But How About Mama?

I love New York City, and one of the reasons why I love it so much is that this is a concrete jungle and in the concrete jungle, there is no illusion of the white picket fence idea or measuring who’s grass is greener. This is a hustling ground and nothing is given or done for free. You pay for it one way or another. Thats the kind of place for people like us. Mothers who are caring, nurturing, kind, humble yet big time hustlers at heart.

The down side to being a goal getter when you are a solo mom is that it brings a lot of anxiety. I made a promise last year that I will always be truthful with you on my blog. These few months have been an eye-opener for me. In my moments of thought I felt the pain and anxiety of a mom like me, I wanted to hug her and tell her “I fell you mama”. You are not alone in your struggle.

When we hear about anxiety, we usually think its all about too many bad things happening at once. No, it is also about having too many good things or potentially good things happening all at once. The “thing” or reason it self is not the anxiety – that could actually bring you joy and happiness, the problem is having multiple things happening at the same time. Your joy and happiness is tainted with anxiety and this is why it is hard for people like you to get help because no one will understand. You are having the time of your life. You have this and this happening for you. Starting a new business is a good thing, having a small business already going on is a good thing, having a family is a good thing, having your good friend get married and her asking you to be her maid of honor is a good thing, having your parents come to visit is a good thing but having them all happening all at once or needing your attention all at once can cause you a lot of anxiety.

Society make us to think we are good at multitasking and yes that is true, no one can be making dinning, helping the kids with homework, sending clients emails, dealing with staff issues like a mother. But when you are starting a new business while running a new business, in a new place while navigating your way through your new environment, and helping your kids navigate this new way of life too and worry about the emotional implications of them missing their old friends even though they are making new friends and doing well, it gets too much.

As mothers, we are cursed with perpetual worry. We worry if there is nothing to worry about, I mean it can’t be right for everything to be going on this good, what is the catch or when is it going to all go bad, we worry currently for the future for things that are going ok now but might go wrong later. We are blessed but we are cursed with that burden of worrying.

It is not a bad thing, another way to look at it is that, that constant worry is our guard, our checker, our rational self that knows yes it is cool to live in a world of bubble, roses and unicorns but the reality is that things do go wrong, things will stop working, you will get rejections and disappointments. But you are tough, you are strong. You are a beliver. That is your truth so hold on to your truth. Use your worry and let it work for you.

When everything is all happening at once and you are feeling anxious, anger can easily set in. Why do I have to be the one making all the sacrifices. “But how about mama”? This is for my solo mamas who are keeping the forth while the husabnds are working. You sometimes resent him for having the freedom, peace and quiet to do his work, there is no child to answer their 10994th questions or something to sign at school that you could have sworn you already signed or one parent things to attend or a baby to change her diappers after only just changing it like a minute ago or a sick child to attend to. You want to have all the peace of mind to think, develop and build your business.

Why does it have to be you making that sacrifice to juggle it all. Contrary to popular believe you don’t love the ‘strong-woman-can-do-it-all’ title. You don’t even want it, It wasn’t a choice for you. You had to be it. If things were different of course you would want it the easier way, but life isn’t always easy, what’s the fun in it. You won’t appreciate things if they were that easy. You ever wonder why you live a life full of gratitude and you are always hopeful and love to enjoy life? It is because of all the struggle you have been through. You come out on the other side stronger and you see the world differently.

Mama have her own dreams too that go beyond changing diapers and attending PTAs. Mama had dreams when she was a little girl. Yes she’s had some of them but she is still not there yet. Mama wanted to change the world and make it a better place just like you. How about mamas dreams.

You sometimes resent the same family you love and that you would give your life for, but then you look at them and think, “it is you I’m doing it for”. If it is them you are doing it for, then lets do it for them. What is more important to us moms? The kids. The family. Yes we matter too but they matter more, we are cursed with this motherly thing. But we are blessed. Do you remember when you prayed for what you have now? Maybe not all of them, but something you wanted 10 years ago and you have it now. Do you remember their giggle for the siliest thing that isn’t even funny?

When they wrap their hands around your neck. Do you remember the wet kisses of a toothless baby on your face? That’s my favorite. You push them away laughing at the pool of drool on your face while hugging them tight. They can’t say they love you yet, but the way they look at you, smile and sheepishly turn their face away says it all. I love it when my baby is having her milk, playing with her hair and trying not to smile because even though she’s not looking directly at me but she knows I’m looking at her. She tightens her lip around her bottle nipple and her cheeks are puffy from concealed smile. She is trying so hard not to smile! It’s just so beautiful to watch.

Yes you are beyond tired and exhausted, you don’t have the time to even go to the gym or time to go for that bra fitting you have been meaning to go. You are a mother. You are their mother. This is your calling, this is your one true duty. Nothing else. The duty of a mother is beyond birthing the child and making dinners and other things we do or have someone else do for us. It is the sacrifices. The selfless act of putting their needs above yours. You may not even feel the tingling kind of love people have come to describe what love is, for your kids but making that daily sacrifice to put their needs above yours is the definition of love.

Kids will grow up, new businesses won’t be new forever, eventually it will find its momentum and a system in place where it will not need you as much. Then you would have time for those catching ups, those long hours at the mall shopping, those hours sitting at the nail saloon to have your nails and toes painted. Yes others might be doing it while running a business, do they have kids? Do they have the number of kids you have? Do their spouse work in a different state or country? Do their support system live far away? These are all rhetoric questions that we cannot answer, remember why I love New York in the beging, stop looking at the grass of your virtual or real neighbor. You do not know their story. You know your own story. Your own situation. Given the same opportunity or support they have, you might do better, but work with what you have right now. Be proud in the process. Not of, but in the process. The journey not the destination. Every little step you make is something bore out of your hard work. Given that you are doing it while raising your kids single handedly. Tru,st that process. You are on to something. Keep doing your best. That is good enough.

Remember the beginning and where you are now. Small progress is better than no progress. When my baby was newly born i never had time for full on makeup. These days i find myself doing my makeup and even applying mascara and she is playing away with her toys as supposed to having to carry her with one hand and do my makeup with the other free hand. I look at her and i get emotional, it reminds me that these struggles are but for a little while.

The Bible says count your blessings and name them one by one. List the things you see in your kids that means love to you. Maybe it’s them making breakfast for you on Sunday. Or sharing their cookies with you. My son keeps a snack from school and brings it to me. I told him his teachers might think we have no food at home and we laugh about it. I encourage him to continue. Your babies might be too young but they have a way they show love too. Do you notice they always want to put your nose in their mouth. That’s them kissing you. Your labor of love is not in vain and you matter too. Just not right now. Right now you are in sacrifice mode. Give give mode. Anxiety mode. Feeling unappreciated mode. But these times don’t last forever. When you are done raising your babies, you will have ALL the time in the world to invest into your business. That little time you have that you are investing in it right now is ok. This is what you can do with the kids. They will grow up and go to college. They will find love, get married and form a family of their own. And you will be proud mama. Proud that despite all, you did. You. No one else. No one helping you. You will be there for your kids and help them raise their kids because you have been through it and you understand it too well. You will be successful in business and in your family life. Because you endured these period when it was tough. to

I love you mama,

xoxo iRene

It Smelled Like Home

It started with a simple nostalgic smell coming from our super’s apartment downstairs. You see, the super to our building lives directly below our apartment, he hears everything we do and surprisingly I do not hear him and his family. As a solo-mom, you are always 100% tired and when you manage to go to bed, you only wake up to the sounds of your kids (its a weird maternal thing), so even though I can’t hear him, I can smell the delicious food his Caribbean wife who is from Haiti cooks.

Since moving from the UK to America, I haven’t found where to do my African food shopping and to be honest I am not in a hurry to. It is not easy when you are on your own with three kids, I do the basic and we tend to eat out often because I need my sanity. When I have to shop, I shop locally ( not the definition of shopping local but you know me, I like to be literal sometimes) but all joke aside, we are lucky to live in a place in Manhattan where we have whole food, Trader Joes and many small retailers within a few minutes walk from our apartment. I just go there to buy tomatoes, chicken and some vegetables and voila you have jollof rice

So when I smelled the delicious aroma of a typical native food, it brought back the taste of “home”. I miss the days when I had my husband, mom or my grandmother cook for me, the days I didn’t have so much responsibility. The days I asked “what’s for dinner” instead of being the one to answer that questions. I missed being looked after.

A mom friend once told me she always wants to be pregnant despite always having complicated pregnancies that meant she’s often times admitted into hospital. When I asked her why, she said because when she is in hospital, the responsibility shifts from her, now she’s the one people are taking care of, instead of being the other way round, while she’s in hospital, no demands from her. At the time I thought she was crazy. Now I understand what she meant, as a care giver, nurturer and a minder, you give and give and give. You rarely receive (hence why a lot of us do retail therapy – especially online – whenever the post man brings that package for you, its like a surprise present, even though it is from you to you). You sometimes want to be on the receiving end. Nothing wrong with being on the receiving end once inthe a while.

I must admit I used to judge a lot of women in the past, but I am so much sympathetic these days towards women, especially mothers raising multiple young kids. It is not easy. Especially when the kids are at different age point. some days I am cooking three kinds of meals while listening to three kinds of sounds from our small apartment. The baby is listening to nursery rhymes, the older kids are watching their program and I am probably listening to whatever Google Alexa decided to play for me when I asked her to ‘play me classical music’. Some days everything is all happening at once. The bills are all due (they don’t have direct debit -DD- here, I am mastering their alternative to DD), the laundry is due because you just went through the dirty laundry to look for something “not too dirty” for the kids to wear to school (oh how I miss the UK and its boring grey and white uniforms), that is when you know you really have to do the laundry that day, no matter how tired or busy you are.

I have asked other moms how do they cope with family, entrepreneur and life balance and they say “delegate delegate delegate” well theoretically that sound nice, but practically lets just say: 1. I am not rich enough to have a full time nanny in America (relocation is not cheap especially when you are literally starting all over again). 2. I am a control freak, I like my things done in a certain way, I know this is probably an issue but I am not seeking therapy just yet. 3. I am very hard to please, especially if I know I am paying for it, I have a very high level of expectation of quality service (vice versa, hence why I over-deliver sometimes). 4. I don’t like people going through my knickers (undies for my American readers), I mean, those of you who give out laundry to “pick and drop” laundry service, how do you do the private things? Do you take them out and hand wash them ( I hope), which ever way, I just don’t like strangers going through my dirty laundry (haha, that was both literarily and figuratively). I often wonder, will they sniff my trousers? So many weird scenarios goes through my head and I end up taking the elevator to the basement to do the laundry myself in peace, well nearly in peace. The buildings’ in-house cats are always there watching you.

Whenever I moan about doing the laundry, people who do not live in cities like New York City do not understand. I did not understand too when we first came to America. I remembered when the estate agent was excited for me because this apartment she found for us had a laundry in the basement. Why are you excited? Wait, forget that question, why is the washing machine not in the kitchen, or closet like “normal” apartments? Well, I will tell you about renting apartments in Manhattan from an immigrant point of view another day, for today lets just say, if you want those old buildings with high ceiling and large rooms and features, they are so old that their plumbing pipes cannot withstand the pressure from washing machines, at least that’s the reason the estate agent told me. So it is a luxury to have a washing machine in your apartment. In fact, us having some in the basement is a little luxury on its own. Majority of people living in manhattan use the Laundromat or dry-cleaning service.

So while going to the basement to do the laundry on one hand, helping kids with their homework questions, changing the baby’s diaper for the tenth time, while feeding her, checking my email to see if my client was happy with the service I just gave her so she can give me a review or recommendation because I just started the business and I need all the good feedback on the other hand. I smelt home cooked food.

I wanted to be at home. I needed to be mothered, to be loved like a wife (from a present husband), to be taken care of, to be understood. For a few minutes, I needed to not be the strong one, I needed to not be the one everyone comes to when they have a problem, I needed to not be the one worrying about everything. For a few minutes, I needed to not be a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend or whatever hat I always had to wear all the time. I needed to be Irene – somebody’s ……, even if it was just for a minute.

I managed to do my laundry and reminded myself that I am living my dreams. I remembered the days I prayed for what I have now. That is not just a motivational quote but it is true, growing up as an only child and going through loneliness, I remember praying for a family of my own, children’s noises in the house. I remember when I was watching Friends in a little English countryside, wishing I was living in manhattan just like Monica and her friends. My husband and I used to joke that when we retired and the kids had all left home, we would sell our properties and move to America. But here I am, in my mid thirties (before retirement), in a Manhattan apartment (not far from the one in Friends) full of noisy kid.

Yes, I am tired, yes I am feeling a little sorry for myself, but I have to remember that I am literally living my dreams. Seeing yellow taxis from my windows still gives me butterflies in my stomach. Being able to take a walk along the Hudson River, or take the kids to Central Park to ride their bikes like it is their backyard still makes my heart skip a beat. I walk to buy milk from the local Duane Reede and I look at the tall skyscrapers surrounding me, though I feel so small yet my heart swells in size. Yes, I am tired, I am grateful. Yes, I am tired, I am happy ( I think). Yes, I am tired, I am contented.

Without the need to feel ungrateful for all the blessing, I must not feel bad for feeling bad for a few minute. It is ok to have a pity party, and like all parties, it must come to an end, clean up and move on. I guess that’s what makes us human. The ups and down. And on a final note, if you are feeling down, remember your up is just right around the corner. Have hope. Its going to be alright.

x Irene

10 JOBS FOR STAY AT HOME MOMS

I got several responses on my previous post about stay at hone mom vs working mom and most of the direct questions I had was finding things to do from home and still be able to get paid while doing it, looking after your little ones and finding that personal self-fulfillment through career and financial independence. You don’t want to be going to your husband every time you need a dime. Even if you have a joint account, you don’t want to be explaining yourself every time you buy something nice for yourself. So I have decided to share some few ideas of jobs you can do from the comfort of your own home while looking after your family full time. You don’t have to have an experience, a degree or accreditation. You don’t have to worry about childcare for your young kids.

1. Blog – This is one of the first choice for a lot of moms and my favorite, in fact there is the ‘influx’ of mom bloggers currently. I love this one so much because it not only provided me with little income, it has also become therapeutic for me as a full time stay at home mom. Sharing my thoughts and struggles has become so helpful and it made me a happier person and I made some connections that blossomed into friendship and I’m able to help other women. You don’t have to have any experience, you just have to enjoy writing and or taking pictures. However, you are not going to start raking in the money immediately. It takes time and patient so you have to love it. When I first started, I did not make a dime, I love blogging and making contents on social media. It is my creative outlets. I still can’t afford to do it full time even though that’s the dream (I live in Manhattan and that’s a pretty expensive dream) but at least I’m getting income now as supposed to when I first started. I can pay some of the bills with it.

2. Become an Instagrammer – Most people these days are already using social media, but there is a different way to use social media, become an influencer, content creator or creative director, whichever title suits you. One thing a lot of people don’t know is that you do not have to be a famous instagrammer or have hundreds of thousands of followers. So far you have good contents, at least a thousand followers and take good enough pictures. And your personality too. Brands look at how you connect to your audience. You are good to go. Be consistent. Your followers want consistency. You don’t have to post four pictures a day or even post everyday. As a busy mom even if you can manage 3-4 times a week.

There are macro, micro, medium and large influencers. Rome was not built in a day and remember even though we have big companies paying influencers with large followers, we also have small to medium companies using smaller influencers too. This days, even big companies are now appreciating the values of micro influencers. why pay thousands of money to just one influencer when you can have ten different smaller influencer promote your brand to a wide variety of audience. So don’t get discouraged because you have a few following. I remember my first gig with Google, I was like OMG! So big companies like that are noticing small contents creator like me? When I first started, I was very concerned about how I would be perceived. Show off, narcissist and being vain or needing validation were some of the things that came to mind. This is especially true for people from my culture and religious background. Even though I still struggle with some of that (I may come across as showing off and jokingly say it but that is so far from the truth), I know why I’m doing it. I love to share with the hope to inspire and encourage. If I wear this outfit confidently regardless of how I look, you too can. It’s nice to see clothes on regular people who are not models or perfect.

So be ready for that internal battle. But keep going anyway. Now that I get paid to create content, that feelings are not important to me anymore. I just remind myself, this is how I financially take care of my family. I’m doing it for my family. That’s who you are doing it for too right? So don’t worry.

And again, just like blogging, becoming a content creator takes time and patients. just keep on taking those pictures and creating contents in your area of interest. One day, you will have your breakthrough.

3. Become an Online seller – e-commerce is the way these days, I mean you buy things online right? people are selling through eBay, amazon and many more other channels of selling products. You don’t have to worry about owning a real shop, find out more about drop shipping, you don’t even have to have the physical products if space or start up fee is a concern for you. You can own a virtual shop and make money through it from the comfort of your own home.

4. Become an actor/model – gone are the days you had to look like a model to model. Thanks to inclusion and body positivity movements, anyone can virtually become a model, you just have to have the attitude and love for it. You can take acting classes (online if you don’t have childcare) And you can even take your baby along with you. I did a private modelling gig recently and I was lucky to be able to take all three kids with me and they were involved in the campaign too. More income and no worries for childcare. We had fun as a family and it actually made the final product better. Imagine using real families to play make believe families. Especially families like us that really have fun together and get along well.

5. Become a freelancer – Be it writer, photographer, proof reader or virtual assistant, you can sell your talents or knowledge on a part time basis for money and Still be in control of your time.

6. Become a product/services reviewer – get paid to take surveys. This is not sometime I particularly like although I have done it in the past, I find it quite time consuming and I do not naturally like filling out forms in real life and I get impatient answering questions over and over again. But if you are ok filling out surveys and answering questions then give it a go. You can also get store vouchers like Target for taking part.

7. Become a childminder – if you are home looking after your kids, why not add one or more kids and get paid doing what you are already doing anyway. Depending on your area and the rules and regulation of the state, you may be suprised that you can become a childminder from anywhere, meaning you do not have to live in the suburb with big gardens. When I was researching into doing this in New York City, I was pleasantly surprised that I could do it from my apartment and public parks counts as outdoor space too. No wonder I see kids all lined up walking to local parks. You can get paid as soon as you start with this one. Your kids get to have additional playmates. Start up cost is low because you already have toys for your kids and you have already childproof your house. There are grants too to help you with start up cost.

8. Partake in Paid research and studies – when I first heard of this I was thinking, “I am not becoming some scientist guinea pig” but that is so far from the reality. Some of the studies involve what you are already doing, someone will just come and be observing you interact with your family or a medication you are already using. I get worried when you are asked to take something new. Anytime you are asked to put something into your body, that should be a no. You don’t know if it has been approved or not and I am very protective of moms or primary care givers because God forbid something should happen to you, who will look after your kids. But if you are already using the medication or cream for example, then that’s great.

If you want to know how to find good ones, I was approached while waiting at the kids clinic by a teaching hospital in New York City. They also place adverts including Craigslist . Although I haven’t done any yet just because of time and other commitments but I was promised $250 by the university and for just 45 minutes of our time. I think that’s pretty good deal. Imagine doing just two a week for a month.

9. Become a teacher – you do not have to go to a teacher training college to become a teacher. Are you very good at making things, open a youtube Chanel and teach people how to do it. Teach people how to do makeup, style their outfits, bake, cook African dishes for the family (some non Africans are married to Africans and may want to learn). Start an online master classes and let them pay you to come and do what you know how to do all while looking after your kids. Create your own online course and people will pay you for it.

10. Become a photographer – You can start small, buy a decent camera (doesn’t have to be a new fancy one). Start practicing on your kids or pet or nature. Anyone can pretty much learn anything these days thanks to YouTube. Then start with friends and family portraits or events. Do you know that you can sell your pictures too? Stock photography. Or become a brand photographers. Small brands/companies are looking for small photographers to take pictures of their products for marketing. And they will pay for it. Have a portfolio of what you have done. Don’t let that scare you. Just have a folder of all the beautiful pictures you have taken, when you hear portfolio you immediately think they meant paid previouse job, who says it has to be paid. Tell your family and friends you are willing to do free shooting for them because you are building your portfolio. Go print them out and buy a photography folder and voila you are ready.

Lastly I want to encourage you to be patient and know this, you are exactly where you are supposed to be. It may not seem like it or make any sense but trust me when I say this and I say it with a 100% conviction, you are where you are supposed to be in life. I used to have anxiety over what to do while taking care of the kids. Something that doesn’t affect my values like becoming an escort, (you going to need childcare for that), or sell my kidney or my right arm. But joke aside, what can you do while still taking care of my babies. You start comparing yourself with your mates who started together or went to school together. That lady is building a beautiful house, she travels all the time. She wears expensive nice things.

My husband did not understand why I worried so much, money wasn’t the problem for us. But I felt like I was missing something. Even though I knew I made the right choice (I will never have it the other way) my anxiety was for the future (I don’t know why we worry so much about the future when all we are guaranteed of is just today). I always thought, what will I do when the kids are older and start school full time? After staying at home for some years, you lose your confidence. Will employers take me back? How about that “previous” employer issue and references. Do I need to re-train or go back to school just to catch up.

Whatever you are doing right now (or not doing, as it may seem), it will prepare you for your next move. You just keep going. It will all make sense eventually. You can also combine these 10 ideas. You can blog, become a photographer, a model and have a YouTube channel for example. For security and personal reasons I will not (yet) disclose my new business venture, it is not on the list but one thing I learned and that gave me the confidence to assure you that you are where you are supposed to be was that, everything I unknowingly learned while ‘waiting’ is what has been helping me. My instagram knowledge about taking clean, pictures. Sending emails and negotiating contracts with brands that want to use my platform to promote their products. My relationship with my followers (I genuinely think they are all my friends and I love and respect them as such), is my customer relationship skills. Typing, writing and talking with other bloggers (team working). Everything has been useful to me.

When you are a full time stay at home mom, you are learning valuable management skills and that is priceless. You may not even know it. You are a master of conflict resolutions (if you have more than one kid you would have learned this skills). Negotiations skills (how do you leave both parties happy at the end of the day). Multi tasking (I finished working on my day business, kids are sleeping and I’m here blogging while enjoying a nice glass of wine and some Nina Simon playing) talk about multi-tasking.

The best skill for me is learning to work under pressure. As moms we just get on with it. No time to be moaning and complaining. We handle things even when we are freaking out or when we have no idea what we are doing. When it comes to our kids, we are lionesses. I have taken that into my entrepreneurial business and I must say I surprise myself sometimes. I deal with an issue and remembers when I had to deal with similar issue as a mom, wife or as a content creator and I smile to myself. I bring that knowledge into my business.

If I could go back and advise my younger mom self I would say “just relax Irene, everything will be alright. It will all turn out fine and you are on the right path”. I remember questioning my move to America and I smile because if I didn’t, I won’t be where I am today. I won’t have this joy and fulfillment I feel today. So I’m telling you the same. You are exactly where you are supposed to be. You made the right decision. You may not see it. But you did. Trust the process.

HOW TO COPE WITH MOTHERHOOD STRESS

My Handbag is from Dagne Dover I love the inside, it is very mommy friendly and yet stylish. It has little compartment for bottle, iPhone, iPad and more. My Scarf is from Burberry My boots were from London but I have included one from my wish list here which is very comfortable and stylish for women seeking comfort and style. The coat is an oldie but got a similar one here

“She who fails to prepare, prepares to fail”. This is one of my favourite quotes. A quick background story. Today my husband went back to work. He is based in their foreign office and for the past 6 years now, I am left alone to hold down the fort. When we were in England despite having my mom, grandma and several aunts and uncles and cousins around, often times I end up doing it all by myself. Yes we have friends who occasionally chip in to help and we have used hired help but there is nothing like having a steady consistent support around especially from the other parent who cares for them equally.

Then we moved to America where the people we know are thousands of miles away from New York City. People say it takes a village, some of us have no village and when people say “I don’t know how you do it”,I find it a little confusing like they expect me to have a choice. I often tell them why do you think I have a choice “doing it”. I take my role as a mother very seriously. Just like you get your suit ready for work, don’t go out at night partying so you can go to work the next day, I too do things that will not interfere with my job as a mother and wife. I understand that life is stressful. people without kids go through stress as well. And parenting is one of the toughest jobs on earth. Having people depend on you for their every needs is tiring. There is no room for error. If you forget to take them for their flu shot and before others judge you you are already judging yourself. If God forbid they become sick you immediately take on the blame. Thank Goodness for the All-new Echo Show (2nd Gen) which you can use as your personal assistant to remind you of important things.

If we already know that life itself is stressful and parenting is hard, why do we not prepare for it? That is why I started with the quote. You need to understand your triggers and avoid anything that will make you feel bad about yourself. Who are you following on social media? Even if it is your mom being passive aggressive or your older sister always fact checking you, any contents that makes you feel bad about yourself, unfollow them. Its nothing personal, you are not in that zone quite yet, when you feel better and can handle all the drama (although you should never put up with anyone that disrespect you or hurt you), you can follow back. I used to follow a very popular instagrammer but I stopped resonating with her contents, she wasn’t following me back officially but she was ghost following me. Whenever I post something and I express my vulnerability to my followers because I like to keep it real sometimes, the next day, she will post something about being able to do the thing I said I could not do. I wasn’t upset about her strength or anything, I just didn’t want people who were fact checking me. Or think they have to prove they are better than me.

We are like taps, we are constantly giving out something. We give our time, love, energy, affection, resources and wisdom. Some of us over stretch ourselves too much by opening too many taps all at ones. You are your girls best friend, checking up on her, calling her and dealing with her problems, you are your parents ATM machine, you are your siblings second parents sending them to uni or trying to get them a job. Your pastor loves you and that your neighbour who lives downstairs can’t stop singing your praise. You respond to every comment on your social media account, follow, like and comment on every post. You do it all. No wonder when it comes to mom duties you are stressed and tapped out. You cannot be everything to everyone at the same time. You are a human being, not a superwoman. You matter too.

I cut off several family relationships that weren’t serving me or bringing me joy. Same with friendships. My best friend understand that if I don’t call her in six months, it doesn’t mean I don’t love her. Others have given up. I don’t mind. my kids are happy. I am happy. Your (own) family is your priority. Just to be clear about that, I mean your children, especially when you have little kids. They don’t have another mom. My kids don’t even have another person to take care of them if God forbid I breakdown. Their dad work away from home, their family members live far away. Why should I spread myself too thin that I am unable to look after them? Yes the house will be messy sometimes and you will forget to do shopping in the fridge but overall, you are good and they are good. If you have good extended families and friends, they should understand. Instead of using you as their ATM, they should be encouraging you to save for your children’s future. If they are not buying your kids nice presents they should understand that your resources is going into getting them things. You might not be able to stay with them in their feelings during their drama, you are saving your mental energy for when your kids do have a meltdown or you are trying to solve a fourth grade algebra homework. But they should know that doesn’t mean you don’t love or care about them. It is ok to be selfish sometimes. Whenever my husband is around or I have a minder, I meet up with friends. You are not bad for not showing up for Friday drinks every week.

Winter is one of the hardest seasons. Winter blues is real, prepare for it. During the winter months, we often times want to stay indoors because it is cold and miserable outside. You can still go for walks. Just layer up. Pad up the kids, hat gloves, scarf and everything. Stop for hot chocolate and come back home. 5 mins outside is better than nothing. There are so many indoor activities like playing a game of chess. Go to Malls for window shopping or coffee. Meet up with another mom friend not because you are snobbish and only hang out with moms, but because they are in same situation as you and understand when you have to talk over your food to correct your child. If you have single friends who understand, meet them up. Go to each others house. This is when you should plan that play date for the kids while the grown ups settle down for a cup of tea. It doesn’t matter what your house look like, if they are your friends, they won’t judge you. If they do, whatever. It won’t kill you.

Again, who are you following on social media, avoid it. Take off the App and only log in through the web. The stress of doing that will sometimes stop you from constantly checking for updates. Social media isn’t all bad, you have to learn to use it well. I love following pages that make me laugh or inspire my creativity. Some people may be braggy but they are only joking. Seeing other people’s accomplishment pop up on your feed constantly can make you feel like you are failing, even though that is often not the case. There is a lot to be grateful for in your life. You just have to look.

SIT BY THE FIRE

December last year I bought a faux fireplace with a surround for our apartment. Not every apartment in Manhattan comes with a fireplace and I love them. I wasn’t prepared to go through the cold winter without the feeling you get when you sit cozy up by the fireplace. So I got one. This fireplace with surround was one of the best things I got. It burns and looks like real log burning. Looking at the flames burning while sipping homemade cocoa or wine in the evening after the kids have gone to bed makes me so happy. Even my husband who was feeling a little low because of a news he received the other day said he loved seeing the flames burning.

GET LITE UP

Whenever I am in a bright light I feel happy. We all love the sun, there is something about sunlight that makes us feel happy, the fact that is it winter does not mean we cannot create our own sunshine, quite literarily. Use Artificial sun like Carex Day Light Therapy

EAT FOOD THAT BOOST YOUR MOOD

Food like squash which is a great source of magnesium and potassium, eggplant which contains fiber, copper, vitamin B1, and manganese, Spinach, Kale, sweet potatoes which is full of pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, and anti-inflammatory flavonoids, and turmeric which assists with immune-inflammatory or stress pathways and hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis activity. You can sit by the fire and read more about mood foods that can change you and your family’s life.

DE-CLUTTER YOUR SPACE

Believe it or not, your physical environment can affect your emotional wellbeing. Other than decluttering your physical environment, declutter your mind. One of the best book that changed my life and was Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking. Remember when I said I had to let go of things and people that were not bringing me joy. I feel happiest than I have felt my entire life.

WEAR CLOTHES THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

One of my New Year plan is to dress more and look good. If you look good, you will feel good. You don’t even need the compliment although it will make you feel good when someone say you looked nice in that new scarf or red shoes but looking at the mirror, you will definitely feel nice seeing yourself in that outfit you once admired. It could be a bag or a shoe or even a pair of sunglasses. They call it retail therapy for a reason.

click the images
Manolo Blahnik

On The 13th Day of Christmas.

Today I wanted to write about attending my kids Christmas concert in America for the 13th day of Christmas blogmas.

While I was working on the content it was dinner time and the kids said they didn’t like the dinner I had pre-made. They didn’t ask me for another one but seeing them eating bread and cereal was breaking my heart (p.s nothing is wrong with kids eating bread and cereal for dinner but I’m a big softy and I hate that I’m that way). So I went to start cooking something I knew they would definitely eat. A hot dinner. While trying to cook, the baby started crying and she won’t stay in her playpen, high chair or even allow the siblings to hold her. I had to carry her. Now that she’s getting bigger and longer, I don’t like carrying her in the front while cooking because one little knee jerk around hot frying oil could be dangerous. So I had to put her on my back.

While I was carrying her on my back and cooking, my back started aching. Then I remembered the deadline I had, the emails to send. I have a side business that isn’t related to blogging or instagram and I had to send something off in the next hour, my oldest daughter wanted to know where HER laptop was (I mean you used it last) and my son wanted help with his homework and suddenly I started feeling like I couldn’t breathe. It was all too much at that time.

In the midst of it all, all I could think about was that I’m sure I’m not the only mother feeling this way. Tomorrow morning I will dress up go for a lunch date, take a picture and post it and I look happy, perfect and collected. In as much as that is true, but at the moment, it was far from the truth. Normally it is hard to remember that picture takes just two seconds. Your smile and happiness is captured at that moment. The rest and previous times could be the same or totally different. In other words, we all loose our sheet* sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong not all days are like that. Maybe if they had eaten their dinner it won’t have been that way. Maybe if their dad was home from work to help it won’t have been that way. Maybe if I was a millionaire and have a full time nanny and probably a cook it won’t have been that way.

So I decided to not write about the winter concert today. There is going to be another one on Monday so that’s ok. I decided to start a new segment on the blog called “You are Not Alone Mama”. In this segments I will be posting real unadulterated feelings about motherhood and wifeyhood (if that’s a word). This is so that you know that you are not alone in your journey through motherhood. What you are feeling is not irrelevant. Many great women go through it on a daily basis. Even those with all the help go through psychological torture of guilt and feeling like they are not good enough.

Some of us have mastered ways of coping overtime. Like soldiers we are constantly on survival mode. My best friend always says she doesn’t know how I do it all. It’s not a choice for me. But like every soldier, we have our moments too.

Sometimes I would share things and ways of coping. One way to have coped with this evening experience was to order fast food meals for the family. Not having to cook would have taken that pressure away like 90%. Cooking is one of the hardest for us moms because it’s not just about giving the kids food it’s about the guilt of the kind of food. Is it healthy enough? Are they getting their nutritional quotas? You would have to shop (even online takes a while) prepare and cook the food and you do it day in day out. When it’s only you, it is exhausting. I have ordered pizzas and McDonald’s a few times because full tummy is better than no tummy. And as I was about to say just get that fast food I remembered the food service I was sponsored to post on my instagram account the other day.

The truth is I don’t have to talk about it here on the blog. But because I used it and it was indeed good and because of the promotion of getting a discount I’m going to. The service is called Yumble. They delivered home cooked nutritious meals straight to your door and you can have a two weeks worth in the fridge. Mistake I made was only doing it for the baby. For a 30% discount you can use the code: THELONDONMOM30 at checkout. Like I said I don’t have to mention the service here but they are the only one I’m currently working with to get discount for my mamas and papas (or if you just want cooked food!). I am sure there are other food delivery services out there. Taking that burden away from you is one way to cope in this crazy but wonderful journey of motherhood.