My No-Fail Falling Asleep Trick

Sleep when the baby sleeps.  That’s what they always say. But really, how hard is it to just turn out the lights and fall asleep?

There’s always something to think about. Something to worry about. I found myself falling laying awake for what seemed like hours after Cricket was snoring away.

When she was brand new, I developed a little trick to help myself fall asleep, and I want to share it with you in the hopes that it will help you guys get some much needed shut-eye also.

I call my trick Alphabet Animals. Okay, I know. It sounds dumb. But it really works.

The trick with this is to engage your brain with something that is just interesting enough to keep you from thinking about that fight you had with that guy on the internet or the giant pile of laundry in the washer that you forgot to put in the dryer and is probably going to stink in the morning. But it has to be boring enough that it doesn’t stimulate you and keep you awake.

Simple alphabet games can be perfect for this provided you pick a topic that doesn’t wind you up. Initially, I was doing alphabet gratitude, but since I grew up in the South, the gratitude morphed to guilt and I found myself staying awake feeling bad about random things. Not helpful. So I switched to animals. I rarely get past K. Which is good because K is a tough letter at 10:30 at night.

I’ve got some pretty specific rules that I follow when I play this game. I’ve got to name actual, specific animals. A for ant, b for bear, c for cat does not cut it. They’ve got to be more unusual animals. And some nights I pick a theme like marine animals or birds.

I happen to know a lot of animals, so this particular theme works for me. What can I say. I mostly only watch nature documentaries on TV. You might know more book characters or food items or celebrities. Pick a theme that works and go for it.

Here I go!

A is for arapaima.
B is for banana slug.
C is for chinstrap penguin.
D is for dusky dolphin.
E is for elephant seal.
F is for frigate bird.

…..
*yawn*
…..

G is for giant Pacific octopus.
H is for Humboldt squid.
I is for ichthyornis. (I cheated there, but I is a hard one)
J is for …..

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

*Please do be aware that trouble falling asleep can be one of the signs of postpartum depression. If this is a constant thing and you are having other indicators that PPD is staking a claim in your house, contact your healthcare provider right away.

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Post Baby Fashion Crisis

Okay, let me be really clear.  This isn’t a fashion blog.  I’ve never been good at fashion at all.  But I have been stressed about the way I dress and the way I feel about the way I dress recently, so that’s why I’m writing about it.

I’ve always just worn jeans and t-shirts, with only a little variation.  My work “uniform” varied little from what my husband wears. Khaki or black slacks, a button up shirt (non-iron if you please), and flats.  Now that I’m not working, I find myself wearing jeans that are either a size too small or a size too big, an old t-shirt from high school (you read that right), yoga pants, or just a plain old nursing tank top that probably has milk or spaghetti stains on it somewhere.

One afternoon, I found myself going out on a date with with my husband wearing a long sleeved t-shirt, a black maxi skirt, my faithful red Toms, kelly green knee-socks, and my red ski parka.  I felt ridiculous.  Was this how low I had sunk?  Bless him, my husband had the grace to tell me that I looked beautiful no matter what I wore, but regardless of how he saw me, I didn’t feel good about myself.

It’s not that I’ve never noticed fashion.  There’s always been certain looks that I’ve admired.  I’ve just never thought, for whatever reason, that I could pull it off.  I’ve always been attracted to pretty dresses and skirts that have a vintage-y feel. Like Amy Adams in The Muppet Movie or like Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) from Once Upon a Time.  But I also like more modern looks, like Clara Oswald from the past season of Doctor Who. And don’t get me started on steampunk stuff.  That Victorian-science-fictiony-adventurous mish-mash of awesomeness is just so, so cool.

But how do you turn all of that into a style?  Honestly?  I have no idea, but you know what?  I’m old enough and confident enough that I want to start wearing clothes that make me feel good about myself, that are fun, and express my personality much more honestly than a ratty old orchestra shirt from 1997.

A friend of mine has been giving me fashion advice lately, and her idea was to think of dressing thematically.  That idea has really helped me feel more self-assured in what I am choosing for myself.  She’s kind, but honest, and not at all afraid to say, “Okay, you know, I really don’t think that’s going to work for you.”  Everyone needs a friend like this.  Someone you send a quick selfie to and say, “What do you think?”

Another thing that has helped me figure out some outfits is Polyvore.  It lets me shop at home and play with multiple pieces from different stores without having to brave the anxiety-inducing mall.  I can play with an entire outfit, all the way down to shoes and accessories.

Having these outfits put together ahead of time really helps me to find what I want when I actually go to the store. This way, I end up with a full outfit instead of a jumble of individual pieces that I don’t know what to wear with what.  I also feel a lot more confident in my ability to, well, dress myself I suppose. I don’t worry too much about finding the exact same things as I put into the Polyvore collections, but it gives me an idea of what kinds of things I can put together.

Having these pictures to go off of gives me the ability to quickly dig through the clearance racks or go through TJ Maxx or Marshal’s or other discount store to see if they have something in the shape and/or color family I am interested in at the moment.

Below are a few examples of pictures I put together for myself to shop from.

Fall into winter into spring

More winter

 

Winter Outfit
 
Untitled #10
This kind of pre-shopping helps boost my confidence.  I will never be a fashionista.  And frankly, I’m not interested in becoming one.  But I do want to feel good about myself when I go out in public, and I finally am finding the confidence to dress the way I want to dress.  Is my body perfect post-baby?  Nope.  Will some people look at me and think I’m a little weird for wearing quirky outfits.  Probably.  And I don’t care.
My advice is this: Dress in a way that makes you feel good about yourself.  Screw everyone else.

Mommy Mantras

I’ve thought a lot lately about my own mental health and taking care of myself. I’ve also noticed other moms that I know face-to-face and through the internet stressing about everything from babies waking during the night to finding enough time to get kids to and from school.

I’ve gotten some good advice from you guys in the comments here and on Facebook, and I just wanted to share a few little mantras that I’ve been using lately as reminders to be kind to myself.  Mantras, affirmations, whatever you want to call it, I’ve tried really hard to use some positive self-talk these days to help change my patterns of thought for the positive.

Here are some of the things I tell myself when I start to feel overwhelmed.

Time does pass.

Perfection is a myth.

The Grasshopper is going to remember this pizza eating and cartoon watching as fun, not me being neglectful.

You’re doing a great job with what you have right now. – Thanks Diana!

You’re not Superwoman and no one expects you to be.

Just say NO! – Thanks Kerri!

Be gentle to yourself.

and my personal favorite from my mother…

This, too, shall pass.

On a related note, there’s a fantastic blog out there called Self Care Tips for Women.  They posted recently about the myths vs. the realities of motherhood, and the article really hit home for me.

Let’s Get REAL About Motherhood and Life

Do you have any sayings or mantras that you use to help yourself get through challenging times?  I’d love to expand my list!

Some additions to the Mantra List thanks to my readers:

I can choose peace instead of this. – JamesandJax

And a whole list from Diana at The Whining Puker:

“First it gets better, then it goes away.”
– Becky Taylor

“Progress, not perfection.”
– Flylady

“Give yourself lots of grace.”
– Wendi