mama says // a new normal.

{image from here}

if there was one thing that took me by surprise more than anything else when i became a mama, it would be how much different my life was in the months after giving birth than it was in the months before. of course i knew it would be different - obviously, heading to a cafe with an adorable little sidekick in my shiny new stroller would be a change from heading to a cafe with a thick book (but the baby would be charming for a bit and then amuse itself while i rifled through a magazine), and getting up a few times a night to nurse the baby would be a big change, but we'd cuddle and fall back to sleep and take naps together every day so the whole sleep situation would just work itself out!


what i wasn't prepared for was the all encompassing-ness of my new role. there is no off-switch with a baby, no pause button. while i expected to be me, plus a little one, in reality i was a totally different person as a mama. it was a much harder adjustment to make than i anticipated - having someone else constantly on my thoughts whether i was rocking him while humming a lullaby, out grabbing a quick solo walk, or even while i was fast asleep - he was always there in the corner of my mind. that might be the truly exhausting part about being a mama: you can never go back to thinking 100% about yourself.

i mentioned the other day to a couple close to my heart (who are about to become new parents) that those months with a newborn seem like they'll last forever when you're in them. the sleepless nights, the confused days, the attempts at finding normalcy when your world's been turned upside down (in a way that you can never *truly* be ready for), and being at the beck and call of someone who can't say your name, can't kiss your cheek, can't say "thank you."

when you're in them, they can seem like they'll never end, and that can be devastating when it's hard. i had many hard days where i'd have to plunk phoenix in the stroller or a wrap and get out of the house as fast as possible, sunglasses hiding eyes that were puffy from frustrated crying, because he just wouldn't fall asleep even though he was so tired and i couldn't take it anymore. there were the few months after we moved across the country and bought our first car, when phoenix hated his carseat and driving anywhere was a nightmare - i thought i'd be stuck at home forever! there were the challenging changes in routine, the going from four naps a day quickly down to two, the growth spurt that kept him attached to me, nursing constantly, for two days, the front top teeth that came in at the same time over christmas and made sleep a distant memory.

the hard stuff all seems like it will never end.
but it does end.
and when you look back on it, you realize, oh that wasn't so bad.
we made it through.
and then your little person looks up at you with delight in their eyes and lets out a giggle, 
and you think about how happy you are that they came
and turned your world upside down.

now, fifteen months in, this feeling of always having someone else on my mind is something i (almost always) relish. leaving on my free saturday mornings to come to a cafe and actually read a thick novel or do some writing myself is a bittersweet activity, laced with the sadness that i'm leaving my favourite person in the world, and i love that i've got another little human to care about and who thinks the world of me. now that i have the freedom to regain that little bit of normalcy in my life (those solo cafe trips with a thick book or my journal, the long chunks of nighttime sleep that are *almost* a mainstay at our house), i find i miss the little person who caused all the chaos in the first place. the jarring feeling of losing the person you used to be and the life you used to have is a fuzzy memory and you feel normal again. it's a new normal, slightly different, but it works.


happy canada day!

Today is the day we celebrate our beautiful country Canada! I feel lucky to live in a land where I have access to affordable health care, people have the right to love and marry whomever they choose, and we cannot be placed in jail for voicing our opinion about any political or ethical topic. Sadly, I am conflicted about my Canadian pride because of the negative impact our current government has had on the Canada I love. In recent years, we have seen the loss of protection of our multitude of lakes and rivers, the push for a pipeline, despite much protest, that has the potential to destroy our natural west coast, and the unfair division of citizens into "first class" and "second class" (whose Canadian citizenship may be stripped from them under the new Bill C-24). In the last nine years, we have fallen a long way from the values I hold dear as a Canadian - the values and priorities that I felt were instrinsic to our Canadianness.

However, I am very proud of Nanaimo, my new city, where we recently changed our "Empire Days (Victoria Day)" celebration to "Heritage Days" to be more inclusive of all the cultures that live in Nanaimo, and where we recently raised the Snuneymuxw First Nation's flag permanently over our City Hall, alongside the British Columbia and Canadian flags, to recognize the people who have lived here since before the land became "Canada". I am proud of our Truth and Reconciliation Committee for bringing to light the truths about Canada's settlement and its effect on the Native people who lived here before, and of all those who call for a national inquiry into Canada's plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women. I am proud of the natural beauty that surrounds us on Vancouver Island, and I stand in awe every day of the mountains and ocean that tightly hug this city I now call home, and of those who continue to fight, day in and day out, to protect this beauty.

We are so fortunate to live in a country where we are free, and for that I celebrate. But this also means that we have a responsibility to fight the injustices that we do see here in our own cities, in our own country. Whether you're able to write letters, write or share articles, stand in solidarity with those fighting for reconciliation, join a protest against the loss of protection of our land, or even just vote in the upcoming election (a simple act that may hopefully have great repercussions), do what you can, and make sure you're actively involved in creating the Canada that we all want to celebrate today: a Canada that treats all its citizens fairly, that respects the land upon which we live, and that is a leader and an inspiration to the rest of the world. 

Happy Canada Day to all.


PUREhappiness meal planning worksheets!

as promised (although a little overdue) i'm publishing my meal planning worksheets as a free download for you today! this is a worksheet that i've developed over many months of meal planning. it works because it's specific to what i need, so i've included my full template, and also a more bare-bones template that you can customize to your own meal planning needs. 

i'm all about highlighting certain veggies each week (especially because at the farmer's market you usually buy a basket or bunch of something, like a basket of potatoes or a bunch of carrots, rather than one single potato or carrot, and i hate being stuck with a bunch of veggies that just sit in my cupboard because i only had one recipe planned that called for a radish) so i will often plan several meals around the same ingredient. for example, last week i knew i was in the mood for sweet potatoes, so i planned my salad to be a new & sweet potato salad, one of my roast veggies to be sweets, and my crockpot meal to be sweet potato and white bean soup. although sweet potatoes aren't the best example because they last forever (they are just my favourite veggie!), this works really well when an ingredient is something that isn't going to last more than a week in your fridge, so if you don't use up the whole basket or bunch, they'll go to waste (and i'm terrible at acknowledging this and freezing the extras before they actually go bad).

i'll give you a little breakdown of the worksheet, so i can explain why i've designed it the way i did:

1) i have an overall "master plan" section on the left. this is the final part that i fill in, and on a normal week this simply states which dinners are planned for which days. sometimes i will also use this as a weekly planner, since i put it up on the fridge, so i will include notes like "paul works late" or "grocery shop today" that are going to affect what/how we eat that day in this section for my reference. if i'm really on the ball, i might even outline breakfasts and lunches in this section (because then i can decide beforehand which morning i'll make a big batch of oats, and which morning or lunchtime i'll make a tofu scramble - both of which last in the fridge for a few days).

2) the "what's in the fridge" section lists everything that i've got (or plan to have) in the fridge that can be combined to make various yummy veg & grain bowls (good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!) ...this helps to mitigate the complaint "there's nothing to eat in our house!" and because of my "meal prep" section below, i already know what types of foods i need to prep each week in order to feel like i've got what i need to easily throw together meals. this is where i get specific with my meal prep, and plan which greens i'll buy this week (or i'll fill it in after my farmer's market shop), which grains i'll prep, etc.

3) the "meal prep" section is the list of things that i try to prep each week to feel like i've got everything i need to throw quick meals together. this list of general items to prepare doesn't change much each week, and it is mostly items that are used for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. i like to have veggies, grains, proteins prepped and ready to go because then i can just throw them together into a bowl and voila, instant lunch! super easy to do, even on the whiniest toddler days :) this list gives me the ability to plan when i'm going to prep each item (usually i jot down the initial of the day of the week when i want to have things done by, as i sometimes have to grab an hour here and there over the course of a few days to get all my meal prep done) and then i can cross them off this list once i've got that item prepped.

4) the "dinner brainstorming" section is where i plan abstractly what our dinners will be for the week. this is the part that changes the most week to week, as i enjoy trying out new recipes. however, since we are so busy at home and we are on a tight grocery budget, i decided i needed to cut down on the new recipe trying (because new recipes take time and usually a lot of new ingredients, which sends my grocery bill through the roof). so in the full template, i've got a dinner outline written in: for the summer, we decided to plan three nights per week to barbeque, one crock pot meal (i've got a great vegan crock pot cookbook) for the days that i go to an evening yoga class and don't have any prep time before dinner, a fun night (make-your-own, which is usually tacos or pizza), and a pasta/grain bowl (which utilizes the prepped foods that i've already got in the fridge). i usually leave one night unplanned, because there's always going to be one night where i just don't feel like cooking (or something comes up like a dinner out with friends, or we've got leftovers to use up) and i would rather fly by the seat of my pants for one night than have food in the fridge go to waste because one of my planned meals doesn't get made.

i've provided several versions of the meal planner: there's a full template version, which is the exact one i use (with all the specific meal prep i do, as well as the types of dinners we eat each week) and you just have to fill in the blanks. more likely though, you'll want to use the bare bones version which doesn't have anything pre-filled in for you, so you can customize it to what you want. if you're interested in having a custom version made up for you, send me an email and we can discuss the details!

here are the free PDFs to download:

full version (with days of the week & all the details)
flexible version (without days of the week)
bare bones version (without all my specific planning details)

when you print the worksheet, you can do so either as a full page, or you can print two to a page and cut the page in half (which saves paper, and doesn't take up as much room on your fridge if you choose to post your meal plan). you can also print it half sized on the page but leave the other half blank, and then use that other half to write your grocery list.

so there you go! let me know what you think of the meal plan worksheet, and if you use it! i hope you find it helpful. i certainly feel that when i've taken the time to plan and prep my food for the week, i feel much more intentional and well-fueled, and that carries over into the other areas of my life!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...