A ROAD TRIP TO WASHINGTON DC

When you hear of Washington DC what comes to your mind? Democracy, government, boring, plain, politics and so on. This was what I thought was going to be our trip to Washington DC. Despite preconceived ideas and notions about a place, I like to still go with a fresh pair of eyes.

We decided to take a road trip instead of flying. I have always thought of taking a road trip around the US. What better time to do it now and enjoy the experience with the whole family. I love flying, but I am in no rush to get to my destination. I want to enjoy the journey, the trip is not all about the destination, it is the memories and things we see on our way. The cities and towns we drove past, the sounds of the rain on the windscreen. The whooshing sounds of a car driving past. The trees and roadside flowers. There is something about driving in America road. They are so wide, several lanes. How about the rules. I discovered on this trip you cannot drive on the far left without someone in the car. This was part of the learning I could not get from the clouds. The scenic route to Washington DC was beautiful.

Scenic view of our road trip

Our final destination was in George Town DC. We stayed in the Riverside Hotel, which was perfect for having the best of all three worlds. Washingon DC, George Town and Virginia.

Even the 7 Eleven there was different from the ones in New York. It was fancy.

When in Washington DC, I think the first place to see (out of courtesy) should be the White House. I mean it would just be rude not to. But in all seriousness, this was first for us because, if by any chance we cannot see other places or ever come back to DC, I do not want to have regrets of never being to the White House. This front lawn has been embedded in our subconsciousness we feel like we have been here before.

I had a list of places I wanted to see in this trip, this was a family trip and a personal one too. So we tried to do most of them. I wanted to go to Renwick Galleries after the visit to the White House.

The Renwick Gallery was on my list because of its proximity to The White House. It has world-renowned beautiful unique collections. It is adult looking but child-friendly. And it is accessible to strollers.

Next, I wanted to have afternoon tea at the Laduree in George Town with my girls. This branch in Georgetown is by far the most beautiful one I have come to see. This French fancy tea shop with branches including Europe is a place I love visiting with my girlfriends. But I wanted this special bond over our trip with my baby girls.

After our afternoon tea at Laduree, I wanted to stop and take a moment to appreciate the Wisconsin Avenue NW & M St NW intersection. There is something poetic where these streets meet. The ambiance of the intersection is somewhat beautiful.

There is an old building currently owned by PNC Bank with a gold leaf-domed. It looks like something you would see in Meca.

I wanted to take a leisure stroll along George Town Waterfront, it was beautiful, the bridge, colorful boats. Everything.

I wanted to buy a bunch of flowers at the Green Works Flowers in O Street NW. The beautiful pink floral shop was so pretty.

At the end of the busy day, I wanted to retire back to our hotel and enjoy the evening with a lovely glass of wine and sit by the fireplace taking in the day and all the exciting places we saw. We all loved staying at the Riverside Inn.

The next day we had a light breakfast and headed over to Lincoln Memorial. We made a wish at the reflection pool.

We stopped at the front of the Lincoln Memorial for a little bit. We wanted to take in the moment.

After our little family (not too fancy) picnic, we headed inside to see the man himself.

Waiting for the elevator

Next stop is the Africa American Museum. I must admit I was a little bit disappointed at the museum. I felt it was rushed. To create something beautiful, you need to take your time and put in a lot of thought into every single piece. This was long awaited and overdue. There was so much expectations. I felt let down. One thing that came to my mind was likening it to a community center for Africa Americans. A place to come together and feel at “home” because you felt belonged. If that was the purpose, it would have been perfect. . But this was a museum. I wanted to learn about the great works of Africa American in history. See the things that made them great. Not just their pictures and stories. A replica maybe. I tell the kids stories of their ancestors that were royalties, share with them great examples of Africa Americans that invented things. I love museums and galleries because it stands for hope of the future by looking at the past or present. That the human mind is capable of amazing things. I have a passion for arts and creativity.

I wanted to see more, yes there was the picture of Madam CJ walker, I wanted to see a (replica) of the hair product she discovered. Samuel T Wilcox, James Forten, Paul Cuffee, Marie Van Brittan Brown, Garrett Morgan safety mask, and so on. Maybe I raised my expectations too high due to the excitement of visiting the beautiful place. Nevertheless, we had a great time.

The next day was for exploring places to eat. There were several places we wanted to go and eat. But because of time, we chose a few. The most memorable one was dinning at 1789 restaurant. I loved the name. It was a conversation started. Why that year? What was significant about it? The lovely waiter explained the history behind the lovely restaurant to us over wine. The menu wasn’t too complex and the atmosphere was beautiful. I could not believe we (ordinary people) could dine in a restaurant that several American presidents had dined in. The restaurant had that humbleness about it. It was simple yet elegant.

I wanted to visit Tidal Bassein because it was not far from the National Mall. To enjoy the view and see the cherry blossoms. To walk to The Wharf where we can find yet another selection of things to do and eat.

I wanted to visit the Library of Congress, the National Building Museum, the Museum of Women in Art. To spend the whole day in City Centre DC. I wanted the last day to be a trip to Union Station, to go early and spend time looking at the architecture and people traveling. Have the kids play around the pillars. Listen the the pigeons flap their wings and listen to the wheels of suitcases wheezing across the concrete floor as they hurried to catch their train.

A cool pod for breastfeeding

Regardless of how you decide to plan your trip to Washington DC, I am sure you will have an awesome time because this is one place that exceeded my expectations and I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun we had and all the things we learned along the way. We cannot wait to visit again and cover all the places we couldn’t visit or restaurants we were not able to eat because it was time to back to the Big Apple.

The journey back home was another beautiful sight to see.

View from our car windows

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.

FAMILY WINTER BREAK – HOTEL

My daughter turned 9 this week and we asked her what she wanted to do. She said she wanted a pool party but that anything will be fine with her. Last year we took the family and few of her friends to the American Girl in Manhattan for lunch and she got to pick the doll of the year. I was 9 month pregnant then and it was very hassle free. Just what I needed. They got the cake and gift bags for all the kids. All we did was to dress up and show up.

This year, although I am caring for a baby and two young kids, I am in a little bit of a better situation to plan something. We do not alway do big elaborate parties for the kids anyway. I never see the point. It is all about the kids, what they want, making memories for them and what the parent can afford – both financially and mentally. Over the years, I have found out that instead of having just a party, we can use one stone to kill two birds ( I do not believe in killing birds 🙂 ) so we plan our family vacations around our birthdays, that way, we get to go away for holidays and we get to celebrate with our closest and dearest. No better time to visit new places, meet new people, learn new culture and try different food like during your birthday week.

I have been wanting to go away for a little while this winter but because we have only just done a major move (hubby says no major holiday for a while), kids needs to settle properly in their new home and environment and most of all, I have a baby who I’m currently putting on a routine. we would have loved to go skiing like we did two years ago ( I was heavily pregnant last winter and we did the move from London to New York City), but I cannot expose the baby to such strong amount of cold high up in the slopes. So we decided on having the best of both world. Go away to somewhere not too far away, stay in a lovely hotel that has everything inside it, that way we won’t need to go outside into the cold with the baby. After all, all I really wanted was just a change of scenery. I don’t chase sunshine for holidays. It is all about the experience and scenery.

We settled for Atlantic City. It is just 2.5 hours drive from Manhattan so it was close enough. Atlantic City is popularly called the Las Vegas of the East coast. It is know for its beautiful beaches, broadwalk, casinos and high-rise hotels. I wasn’t necessarily looking for any of that (other than the high rise hotel), I just wanted somewhere beautiful to spend quality time with the kids and celebrate my daughters birthday. This led me to choose Ocean Resorts Casino. With beautiful indoor pool that overlook the Atlantic Ocean (5 pools), spa, shopping, casino (not that I need to play but it was nice to see) game rooms like pool, golf, several different restaurants and above all amazing views overlooking the Atlantic! All the rooms are sea-view but to get the most of it, I requested a top floor.

In all honesty, the hotel was not very family friendly in my opinion, I say these with a cringe because I really really love it and despite that we will be definitely be going back. The reason I say that it wasn’t very family friendly was because of the following reasons. After hauling kids from a long trip, when you get inside a hotel, you want to see the lobby – reception first. where you would be welcomed by friendly staffs who would point you to the direction to go and offer assistance. However, on entering the Ocean hotel, we were a little bit confused, it is so hug and magnificent but there was nothing like a lobby in sight. Although there were signs and directions everywhere I think the disappointment of not walking into the lobby immediately, couple with the long drive and kids, was a little overwhelming. Luckily enough we saw a guest who was leaving and he directed us to were to take the elevator to the lobby – take an elevator to the lobby?! I have been to so many hotels all around the world and this was a first for me, but anyway we took the elevator just by the corner, to a different floor of the hotel where we saw the reception. On getting to the floor, we had to walk, what seemed like a mile, all the way to finally find the reception. Luckily they had pretty good views to take your mind off it and the kids were well behaved (the baby had just woken up from a nap so she was well rested) so there wasn’t a lot of anxiety for a solo mom going a trip with her kids. It would have been nice to have the reception on the entrance floor and have staffs around to help with your luggage. But they made up with the aesthetics of the hotel. The pictures did not do it justice. One of those places you have to see with your own eyes. It was indeed beautiful. Even staffs who have been working there for a while told me they secretly take pleasure in the sights. I bet!

The hotel room was beautiful, cozy but a little dusty. I don’t want to use the word dirty because it was obviously very clean and it is a new hotel but there were a lot of dust on the back of the bedside table (the kids and I have mild dust allergies so this was worrying for me) the wires on the lamp shade was a little dusty and few other places too. But because it was a new hotel, it was generally clean on the surface, just a little dusty. I could use a wet wipe and give it a quick clean to be honest, I hardly make a fuss about something small or human error, especially if I really love the place. Like I mentioned, I would love to go back. The main reasons I won’t be necessarily going back just yet is mainly because there was no bathtub. This was the biggest problem for me. I will not blame the hotel for it however because they did not mention that they had one in the first place. I just assumed that a 4.5 star hotel will at least have a bathtub.

There was a gorgeous spa like shower and beautiful bathroom just no bathtub. This is very import for babies and toddles who cannot use a shower yet. The older kids loved it but not the baby. I was glad she was small enough to bath in the sink, but the sink will be too small for a toddler or chubby baby.

Finally, the worst thing I really did not find to be family friendly was that there was no kettle for hot water (think making baby milk or food I had to use the coffee maker to boil hot water), there was no courtesy bottled water or milk for those midnight thirst but there was a vending machines on each floor. They had a few coffee from starbucks and a little sachet of creamer (only two pieces), I must admit I was really disappointed in the in-room facility. If I was coming with adults or older kids, it would have been perfect.

But the kids did not mind. They were excited, happy and busy having fun and making new friends – as kids do.

It was very relaxing. We slept well. For a place with one of the best casinos in town, night club and shopping mall, it was relatively quiet at night. Maybe it was because we were on the 46th out of the 48 floors.

We spent the evening watching sunset from our hotel room window.

You could order a crib but I co-sleep.

The kids and baby slept well. I spent the night just being in the moment and taking it all in. I realized how far I have disconnected from reality. I was having one of those moments where you want to go traveling and living off grid – only lasted a minute. But it was a lovely feeling.

The older kids had fun in the pool (my daughter finally had her pool party) and they are saying that they want to go back. I won’t mind going back too because the hotel was just so beautiful. I have never seen a hotel as beautiful. It is so big, there are little gems in every corner. Like this giant lampshade

A motor bike here, classic car there, a grand piano. The interior design was out of this world.

There are several shopping outlets in Atlantic City and you can make a day trip out of it. But we never got to go outside the hotel environment until it was time to leave. Check out was super quick and easy.

We are looking at planning a weekend getaway there again because it was indeed a lovely hotel just with minor quirks. Nothing is perfect in life and we should show the children this value. We can’t just write off a place for little things. That is not real life, in life we make room for human error. It is also nice to remember the good deeds. Like when I requested a robe and was given two even though they only gave rooms that were suits. Or when I needed to almost ‘rent’ the whole pool for my daughter’s birthday party and put in a giant unicorn float! Some other places may not allow personal floats let alone such a huge one. So I could look past a few dust issues.

RESTORATION HARDWARE RESTAURANT NYC

I have been hearing a lot about Restoration Hardware restaurant in the Meatpacking district of downtown Manhattan and I was intrigued simply because of the interior design. If there is one thing about interior decorations that I love, it is chandelier. Seeing a lot of them under one enclosed rooftop restaurant, you need not say much I will be there in a heartbeat.

So before my husband went back to work, we had our last day date there. The place was amazingly beautiful. It is located at the top of the interior design store of which it is named after. On entering the building, we were greeted by a receptionist who was very polite and friendly. He directed us to the elevator and told us what floor to get off on. The walk to the elevator was magnificent. Adored with beautiful home decor display.

I wanted to stop and have a look around but my husband isn’t very patient. Maybe he was concerned I was going to leave with a giant wall frame instead of what we came there to do. We took the elevator and landed in a beautiful oasis. Yes I’m not playing with words here. It was indeed serene. You are greeted by courteous waiters and by the beautiful sound of water falling in little water fountains next to the seating areas. Several of them.

The sounds immediately set the baby off to sleep, leaving us to enjoy a delicious breakfast.

The baby later woke up to join us in breakfast. She was able to eat most of what we had. It wasn’t too hot or spicy for her.

After drinking a cup of coffee and finished eating, I wanted a little drink. Just because. The mood was lovely and this was our last date. It may not be an evening out with just the two of us, I was going to have a drink and enjoy the moment anyway.

Next it was time to check out the ladies room.

Restoration hardware restaurant like many public places in New York City, have unisex toilets. There was no baby changing facilities but it was clean and one could sit on the toilet seat and change the baby on your laps.

I loved the gallery wall in the restroom as well as the marble and gold theme of the room.

It is very accessible, clean and the food was out of this world delicious. They have a valet parking for strollers although we didn’t need to because I was using the small stroller that coverts to a seat as I didn’t want to wake up the baby. It is not cheap but it is very affordable. Overall, it was a 5 star experience. I can’t wait to go back.

If you want to go with younger kids, I would say go in the day time. And for grownups time, go in the evening. And always dress smart casual. You could take off your jacket later on like my husband did and relax.

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.

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Manolo Blahnik