How This Mom of Four is Making Stress Reduction a Priority

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I want to lose the last 10 pounds of my baby weight, but I haven’t.

I want to wake up every morning before the kids wake up to drink HOT coffee and set a peaceful tone for the day, but most mornings I don’t.

I want toned muscles, but mine are still pretty flabby.

I also want to be patient and present with my family (they’re feeling a lot of emotions too).

I want to be able to balance the day to day of managing a home with a smile on my face and some pep in my step.

I want to be a calm person instead of an irritable, stress ball.

We are living in stressful conditions and I am a firm believer that stress is an ultimate robber of health. While my extra baby weight is temporary, my attention to managing my stress has to be immediate in order to be my best self right now.

Covid-19 rolled in and when the new “normal” or quarantine life established itself in my house, like most of you, I also adopted a whole other level of responsibilities. With new responsibilities comes adjustment and not only has the way my day looks changed, but so has the vision for who I want to be.

Adapting to our current normal

Five months ago, I was determined to lose my baby weight. I was crushing my daily workouts and it felt so good! What was different from then and now? My baby was still somewhat of a sleepy-head and happy to hang in her bouncy chair. My older kids were out of school so their daily assignment went from Zoom calls and homework to play, play, play. Fast forward to now, and things aren’t so golden. I am homeschooling three kids five years old and younger and wearing one on my hip all day.

I am back to working part-time. My oh so sweet baby, is oh so stubborn when it comes to napping…aka, she doesn’t really nap. Yet, I’ve still been determined. Plus, no one said accomplishing goals were easy, so I trekked on and my past wellness coaching mentality kicked in and I continued to try different ways to get in my workout. Long story short, after too many times of having to hit the pause button to my workout and feel my heart rate decrease with every passing second, I realized that I was getting so stressed from having to start and stop the workout to get snacks or bounce a fussy baby, or to break up classic sibling rivalry…a 30-minute workout would sometimes take near an hour and a half to complete.

Exercise is supposed to help with stress levels, and by trying to complete a workout video with four young kids, was doing the exact opposite. So I decided it was time to think of something different because moving and being active is a non-negotiable for me and my mental health. So I took inventory of what I could realistically fit in. Ah-hah! I could walk while the kids rode their bikes at “recess”. I could get the whole family active and we could cruise into the sunset with a family walk. Needless to say, I have found fitting in daily walks, even if they are broken into two different walks at 20 minutes each is what works for me. I am getting my exercise and a coating of Vitamin D and smiles with my loved ones…it’s a win-win!

I have struggled with thinking I am making excuses for why I can’t lose weight, wake up earlier, and tone up, but after a lot of reflection, I realize I am doing the exact opposite. I am not making excuses, instead, I have refocused on what is most important to me right now, and quite frankly, I am proud of the commitment I’ve made to manage my stress.

I may not be losing the last 10 pounds of baby weight as quickly as I’d like, but I am walking a few miles almost daily and generally eating healthy. My walks may not be the calorie incarcerator that I need to drop the pounds, but they are providing me with a low impact dose of happiness and sanity, and right now that is more important to me. I may not be waking up before the kids, but I am getting the much needed more hours of sleep that will help me be more present for the day. I may not be lifting weights to get the toned muscles I’d like, but I do have a heck of a baby carrying arm…that has to count for something right?

Being today’s best self

I am taking the “live in the moment” approach and do what I need to do to be my best self today. How you define your best self today, may not be how you distinguish your best self nine weeks from now. I anticipate that I’ll still look in the mirror and wish these last pounds away quicker. I’ll probably keep complaining to my husband and friends about these unwanted pounds, but when this happens, I’ll kindly remind myself of what I really want and need right now, and that is to keep my stress levels at bay. I am still engaging in healthy behaviors that will hopefully aid to my weight loss, but instead of focusing just on that, I am choosing to focus on managing my stress.

To my fellow mamas out there, there is never going to be a “right” or “easy” time to set out towards accomplishing your goals. You want what you want and you should never ever give up on achieving your goals. One of the great things about goal setting is that there are short term and long-term goals…establish both! Be honest with yourself and prioritize what and who you really want to be today and in a few months from now. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to accomplish several things at once. Choose one or two that are most meaningful for you right now, and get started working on those!

Before you know it, you’ll be rocking your first couple of goals, resulting in increased self-confidence, readiness, and enthusiasm to take on more. Be your best self and recognize that your vision may adapt just like the ebbs and flow in life. Nonetheless, you do you and work towards your personal happiness. It will be totally worth it because you’re doing it for yourself, and that investment is priceless!

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Melissa recently resigned from her career in higher education and was promoted to her new title as Dr. Mom to two-under-two. Her quest to have a family involved a long road of infertility struggles. She has a son named Rowan who is 21 months old and a girl named Ildi who is 6 months old. There is never a dull moment in the Butcher house with two-under-two. Their days are fast, dirty, silly and tiring, yet also imaginative, magical and memorable. Melissa is passionate about conquering every great moment as well as the challenging moments, with love. She truly embraces the Beatle’s philosophy of “All You Need is Love” especially in moments when she finds herself gritting her teeth and taking deep breaths during the blissful chaos occurring in her home. She enjoys reading, baking, decorating cakes, walking, biking, spending time with her family and friends, and cheering on the Clemson Tigers. She also enjoys writing for infertility and adoption focused organizations, striving to serve and support families pursuing assisted reproductive technologies and adoption to achieve their dreams in becoming parents. In writing for Charleston Moms Blog, Melissa hopes to bring Moms together in enjoying and laughing about the special and comical moments of being a mom as well as providing the comfort and support that all Moms need on this journey we adoringly call Motherhood.