3 things about grief I want loss moms to know

Hello, I am Wendi.

I grew up charmed and sheltered. I still have all of my grandparents at age 31 and have never lost so much as a pet. Pregnancy loss was not something I had ever encountered until I began working on the labor and delivery unit at our hospital.

And then, the unthinkable happened… We lost our first baby when I was 37 weeks pregnant. Again, I had coasted through nursing patients on labour and delivery convincing myself it wouldn’t happen to me. This is an ode to all of you dear mothers who also wished it had never happened to you. This is what I want you to know about your loss, and the path you find yourself on.

There are stages of grief, and they are not linear.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published a widely accepted grief model that is a basis of where to start to understand the grief you will experience. In my opinion, your family and friends should develop an understanding of this too, for it can dramatically affect our behaviour. The stages are: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I thought I would go through each of these and once I was done, I was through it and would be done grieving. That would be so nice. In my experience however, I bounced back and forth, some of the stages would only last a day or two while others lasted weeks. Now, four years later, the stages come in spurts. 

Everyone experiences grief and baby loss differently.

Someone may have lost a baby at an earlier gestation than you and they may seem to be grieving much deeper, or vice versa. Grief is individual and we never know what another person is going through on top of their grieving. Our health, relationships, spirituality, finances, and more are all affected by this tragic event and may all be wreaking havoc on our ability to grieve. So we must all remember loss is tragic and everyone deserves whatever support they need. 

It gets better.

I vividly remember feeling a deep black hole in my heart, the grip of grief on my throat preventing me from breathing. But now, four years later, life is easier, grief is easier, finding joy is easier. It is not this way for everyone (see number 2), but I have confidence that with proper support… healing can and will come. 

Meet Wendi

I have a wonderful husband, and we both get to work as registered nurses in Saskatoon. We have two beautiful girls, Aurora (3) and Behati (5 months). There is another child who is missing, his name is Harris and he would be 4 years old.

We lost Harris when I was 36 weeks pregnant, and we will never know the cause. I had a wonderful and blessed pregnancy, but he was taken before we were ready. We believe that he is in heaven, watching over the four of us now and we live everyday to its fullest because of him. We want to make him and our most capable babysitter (Jesus) proud!

One of the things we are passionate about is raising awareness about perinatal loss and helping support other parents the way we were supported. Our family has done an outstanding job supporting, protecting, encouraging and listening in the last four years especially and we want to make sure others have that same experience.

We would also not be where we are today without the local non-profit organization – Empty Arms Perinatal Loss services. The men and women who devote countless hours to the work Empty Arms does are all heroes.

Motherhood is the most rewarding and challenging job I have ever taken on. There are many different kinds of amazing moms – working moms, stay at home moms, moms who are minorities, refugees, single moms, the list goes on. I am a kind of mom I never asked to be… I have a son in heaven.

Being a mom to these two angels with us and our son in heaven is the greatest gift. There is no other teacher like motherhood of love, grace, humility, strength and endurance. I’m so grateful to the mothers in my life who I continue to glean from, and from awesome communities like Ask Mum.

Motherhood through my eyes

By Shannon

I always wanted to be a mom. I told my mother as a child I wanted to grow up to be a regular mom. Whatever that meant. I didn’t realize at the time that my mom was a hardworking, often solo parent, while sitting on various volunteer boards and continually being an advocate in our community, amidst working full time and raising two girls! She was my hero. Still is. 

What I didn’t know about motherhood was how it would come as a surprise to me. I hadn’t romanticized motherhood as an adventure with my new little best friend, I think I had a pretty realistic expectation, but motherhood found me earlier than I intended. My husband and I laugh about it sometimes. Our daughter came into our lives like a little energetic whirlwind. We had a plan. I had an IUD, and it migrated… and failed. It happens sometimes, we learned. We also learned not to make five year plans, and that’s become a running joke between him and I! 

I had just started my career as a social worker, and was looking forward to establishing myself and making a name for myself as someone to be trusted, and turned to. The reality is, I worked a short 7 months, secured a mat leave, and entered a totally new role – mom. 

Pregnancy had some really lonely days, as much as my husband cheered me on and was a huge supporter, he couldn’t feel what I felt, emotionally or physically. And at the time, I didn’t have any mom friends to connect with. There were some tears, in both pregnancy and postpartum, for sure! 

I remember lying awake one night crying, and thinking about the loss of identity I felt. I knew others must feel what I felt. I think I googled something like “loss of identity in motherhood” and came across the term matrescence. No one talks about how when a child is born, the mother is born too. A new identity, and we try to reconnect pieces of the old us, and sometimes find they are lacking continuity. I felt so far from my old self.

It was around this time that I also found the work of Sophie Ebrard. She expressed the feelings of loving her son, but rejecting the uncool image of motherhood. She didn’t want motherhood to own her, or ruin her. I felt that. I also felt alone. I remember doing things to minimize the image of motherhood for myself. I didn’t want to push a stroller, I often wore a baby wrap. As if I could hide my little babe, or hide the way she transformed me. There is no going back, and I’ve come to appreciate that. I have grown into being a mother, much like the experience Sophie describes in her work and photography: https://www.sophieebrard.com/projects/didnt-want-mum/ 

Shortly after having Leighton, I found the Ask Mum community. I remember chatting with Mandi and commenting to her that I didn’t know any other mothers at the same stage as me, at all. She was visibly shocked, and in that brief kind interaction I realized this community was for me. She was creating a place where moms could feel heard, and understood, and talk about the kids, or talk about really anything else at all. I had many conversations that lifted me up, at events following that first one! 

The first year of motherhood was tough. Lots of beautiful moments, and lots of exhaustion. Due to working in the health authority previously, I put a lot of pressure on myself to exclusively breastfeed. I remember feeling that anything else was a failure. But I kept these thoughts to myself, except for sharing this with my husband. I have to say there were times I’m sure it compromised my mental health. I would be at my wits end trying to hand pump so I could go out with a friend. I remember the first time I left my baby, I attended a bachelorette weekend where only one other woman was a mother. Everyone was so confused and worried when I disappeared for a while. I had to go pump, but they didn’t know that. It hadn’t occurred to them. 

I have become so grateful for other moms in my life. My mother, my mother in law. More than ever before. My girlfriends who mother, and understand how I’m feeling with just a look. I can say “Toddlers, you know??” And they do. 

I don’t have it figured out, not by a long shot. But I have fallen into the rhythms of mothering, and parenting. There is so much joy in watching my baby grow. My husband continually supports me, and partners with me in the best ways. We have our patterns about who tends to what tasks, and share the work equally. Most of all I am thankful. Thankful for one baby, to take me by surprise, and another, to come along during a pandemic, of all things! I am counting down the weeks to meeting our little baby boy. 

Motherhood is such a journey, and I’ve only just begun, but I’m so grateful for the challenges it has presented to me. I have challenged myself and grown individually, and pushed myself into so many unknowns career wise, socially, and emotionally. Motherhood taught me to dig even deeper for strength within myself and to unashamedly ask for help when I need it. Something that is very humbling, when I’m used to thinking I can handle it all. I am so thankful for community, and for other mothers. We need each other. And together, we’ve got this! Thanks Ask Mum for creating a place for us to share and come together. 

Hi, I am Shannon. Wife. Mama to Leighton, and another on the way (due August 2020). I live in Saskatoon, Canada.

Follow on IG: @shanannigins/

@abstractbyshan

Our family is simplifying Christmas this year…

A Simplified Christmas (1)

I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hard to tell everyone we wouldn’t be giving or accepting gifts, unless they were for the kids. I would be lying if I said it was easy to turn away from something I saw at a store that I knew would make the perfect gift for one of my friends or family members. But I would also be lying if I said it hasn’t been a bit of a relief! We have already been able to focus more on spending time together, on building traditions, and less on spending money.

This is actually our second “simplified Christmas” as we took some baby steps into it last year. And what brings us comfort in those tougher moments of essentially saying “no” to gifts is reminding ourselves what we love about Christmas, what the important parts are, and what we want our kids to understand about this time of year. In short, we wanted to bring the focus of the holidays back to quality time with family and friends and as long as we kept our eyes on that prize, we didn’t feel like we were missing out or depriving our boys of anything.

I’ve always loved the traditions and the family time during the holidays. While I LOVE giving gifts, my favourite parts of the holidays are: Christmas and Boxing Day activities (skating, tobogganing, card games, snowshoeing); the messages, photos, and letters I receive from my friends; and of course sitting down to eat Christmas dinner with family.


What do I think is important about the holidays? Family and friends being home, the catching-up, the quality time, the gathering for meals, the rest, the recharging, the laughs. I will also note here that clearly faith is a massively important part of the holidays to many, regardless of what that looks like in your home.


And what do I want our kids to know about Christmas? The togetherness, the love, the special excitement and magic that comes at this time of year whether it’s through the music or the lights or the time spent together or your faith or a combination of all of those. 


Notice how none of those things involved gifts?! So first, I’m 100% not an expert at this, but here are my top 5 alternative ways of enjoying the holidays without feeling like you have to spend a fortune:

1. Limit physical gift giving.

This could mean many things – doing away with gifts all together, cutting out gifts except for the kids, $10-20 limit gift exchange (secret Santa or taking turns picking and stealing, etc). 

2. Give experiences instead of gifts.

Tickets to a show, do a paint night together, plan a trip or staycation, try out a new leisure centre pool, take a cooking class, a fitness or workshop enrolment, ANY VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCE (choose a local organization that is doing something you believe in, call them up, and ask what you could do that would be helpful this holiday season, then do it – who knows, this may even become one of your family traditions).

3. Handmade gifts from the heart or second-hand gifts.

Write notes or letters, give family photos or photo gifts, bake something delicious to gift, really anything handcrafted/baked/created gifts (Hint: Pinterest is fantastic for ideas). Another idea is offering up some of your skills as a gift, like offering to help with a family member’s website or setting up their smartphone for them, offering to help plant a family member’s garden in the Spring, offering to take family/graduation/engagement photos, offering to do someone’s taxes (ummm who wouldn’t love to get this gift?!), etc.

Second-hand gifts – There are so many shops/businesses opening that offer curated second-hand items. This gift option checks off a few boxes by being more environmentally friendly, often cheaper, and potentially supporting local too! Both handmade and second-hand gifts add that sentimental aspect to gift-giving that you just can’t beat!

4. When you need to buy, buy local and/or from a small business.

If you are going to spend your hard-earned dollars, why not support the community you live in? Those around you busting their butts to produce quality items while facing the uphill climb of running their own business? Trust me when I say, your purchases from small local businesses will be much more appreciated than if you’d bought from that place that rhymes with “smallmart” (bear with me, I was not an English major). This goes for supporting local businesses that offer services as well – offering an opportunity to combine supporting local with gifting an experience. 

5. Focus on traditions that don’t revolve around gifts or spending.

Christmas Day tobogganing or skating or having a bake off at home. Start a holiday memory book, take silly family photos, spend all day in your pjs watching movie marathons. The world is your oyster here with endless possibilities! Story time – When I was growing up, my one side of the family would get together every second year on Boxing Day for a massive (it’s a big family) curling bonspiel where everyone was encouraged to wear the wackiest outfit they could come up with. The teams included kids as young as 3, and adults well into their 90s, and many who had never played, so the caliber of the curling was sub-par to say the least, but the memories made and the laughs we had were seriously the BEST. We stopped that tradition about 15 years ago and I miss it SO much! It definitely made up some of my absolute best Christmas memories, and I wish my kids could experience it too. But anyway! Do whatever you and your family enjoy. The fact that you’re all doing something fun together will make the gifts not matter at all, I promise.


Lastly, I just wanted to give some tips on where to find local businesses to support. Last year I gave a big run-down of all of my favourites, but I’ve learned of so many new favourites this year and honestly we just have some of the best makers and small businesses in Saskatoon, so it wouldn’t be fair to try to name them all in this format. Ask Mum Saskatoon has an amazing local business directory and also posts about these businesses frequently on Facebook and Instagram so that you don’t miss out on any fun events or upcoming deals! Joyne Marketplace and the Saskmade Store are great places to find locally-made gifts, and for both local makers and service-based businesses, searching some common hashtags (#shoplocalyxe #supportlocalyxe, etc) on social media can often help you find great local businesses too! We would love to hear your favourite local businesses in the comments too! 

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 #simplifyingchristmas #homefortheholidays #thelittlethings #theimportantthings #friends #family #christmas #holidays #love #supportlocalyxe #supportlocal #rethinkingyourgifting #supportsmallbusinesses #shopsmall #yxeliving

 

An ASK MUM Exclusive Shopping Experience + Pamper Party at JOYNE!

Ask Mum Exclusive Shopping Experience at JOYNE (1)

Hey Mama

 

We are thrilled to announce our latest event, and invite YOU to join us! This event is all about community AND ->

Pampering. Drinks. Treats. Shopping. SWAG. And much more!

JOYNE MarketPlace (249 2 Avenue South, Saskatoon, SK S7K 1K8)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM CST

 

We welcome you to come sip and shop AND be pampered, all in one evening! Arrive and attend anytime between 6:30 – 9:30pm – stay for it all or just pop in.

We will have a first-come-first-serve Pamper sign-up list available from 6:30pm as doors open (pampering slots from 7-9pm). Write your name down and mingle, shop, sip and snack while you wait for your pampering to begin!

AND walk away with a SWAG bag put together by our Title Sponsor, JOYNE, filled with local goodies straight from their store.

We have 50 tickets available! Register ASAP to avoid disappointment (link to purchase below).

As always, our events are focussed on COMMUNITY, and bringing local Moms together is what we do. There will be plenty of opportunities to meet and mingle and make new friends, all while being pampered, having some drinks and treats, and of course SHOPPING local.

Thank you to our Title Sponsor, Joyne Collective Marketplace, for hosting this exclusive shopping experience, and spoiling our Mamas with incredible SWAG and some appies + treats too!

We will also be announcing our Pamper partners soon – watch this space.

We cannot wait to have you “joyne” us for this wonderful event!

 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ask-mum-exclusive-shopping-experience-at-joyne-tickets-82221718373

*Ticket cost is $25 and includes your drinks, appies, treats, exclusive shopping experience, pampering AND a loaded SWAG bag filled with local goodies from JOYNE! Oh, and of course the opportunity to meet and mingle with many other local Moms!!! Yassss.

Introducing Rosette Events – Events with a Difference!

 

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We are so honoured to be working with Rosette Events – an Events company with a difference. Michelle Whalen, the Mama behind the organization, had the fantastic idea to run events in Saskatoon, with the purpose of raising funds for key charities and organizations in Canada. Michelle was a Stay-at-home-Mama when she started Rosette Events, and she wanted to combine her passion for volunteering with her top-notch organizer extraordinaire skills, to do something outside of the home. Michelle is from Saskatoon, and has been living in Martensville the past two years with her family. She has a three and a half year old daughter, and her youngest is turning two on the date of Rosette Event’s next market – this Sunday!

Rosette Events hosts family fun events and markets, with a fun or festive theme. The best part of these events, is that they are fundraising events. Previous events and markets have raised awareness and funds for the following incredible organizations: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Crisis Nursery, Mothers Empowering Mothers.

Do you want to find a way to support this wonderful business with a powerful and special mission? Their next event is coming up!

Join Rosette Events at the HARVEST HOME Market this Sunday!

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A Medieval-Halloween themed Family Market for Charity

Date & Time: Sunday 6th October from 10am – 4pm

Venue: Saskatoon German Cultural Centre 

 

All profits raised from admission (by donation) and the raffle, are donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Saskatchewan. This is the second annual event for this charity, and last year’s event brought in close to $600 for the charity! Let’s help break the record, and even double this amount Saskatoon Mamas!

  • Over 30 Vendors (mostly handcrafted)
  • Face painting by Infinity Face Painting and Fun Mi Meow Face Painting
  • Halloween-themed photo booth by Trew Moments Photography
  • Sensory Play area by @bohs.bins
  • Colouring and activity tables for the kids
  • RAFFLE

PLUS!

12 – 2pm: Snow White & Merida Meet-and-Greet

2 – 3pm: Sprinkles the Clown – Walk-around magic AND Balloon animals

See inside a Viking Village with the Vatnheim Vikings (all day)

Learn all about life on the prairies with the Saskatchewan Archeological Society (all day)

This Market has it all! Join in this weekend… and be part of something greater!

Click here to view the Facebook event information.

Click here to access Rosette Events on Facebook.

Future events:

  • November 9th: Sugar Plums (Martensville) – Charity to be announced.
  • December 1st: Yuletide Shimmer (Saskatoon) – Fundraising for Saskatoon Crisis Nursery.

Our Fav YXE Mama Influencers (Part 3)

Amanda @fitbumpsk

Amanda Brindley is the owner and main instructor at Fitbump, a body positive fitness community specializing in Prenatal & Postnatal fitness. She is also mom to a four year old daughter named Molly. Amanda prides herself on sharing posts about real, honest motherhood to help moms feel less alone. Sometimes humorous, sometimes vulnerable but always real. Her feed is not perfectly curated, it is usually unfiltered photos from an iPhone and her outfit of the day is usually an old sports bra, leggings and sweatshirt.

Amanda is also very passionate about spreading the word on women’s health and body positivity. Struggling with her own body image has inspired her to create posts helping other women feel more comfortable in their own bodies. She is out to change the world so her own daughter does not have to deal with the ridiculous pressure women face to look a certain way, when really looks are the least important thing about a person. We are so much more than our appearance.

 

Brin @grow.them.wild

My name is Brin and I am a wife, mother, and business owner.  I have two happy, busy little boys aged 1 & 3 and a wonderful husband. We live in a small town outside of Saskatoon with the purpose of living a slow simple life. We spend most of our days outside exploring, throwing rocks in sloughs, and riding bikes.

I am a professional photographer and own my own business (be PHOTOGRAPHY – www.be-photography.ca) and that is why I love Instagram so much. Capturing my boys and our boho home has become a fun part of my days. I also run an online store that features bohemian items for mom and baby (The Bohemian Collective – www.thebohemiancollective.ca)

You will definitely see the influence of my work in my Instagram feed. If I was to have a theme for my feed I would say it is Bohemian. Things I love: traveling, cooking, being in the outdoors, and anything boho. And a dream of our families is to live overseas with our children.

 

Carrie @lifewiththegauthiers

Hello! My name is Carrie Gauthier and I am a mama to 3 men and a little lady all under 10 years of age. I have been married to my high school sweetheart of nearly 13 years this August and together we lead a beautiful chaotic life lol 🙂

I am a former teacher turned entrepreneur almost 10 years ago. I left the high school teaching profession to follow my passion of photography – officially opening “Little Black Dress Photography” in 2010. My desire to freeze time for our own little family, organically lead me to doing the same for my clients.

My entrepreneurial itch & draw to children’s products & fashion, was further scratched when my sister & I officially opened “Mini Citizen” – an online clothing boutique for woman and children one year ago.

Through these side hustles, I have found an amazing balance between being at home with our kids, running them to their activities and sports, all while being true to myself and my passions (aka- getting a little adult interaction lol). I am a non coffee drinking morning person (this is new since having children) who likes to multitask, try DIY projects, shop all day every day, take a million photos of my children, pretend to know what to order at Starbucks, and share all the memes – seriously how fun is life since those came out?!?!?!

“Life with the Gauthiers” is a snapshot into our life – particularly all things motherhood. From helpful mom hacks, neat finds and children’s fashions, to finding toys with great play and educational value. I hope to inspire mamas with things I have learnt while raising our four littles, tips and tricks that have worked with our family, hidden local gems/sales/finds, as well as amazing products and services that I fully endorse for our family. I promise to share all memes that make you pee just a little while reading, brighten your day with our daily chaos (no you are most certainly not alone stashing chocolate) and lift you up on this crazy beautiful ride.

 

Courtney @kinsleysworld16

Hi everyone, I am Courtney. I am a mama to a 2.5 year old girl Kinsley and a 6 month old little man Lincoln. My husband works away from home so its mostly just me and the kids. When I am not on maternity leave, I am putting my 4 year broadcasting degree to good use in the construction field working as a Project Systems Manager at a Mining/Welding Company.

I love to write and am planning on starting a blog here soon about my adventures, successes, and hurdles as a mom. Our instagram started as a brand rep page for my kids which we are slowly phasing out of and has slowly changed into a lifestyle portrait of our lives. Currently our page mostly focuses on mom life experiences and kids but will also be showcasing some home decor and more as we continue on this instagram journey!

 

Janna @thismomthing

Hello, I am Janna, the Mama behind “This Mom Thing”. I am married to a Mountie, and am a Mother to three. Former art teacher, turned photographer – but full time hot mess mom (lol)! My hubby’s work schedule is crazy, and I run my own business and try to be as present as possible for my kiddos. I am a kinda-crunchy mom and I pretty much wing it daily trying to balance it all.

Joselyne @joselyne.effa

My name is Joselyne, I am a local influencer here in Saskatoon. I am a wife, a nurse and a mom of 2 sweethearts, Alexia (two years) and Lucas (2 months).

And as if that wasn’t enough, I thought hey why not try my hand at photography. So here I am raising two littles, trying to carve out time with my husband, and take photos… so come on over and follow along. I’d love to share all the ups and downs with you as I try to figure it all out!

 

Kendra @kendra.eff

Hey mama’s, I’m Kendra! I’ve been married to my husband Levi for just short of 8 years and we have two adorable little humans; Nora is three and a half years, and Myer is seven months! I’m currently on maternity leave from my job in Human Resources, so I started documenting my day-to-day mommin’ moments on Instagram.

It’s honest and imperfect – but hopefully with a bit of humor! I share about mom life, solo parenting while my husband works away, and our adventures around YXE.

There’s an amazingly strong community of moms here in SK, and I’ve really enjoyed making new connections through Instagram, Ask Mum Saskatoon, Mommy Connections, FitBump (the list goes on!). I look forward to connecting with you!

Megan @meganannemarie

Hey everyone!! My name is Megan! I am a stay at home Mom to two boys.  My oldest son, Finn, is three and a half years and my youngest son, Nash, is one and a half years old.

I have a Bachelor degree in Social Work as well as a Youth Care Worker certificate and I used to be a hairstylist too! I grew up on a farm in Manitoba but I’ve been living in Saskatoon & area for 10 years!

On my Instagram, I share my every day moments in motherhood, fashion finds, and toddler activities. Thanks for following along!

 

Michelle @michelleckeen

Girl mama to two. I’m Michelle, born & raised in Saskatchewan, currently on mat leave with our second daughter, Zoe. Self-proclaimed coffee addict, fashion lover and interior design guru. 

I fell in love with the instagram world while on mat leave with our oldest, Ava. I enjoyed posting photos of my baby and naturally it spiralled from there, however, it is just over the last few months that this interest has become a passion and I have fallen in love with the instagram community and the connections & opportunities that have come from it. 

It is my goal to inspire you through the pretty things like fashion and interior design but also hope that you are intrigued by my realness and day-to-day journey on this rollercoaster that is motherhood.

 

Miranda @mirandabraun_

I’m Miranda, a wife and mama of three. I work part time as a nurse and stay at home with my kids the rest of the time. My hands are pretty full but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Motherhood is such a gift! I love capturing the beauty and chaos of it all and sharing my experiences with other mama’s. Hope you enjoy following along!

Shelan  @shelanfaith

Hello! My name is Shelan and I am a mom to a beautiful three and a half year old girl Ella. She is the most funny, silly, sassy and loving little girl I know! I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan and as much as I love city life this girl misses the farm (hopefully one day we will have our own). Thankfully for the time being we get our dose of acreage life at my in-laws.
I work full time as a Medical Laboratory Assistant and when I’m not working I’m busy filling my time with DIY projects, gardening, canning, baking, volunteering, shopping, spending time with family and friends!

I also love to support small shops as up until March I owned my own business and know how important it is. Can you tell I like to keep myself busy! Follow along with me for a peak into our crazy busy life!

 

 

Meet some of our Fav YXE Mama Influencers (Part 2)

I just love the Ask Mum community, and we are so lucky to have truly inspiring women in Saskatoon. When selecting our Fav Mama Influencers, we don’t care about the number of followers you have or a perfectly curated Insta feed… it’s about having a voice and using it and having people who seem to want to follow along as you do life. So here goes, meet some of our fav mama influencers, and watch this space as we release another blog article soon with more!

Amanda Grace (@bluebirdjournals)

Hi, I’m Amanda, a local YXE blogging mama. I am mama to two young girls, Georgia and Elsie, who are often the inspiration for my writing. I write about the struggles and celebrations of being a mom, being married to an out of town shift worker and the ups and downs of my mental health journey. My ability to speak honestly hopefully makes others feel supported and empowered – that’s my goal anyways! You can read my raw, real and motivational blogs at www.bluebirdjounrals.com or catch my weekly motivational Monday posts on Instagram, @bluebirdjournals.

*I was lucky enough to meet this Mama IRL recently, and she’s exactly how she comes across on The Gram. She’s fun, honest, a lovely mama and so likeable. You will feel inspired by just being in her presence. We enjoy following along as she shares her solo parenting journey and gives us her daily take on motherhood. Oh, and her daughters are super cute!

 

Ashlee Piper (ashleepiper7)

Hi! My name is Ashlee Piper. I’m a wife, momma of two amazing kiddos, full time teacher, home based business owner and lover of life! I’m part fashionista and part hot mess momma.. it’s called balance! I’m an advocate for body positivity and have been on a journey for my health. I’m learning to love my body and the changes happening to it as well as those that have taken place from pregnancy and following having babies.

*I enjoy this Mama’s take on body positivity and her health journey is truly inspiring. I love that “what you see is what you get” with this Mama, and she is happy to jump onto her Insta stories after a sweaty workout and be totally real. Oh, and she’s drop-dead-gorgeous and I love her style!

 

Deanna McMillan (deanna__mcmillan)

I was born and raised in Saskatoon and am the proud “curvy” mama of 2 little boys and 2 cats. I am an iced coffee obsessed, total crazy cat lady and if it weren’t for my husband, I would probably have at least 2 or 3 more. After having my first son, I was unable to produce enough breastmilk due to an endocrine disorder called “PCOS”. The guilt and shame I felt over this triggered my postpartum anxiety and depression. I never felt fully supported by our healthcare system during these struggles and really felt let down as a first time mom.

After joining Fitbump in September 2016, I connected with many other Moms who had similar or identical feeding/ mental health struggles. It was through my own personal struggles and meeting these other moms that I was inspired and found my passion in being a “Fed is Best” advocate as well as a maternal mental health advocate.

My goal is to be a supportive/ encouraging friend to all Moms and to find the common ground that connects us all as mothers. I started a Facebook group and have also had the opportunity to address the “Baby Friendly Initiative” coalition and “Healthy and Home” regarding my postpartum experiences. I try and keep things as real, raw and as open as possible on my social media as well as in real life. You can typically find me in leggings and a tank top/ zip-up hoodie sans make-up. When I’m not “momming”, I work full time as a veterinary laboratory technologist. I hate winter and would happily live somewhere where it was +40 year round! 

*I love what this Mama stands for. Creating aware around postpartum support (or lack thereof in some cases) and that fed is truly best is so needed in our community. She values supporting moms and finding common ground rather than pointing a finger and judging another mom’s decisions – now that’s a friend we all need right!? 

 

Erica Stobbe (@stobbeslife)

Hello, I’m Erica, and I am a mother of two (Cooper & Ridley) and married to my wonderful hubby, Kevin for almost five years. We live in Saskatoon and absolutely love it here. 

A few things: I enjoy music, supporting local, natural/ holistic living, yummy food, coffee and beer, being in nature, trying new things, and fitness, among others, but I really love fitness. Any time I can move myself physically is always good and I enjoy the encouragement, positivity, challenge, motivation and community that it can bring. But, I also believe in balance and sometimes that means putting the physical on hold. Life as a mom has taught me more than ever that we need balance in every aspect. Physically, Mentally, Emotionally and Spiritually. Balance isn’t always easy, but I strive to always make good out of any situation and to see the positive. That’s also why I love community. We’re not meant to do this alone and the instagram world makes support so accessible. Yay!

Anyway, I won’t bore you, that’s no fun. I’m all about keeping things real though. The good, the bad and the ugly parts of womanhood and motherhood. Sharing things I like and enjoy and learn along the way! So if that is your vibe, feel free to follow along. 

*I’ve met the lovely Erica IRL and she’s a darling. She is fun and honest and shares her every day life and adventures with us. She is in the know about YXE events and is always taking us along with her. We love her carefree attitude towards life and parenting.

 

Janine Oxby (@janineoxby)

Hi, my name is Janine and I am a mama to a spunky 3 year old daughter (Codie) and almost one year old twin boys (Weston and Gunnar). I am a stay at home mom/ work from home Registered Massage Therapist and I absolutely love what I do!

My feed is full of real life, relatable moments and navigating being a mom of three under three.

*I am sure this Mama is sick of me saying this to her “I don’t know how you do it!”. But you know what her response is? ‘Neither do I!’ I LOVE that – I enjoy her honesty and how she admits that parenting is so tough. She is a beautiful Mama and I so enjoy getting to know her as she shares glimpses of her life with us.

 

Jordi McCallum (@raising.mccallums)

My name is Jordi McCallum, I am a wife, a mom and a small shop owner. I met my husband is high school and we have been together ever since. Pre-kids I worked at a fly in mine and my husband and I travelled all over the world.

Once we had our first daughter (Kennedy), I decided I wanted to be home with her and opened up a new chapter in my life as a stay at home Mom. I decided to open up my own small shop (@Lilbugyxe) where I make and sell children’s clothes, it has become a new passion of mine and has allowed me to be at home with my girl.

Kennedy is 2 years old, and she is my little wild child. I always wanted to have kids but I strongly underestimated the amount of love you can have for another human, she really is the love of my life. Kennedy will be promoted to big sister this September and we couldn’t be more excited!  I love shopping small and taking photos which is how @raising.mccallums came to be.  We really enjoy going on little adventures and sharing our story along the way!

*What a cute family, and this Mama’s small shop @lilbugyxe is so worth a follow too – the clothing items are so sweet! We also can’t wait to watch as they add another member to their family, and all the joy and craziness adjusting to two brings.

 

Kathleen (@kathleengerms)

I’m Kathleen! I’m a teacher, pre/postnatal exercise specialist & a social media influencer/blogger. I’m married to my handsome hubby and I have two boys (6 month old & 4 year old). I am passionate about sharing honest and real moments on my Instagram when it comes to motherhood.

*This girl is FUNNY as heck. She also speaks about real issues and we love her advice and ‘Truthful Thursdays’ on her Insta Stories. She has a famous mom-bun like no other, and has a sassy take on motherhood that is so relatable and you feel like you just absolutely have to check back to see more. She also blogs at https://mommainspiration.com. 

 

Kayla (@prairie_girl_enjoying_life)

Hi everyone! I’m Kayla, and I’m a Mama to two boys, Amari who is almost 6, and Elias who turns 1 this month. I tend to wear a lot of hats, so my Instagram is a bit of a mixed bag of family, travel, events, with a little science nerdiness thrown in there.

I’m also a Postpartum Doula and own Crocus Doula and Wellness Services (@crocusdoula), I’m the Coordinator for the Parents on Campus group at the U of S (@usaskcomfortroom), and run a kids/ maternity consignment page called Kids Closet YXE (@kidsclosetyxe). So I like to keep busy, but I’m very passionate about supporting new moms and families, so I love it!

*This Mama is truly inspirational. I’ve had a few chances to hang out with Kayla and she is so genuine and caring. She supports mamas and loves community, and is a true advocate for places like The Well Collab who hold space for women on their journey’s. She is also always game for attending events and meeting new mama friends.

 

Leah (@hotcoffee_creativekids)

I am a small town Sask mom of 3 kids (6,4,2). I am also a part time registered nurse 1-2 days per week. On my days home with the kids I love to learn through play with them.  We do crafts, sensory play, DIY toys and lots of outdoor play.

We document our ideas and activities here and have so much fun coming up with new creative ways to play and learn!

*This Mama’s Insta feed is filled with amazing sensory activities to help mamas be creative with their kids, through play. We enjoy following along and feel so inspired by her tips and what she shares with us.

Our Top Tips and Tricks to Survive (and even Thrive) this Solo Parenting gig

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Parenting is tough on the best of days, and when you solo parent for a short time or for a long season – it is no joke! I have personal experience with solo parenting over the last few years, and I have chatted to many mamas about their solo parenting challenges, advice, tips and tricks that they’ve learnt along the way – and I thought it was time to share this with you mamas. Some themes definitely emerged but it’s also clear that every mama faces her own challenges during solo parenting phases, and some things come much easier to some.

 

Some common challenges definitely emerged – Loneliness, Drowning in mess, chaos and sometimes anxiety, Battling to juggle everything, Feeling like a failure or a bad Mom, Utter exhaustion and brain fog. I hope that our top tips and tricks help some mamas who may be in this season too (there sure are a lot of you in Saskatoon that I’ve been chatting to), and are looking for ways to cope a bit better with this life stage.

 

Ask for Help

Planning meals, school drop-off, breastfeeding the baby, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, oh and trying to play with the kids and keeping yourself showered and fed and happy too?! This sounds impossible but why do we think that we should tackle all of this alone, without help? Because we are strong mamas and we want to cope? We want to do it alone? I’m saying enough is enough to this.

As a mama, asking for help is quite a struggle (for most) – I know for me it’s not something I do. Like ever. Until recently actually. I’ve been working on this very thing for years now. It took moving away to a completely different continent and culture with no family and very close friends or major support system, being pregnant at the time then birthing my second baby, and adjusting to two under 3 years old all while traveling a lot together as a family and solo parenting. But I’m here now and I am finding it easier to not only ask for help, but ACCEPT it and to stop feeling guilty about it. Here’s a practical takeaway if you’re wired like that – Make a list of what is making solo parenting impossible or difficult for you, Now think of who you need to ask for help to make things better. And here’s the trick – accept it and try your best to not feel guilty (I know how hard it is mama)!

The most common things that mamas are asking for help with are:

1. House Cleaning

If you are drowning in laundry, mess and chaos – your mind will not be in the best mental state. If you can, try get some help with this – even a once-off clean to try help you catch up. This is something I have only recently done and it helped a lot! When my husband got home from his most recent trip, we were all able to enjoy the weekend together before his next trip and not worry about all pitching in to try get the house clean or at least livable (gasp!). If you aren’t able to get a cleaner in to help you, perhaps you could ask a friend or family member to watch your kids for a few hours so that you can focus on the house work? Some local cleaning companies to consider: A & C Detail, Exquisitely Clean Service, Go2Girls, Handy Housewives, Home Dynamics Housekeeping, The Cleaning Fairy, Tidy Time Saver. I can personally recommend Home Dynamics Housekeeping, and I will be trying out Go2Girls soon too.

Oh, and side-note. If you have a cleaning service help you, please don’t keep this a secret. If someone comments on your home and how immaculate it is, and how they are drowning in mess and can’t cope but other mamas seem to ‘have it together’, PLEASE tell them that you get help.

While chatting to mamas over the last while about solo parenting, it’s obvious that people are asking for help. Why do we try hide it? Can we start telling people more that we get help? Maybe a mama won’t feel so inadequate?

2. Babysitting/ Daycare

If you feel overwhelmed and need some time with the baby, it’s alright to see if someone can help you with your other children. There are Moms out there getting help, you can too.

3. Grocery and Meal Preparation

Grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation are some of the hardest things to find time for (but one of the most important things to have organised). Ordering my groceries online and collecting them has been one of the biggest life savers for me lately. I use Independent Grocers (pick up) and have had an incredible experience. Most mamas are using: Save on Foods and Superstore. If you aren’t managing with the meal prep, why not try HelloFresh or use SkipTheDishes one or two evenings per week?

 

Make some time for just you

This seems impossible, especially with small children and/ babies, but it doesn’t have to be a long period of time, but it must be scheduled and made a priority. Some examples could be: 20 – 30 minutes of movement (yoga or pilates or exercise program at home), reading a book before bed, a bath alone, a glass of wine or a cup of tea or some chocolate once the kids are in bed, doing some journalling, watching some Netflix. Anything. Whatever you enjoy doing to relax and whatever makes you feel like yourself, do it.

 

Get in Community

The idea of Moms supporting Moms is more important than we think. If you don’t have a mama tribe or some mom friends in your area that you can just call for anything, it’s time you put yourself out there and joined a mommy class. Our city has so much to offer when it comes to mom meet-ups and classes. Not all are paid for to attend, some groups are free and have an open door policy. If you are looking for a group and a way to make some mommy friends, send us a message and we will help.

You need your mom friends who will support you during this time but also help you remember to not feel sorry for yourself. That you still need to live in the present, and that if you are just trying to survive the whole time, you will miss out on what’s right in front of you. These beautiful moments that are fleeting. Let’s grab hold of them and treasure what we have, even in the crazy season we are in.

 

Be Positive

Re-iterating the sentiments above – this season is hard. One Mum said “The days fly by but the evenings (and weekends) alone are long”. There will be many days that you won’t feel positive and it will be hard. Your mind is strong and you can do this. Also, if your mind is positive, you will find that you will cope more and you will see joy in this season. I know you can lean into it mama. Lean on your Mom Squad!

 

Routine

There are certain things that are impossible to control with young children. When possible, try stick to your non-negotiable routines. Bedtime to me is sacred. I have a strict schedule when it comes to my kids bedtime. Yes there are times when we are chilled and certain plans change things up a bit, but for the most part, we have an order of how we do things and a bed time for both kids. This means that if all goes well, I will be sitting down relaxing and having my me time by 7:30 the latest and I love that. The evenings are mine! And I need them – they have become sacred to me. If you have older kids who attend school or if you need to pack snacks or lunches for them, most moms say that this meal prep is best done the night before so that the morning routine isn’t chaotic. A practical guideline: Make a list of everything that needs to get done per day in your household or for activities etc, and plan out your routine.

 

Get out the house with the kids

We have fantastic programs in our city, and a lot of them are free! Our Libraries offer incredible programs that you can attend – Story Time, Dance parties. We love going to the library to get out some books and for the kids to play. Most of the libraries have toys and let’s be honest, other people’s toys are always more exciting than their own! Win! Now that it’s summer, a spray park or paddling pool or outdoor pool visit is an easy fun activity. Go for a walk, meet a mama friend for a playdate – just get out. One mama said that she tries to keep activities to a minimum because a very full day is stressful on her and the kids. Know yourself and your kids, and do what’s best for you. Be kind to yourself and your family.

 

Try not to blame your spouse

This is something that took me a while to learn and put into practice. We still have our little jokes but I always try to be careful that it’s still funny and doesn’t become hurtful. We all have our roles and at the moment my husband is working hard out the home, and I am working hard in the home. His job is super important and allows us to have our lifestyle and plan for an amazing future. Sometimes it’s tough to not be resentful (like my husband is off to NYC soon and not taking us with him – rude!), but it’s very important for your marriage and for your kids for you to talk through the emotions and to get on the same page – whatever that looks like. One mama said “Don’t hold it against your partner for being away – it’s hard for them too.” Wisdom right there. They are potentially missing birthdays, first steps, first words, and day-to-day life. I am so thankful that I am on this end, and I wouldn’t want to trade places!

 

Try your best & Do what you can

Mama, I feel you. My house has never looked worse than when I had tiny babies and all I did was breastfeed, and when I’m solo parenting. One of the mamas I spoke to mentioned that she just ‘does what she can’. Try your best and get done what can get done. Um, I instantly felt the pressure leave me when I heard this. It’s not my husband who puts pressure on me, it’s not even society (I don’t usually listen to the voices or opinions of society anyways). It’s me. I’m my own worst enemy. Be kind to yourself. Just do what you can.

 

Connect with Daddy

We make sure we Facetime Daddy at least once every two days when he’s away. With the time difference and work demands, and the kids schedules, sometimes this is difficult, but it’s so important to find time for connection. For Daddy, you and the kids.

 

How are your kids doing? Have they been fed today, do they seem happy (mostly)? Are they loved? I don’t know you, but I am pretty sure you answered YES OF COURSE to these questions. Okay, so you’re totally rocking this Mom thing, during this challenging time. Go you!