Here we go. We have been thinking about the many facets of this single day for months. Despite your attempts to prepare, organize, improve the whole process.. Come on, every year we fall into the same patterns. Christmas stress because of the last-minute gifts; for trying to satisfy the desires (masked by more or less compelling needs) of half the family.. obviously in contrast with each other, and in contrast with yours. Sometimes, you just wish the holidays were over. How can you overcome Christmas stress? In finding what matters...
Why are we victims of Christmas stress?
What is Christmas today? Beyond its strong religious significance, that may not be shared by everyone, it remains a universal Holiday that is celebrated in many parts of the world. This website shares Christmas traditions of about 80 countries in the world!
If we all gather under the red and the white a big man carrying the gifts in the name of the family, of the importance of giving and sharing joy; why does Christmas easily foster disagreements and anxieties?
What expectations do we have for these special 24 hours ? Where being alone puts you at suicide's risk, but sharing it with extended families is equally problematic?
I find it difficult to start this letter; sharing your memories seems childish now that you can't read my words; let others read what was thought around you. And yet the idea of writing to you has not sprouted by chance; it'll be a message in a bottle, thrown in virtual waves.
I'm still angry you left. When I try to bring back to my conscious self some sharp images of you, the pain is so strong that I cast them away.
These days you would have turned 90. My kids don't know who you are. I tried to find valid reasons not to write to you. But deep down, I heard I still had something to say before I could let you go. Why now, after more than ten years? I don't know, grandma. I have probably discovered the message that I hope will come to others' heart, if not to yours.
Maybe you have kids. Maybe you have a job that keeps you much more than busy; Or, you have 3 000 different interests and you find yourself, despite your best intentions, with the agenda of a CEO. And you add, task after task, because everything is important; Until the moment you no longer have the strength to get up and you dream of spending the day in bed. The season would be conducive.. So how do we improve our daily lives? Are there any tricks to regain positive energy in your tickled and distracted lives? Without necessarily having to wait for the next vacation? Here are some useful reflections!
Personal statement. I know some tricks to regain positive energy, and yet..
For several weeks I slept less than 7 hours a night. I quit my yoga class. Filled my agenda until Sunday midnight. At first I managed well, felt almost more effective. Then, little by little, signs came up. Strong headaches right when picking up the kids. My back and neck become stiff. Feeling down.. Negative thoughts.. And a lot, a lot of fatigue.
One afternoon I decided to pick up the kids earlier to have time and play with them. I tried to forget my not-yet-completed to-do-list, and hugged my son tight. Then we got to my daughter's school. A slight headache.
The phone rang just when we were in front of her class.. I spent three minutes on my phone, while my daughter was trying to show me her drawings.
And then, I don't remember exactly, maybe her brother took her a piece of afternoon snack; she burst into desperate tears. My headache rising, while I still had the phone in my hands, and the other moms talking to me at the same time.
By the time we got to calm down, and go home, we barely had enough time to take a bath and prepare dinner. I try my best everything to do more things with my children.. up to the point that I no longer have the energy to be with them. Click.
Do you sometimes feel like you've lost the true meaning of your life? Have you ever wondered what's the purpose of your daily struggles in finding the right priorities and balance? Because I do. And I've started questioning myself on which strong values I want to let my children grow up with. What message my life is unconsciously sending them.. This amazing story of a Syrian mother will truly inspire you in finding the right answer to these questions.
The Amazing Story of a Syrian Mother - How we meet
Remember my friend Ichiko? For today's post I asked Razan to share her story with us. Razan is the mom of one of my son's friends and classmates in kindergarten. We meet several times a week when we both bring our kids to school. She isn't the ordinary mom though, as I only found out a few weeks ago. And because of her story and courage and background, I believe what I'm about to tell you will truly inspire you in your own life.
Razan and I meet in a local French café close to the school, in what is a residential and affluent Dresden neighborhood. As I've always seen her, she's impeccably dressed, perfect make-up and broad smile on her face and in her eyes, and in a hurry.
Because she is the director of an International development association, registered in the United States, Turkey, and Germany, whose mission is "supporting civilians and organizations with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to actively shape and participate in a peaceful and democratic future."
Razan and I
So you can picture my naive self, coming from the comfortable world, with my messy hair and basic make-up (although my daughter insists in watching me putting it on, so that she can learn from me.. !!), my worn-out-from-bike-riding pants; and her, with a silky shirt, all colors matching, elegant and so strong.
(But don't worry, I'm not going into the comparison game, each one of us has is own story and style; I just want you to picture us, sitting outside of this cozy café, enjoying an unlikely spring air in the midst of an end of a cold October week.
Pregnant but don't know what you'll need? Entering a store for early childhood makes you dizzy because you have no idea what's really helpful? Your belly gets bigger and you are afraid of having to go to the office in sportswear? Here's my personal guide to pregnancy purchases ! To help you disentangle yourself through the pitfalls of maternity marketing and the anxiety due to the hormonal waves .. from someone who has been there too!
The links to the Amazon.co.uk website are affiliate links. The Amazon Europe S.A.R.L. affiliate program allows other websites to earn 5% to 10% commission. In short, if you click and buy, you offer me a coffee 😉
When I was pregnant..
I don't know if you have ever entered a children's store. You know, one of those chains exclusively dedicated to parents who are expecting their first child, worried about what they should buy.
If you are passionate about marketing and business strategies, you should definitely go take a look : they are amazing. Extremely informative. I remember when we went to watch the strollers.
To make you understand what kind of people were my husband and I (because every couple is of course different), here's a brief description: my husband loves order and minimalism. The less, the better. I'm always afraid to buy items that are too expensive or too delicate because ... well, because I don't pay enough attention.
For me, objects must serve something first and I shall use them when and how I need them. I don't want to worry about breaking them - dirtying them - leaving a scratch and thinking "Oh man!"! (Let's face it, it was a good thing after all since I've discovered the destructive power of a creature under 6 ).
I was sorry for the in-store salespeople who might have expected a very different approach..
But still. As we look at the strollers, I remember an employee promoting a capsule coffee machine, not for coffee but with milk powder. Did you know that it existed ?!
Why a guide to pregnancy purchases?
I had this feeling, that in order to satisfy the concerns of new parents-to-be who want to do well and to give the best to their creature, and who worry that they'll not have enough time nor energy, the most unthinkable objects were designed.
(Just to be clear: I've nothing against milk powder capsules, although honestly the regular bottle's preparation requires max 30 seconds)
You will find everything in these stores: vacuum diapers disposals; a stroller to go jogging that, if you want, can turn into a sled (you never know); the homogenizer; sterilizers; etc. And so on.
Difficult to disentangle between the many proposals of prepared sales people.. and to be able to say no : "Look, this car seat, sure, it costs twice as much, but in terms of security, there is no possible comparison, and is the only one that respects next year changes in regulation. Besides, the safety of your daughter has no price.. "
I'll offer you today a little irreverent guide to pregnancy purchases, based on the little experience I have acquired. Hoping that even if you are not the expecting, you'll have some fun reading 😉
Guide to pregnancy purchases : Home things
Take only the very essential before the birth.
Of course, you'll want a crib, a stroller, and a seat to bring baby home, but that's about all you'll need in the beginning. Wait ! Children are not all the same and you can't predict all your needs..
If, on the other hand, you expect to have your baby in your arms before going to the store, two incredible things will happen:
You'll only go there if you discover an urgent need, powerful enough to make you give up an hour rest, or a walk around the park, five minutes of reading on the couch; and will convince you to pack baby and his stuff (read: a small suitcase) immediately after his meal to go to the store and make your purchases before the following one.
You'll want to stay there as little as possible. (You'll have to feed your baby at some point anyways). And you'll already know more or less what you are looking for, which will expose you much less to all the temptations.
Make a research first. As this guide you're reading, you can find on the Internet forums, tips and advice, as well as comparisons between brands. Get an idea when you're still at home: going with clearer ideas will save you time and disappointment. (Money is a relative, and it can also be well spent).
When I was looking at the catalogs of children bedrooms, I also dreamed of having one with all the options and decorations. But then, I also looked around and resigned myself to the fact that I already had a lot of things that made up for a bedroom or that I could adapt other things to that purpose. (But looking at these catalogs is always a bit of a dream).
A very kind lady, who owns a children's store with second-hand clothes and objects near me, helped me to overcome my commercial indecision. One of those people who are sincerely kind, willing to explain; she always gave me good advice regardless of my intention to buy.
Many times I left without buying anything after talking to her. But that allowed me to gain a lot of confidence, so much so that now I always come back to her store whenever I have a doubt ... If you can find someone like that, then you're fine! but otherwise, here I am trying to help you 🙂
My personal recommendations
THE CRIB _ We used our family crib, the one where I slept as a baby ! 😉 The crib has an advantage over the bed: the baby feels well protected when he is so small. On the other hand, you will only use it during the first months, so on this point, an evolutive cot can help!
THE CHANGING DRESSER _ I equipped a table that I no longer used, covered with padded fabric and equipped with wooden drawers for diapers, creams, medicines. No need to buy a big piece of furniture in my opinion.
THE STROLLER _ We'd found a used trio set from Chicco, similar to this one. It did not cause us any problems, but I think we could have found better. In any case, I was happy to have bought a used one (perfect condition and half price). The criteria of choice? That it fits in the trunk of your car - some are unnecessarily huge (unless you lived up in the mountains); that it's not too heavy, so that you can lift it easily - you know, when there is no elevator for example.
THE CAR SEAT (If you do not take it as part of the stroller set) _ We opted for the cradle of the stroller trio during the first months, then for the car seat from 6 to 8 months passing from category 0 to category 1 (9-36 kg). I recommend this option, choosing good quality, to avoid buying two car seats, but it obviously depends on your needs. Putting the cradle in the car is very tedious. If you have little space, the car seat may be better for you..
THE BABY BOUNCER _ .. We bought a used, simple bouncer (like this one). My eldest used it a dozen times at most. It is true that it was convenient when she was a newborn, when we wanted to eat for example without holding her in our arms. But she never really appreciated. My son a lot more ... Obviously, there are more sophisticated ones, with lights, sounds, movements ... babies may like them more. But every baby is different. So be careful 😉
BABY CARRIER (or wrap if you're ready to learn how to put it on). _ I tried both. I recognize that the wrap is more "child-friendly", but I have never been able to learn the technique well; in some situations, I found it uncomfortable (when traveling to the airport, on the street ... everywhere you have to put it on quickly and there is not much space).
The baby carrier saved my life. (Here's ours). Perhaps more indispensable than the stroller. Because the baby likes to stay against you; Sometimes he can not stand to stay for long in the stroller or the bouncer. And you can continue doing what you were doing with your baby on yourself (I do not know how many times I vacuumed, stretched linens, prepared dinner with my daughter in the baby carrier. She could not stand to be alone to play!)
BREAST PUMP As I explained in my post on breastfeeding, a breast pump since the birth can be an incomparable ally.
Guide to pregnancy purchases : Mom's clothes
So here I open a difficult chapter. Because for me, finding pregnancy clothes that also were aesthetically pleasing and appealing turned out to be an almost impossible mission.
For breastfeeding it was even worst. (I reached the top when I was looking for a dress to attend a wedding, which could also be compatible with breastfeeding. Level of difficulty: climbing Everest.)
I would leave the possible causes to this phenomenon to another post. Here, I would like to give you some advice, because I am convinced that feeling beautiful during pregnancy and without spending a fortune, is possible and even necessary..
Remember that to raise a healthy baby with a super brain, it is important to be calm and feel good.!!
Personally, I used one French brand in particular :
I'll also mention Pietro Brunelli, which is an Italian brand, more on the pricey side.
Guide to pregnancy purchases : Baby's clothes
Same story: I advise not to exaggerate before birth. Imagine that you buy an entire layette in size 0, then your son is born bigger than expected and cannot wear any of them! Every child is different, even for the pace at which he grows up (in general, it is better to go wider than narrower)
I'd start so :
2 or 3 pajamas, according to the season;
a dozen bodysuits, including some of size 3 months.
Plus, of course, some warmest jackets depending on the season.
During the first two months, I dressed mine almost exclusively in bodysuits and pajamas. The hospital where you give birth will tell you exactly what to bring; you can stick to their advice to get started!
sleeping bags. I found them so convenient that I hardly ever used the sheets. They are suitable for almost all seasons (in summer they do not need anything, so no worries); and in all situations.
The children stay covered and warm; you do not have to redo the beds; they wash themselves very easily; you can take the kids in your arms while they sleep with them. I discovered them in France because in Italy we do not use them so much (That explains my surprise as I told you in this post about pregnancy)
I'll conclude suggesting you this post about an eco-friendly baby registry 😉
Here you are! I hope to have given you a first idea and advice for your pre-delivery purchases! And if you have questions, concerns or advice, if I omitted something, leave a message. 🙂
The links to the Amazon.co.uk website are affiliate links. The Amazon Europe S.A.L. affiliate program allows other websites to earn 5% to 10% commission. In short, if you click and buy, you offer me a coffee 😉
Pregnancy test : positive. Now what?! An invasion of emotions of all kind; varied advice and beliefs will accompany the waves of all the upcoming changes. What shall we expect? To answer some of your questions, here's a little guide of the 9 unusual experiences you may face during pregnancy.. starting from my own.
Unusual experiences you may face during pregnancy - #1 : You should have a baby! (or not?)
How do we decide if and when to have a child? Today, it is not so much a social obligation.. or so we like to think. It is generally accepted that a couple decides in conscience not to have a baby, or to have it "later".
Or is it? Don't we ever so often ask our friends, colleagues and neighbors the most hated question : "When will you finally decide to have a baby?"
Cultural factors can have a great influence. And I think that these reasons behind the choice, as well as the values and images we associate, sometimes unconsciously, with pregnancy and parenthood, will influence somewhat the way we are going to live this moment (our own snapshots of pregnancy and parenthood so to speak).
Among our friends we were the first to have a child, while in France, we were quite on the average .. (and fertility rate actually confirms this difference : in France, it is the highest among the countries of the U.E., followed by UK (which has a rate similar to the US; in Italy it's the lowest; women also have children much later in Italy than elsewhere in Europe). Why? What are the underlying reasons behind this choice?
Socioeconomic factors, cultural reasons, state investments to support families and facilitate the resumption of employment on the part of parents .. it deserves a separate article!
Unusual experiences you may face during pregnancy - #2 : A girl's dream
When I was a child and played with my dolls and Barbie, I was not very original: my stories of Barbie and Ken always saw them falling in love, getting married, possibly living in a castle, and having many children. From time to time they quarreled of course, but nothing serious.
I can't do it, I'm no good! But what shall I do? That's the way it is! There's nothing we can do about it.. Sometimes I catch myself in these thoughts. Without realizing it, without really knowing how to stop. But .. is it true that nothing can be done to change things? How do these automatic thoughts affect your life? What is limiting you, really, behind these words? And if you really have conditioning beliefs ... you surely don't want to pass them on to your children! We want them to grow thinking that anything is possible, if you believe. Have you ever thought about the number of beliefs that dot our minds, for better or for worse? Let's take a look!
Realizing what is limiting you.. Routine !
End of autumn, it was still dark outside when we left home in the morning. Come on, hurry up, mom has to go to work! Why can't we never get out on time?
Then I would leave her in preschool as soon as it'd open, before the teacher came in. Morning staff tried to be nice and smiling; but it didn't work too well for my daughter. She was looking at me as if I was abandoning her on the gallows.
Sometimes, noticing a friend, she would join him to draw. More often, she clung to me crying. Honey, mom has to go to work, I'd really rather stay with you a little longer, but I can't.
Right. Must I work? Or do I choose to work? And why? I fought against these questions. There was no time to answer them.
And when I let them filter into my conscious space, a dark shadow would tighten me. That's the problem when you become a parent. Everything takes on another meaning.
Where do you want to go? What do you want to become? When, and why? And when will you do something to get there?
One day. But yes, one day, I'll have time. One day I'll know how to answer. But not now, not today, honey. Today, we must go.on.fast! Why do you get distracted all the time! You never manage to concentrate!
When we have a chance to get closer to the people we know, we immediately realize how each individual family has its own sets of values, its ways of being together, communicating and sharing traditions. When becoming a mother abroad, these differences can become huge.. For today's post, I interviewed a Japanese friend who is now living in Dresden, to inquire how becoming a mother abroad, in Germany, can be different than in Japan. Here's her story..
As my friend wants to stay anonymous, I will give her a fictitious name. This is the story of Ichiko, a Japanese woman that a few years ago decided to move to Germany. What seemed like a temporary trip to learn the language, became instead a jump into a new life. New home, new family, and new set of values.. an internal contradiction that came into full force when becoming a mother abroad. But let's get things in the right order.
A marriage according to Japanese tradition
Ichiko was born in a small town in the center of Japan, in what she defines as "an old fashioned-style family". She was the first child for her parents. A few years earlier, when her parents wanted to get married, her father Daiki had to ask permission to his future parents-in-law.
He said "Would you please give your daughter to me?" as the tradition asked for.
Was he nervous when he opened the door, with this ready-made formula in mind? Did he ask his girlfriend Asako before? Was Asako taken into consideration in any step of this process? Was she anxiously watching behind a curtain when her boyfriend came in? Unfortunately, we'll never know. But if, indeed, there was any emotion, most likely Daiki and Asako had to keep it well hidden in their hearts.
You probably experienced at least once in your life to get in a situation over which you had no choice or control. Traffic jam. Train or plane cancelled at the last moment. Got sick right the day of your important meeting/vacation/event. And you felt that strong frustration and anger. Our children often experience the same angry frustration when we decide everything for them.. But we know better, right?! Why having a choice is so important? What lesson does having a choice teach us and our children? And why should we always give our kids a choice?
I want to make a choice!
Dinner was ready. We called the children, and as usual, this triggered THE question : "Is there pasta?" Now, we're Italian, it's true, but I still believe it is important to eat a little bit of everything ..
No, honey, we had pasta yesterday, and you had also pasta at lunch in school. Mamma!!! You know I only like pasta! What are we eating then? Come and see my love
My daughter looked half sad, half disgusted at the roasted salmon and the sauteed spinach on the plate. Tears started rolling down her cheeks.
I don't want to eat this! I don't like it! Honey, you haven't even tried it! YOU don't understand! I KNOW I don't like it! You want me to eat it just because you always want to decide for me! I want to choose! I want to eat what I want to eat!
Let's stop right here. This was a very typical scene in our house over the last months. Whenever I told, especially my daughter, something she was supposed to do (leave the house to go to the playground; put the jacket on; put a certain pair of shoes or of pullovers; eat something different than pasta or chocolate; and so on) she yelled at me very angrily one - or more- of these sentences :
You always want to decide for us, it's not fair! I'm old enough to decide! I want to choose what I want! When am I going to be old enough to make a choice?! You only tell us this because you want to give us orders!
We all make mistakes, right? Especially as a parent.. But this is a somewhat different post than what I usually publish. I'm not going to list the 5 things you should do or the best practices, etc. I want to share with you some deep thoughts.. like, do you ever think about yourself as a child? Can you remember who you were? Do you still love your inner child? Now, it may seem a trip to the moon.. but if you follow me, I'll show you how and why I've found that your child and.. your inner child may strive together if you let them.
The first step : measure your mistakes
I'm just out of my second session of parenting class. Every time, I leave quite emotional. (Which is perfect to write an inspiring post a-ah!).
Empowered from what I think I've learnt, more connected to the other parents, and also, frustrated because of all the mistakes I realize I still make. As a parent, and as a person. Sometimes, it's just things I knew inside me, but didn't want to see or acknowledge..
So, here's what I've learnt this week. I want to write it down and share it with you, hoping it will serve not only me, but others in the future.
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