A Letter to that Mother in the Corner

A Letter to that Mother in the Corner

Hello mother and friend,

I am watching you and see you are struggling.  The look in your eyes not only longs for answers but also sleep.  I may know how you feel but you also have a very unique story.  You’re longing for answers, confirmation that what you’re doing is right, to have confidence that what you’re doing is right.  You don’t take care of yourself.  You feel guilty.  I know and understand, as I did it myself.  Heck, some days I still do it.  You’re sitting with your child on your lap, unshowered but doable with a pits and bits wipe down with a baby wipe.  You make the internal statement that you  wish you had the energy or desire to put on makeup and look as if you gave somewhat of a fuck.   But you just don’t. Or you would.

I see you sitting in the corner.  Like Baby from Dirty Dancing, I can see your insecure expression, tightened lips, and fear of where you are at in life.  In the movie, Johnny’s hand stretches out across the table and passes Baby’s parents without even glancing at them.  There wasn’t even a question if Baby would grab it because she yearned for it. Even if her father disowned her. My friend, no one is here to save you, but I am here to be by your side and be your friend.  You see, I’m looking in a mirror and am starting to remember things that I’ve gone through. I’ve forgotten how hard it can be and what my life was like. How I hid it from the ones that love and care about me. The ones that wanted to help.

Many may come by after the baby is born, reach out to see how you’re doing, or even bring a meal or help pick up your house.  But then the visits will stop.  The reach outs and “need anything?” texts will be fewer.  You’re not reaching out either, you don’t want to bother anyone or make anyone notice that you don’t “got this”.  With as much help as your mom has been, you even feel you’re asking too much from her.  You don’t want to be told what to do or how it was done back in the day. You want to figure it out on your own. Where are those mommy instincts they talk about anyways?

You have your baby in the stroller and she’s all cuddled in with a beautiful rose blanket with a satin trim. The special bow that her aunt gave her at the baby shower is around her tiny soft head. Her eyes are closed peacefully as a shade from the stroller is blanketing her from the sun. It’s easy to look at this scene as an outsider and smile for you. New mothers and new babies can stop a conversation and any train of thought. Even with the soft filter and calmness that comes from you, I know this is one of the shortest periods of your day. I hope you’re enjoying it because when you walk in that door of your house, you’re back. It’s not a happy “Honey I’m home!” feeling where you are excited and feel welcomed. Most of the time you dread coming home and going right back to where you were 30 minutes ago. The place you were escaping when you left for your walk.

You don’t know what else to do with her right now. Sitting in your home seems to be the safest and easiest option. It’s winter, it’s cold, gathering the items for the diaper bag, wondering if she’ll need to be fed (AGAIN) and if you’ll get any glares for nursing her, what if she cries, what if she has a diaper blow out, what if you run into someone (remember, you haven’t showered nor have any makeup on), you really don’t feel like talking to anyone, and next thing you know the excuses build up and you just toss in the towel and say “F it!” and sit back down on the couch with her. She’s nursing round the clock anyways so perhaps this is just temporary and you should be staying at home.

Daytime television hasn’t been a part of your life in years. OK, so let’s see what’s on. There are still soap operas on television? The news, nah. There’s always HGTV. Eh, not in the mood to watch entire homes get renovated in less than 6 weeks. You feel inadequate as it is. Oooh, “Golden Girls” has a marathon on Hallmark Channel. Now THAT’S quality television. I’m right there with you and binge watched “Golden Girls” as I sang the theme song as a lullaby to my daughter when she would cry. Because I didn’t know any lullabies other than “Rock a buy baby”. Which is such a morbid song anyways. So why not sing about being a good friend instead?

I see you, I can relate to you, and I want to help you. Actually I want to give you a great big hug and tell you that 5 ½ years from now it will be different. Time will fly in a blink of an eye where you will find yourself sitting and watching a mother in a corner who looks as lost as you feel right now. Remember your feelings and how you can be a true mother and friend. I hope that you can feel like me right now, where you want to throw a party and invite every mom you know. And I hope every gift you see would have a card attached saying “Thank you for being real. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for being a friend.”

Can you tell how much I love the Golden Girls? I think those ladies saved my sanity.

Love,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

How to Make Less Judgment & More Connection

How to Make Less Judgment & More Connection

I was grabbing some deeeelicious avocado toast from my local love, Early Light Café (you seriously need to get Dawn’s avocado toast on her homemade spicy gluten free bread. She tops it with sun-dried tomatoes and you can even add BACON!). I was waiting for my food when I happened to listen in on a women talking to her friend. Call it a weakness or a guilty pleasure but I love listening in on conversations.  I actually learn a lot.   As she’s talking to her friend, I noticed a few things. One, she was doing most of the talking and her friend couldn’t get a word in edge-wise. Two, she was ripping on public schools and Common Core. Three, she was proclaiming her stance on homeschooling and what she’s been doing for her daughter.  It was done in an elitist sort of way, as if it as the only way to learn and it was the best decision a parent could make.  Her daughter was by herself at a kiddie picnic table while she waited for her soft serve ice cream her mom ordered. I see the owner pouring liquid ice cream into her ice cream machine and noticed that of course ice cream wasn’t ready to be served, it was 9:30am. So I sit and put 2 and 2 together and realized something through watching this mother talk and seeing her daughter being served ice cream at 9:30am.  Am I judging her? Nope. Because I’ve let Brooklyn have ice cream at random times too. So it wasn’t that. What was it then?

What I realized was that we moms can throw that side eye way too much, and not even realize that we may think we’ve “got this” in one area but we tend to forget that we don’t in others. Watching this woman talk made me think about times I MYSELF have done this. Proclaiming versus talking about all the amazing things Brooklyn was eating or that she was finally sleeping through the night or watching a toddler having a meltdown and just THINKING in my brain that something must be wrong with the parent. Oh trust me, I’ve had many “come to Jesus” moments where my ass was given a hard kick back down to the earth in order to ground me. Times where I’m finally realizing how perfection is impossible.

I may think I’ve “got this” in one area. Let’s say in the confidence area for Brooklyn. I could sit and exclaim to a new mother or a friend all the things we are doing, all that Brooklyn does, and how amazing she’s been doing. And it is! I should be proud and talk about it with other women. However, I also need to remember that as confident as she appears THAT day, the day before she had a massive meltdown at 4pm because of how exhausted she was from her day. So I may feel I’ve killed it in one area, but there are other areas where I still struggle.

We need to talk and celebrate the successes and share what has worked for us. Damn straight! But let’s also remember the delivery of the message and to humble it out with some funny struggles that will make you more relatable. The mixture of success and failure will not only make you easier to talk to but it will also make you less judgmental towards others. When you mix it up, you become vulnerable and therefore build stronger connections. And when you build stronger connections you learn more and grow to the fullest. You become a happier parent and woman.

Let’s have you try it the next time you’re chatting with another mother. Notice how other mothers talk to YOU and how it makes you feel. How connected you are to them while they are talking and after. Do you want to talk to them again? Do you leave drained or do you leave wanting more? Perfection is impossible, yes, but success can still be celebrated with a balance of imperfect stories and connection.

Simply Yours,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

Create a Future Leader in Your Kitchen

Create a Future Leader in Your Kitchen

One of my 10 steps in discovering (and creating!) an adventurous eater in your family is Involvement.   Getting the kids involved in meal time has so many doors to open the world of being a leader. It’s not only about them cooking, it goes even further back in how that meal is placed on your table. Giving them the tools to spark that confidence, that might simply be hiding, can not only get them to taste what’s in front of them but also build leadership skills.

When we feel we’re too busy or in a rush to get meals in front of our family, not only is it totally stressful, but we are losing out on important lessons for our children. Thanks to Brooklyn’s Montessori education, I’ve been taught how important life skills are in academics and I have done my best to look at everything I do in my kitchen as a teaching versus a chore. I believe that our life skills foster independence and create leaders in our children. How does this work in the kitchen?

The moment you ask your child to be involved in what is in your kitchen, the teaching begins. Brooklyn helps choose what meals we will be having as a family, creating the grocery list, we shop together, prep and cook. What’s equally important is she helps set the table and clean up after the meal is done. Life skills create a solid human being and as a parent you should never feel guilty teaching your child to contribute as a family member. Does Brooklyn complain at times when I ask her to do something? Of course! She’s a normal 5 year old. We then have to work a bit harder to teach her how important her role is in our family. Even if your child complains, when they feel they are a part of something big, their pride shines and the leader inside them slowly comes out.  So how can your children get involved?

  1.  Create place cards for meals.  The creativity can be so simple at an early age.  They don’t have to cook a full-course meal to be a part of it!
  2.  Use my “Let’s Set the Table!” reusable placemat (you can get at Shop Here!) to make setting the table fun.  Our children’s book, “I Tried It!” has a fun little jingle that Brooklyn says with her cats for them to remember where everything goes.  You can get the book with the same link above!
  3. Grab some recipe cards or books and have your children choose a few dinners that week.  We have our creative Meal Planning Flashcards that you can use with your child to choose foods they want to try, along with creative recipes they can make on the back.  My recipes are SUPER easy and SUPER fast.  And SUPER tasty!  Have them choose a few items they will have in their lunchbox that week too.  100 Days of Real Food has wonderful and convenient suggestions for lunches.  Or follow some of the hundreds of Instagram accounts that give fantastic lunch options that are beyond easy.
  4. Have them find the items on your grocery list when you get to the store.  They will be so proud when they find things.  Brooklyn loves finding her dad’s items and telling him when she gets home that she picked them herself.
  5. Simple prep at home can go for miles.  We have wonderful tools we use in the kitchen that are safe, actually work and are fun.  Sign up to get my “Discovering the Adventurous Eater in Your Child” e-book on my website to see all the tools that work for Brooklyn.

Simple teachings surrounding what makes your family table a positive one, builds a strong foundation for your family. Allowing your child to tell you what they want for dinner that week, how they think the peppers should be cut, showcasing their creativity while helping, and demonstrating how helpful they are to you will create the adult you hope they will be. Someone who knows how to make decisions, help their friends, contribute to something huge, have confidence to voice their opinion, and not be afraid to let their creativity shine.

What ways do you use your kitchen as teaching opportunities? I’d love to hear and learn from you!

Simply Yours,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

Can Eating “Healthy” Actually Become UNhealthy?

Can Eating “Healthy” Actually Become UNhealthy?

How we eat, what we eat, when we eat… when did it become so overwhelming? Why do we find ourselves analyzing every ingredient, depriving, forbidding, and stressing ourselves out to a point where we lose focus of the true purpose of food? You try this diet, eliminate this ingredient, forbid a certain food group entirely, and find yourself going down a rabbit hole of information. This year a certain diet is all the rage, next month another food group is horrible for you, sugar is the devil, then the information you have been relying on and base your grocery shopping on… changes. Completely. You’re on your next mission and change this, eliminate that, read this, stop that, feel guilty because you ate that, are scolded because something is being marketed as bad for you, and the rabbit hole just gets deeper and deeper. Technically, we eat to survive, to have energy, to increase our immune system, and to allow our bodies to function at their highest level.   When did it get so stressful?

Friday’s “Megyn Kelly TODAY” was an interesting topic to me not only because I am a Health Coach, but I’m also a mom and a real person. Just because I’m a Health Coach doesn’t mean I don’t read, watch, listen or become affected by all the information that is out there. It’s overwhelming, can be incorrect, may not work for your unique body, and it can actually create stress, obsession, and affect how your children view food in their lives.

Megyn Kelly had Ramani Durvasula, author of “You Are Why You Eat.”, on this segment and they talked about the topic of Orthorexia. Which is the obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy (Google Dictionary). Notice the words “that one CONSIDERS healthy.” There is no blanket definition of what “healthy” means for every human being. Ramani discussed how anything can become unhealthy or dangerous when it creates an obsession. I agree with her 100%. I found myself in this obsession when I became a Health Coach.

And especially when I became a mother.

Every ingredient was Googled. I read healthy mom blogs. Followed other health coaches on social media and read the articles they’d attach about all the foods that are bad for us. I had special instructions for the nanny. More like a 4-page print out. For my mother. For my husband. Absolutely no juice. No processed foods EVER! Sugar was evil. My hormones were affected by any grain that I put in my body. Dairy is the most disgusting thing you can put in your body. I have more rules but even I can’t stand to read them. My rules were charged up wherever I seemed to go. My chiropractor’s office. A talk I would attend. My curriculum. Newsletters I subscribed to. A documentary I would watch. I was being fueled and at the same time I was obsessing and stressing out big time.

I just want to say, because this can get a bit touchy, that I’m not talking about people out there that have legitimate allergies, autoimmune disorders, food intolerances, or illnesses where certain foods trigger symptoms. I am not one of these people so this post is not focusing on this special audience.

What I am focusing on is avoiding, or getting out of the trap, where food is taking over your life. Is it interrupting your ability to enjoy life and the world around you? Do you find shame in eating certain foods? Do you realize how this can affect your children? We are the leaders, role models, and the inspiration to our children and how they view the foods that are around them. With all the outside influences they have, and will continue to have, how are we as parents paying attention to the signs and modeling a healthy mindset about food?

When I noticed I was being taken over by all the influences around me, when I realized I was giving others anxiety about what to feed my daughter, when I had so much guilt over 3 bites of a dessert, when I saw how I analyzed every ounce of food that was put into my mouth (and my daughter’s!), I knew I had to make a change. For both me and for my family. Here are some tips that Ramani Durvasula had on “Megyn Kelly TODAY” that I agree with and have been doing in our home:

  1. Don’t demonize foods or create food shame. Your child will not only judge themselves, but it will also create an unhealthy relationship with food.
  2. Be a gatekeeper instead, it’s about what you present to them and teaching them a healthy relationship with food.
  3. Teach them how to regulate. Talk about variety of foods instead of “bad” food or shaming food. Too much off anything, even if it’s “healthy”, isn’t good.
  4. Avoid sentences like “In this house, we don’t eat sugar.” Because they will have sugar in their life. At a birthday. A special occasion. Someone else’s house. The key here is balancing the treats with foods that fuel their bodies.
  5. Eating the same. Everyone eats the same way, dinners are as a family, & no separate meals should be the focus the majority of the time.
  6. Eating together as a family as much as possible.
  7. Share food prep.
  8. Share meal planning.
  9. Model healthy eating- “Do as I do, not as I say.”
  10. Open the conversation and teach them how to look at the imagery around. them in the world- social media, magazines, movies, & peer conversations.
  11. Trust your child to know their body & trust their body.

For more on this segment, you can watch the segment and read about it here: Watch Here!

You can get your copy of “You Are Why You Eat.” Here: Buy Here!

It’s all about learning, growing, and paying attention to what brings us joy & happiness. This is very specific to you as an individual. If you don’t find stress in eating healthy and the choices your family makes, that’s FANTASTIC. Keep going with it! We all need to step back, pause, and reflect on what makes our lives the best possible.

Simply Yours,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

The Right Tools can Create an Adventurous Eater!

The Right Tools can Create an Adventurous Eater!

I have “The Sound of Music” in my head as I write this today…

“These are a few of my favorite things…”

I talk a lot about the importance of involving your kiddos in the kitchen if you really want them to be more open to tasting the wonderful feast in front of them.  Giving your kids a part in the play, and a say, gives that “I’m a part of this” feeling; which is such a motivator to actually trying the creation.  And who wants to do it all on their own anyways?  Wouldn’t it be nice to eventually have your teens claiming a Monday night to make dinner for the family?  And it’s actually delicious?  So let’s start the exposure and training while they are young so they can be proud chefs when they are grown.  I remember having a college roommate that had no clue how to boil noodles.  Even with the directions right in front of her.  I was not only confused but I also felt bad for her as she had zero confidence in her first apartment with making a meal.  Therefore, most nights she simply picked up fast food.  No one taught her, it was always done for her, and she didn’t even know where to learn how to cook.  I’m not expecting Brooklyn to be cooking a 5 course dinner for her college roomies but my daughter will be going to college knowing how to prepare the best foods for her body.  Mixed in with some gyros or nachos after the bars of course ;-).

Many ask what tools I have in the kitchen that are safe and easy for Brooklyn to use.  Below are all in our kitchen and we love them all.  We hope you do too!  Cue some “Sound of Music” and away we go!

“These are a few of my favorite things…”  (copy and paste links into your browser):

OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Peeler Set:

https://www.amazon.com/OXO-Good-Grips-3-Piece-Peeler/dp/B005PP99L6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526921450&sr=8-1&keywords=oxo+peelers+set+of+3

Wavy Crinkle Cutting Tool:

https://www.amazon.com/Crinkle-Vegetable-Stainless-Serrator-Chopping/dp/B01GJGL99E/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1526921491&sr=1-2-spons&keywords=wavy+crinkle+cutting+tool&psc=1

ZYLISS Easy Pull Food Chopper:

https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=zyliss+easy+pull+food+chopper&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=228982220797&hvpos=1t1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=13167526252655973331&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9021516&hvtargid=kwd-353831210343&ref=pd_sl_sh4bzhn2l_e_p37

Silicon placemat that the entire family can use:

https://www.amazon.com/Placemat-Silicone-Waterproof-Portable-Toddler/dp/B0757K8NRQ/ref=sr_1_15_s_it?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1518405203&sr=1-15&keywords=eating%2Bmat%2Bfor%2Btoddlers&th=1

StarPack Kid Nylon Kitchen Knife Set:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0162AI724/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Stainless Steel Silverware Set:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01H8QR3TE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Salad Spinner:

https://www.amazon.com/Spinner-iLove-Cooking-Vegetable-Scissors/dp/B078X1HQ2C/ref=sr_1_13?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1518406647&sr=1-13&keywords=salad+spinner

Architec Kid’s Cut & Serve Cutting Board Plates:

https://www.amazon.com/Architec-Cutting-BPA-free-Dishwasher-Plastic/dp/B00SITPK8C/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1518721769&sr=8-3&keywords=cutting+board+for+kids&dpID=4137ATfYeUL&preST=_SX300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

D-FLIFE|Extra Thick 1MM Non-Slip Textured Essential Chopping Board Kit:

https://www.amazon.com/D-FLIFE-Non-Slip-Textured-Essential-Educational/dp/B074TCRSFS/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1518722048&sr=8-4&keywords=cutting+board+for+kids&dpID=51DHKvKHOZL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

Lazy Susan: Hog Wild Chic on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/534636886/painted-lazy-susan-wood-kitchen-decor

Simply Yours,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

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