The Scariest Part of Being a Mom on Halloween

I’ve outgrown my fear, and I want you to as well. It’s no way to live. Between now and Easter there are just too many holidays with too much junk food and we need to know how to navigate these events without self-loathing, regret and guilt.

 

I’ve never pretended not to like junk food. If you know me, you know I’ve always been a huge fan of dessert. I keep candy in the house a lot of the time. I have a stash of the most excellent dark chocolate bars that I love to savour tiny bite by tiny bite and it drives my husband crazy.

 

But there’s an another entire category to junk food, and it’s about to invade our homes in the most obnoxious way possible, and it’s called Halloween candy.

 

Halloween candy comes out in the stores early September now. It’s comes in giant boxes. They sell it almost everywhere. You can’t get away from it. And for many years, that’s all I wanted to do.

 

I used to dread the oncoming of Halloween. I used to get major anxiety this time of year, because I had no control over buying and eating enormous and unnecessary amounts of those little bites of heaven. I would buy the 100-pack a couple weeks before Halloween and it would be empty before the trick-or-treaters even decided on their costumes. And I would not want to share, no way. I hid them. Or at least the best ones. So I would stay up late to make sure I could binge away after every one else went to bed. And then I couldn’t stop, and I’d eat so many, stay up so late, and wake up with a wicked sugar hangover. And you know what they say is best cure for a hangover right? So back to the pantry I’d go the next day.

 

The worst part of this is, I’d spend the whole month – 6 weeks that this would carry on for hating myself. Punishing myself for being so weak, wishing I could stop. Telling myself if I had more self-control, if I really cared about myself, if I really cared about my goals, and if I just wasn’t such an immature fatso that I could just STOP eating it. But that kind of self-talk never leads to positive behaviour. It leads to self-loathing, more punishment, and inevitably, for surviving the day as the disgusting human I was, a reward, of more candy.

 

Now I said used to. This is no longer a behaviour I partake in. I have learned healthier ways to deal with my cravings, and more importantly, healthier ways to deal with myself, ie love and compassion. It’s October 28th and I haven’t bought any candy yet. Because I genuinely haven’t wanted to.

 

Now the reasons for my ability to walk away from the big red box is not my only accomplishment. I want to be clear. I have grown in terms of self appreciation, my knowledge of nutrition, of the way food affects my mood and behaviour and most of all a desire to live FREE of food guilt. But I’ve also stopped being powerless to the candy aisle, 365 days a year.

 

I have seen a lot of posts lately about eating all your kids Halloween candy, or digging into the stuff you are supposed to be handing out, and while it’s all in good fun and we can laugh about it, this is the first Halloween I won’t be doing that, and I feel really good about it. I can sail through this coming Monday just like it was any day, except with different outfits and more pictures, because I’m not afraid of Halloween candy anymore. And you shouldn’t be either.

—A lot of you might think this is ridiculous, and stop reading here. And that’s okay. Many won’t make it this far. But for those of you still reading, I have been there. At the bottom of the plastic jack-o-lantern, wondering why I have no self control. And there is hope. I know you get me, and just know that I get you, too, and you don’t have to be afraid anymore. —

So here they are, my Top 5 Tips for Staying Out of the Trick-or-Treaters Candy:

  1. Don’t Buy It: It took me years to figure this out, that we have a choice whether we pick it up and put it in our cart or not. That just because it’s there in Septmber doesn’t mean we have to buy it. Sure, practicing will power in the home is great, too, but it’s just as impressive to leave it in the store. (Plus, do you really want your kids knowing there’s already candy in the house?? No thank you!)
  2. When You Do Buy It, Don’t Buy Your Favourite to Give Away: If we’re staring at 45 mini versions of our favourite anything it’s going to be a hell of a time trying not to devour it. There are so many options, we just have to pick something that we’ll be able to resist, or let the kids pick. (I find the latter extremely entertaining, myself.)
  3. Do Buy Yourself a Treat That You Do Love: Remember that stash of dark chocolate I mentioned earlier? It’s my saving grace. Always knowing that we have a choice of something we actually love to eat makes it so much easier to resist the irresistable. Keeping something we really do want to eat – that won’t make us feel like crap – on the ready, will make saying no a no-brainer.
  4. Get Enough Sleep: This goes for all and any nutritional decision. Halloween is just another holiday that keeps us moms busy, stressing about decorations, costumes and parties, but getting enough sleep at these times (and all others) is essential. When we’re tired, we tend to head more toward the easy, readily available, pre-packaged food options. Which is totally fine. Unless it’s a giant box of candy. The cycle begins that easily, so watch yourself and make sure you’re the rest you need. (Or as close as possible, I have little ones too, people!!!)
  5. Eat Well: Do I have to say this? Well we are moms so yes I do. It can be so hard to put our nutrition front and centre, and spend the few extra minutes preparing a salad or something else packed with nutrients, but it’s well worth it in the long run. If we are well fed, and our bodies are well-nourished, two majorly important things happen. 1)Our brain is functioning properly, which means making rational decisions about how much candy to buy/eat becomes simple logic. 2) If our hunger is satisfied, then we won’t need to binge on candy, period.

 

I have given you my best here mamas, because I have been through hellish years of dreading doing my groceries or opening my pantry for weeks at a time, every year, because I had convinced myself I have no control over Halloween candy.

 

What it comes down to now is that I don’t want to feel like crap, I don’t want to put that much nutrient-empty food in my body, and I don’t want to eat treats that aren’t my favourite. I am incredibly proud of myself, as strange as that may seem to some, it’s been a long ass journey to get here. To a place where I can even talk about this like an adult and not an over-tired toddler.

 

And I’ll be honest, there’s a little sense of embarrassment here, too, because I mean, it’s candy, it doesn’t own me or control me. But for a long time, it felt like it did. Since I started coaching, I’ve felt like I had to give this “perfect persona” of someone who doesnt eat treats or slip up… but I do. And the #BetterAfterBaby Community helps me so much with that because I actually feel so normal for making mistakes. Instead of feeling bad about it. So in hopes that I can reach one more mama out there who’s in the thick of the trick-or-treat struggle, I share my victory story. Victory over late nights surrounded by tiny little wrappers and big loud voices in my head telling me I was weak, fat and worthless.

 

Don’t let food control you either mamas. Any kind, any time. It’s just food.

 

 

It’s Up to Us

We have an opportunity right now. You and I. As pregnant women.

 

You, me, your cousin, and everyone else who is currently growing life inside them.

 

It’s up to us to change postpartum.

 

The year after the birth of your child should NOT be focused on losing weight. It can’t. We can’t survive like this. We can’t keep losing our grip on our self respect because of the way we look after we used our bodies to build another body.

 

We have to stop commending our friends who lose weight quickly. They are not winning anything. That is their body composition, nothing more. It’s not related to their love for their child or their ability to parent.

 

We can no longer talk about our “pre-baby” bodies as if they are something we have lost and must find again. We are in the same body. It’s stronger and wiser now. And I’m guessing you wouldn’t give back your child for your flat stomach, so let’s just move on, yes?

 

When we get together for playdates, or walks, or afternoon coffee, we can’t talk about our bodies like they are moving too slow. Like they have a job to do and are either succeeding or failing at it. The only job our bodies have after having a baby is healing itself and feeding a baby. Not to fit back into jeans that we don’t want to wear any way.

 

We have to care for and love our bodies now. This time. Not later, not next time. NOW. At every stage. At 9 months pregnant full and glowing and at 9 days post partum leaking and aching. It’s all amazing. And it’s up to us to be the ones to change it.

 

We can’t just sit here and wish that our mothers had taught us what was normal, or that there more advocates for safe postpartum recovery.

 

We can’t just sit here and wish away the instamodels with 2 week PP 6packs and zero stretch marks.

 

We can’t just sit here and hope that in the future women will take better care of themselves post partum.

 

We have to be those advocates. We have to be those powerful examples. We have to take on the responsibility of loving ourselves and accepting our bodies.

 

We can’t just sit here and wait for some outside source to tell us that it’s okay.

 

We have to tell it.

We have to teach it.

 

We can’t wait for postspartum to come back into style. It won’t happen. Soft bellies and sore boobs will never be a fashion statement. But we can make it normal. We can decide that we are going to be our unapologetically powerful selves. We just had a BABY. Made it inside our body. We are the heroes. We know that, and we don’t need a flat stomach or perky butt to prove it.

 

We need sleep. And good food. And we need as much love as we are giving. You hear me? We need to give ourselves as much love as we are giving away. 

 

Next time you’re with your mom friends, can you brag about how many vegetables you ate? Can you talk about how successful you’ve been at turning off Scandal and getting in bed in time to sleep a couple of hours before one of your kids gets up? Can we commend our fellow mamas on their ability to eat 3 entire meals in a day, and not in their ability to resist carbs or stay out of the pantry after dinner?

 

I’m not saying we need to applaud each other’s bad habits. Pregnancy tends to take a toll on our healthy habits, between cravings, food aversions and exhaustion we find a new normal and it’s also normal to want to get back to the good habits we know are better for us. But let’s do that. Let’s talk about good habits and good health. Not about fat and flab and who has more or less where.

 

We can discuss our bodies when, and only when, we learn to speak of our flabby bellies with as much love and enthusiasm as we do our babies chubby thighs and neck rolls.

Until then, we are all on probation. Self love probation.

 

I’m about to have my third child.

 

And this time, I don’t want to feel bad about how quickly or slowly I lose the pounds I put on during this time of growing a child. I want to focus on properly healing my body after the 9 month long workout I’ve put it through.

 

I don’t want you to tell me how thin I look after the baby. I’ve heard it before and I don’t want to hear it anymore. It makes it feel like if I weren’t thin, you wouldn’t have something nice to say to me. 

 

I don’t want you to ask me when I will start exercising again. Because being postpartum is a workout. I’m carrying a baby, making milk, and taking care of my other children and at the end of the day I have to get up the stairs to put myself to bed. So I haven’t stopped exercising, I’m working harder than the strongest strong man could ever imagine. I’m just doing it in my pyjammas. They invented stretchy clothes for a reason.

 

I want to take it easy. Enjoy the newborn phase. Eat heartily and drink tons of water. Have a glass of wine. Sleep through the afternoon – at least once. Play peek-a-boo and share a bowl of cheerios with a sticky fingered toddler.

 

When I think of my life 1 year from today, at which point I will be 8 months post partum, I don’t think to myself “man I hope I have my abs back”. It’s just not a goal. I have business goals, financial goals, family goals. I don’t have a weight loss goal.

 

When I think of next October, I hope I have more. I hope my business is thriving, my kids are healthy, that I’m recovering well and that I’m able to make it all work with 3 kids, work, and a marriage.

 

I’m not thinking about my weight.

 

And I truly believe, that if all the other women who have babies from today forward, all of us, if we come together, that we can have a carefree recovery. If we just don’t comment and commend on eachother weight and body shape. If we find other things to be proud of eachother for, to be happy for eachother for other accomplishments, that we can change postpartum. But it’s up to us.

 

We don’t have an example right now. We have the internet ploughing us with pictures of 20-something women posing with their postpartum abs and while, YES, good for them, there are SO many other shades of postpartum that it is incredibly important for US – you and I – to shed light on.

 

We need to love and care for our bodies. Not try to change them or whip them “back into shape” after we deliver our babies.

Let’s love our bodies, and care and nurture and respect the need to rest of our bodies as much as we do the tiny little human who was only a few days/weeks/months one and the same. What if we rested, fed, and nourished our postpartum bodies as if they too were a newborn?

We have to give ourselves a chance to heal and grow, to recover and return to healthy function. We have to let our newborn babies adjust to the world outside the womb. Slowly, with lots of rest and food. And not too much stimulation, not at first. That will come, there’s lots of time for running and jumping and expending large amoutns of energy, but not right away.

 

Let’s change it. You and me, oh pregnant ladies of the present and future.

 

It is up to us.

 

 

 

 

I will not apologize for my kids

At the grocery store.

In the changeroom at the pool.

When they walk right into your legs. 

In my own home.

Late at night.

 

Why won’t I apologize any more?

Because I’m NOT sorry. I’m just not. My kids are tiny little humans learning how to function in a society where the rules are constantly changing along with customs and trends on what is OK and not OK for my kid to do, be, say, wear etc. And I’m over it.

My kids don’t like grocery shopping. Or being strapped into a shopping cart by their waists. They don’t like waiting in line and they REALLY don’t like it when I tell them “no” every time they ask for something off the shelves. They might scream. They might cry. They might throw a fit right here, right now in the middle of the aisle with egg carton casualties. Will any of that negate my family’s need for food? Will I up and walk out to teach them a lesson? No, I will not. Because all that would teach them is that fits get them what they want. And that’s not my style.

 

Yes, my 4 year old boy shakes his penis around in between taking off his swimsuit and putting on his clothes. So what? Why are you watching us? He is a little kid, exploring and enjoying his body in a harmless way. Of course I teach him what’s appropriate and what isn’t, but is that going to make a floppy appendage any less interesting any time soon? No, I don’t think it is.

 

My kids are approximately 2 & 3 feet tall, respectively. If one of them walks into your legs it’s not because they are rude, poorly parented or ignorant children, it’s because they ARE children. They see a whole other world than you and I do and they might just accidentally miss something like your boring khaki pants and accidentally walk into them. Were you looking at the ground while you walked? Well they weren’t looking at the sky. It was accident, but no one needs to be sorry, especially not my kid, not far walking.

 

It might be chaotic, and it might not look like your home, but at our house, there is a sense of order. My kids know the rules. We have the same rules every day. It’s how we develop trust. It’s how I keep from going crazy. But I’m not going to apologize for the things my kids do in their own space, in their comfort zone. Whether they choose to be naked, wear every piece of clothing they own at once, or just wear an Easter basket on their head, it’s OK by me. Because in my own home, they are safe. And they know what that means. So nudity and weirdness, dance parties and sing-alongs, are A-OK.

 

If you are around my children and it’s late at night, chances are you are or are part of the disturbance that is keeping them from being in bed. We have strict bedtime rules and guidelines in my house, because it makes for a predictable environment. If you are here, and they are wild, and it’s past their bedtime but they just won’t go to sleep, it’s probably because you’re here. That doesn’t mean I want you to leave, but I’m not going to be sorry for their behaviour when they are being ripped out of their routine to the point of being too uncomfortable to sleep. I might apologize to them, but not to you.

 

Kids are learning. In everything they do. And constantly apologizing for them and in front of them is only going to teach them that every they do and say needs to be either justified or apologized for. I do not want my kids to be sorry for the space they take up, the sounds they make, for their bodies or their fascination with their bodies. I don’t want my kids to be ashamed of who they are, but apoloizing for everything they do all the time, will make them feel like those things are somehow wrong, or bad, or shameful. And they just are not.

 

They are just tiny little people, who don’t know the rules yet. So I will teach them the rules.

Nowhere in my rulebook does it say  to apologize for having energy, enthusiasim, a body, a voice or an opinion. 

 

There are things I will apologize for, even on my children’s behalf, but to list them now would utterly defeat the purpose of writing this, so instead, I have compiled a list of more things I will NOT apologize for:

1. How slow they walk.

2. How fast they run.

3. Their honesty.

4. Their timidness.

5. Their volume.

6. Their curiosity.

7. The toys they left on the floor when they were having fun. 

8. Their interest in you.

9. Their disinterest in you.

10. How dirty they are.

11. For wearing the same shirt all week.

12. For eating a lot.

13. For not eating a lot.

14. For asking you for something.

15. For hugging you because she thought your legs were mine.

16. For crying because she realized those were not my legs.

I could go on. I do go on. I will continue to come up with things to NOT be sorry for as my children continue to live their lives and learn and grow and that knee jerk reaction to say “sorry” for something they nor I should be sorry for.

 

Because I don’t want them to be sorry, not to you, not to me, for becoming their own people while exploring and discovering this amazing world in which they are lucky enough to live in.

 

I hope you’ll do the same.