…

  • I already have a part-time job as a teacher on Saturday mornings at a German language school. It always feels so great to put on grown-up clothes (as opposed to the wardrobe of things I don’t mind getting covered in who-knows-what substance) and go out all on my own.
  • This blog is another way I plan on doing that, so I can remind myself of all the great things that I’m doing as a mom.
  • Last fall, I began taking a tap-dancing class again. I just love getting my brain and feet to work together. And what better way to release frustration than to stomp it out in rhythm with your feet!
  • Now I’m trying to find a yoga class that will fit my schedule. While I was pregnant I went to a prenatal yoga class every week and just loved how good it felt. I’ve hardly been back since having Aleksander. It’s time to get back to a weekly class!
  • Over this upcoming, long holiday weekend, I plan on cleaning up the part of our basement where we keep our exercise equipment. We have a nice little set-up with a treadmill and a rowing machine (which I don’t use, because my knees are painfully opposed) in front of our old big-screen TV. My goal is to use the treadmill in the evenings while PER keeps an eye on Aleksander. I used to do this while I was pregnant once the weather turned cold. And this past summer, I really enjoyed taking Aleksander for a walk after dinner. Since the weather has become cold again, I’m just not as active. So I’m looking forward to this new game plan.

These are just a few of the things I’m planning for the coming year. Interesting that three of the five have to do with being more active. Taking care of Aleksander all day usually leaves me pretty tired. But of course, I always feel better when I get a little exercise.

I’d like to come up with a couple more things. I’d love to finally get to the scrapbooking projects that have been piling up over the past few of years. And I’d love to do more baking and cooking. I also have a couple of professional projects I’m trying to work on. We’ll see how much time I have for all of these things. After all, refocusing doesn’t mean losing all focus on Aleksander!

Question: What things do you do to recharge and focus on yourself? Leave a comment to let me know!

Four Ways Babies are Like Fruitcakes

I thought I’d begin by quoting something humorous I read in a magazine. It seems appropriate to this time of year. And it made me smile. Let’s remember to stay lighthearted through the holidays!

“4 Ways Babies Are Like Fruitcakes”

1. The minute they enter the room, they start getting passed around from person to person.

2. They’re incredibly sweet – and consider yourself warned, also can be slightly sticky.

3. Eighteen years later, they’re often still found just sitting around your house.

4. Everyone compliments everybody else’s but secretly thinks they made the best one.

By Deborah Skolnik, in Parenting Magazine, Dec/Jan 2011