share your stories and join in on the discussion on Facebook!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

happy 3rd birthday, Mommy Stories!

On Sunday May 26th it was the third birthday of this blog, 
the Mommy Stories! 

THREE years of sharing real moms' stories, advice, ideas, book reviews, challenges, and successes. 

A year ago exactly there were 700 members in the Facebook Mommy Stories group. I was shocked then, since the year before there were up to 100! Now, there are 1,230 members in the Facebook group.  I don't even know what to think about that! 

AMAZING! Shocking! I started this all out for a few friends as a baby shower gift… now we're talking daily about everything in parenting, from potty training to sleep training to in-law issues, to using pacifiers or co-sleeping and which formula is best for babies with reflux… we cover it all on the blog and in the group! I LOVE THAT. 

With more people has come more challenges at times… more messages sent my way of concerns, questions, etc. One issue of having to decide whether a male father could participate in the group or not this past winter… hardest issue I've had to deal with thus far! Thankfully he was SO understanding and encouraging when we decided not a great idea to join the group. 

This past year has included many of the things that we started last year:
  • Mom in the Picture
  • several more series of posts, like that on C-sections and potty training, and a big one on Cloth Diapering 101 last summer. Then there was the series about birthday parties and another one featuring real moms who make money and make things on Etsy, etc. I LOVED that one, supporting local moms is a favorite thing of mine, always looking for local moms to feature and encourage other moms to purchase from them. 
  • so many awesome Moms of the Month - people LOVE these! 

In addition to what was started last year, I started a couple of new initiatives this year in the Facebook group:
  • What's for dinner? I've tried asking about every Sunday what moms were making for meals this coming week. There had been so many posts in the group about needing more ideas for meals, so I've found that when I post this it gives moms great, easy ideas for meals for the week. 
  • MOM THOUGHTS - a bit of randomness from my Mom Brain to yours - People are crazy over these! I get the most likes and comments on these posts than anything else I put on the blog. It's just a bunch of totally random thoughts that I put into one post. People relate, feeling like they are a bit more normal knowing at least another mom out there thinks the same totally weird things that they do about parenting! I've had such fun with these. 
  • Mom Pride! Someone in the group posted a shout out to good things moms were doing, a way to mention something you are succeeding with in this great crazy parenting adventure. I LOVE this. Too many moms feel guilty about things they are doing or not doing well enough, so instead we turn that around and every so often I'll encourage moms to share a MOM PRIDE - something they are doing well, proud of, or a success they had recently. It's good to toot our own horns sometimes! 
  • Anonymous Questions - I'd had some requests this spring to post an anonymous question, so then I put it out there to the entire group, letting moms know it's OK to send me a question that I'll post anonymously so nobody knows who the question is from. I think this option has helped many moms! I'm a school counselor in my real job, so you should trust that I KNOW what confidentiality is and won't share what you ask me to keep anonymous! 
  • New Year's Mom Resolutions - It was so fun to check back in with the 12 Moms of the Month from the previous year to ask for their New Year's Resolutions and ideas. I hope to do this again this coming January! 
  • Instagram! Oh yes, I'm even more connected this year after joining Instagram this past winter. I post real life messes (as a way to show moms, hey, I'm human, too, we're all in this together, parenting is messy, it's OK to admit it!), gratitude (things I love about being a mom), good books we read, etc. 
      • Follow me on Instagram

I'm looking forward to new ideas this summer and beyond into this fourth year of the Mommy Stories blog! I hope you enjoy these new initiatives as much as I enjoy coming up with new things for you to learn from and laugh about! 

A few ideas that I may implement this summer:
  • New Mom Mentors - I didn't get this up and running last year, but hope to look more into it this year, asking seasoned expert mamas to help answer questions to new moms, pairing them up in a mentor fashion. 
  • Group Introduction Document - With SO many mamas in the Facebook discussion group I think there should be an introduction document that new moms added should read, just to gather some ideas of what the group is all about, rules, etc. 
  • Mommy Stories Board of Trustees - I have a few moms who I typically go to for advice, ideas, or to help me sort out an issue that has come my way from the group, how to handle complaints or tough situations, etc. Some are friends of mine, others are those who I've never met before but whose opinions I really trust. I hope to make this a formal thing this summer, make them sorta official, maybe check in once a month, asking for ideas or suggestions, etc. We're a growing group, so I'm at a point of needing other eyes and ears in the discussion board, instead of watching it just myself. The more ideas, the better in my mind :) 
  • Mommy Kindness- I followed CT Moms group on Mother's Day and encouraged moms to share something nice about another mom in the group. It was so sweet reading what people wrote! I want to do this more often this coming year. It's GREAT to uplift one another.
  • Real Messes - I think it's good to show the tougher, messier side of being a parent. So I hope to post tons more mess pics on my Instagram account, as well as encourage other moms to post them to the Facebook discussion group. Point: to show we're all similar, we all struggle, and messes are OK - playing with kids is more important than cleaning anyway! 
If you have more ideas for something we should share on the blog or discussion board, please let me know! Email me at


THANK YOU for following my parenting ups and downs, taking some advice, learning from the moms I feature on the blog, and listening… your support and encouragement make my day every time I log on to the blog or Facebook group. Thank you, thank you! 


Now go light a candle, make a wish, and then find some chocolate like I intend to do! :) 

Monday, May 26, 2014

gifts for a new mommy by Christine Coutu

My awesome co-worker and friend Christine Coutu has learned a few things in her short time being a new mama. We learn quickly as mothers, we figure out that those cute and frilly things people typically give us at our baby showers are yes, adorable, but sometimes not as practical as we'll need in those first few poopy, sleepless weeks! 

Christine came up with the best New Mom Survival gift here! Such great ideas! Check it out!

From Christine:
My friend is having a baby next month and I, just having a baby myself only a few months ago wanted to put together a "survival kit" for her of things that I didn't realize I could have used but did (aka sent my husband out for) within our first few weeks home with our baby girl.

I put everything together and added a little note explaining each gift.  

Normally, I would do something a bit more elaborate as far as tags and a card are concerned because I like to be crafty, but with limited time (due to my unpredictable napper) I had to get creative.  So, I took a gift bag I had received just recently and cut it up.  The tags are cut from the sides of the bags and the "card" was the design on the front of the bag.

In the bag I put the following:

A 32 ounce water jug with a straw and handle.  
After I had Olivia and I was wheeled into what would be my room for the remainder of my stay I immediately was drawn to a huge blue plastic jug that the nurses constantly filled with delish, cold water.  I LOVED my jug and was beyond excited to learn I could take it home with me.  I use it to this day and it REALLY helps me to keep up my daily intake of water, which as a nursing mom I know is key to a successful supply.  The jug I got for my friend looks like a huge mason jar with a handle.  I found it at Walmart and am totally going to get myself one!

Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy 
Basically these are booby shaped hot/cold packs and they are FABULOUS.  I loved these things.  I used them constantly as my body was adjusting to the whole idea of another being sucking the life out of my boobs.  Early on, I had a clogged duct which made nursing unbearable at some points.  Putting heat on my breast before either nursing or pumping with one of these was so helpful.  So was grabbing one out of the freezer after a feeding.  Highly recommended.

Coconut Oil 
I LOVE coconut oil.  You can use it for everything! It was great for those first meconium poops in the hospital and at home instead of petroleum jelly to combat the sticky consistency the poop tends to have.  

I also use it on my baby's dry skin spots especially on her scalp and face.  It has helped tremendously and I believed is what helped to get rid of Olivia's "baby acne" more quickly!  

Finally, I didn't really feel comfortable using that lanolin jelly stuff on my nipples considering my baby was going to be putting her mouth on them.  I did use it at first but then switched to coconut oil after doing a little research.  It worked pretty well.  I didn't have any major cracking or bleeding.  I felt like it "lubed up" my nipples and the area around them so that it didn't hurt so much when my baby latched.  It really helped and I will still use it if I start to get sore.  

My presentation of this in the gift is a little different.  Instead of buying my friend a container of her own, I just filled a small mason jar with it as I have a huge tub at home.

Trail Mix 
So.....nobody prepared me for the fact that I was going to be eating like a horse after having a baby.  I could NOT get enough of food.  I was eating all the time.  So at night I would grab a granola bar or trail mix and put it in my "feeding corner" of the living room where I fed my little one.  So when the hunger pains hit at 1 am, I had a snack right there (along with my giant water jug, of course!).

Hershey's Hugs 
Because every new mom needs a hug or two every once in a while.  

At the end of my note on this one I wrote "remember - you CAN do this!".  I recall especially in the first week or so of being home I thought "there's NO way I can do this!" There were points I felt SO discouraged and defeated as a mom.  

What got me through were words of encouragement from family and friends and LOTS of prayer.  As new moms we all struggling in those first few days and weeks and though I didn't believe it but yes, it DOES get easier!  

I wanted to put this in the gift if anything to serve as a reminder that I am here for my dear friend and to say "I get it and you will survive, even when you think you won't".  I know when the time comes, I might not be able to console her son when she's up with him at 3 am but I at least can say I've been there and if all else fails - eat a chocolate! ;-)


from moms like you in the Mommy Stories Facebook group:

  • comfy socks
  • nail polish
  • special shampoo
  • eye mask for those puffy eyes
  • amazingly dark sweet chocolate 
  • tea, or something to soothe them 
  • tylenol 
  • Parents magazine subscription
  • gift certificate for massage or nails
  • coupons for baby sitting or folding laundry while she naps
  • MEALS - but specifically thinking about what her older kids would eat or some snack foods for 3 a.m. feedings 
  • awesome breastfeeding tank top that you loved best
  • comfy, huge, stretchy black pants - we all love those after giving birth, right?!
  • new mom journal
Be creative, moms will appreciate you thinking of them amidst all of those baby clothes and diapers at the shower! Write a sweet note of advice even, wouldn't you have loved that?! 

Here is a New Mom Survival Kit I made last year for my sister-in-law:

party on - Hiedi Earwood - ABCs and Wheels on the Bus party!

I LOVE this party idea! What a creative way to feature something your child loved during their year! So much fun! LOVE that cake, incredible! Thanks, Hiedi Earwood, for sharing your creativity with us!

1. What was this party's theme and the age of your child? I chose a combination of Wheels On The Bus and ABCs. 

All photos from Hiedi Earwood
2. How far in advance before the party did you start researching ideas, planning, etc.? 
My youngest turned 1 in March, so I started thinking about and looking at ideas after her party. So about 6-8 weeks in advance. 
3. Where did you find your inspiration, ideas? Any good Web sites, books, etc. you used for ideas? 
I looked at some school by cake ideas on Pinterest. I kept an eye out any time I went into stores to see if there was anything ABC or school bus that I thought might work. 
4. What words did you want to describe this party? Fun! I wanted this party to be something that Boston would love. 
5. Why did you choose this particular theme this year for your child's party? Boston is obsessed with the alphabet right now. And one of his favorite songs is the Wheels on the Bus. It seemed easy enough to combine them. 

6. Where did you get the supplies- decorations, paper products, etc.? I already had the paper ball/lantern things from a previous party, so I reused them. I just switched out the pink balls for red ones. I like to send my husband to the store for that, because he always buys more than I would. He ended up buying these red and green rope lights that we put on the tables. 

The plates/napkins/tablecloths/letters used to make signs and banners/school buses/bins for drinks all came from the dollar store. The sand pails with shovels came for the Target 1$ bins. I used sand pails for snacks (alphabet cookies, colored goldfish, and alphabet cheezits). The most costly item for the party was actually the alphabet cookies. I couldn't find anything in stores, so I had to order a case of 6 bags on amazon. LOL. They are good though, Newman's Own Organic Alphabet Cookies. Very yummy. 
7. Did you do treat bags for the kids? If so, what and where did you get them? 
We did not do treat bags, as there weren't many kids there. 
8. How did you invite people to the party - paper in the snail mail invitation, Evite, email, FB event invitation, etc.? What worked or didn't work with this way of inviting people? And about how many people did you invite, why? 
We kept it small, just family. We'll do more "friend parties" when he is in school. There were about 15 people or so. 
9. Did you have any games at your party? If so, let us know how they went. 
No games. 

10. Where did you hold the party, and how did that work, pros and cons of having it at this location? 
We had the party at our house. It's nice because the other kids can run around like normal and I don't have to worry about anyone or anything getting broken, or worry about the baby getting into something. 
11. How did the party run, the agenda of when you did things (cake before presents? snacks and treats before cake?)? 
We had snacks first while everyone was talking and arriving. Then we moved to gifts, followed by cake last. 
12. What time was the party? Why did you choose that time, and did it work out well or not? 
We chose 4pm. That way the baby has had a nap and isn't fussy. It's also nice because I didn't have to worry about providing a meal, snacks and cake were plenty! 
13. Thing you are most proud of about this party and why? 
I'm most proud of how everything came together with the decorations. 

I'm also proud that I pulled off a decent school bus cake that actually looks somewhat like a school bus. Haha. I managed to get an exact school bus yellow shade when I made the fondant. Oh yeah, underneath the fondant? NUTELLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING. Yummy. 

14. How do you think your child enjoyed this party? 
Boston loved his party! After it was over, he kept asking where his school bus cake went, haha. He got to help me make the alphabet banner. He told me what all the letters were and what color, and what sound they made. My oldest daughter ( almost 11) helped with decorations and set up as well. We had fun!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Celiac 101 - Theresa Sirois

I am so excited to share this post with you by guest blogger Theresa Sirois! She is an amazing momma to 4 1/2 (one on the way!), and she's had to research and figure out what works best for her family, with Celiac Disease among her children. Her information is so valuable! Hope you find this helpful.

Thank you, Theresa, awesome information!

Celiac 101
By Theresa Sirois
blogger for NurturingtheNaturalMama and Social Media Marketing Manager for The Clean Bedroom

May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month and so I would like to do my part in helping assist others in the tricky situation that is switching to a gluten free diet when you or your child has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

I am a mom of 4, with one more on the way, and 3 of my children have been recently diagnosed with Celiac. It began with my youngest, Baby B, who will be 2 this June.  At 9 months, she weighed in at a mere 10 lbs, despite being a good eater. She was termed “failure to thrive”. 

This is a scary journey for any mom; you feel like you’re doing everything you can, but your baby is not getting any bigger. For me it seemed so bizarre, because she wasn’t sick either! It wasn’t like she was vomiting all the time, or not sleeping; she was completely “normal” except that she was entirely too small. 

By comparison, her brother, affectionately named Spiderman throughout my blog, weighed in at a hefty 8 lbs 9 oz at birth. Here she was, at almost 10 months, at just over 10 lbs!

Regardless, a few stressful and scary weeks later, we finally had a potential answer: Celiac Disease.  In just under 5 weeks following a strict gluten free diet, Baby B had gained 4 pounds! That was almost DOUBLE her body weight!

All photos from Theresa Sirois

So what does it mean to go gluten free?
As I quickly discovered, it’s not just about reading labels. Any wooden or non-stick surface in our kitchen had to be chucked, as those can “hold” gluten and cause cross-contamination. 

We needed a new toaster immediately so that our now gluten free bread did not get contaminated going into the toaster that once held regular bread. 

We needed new butter, peanut butter, jelly… anything that had once had a knife or spoon dipped in that had touched a piece of NON gluten free bread or food.

And we knew if we messed up, Baby B would now vomit for up to 48 hours with the smallest bit of cross-contamination.

Label reading has been the most important, and simultaneously most difficult thing, for us to follow. It’s not just scanning a product for something that says “gluten free”. Many items labeled as gluten free still say on the back “made in a facility that processes wheat”, these products are NOT safe for people with Celiac. 

The same is true for restaurants boasting a “gluten free” menu, all these items are cooked around regular food, which means cross contamination is inevitable and thus are NOT safe for Celiac patients.

You’re also not just looking for “wheat” on a label. There is an entire list of unsafe ingredients for people with Celiac, which includes “modified food starch”, which I have found is in almost every product imaginable!
What CAN I eat?!
All of this is very overwhelming for any person or family initially navigating the world that is gluten free. But I have come up with a few general rules for our own grocery shopping experience that I hope will help you too:

·    Shop mostly in product and meats. You don’t have to read labels of real food. ( just note that meats can NOT be pre marinated or breaded or you WILL have to ask for ingredients list and still risk cross-contamination)

·    Whole dairy items are also generally gluten free and include plenty of fat (if we’re talking children with Celiac) – whole milk (whether dairy or non-dairy variety), whole milk organic yogurts, whole milk organic cheeses are all healthy, whole foods and do not contain any fillers that contain gluten.

·   Popcorn is gluten free and cheap! 

·   Eggs. Also a whole food, full of protein, and generally inexpensive!

·   My favorite GF kid products are:
o   Pirate Booty
o   Pediasure (be aware that Carnation Instant Breakfast says gluten free, but is made in a facility that handles other shakes which contain gluten- so they are NOT Celiac-safe. Pediasure IS Celiac safe ;))
o   Annies GF microwavable mac n cheese
o   Ken’s Buttermilk Ranch is one of the ONLY ranch-type salad dressings that are gluten free and the kids LOVE it with their veggies!
o   All gluten free Chex flavored cereals. These are all certified GF and the cinnamon flavor is especially delicious! 

·   Tricky items when shopping:
o   WATCH YOUR LABELS- items like the ones below MAY contain gluten and/or wheat ingredients
§  Salad dressings
§  Chocolate ice cream
§  BBQ sauces
§  Granola/ oatmeal
§  Soups and soup mixes
§  Coffee and drink syrups, like the ones used to flavor drinks from Aroma Joes or Starbucks etc – MOST of them contain gluten, so check websites before you head out to grab your coffee.

· $aving Money while $hopping Gluten Free: 
   There are some items labeled as gluten free, that are already inherently gluten free- so they just charge more for the one in the GF section of your grocery store. Items that I’ve seen like this include:
o   Raisins
o   Tortilla chips
o   Popcorn
o   Cheese curls
o   Fruit snacks

So do your research first. Purchasing “regular” raisins, etc , which are ALREADY GF, is far cheaper than buying the ones labeled as such.

·  Other note: reminder that having Celiac and needing to be gluten free includes ANYTHING you may ingest. So for kiddos this also includes toothpastes, chapsticks, etc. so be sure you’re reading those labels!

·       Easy out-and-about quick snack fixes:
o   Call ahead to your local McDonalds- most have a separate frier for their French fries- so there is no cross contamination. Grab a small fry and a side of apples and you have an easy, cheap, albeit maybe not the most healthy ;), on -the-go snack!
o   Panera has several GF options available, and all you have to do is ask at the desk. They have a whole binder they go through to look up anything you need and no one has ever even batted an eyelash when I have asked. They are great!
o   Getting gas? Wise popcorn and Cheetos cheese curls are GF. Also not the healthiest option, but great in a pinch! Most also have bananas and apples available now, too!

Are there resources for parents navigating this for the first time?
Absolutely. I have found my greatest resource to be my daughter’s GI doctor, but even she doesn’t have all the answers! So I have found great fellowship, research, and real information from websites like

Since this blog post is already probably entirely too much information for one to digest ;) , I will stop here. 

There are a few more meal ideas that we have tried via the NurturingtheNaturalMama blog and I hope this has given you some helpful tips.

We have since discovered that all 3 of our girls have Celiac, two having presented with low weight, and one with migraines. But NONE with the “normal” GI symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. So if you have any concerns about yourself or your child, please consult your doctor. The genetic test for Celiac is NOT a definitive diagnosis and needs to be followed by an endoscopy for an official diagnosis.

I am available any time for questions or support. Please feel free to email me at  

give yourself a break, Mom: getting throug a tough time when you can't quit

Experiencing a tough time as a mother 
Two weeks ago my grandmother died. A week before that she was showing signs of getting weaker, so we sat vigil by her bed side. I was gone a lot, my husband took over a lot of the tasks with the children and house.

I cried a lot. I was distracted, forgetful, had no energy. I went to bed early every night, ignoring piles of laundry, not caring about cleaning out the car every time we left it, forgetting items we needed at the grocery store. I cared less about serving grilled cheese for dinner twice in one week. I wasn't present at all with my family. I had so much on my mind, checked my phone constantly, waiting...

And yet I didn't get time off from my No. 1 job of being a mom. I took 3 days off from my full-time job, but there were no grief days to take from my being a mom career. Nobody I could call in as a substitute for me, except for my husband, of course. I couldn't just lay around crying all day or stay in bed like I wanted to do.

No, being a mom isn't like that. We can't just pause time, deal with what we need to deal with, and then cater to our kids' needs.  They always need us, no matter what.

We have to keep on trekking. We have to continue making breakfast and changing diapers and remembering that it's Show n' Tell at preschool or that the sleeping bag needs to be washed for school.

Being a mom is a tough job, but it's made even more challenging when you are going through a life change, a tragedy, a death of a loved one, sickness, etc. What's more difficult is that not only can we not just stop, but we also are expected to be the ones who do everything, who know everything and remember what our kids need.

What do you do when you can't be strong?
Here's the thing, it's completely normal to not be able to do it all, to need a break, to need a lot of help. When you have something going on in your life that takes your attention or time or makes you quite emotional, it's so normal to not be that giving it 100% mom that you typically are. 

That's the first step to dealing with your difficult situation: Give yourself permission to make like Elsa and "Let it go, let it go..." It's OK! The world will not end, your children will be fine if you aren't up to doing everything you usually do. 

The last few weeks I found myself crying on the drive home from work, talking to family on the phone when I usually was playing with my kids, making simple meals for dinner, ignoring the piled up dishes or laundry so I could wander around aimlessly on Facebook or Pinterest, distracting myself, going to bed really early because I was so emotionally drained and exhausted. My house was a disaster for a week at least.

However, I gave in to the grief and the process. I gave in to needing to do nothing, let it go and let it sit for a while longer. Everybody was fine, including myself. We all were fine, we made do with paper plates and less happening around the house.  

Advice for getting through a difficult time:
  1. Let it go. Move on. Accept that this is a temporary hiatus from your typically clean and organized life. You WILL get back to that way of being, with time. It's OK to let yourself sit on the couch more this week. 
  2.  Ask for and then accept help. You can't do it all as a happy mom, so of course you can't as a busier, upset mother. So ask your neighbors, your friends, extended family, etc. for help. My babysitter took care of making lunches for my daughter for the entire week, I didn't ask her but when she offered I accepted her help. This one thing was a HUGE help to me when I couldn't focus enough to go grocery shopping or pack lunches for the week. People want to help when you're struggling, so allow them to do it. 
  3. Prioritize. Do only what has to be done today, and let other things wait a while longer. Wash the laundry that is wet or the clothing your children need to wear for a special event, but let the rest pile up. Wash the sippy cups and let the rest of the bowls sit longer. Clean up the kitchen toys so you can walk easier in the morning when rushing around to get out the door, but ignore the play room or the living room mess. Prioritize, do what matters most, you'll get to the rest next week when you're feeling up to it. 
  4.  Decrease your expectations. If you had a play date scheduled, cancel it. If you have a big thing at work, let them know you aren't focused enough to work on it and call in sick. Take the kids to daycare and then go home to rest or take care of things that you don't want to talk about in front of them. Don't have such high expectations of yourself as a mom or how you run your household or the type of worker you are usually when you're going through a tough time. It's OK to slack, to back off, to put other things first this week. It's OK not to exercise. It's OK to not get back to people's messages this week. Your children, boss, partner, etc. will understand. 
  5.  Take care of yourself. It's easy to forget to take care of yourself when you feel so out of sorts. One easy thing that will help you get through this tough time is eating, drinking enough water, making sure you physically are well. So keep easy things to eat around the house - muffins, yogurt, fruits and veggies, bagels, etc. and snack often to help you with that feeling of being distracted. 
  6.  Allow yourself to feel. As moms, we oftentimes don't show that we're afraid because we don't want our kids feeling afraid. We stay positive when we feel negative because we want our kids to feel like the world is OK when we know it's not. This is all great normally, but when you lose a loved one, it's OK to cry. I was nervous how crying in front of my kids would be, but then I did it and they were fine. It's normal to cry, it's nice to show your kids that it's OK. Emotions are a part of life. Your children should learn about them, so talk to your kids and be honest, "Mommy is sad, that's why I'm crying. I'm sad because I miss my grandmother because I can't see her now." 
  7. Figure out your coping skills. I'm a school counselor so I teach about coping skills all the time. Basically, what is it that helps you deal with your feelings and feel better? A few suggestions:
    • Take a walk, run, do some exercise. 
    • Drink tea, wine, coffee, etc. slowly, savoring it.
    • Talk to a friend, stranger, post to discussion board, call a family member, etc. 
    • Write in a journal. 
    • Draw, doodle, color with the kids, paint. 
    • Take a hot shower, bubble bath, sit in a hot tub, go for a swim. 
    • Go shopping. Sometimes just distracting yourself works. 
    •  Sleep, nap, rest on the couch. Just rest. Feeling takes a lot out of a person... it's emotionally draining and exhausting to go through something like this. Let yourself slow down.
    • Find ways to laugh. For me, I watched re-runs of Friends the last two weeks. I didn't want anything to do with the law and order type shows my husband and I had been watching, I didn't want to see death or talk about it, I wanted to laugh. 
    •  Eat dessert first. Treat yourself. No, eating your feelings is never good, but treating yourself, making yourself feel better and smile is a great thing!
    • Pamper yourself. Do something nice for you that you don't usually do. My mom took me for a pedicure the day I was planning my grandmother's funeral. It was such a great way to relax and just BE and to stop for an hour... It's OK to do something nice for yourself when you're struggling.
  8.  Take all the time you need. Some people bounce back in a few days after a tough experience, others take weeks or months. Don't rush this process. It's important to get through it, feel whatever it is you're feeling, go through stages of grief if you need, and put yourself back together. It's also OK when you think you are doing fine and then out of no where you're crying again or having a tough day. There is no right way to grieve. Take your time.  

The light at the end of the tunnel
After a week, I felt a lot better and was able to focus more at work. I was more present with my kids. I spent a day cleaning our house, replying to emails, taking care of the mail, doing laundry, etc. For me, being organized is synonymous with feeling in control, feeling good and happier. So for me, while I needed to take some time off and ignore the chores, relax on the couch and sleep more for a week, I also needed to move on to getting my life back in order. For me, being organized made me feel so much better. 

It's all about what works for you, what you know about yourself. For me, having toys everywhere that I stepped on or having my kids' shoes dirty so they couldn't wear them to school and we were rushing around in the morning to find their jackets that were not put in their place - that's stressful, it's worse for me than ignoring the mess. 

So after taking time for yourself, after taking a week or longer off from your duties, slowly do what works for you and get back to your normal. 

Start slow. Do one thing at a time. Focus on just the laundry or just the kitchen one afternoon, then ignore the rest and play with the kids or take a walk. The next day tackle the bathroom or all the trash in the house. 

Just take it slow, there is no rush to the healing process. 

The grieving process is a slow one, it's a weird one really. Moments can hit you as hard that a week ago weren't hard. Or you could be going along just fine and then bam, you're crying. It's all OK. Just know that. Ask for help when you need it, go to bed early, and do whatever it is that makes you feel OK. 

Just like pregnancy and labor and those sleepless nights with an infant, you CAN get through this, too.