Monday, October 26, 2015

Why You Should Consider Volunteering

I know, I know. You are busy. You are stressed. You are exhausted.

Of course you are! 

If you're reading my blog, you are likely a mother with young or young-ish children. Taking care of their constant needs can easily zap all our energy and zest for life!

But hear me out! A lot of us go around preaching "take time for yourself," and I wholeheartedly believe in it.

So why is it still so difficult for most of us to actually tear ourselves away from the family for more than a 30 minute Target run here, or a stop at Starbuck's there?

It's the Pull Of Motherhood (which I wrote about here). It's just always there (or lurking nearby), isn't it?

So when I initially thought about adding volunteering to my life last winter, I wondered if it was even logistically possible. I was already so "busy." I was trying to work. I was trying to take care of kids. I was trying to spend time with my husband. I was trying to make and maintain friendships. I was trying to keep my house in some semblance of order.

Yet something was whispering to me: "It's time... It's time...You can do this."

Ever since I moved to Minnesota (about 10 years ago) I had wanted to volunteer with a therapeutic riding center based here (We Can Ride). However, for many perfectly valid excuses, I hadn't done it yet.

First I was too busy with work. Then I was too busy with babies. Now, I'm busy with both of those-- my family and my burgeoning freelance career. But if I don't do it now, then when? When I'm 50? 60? That was just too scary to contemplate. I don't want to regret things.

I bit the bullet, took the training course, attended the orientation, and volunteered one evening a week last spring and summer. Did it take major time and effort for me to make it to all of those? Yes!

Was I tired at the end of the day, often feeling like I was dragging myself to get into my car and drive the 40 minute drive to the center? YES! But it was a commitment, and people depended on me.

People outside of my family were depending on me. Once I finally got to the center each week, what a relief! There I was, for about an hour, helping people with disabilities enjoy the benefits of riding. I was contributing to something larger than myself and my own problems. I was connecting with new people. Interestingly, I didn't feel that familiar "Pull of Motherhood," while I was there.

I was helping others. I was enjoying something I am passionate about. My husband (or a babysitter, if he was out of town (again, another sacrifice) was with my kids. There was something about giving my time and effort to help others that overrode that typical "I feel guilty for my me-time" feeling that many of us experience.

Plus, wasn't I teaching my children the importance of helping others, even if it isn't always convenient? I hope so. After all, when is helping others easy or convenient? Rarely, if ever, but that doesn't mean you don't try.

If you find yourself feeling that uncomfortable Pull of Motherhood too often, I urge you to check into volunteering in a field you are interested in-- make it a brief, weekly commitment on your calendar. It doesn't have to be forever. Try it for a month or two. Maybe it's a memory care facility. Maybe it's a Humane Society. Maybe it's a reading buddy position. There are endless places that you would feel welcomed.

See how much you gain. See how much your family gains. And then come back and tell me about it.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Daughter Poem

I'm really excited that I bit the bullet a few weeks ago and tried my hand at poetry again.

I have always loved poetry, especially in college. When I was in school and first met my left-brain, practical, engineering/business-type husband, and told him I was majoring in English, his response was an curious, honest (and slightly befuddled), "So...are you going to be a poet?"  I laughed.

Because, sure, I would've loved to be a Poet with a capital P, but I tend to be realistic and thought it was safer to make a living teaching English for a while instead (you know the old saying, 'people who can't do, teach!').

This photo of my daughter was taken by my talented friend Michele at mQn Photography
It captures her true butterfly-like essence!

Alas! Maybe I've become just a bit of a poet after all, because I had my first one published on the venerable Mamalode last week-- my first choice publication for the piece I wrote about my daughter.

Mamalode's theme for the month of October is beauty. I didn't want to write another essay about how physically beautiful my child is-- while those types of essays are fine, and can be well-done, they're also everywhere.

What I really wanted was to find a non-cliche way to convey that it is my daughter's inner beauty-- her soul-- that I think radiates and defines her outer beauty. Yes, I want her to feel confident in her appearance and accept any 'imperfections,' but what I also hope for her is that she can feel good about who she is within.

See what you think! Here's the link.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Getting Back in the Saddle

This blog isn't about horses directly, of course, but it is about believing in yourself, valuing yourself, and taking care of yourself as well as your family.  For me, that does involve horses.

One of my great passions in life is horseback riding, and as I've written before, I recently starting investing in myself again. When our children are babies, the job of Mother is so completely all-encompassing, all-consuming.

However, mine are now 3 and 5, and I decided it was time to do a few things for me (happy wife/mom, happy life, right?). One goal I'm currently working on (besides riding) is to expand my horizons as far as the topics and publications I write for.

Here's a little dream of mine that recently came true:

My first article was accepted for, the biggest Horse-related site on the web!

Yep, that's me! During an early re-introductory riding lesson (saddle seat).

I'm very proud not only to be on there as a writer, but to share that particular piece-- it's all about getting back into something as an adult that you might have let slip over the years. Sure, it probably isn't riding that you are hoping to reconnect with as an adult (though it is fun, I assure you!), but perhaps for you it is painting, photography, running, or tennis.

Whatever your goal may be, I hope my piece encourages you to take a risk and give it a shot.

Without further ado, here's the link to my article!

Thank you for all of your support, Frantic Mama readers!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Monday, October 5, 2015

Read this BEFORE you get sick!

Remember the scary movie Misery, with Cathy Bates? I experienced a small chunk of that fresh Hell this past weekend when my son, my daughter, and-- of course-- I got sick.

Not just "runny nose" sick. Not just "cough, cough, oh, I feel a little sick." But real, live Stomach Bug sick. Yeah, that kind.

On top of it, my husband was out of town for work. Across the Atlantic ocean. I was solo, fighting my own brutal battle while putting my kids health and comfort first (as mothers do. sigh).

Oh, the misery! The misery!

A few things did help the situation, and I am stocking up on these items again now so that when the next time this happens-- because it will happen again-- I want to be prepared. Nothing quite ups the misery factor than dragging two sick kids to the drugstore when you feel like a lump. Here's what to have in your pantry to avoid the madness.

Food to stock up on:

  • Cans of chicken noodle soup or broth.
  • Gatorade and ginger ale. 
  • Saltines. 
  • Black tea and ginger tea.
  • Extra credit: keep a stash of dry white rice in your house (the wheat has too much fiber and could upset your stomach more). 

I lived on the above for a few days. My kids also managed to consume toaster waffles and applesauce.

Sick Day Toys/Activities: Keeping a stash of sick day toys in a cabinet is borderline genius if you ask me.

  • Coloring books, crayons, a couple new kids DVDs, play-doh, and books are all good bets. Keeping the kids occupied inside all day when no one is feeling well is exhausting, but having a few "new" things can help.

Health Stuff

  • Peppermint oil: Whether or not you've joined the essential oils bandwagon, peppermint oil certainly can't hurt the situation, as it is supposed to help with nausea. I added drops of it to the kids humidifiers and mixed it with tea tree oil for the diffuser in the kitchen. I really do think it helped. At least my house smelled better.
  • Heating pad: I had terrible sharp pains in my stomach, and the heating pad helped.

  • Pedialyte Freezer Pops: I credit my sister with this one, who has told me to buy them for years. Store them at room temperature and put them in the freezer when needed; the kids think they are having a treat while getting rehydrated with Pedialyte.
One last help, that money just can't buy, were the offers from a few good (very good) friends to help us-- whether it was to bring by some food or even just to check in via text. It kept me [somewhat] sane.

What has helped when you and your kids have been sick? What would you add to this list?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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