MY MOTHERHOOD GAME CHANGER

I’ve shared a million baby items and motherhood recommendations, but today I’m sharing the absolute one and only life changing item in my mothering toolbox. For a twist: you can’t buy it, register for it, or gift it, but I cannot mother well without it.

(Remember that scene from Legally Blonde, where Elle Woods has the epiphany in court and says, “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!”? It’s kind of like that.)

When Trey was nine months old I thought I was experiencing postpartum depression, so I marched myself to my doctor for a prescription. I knew I didn’t feel like myself and wanted to change that, and it seemed like a straightforward fix. My doctor said, “I get it. But also, how much are you working out?” My response: “Working out? (Thinking, “Do I look like I have the time to work out? I have an infant.”) “Not at all.” She said, “I will write you something, but first I want you to try working out every day for thirty minutes for one month, and then tell me how you feel.”

I agreed, but I actually thought, “This is bad practice.” Telling someone who is depressed to work out felt like telling someone to swim upstream with weights on. The mountain feels insurmountable. Even just finding and putting on shoes takes so much mental energy, let alone moving your body enough into a jog, and when would I even find the time? Also: I come from a thin-framed family, and it seemed like the marketing message I got for the primary reason for working out was for weight loss, and I couldn’t see beyond that for any other immediate benefits.

I have never been so wrong in my life.

I started my “prescription,” by running two miles, every single day. Maybe because it was orders from my doctor, or because I felt so desperate, but for whatever reason, I somehow stuck with it, stringing days together, then weeks. I slowly felt better and better, and at some point, the fog completely lifted. I was back. Everything felt easier again, and more lighthearted. I was my usual self. Little things that used to bother me didn’t as much anymore. I found joy again in motherhood. My email inbox didn’t seem so overwhelming. I became an absolute believer in endorphins. I found a way to fit a workout in every single day, and I was hooked.

Maybe perhaps the most radical idea about all of this is that it was an internal fix, not external, and my doctor knew this and trusted me enough to get there. I came out of it on my own, and I now had this tool in my back pocket should I ever need it again in the future.

And yes, I would need it again.

Fast forward three years to this past summer when we welcomed our next baby. After a traumatic pregnancy, I knew I was poised for another round of postpartum depression. I knew the stats, I went in wide-eyed, I knew it was more likely to go there this time, and maybe even sooner than before.

It did. The first week after Blaire’s birth I felt amazing. She was here, she was whole, she was healthy, we made it. Then something shifted and It was more intense than the time I experienced it before. But this time, I knew what to do. At 5 weeks postpartum I laced up my shoes and started running again, mostly because I was so desperate. We also joined a gym and I discovered a love for group exercise. I made it a priority and I found a way to sweat, every single day.

Miraculously, it worked, again.

I don’t know why I was so surprised, since it worked for me before. Maybe because my PPD felt more intense to me this time, or because when you’re in it, you can’t really imagine anything getting you out of it. Regardless, I was back to my normal self within a few weeks and life didn’t feel so hard. I could handle all the normal ups and downs of life and even the more intense emotional and hormonal shifts that come with the territory of a new baby.

The moral of the story is: if you are struggling in motherhood, whether you are two weeks postpartum or two years, make time in your day for exercise. Maybe group exercise isn’t your thing, maybe it’s swimming or spin (I actually despise both), but give me some running shoes and a good playlist, or a dance class with fun choreography and I am so in. Find what works for you, something, anything, and do it every single day. Get those endorphins however you want, it doesn’t matter the medium, it just matters that you get them. If you think you don’t have time, the truth is, you don’t have time not to. Even if you already fit in your pre-pregnancy jeans. My life is infinitely better in a multitude of facets from endorphins, and it’s pulled me out of PPD twice. I am an endorphins advocate, and I want everyone to know it.

Notes: this is just my personal story to share, I am not a doctor. I realize that no two cases of PPD are alike, and for more moderate to severe cases of PPD, exercise might be helpful but likely not the whole solution. There are many other tools for treating PPD including medication and therapy. Please please please reach out to your health care provider, partner, neighbor, or anyone if you are struggling. You are not alone and you deserve to feel better.

Shared in partnership with my local favorite: Brooks Running. I wear the Launch 6 and Adrenaline GTS 19 and love them both. Grateful to partner with this local company who has made such an impact on my mothering, mental health, and overall outlook on life.

S'MORES FAMILY COSTUMES

Leaking our costumes early this year! Wanted to share this idea in case you’re looking for an easy, affordable ($11 total!), one-hour, family Halloween costume from things you probably already have on hand.

Trey had his first s’more this summer when we were camping and he was hooked, which inspired this costume idea. His dentist asked him at his checkup in July, “Have you gone camping yet this summer?” And Trey said “Yes and actually I’ve been eating lots of s’mores!” What a thing to disclose to your dentist, ha! Thankfully no cavities yet. ;) Here’s how we did it:

The Hershey’s bar is felt, I bought one yard ($4), but you could get away with so much less, especially for a pint-sized person. We measured to his knees and cut one rectangle, there is a square opening at the neck. We glued two small fabric panels at the sides with stick on velcro to make it more “fitted,” but those aren’t necessary. I bought two packs of iron-on letters ($3 each) and attached those to the front.

Trey’s pants and top are pjs that he can get use out of long past Halloween. (He’s also wearing this hoodie because our Halloween night is really chilly here in the PNW.) Love these pjs! Like most non-flammable organic ones, they are meant to be worn fitted. I like to size up one size to get the most wear.

Blaire’s marshmallow is a zippered footie stuffed with baby blankets and she is also wearing this hat.

My graham cracker is a piece of cardboard we had, cut to a square, with added dots and a dash down the center in permanent marker. I used gorilla glue to attach one long strip of extra brown felt so that it would hang around the back of my neck. Add black pants and a black top and you’re set (Pro tip: if you can fit an adult XS you can sometimes fit a youth 14! I do this often with organic pjs because they are often much cheaper than the adult sizes.)

This is my favorite family costume we’ve done yet because this year we grew by one! Still hard to believe. So excited for Thursday.

Thank you primary for partnering with us on this post. A great economical way to stretch your Halloween costumes to get use year-round.

GUIDE TO VANCOUVER

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We snuck away for a quick two day, one night adventure to Vancouver. We brought both kids, and it’s never been “just us” before on a family vacation, we’ve always gone to see extended family or friends, so this was a first. It was a lot of chaos and a lot of fun.

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Tacos: La Taqueria. Cheap and great. Happy Hour 3-6pm.

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MeeT in Gastown. Almost everything is vegan/GF.

Nelson the Seagull. Cute coffee shop. We also liked JJ Bean.

One of the best parts of staying downtown: we walked everywhere and didn’t use our car for two days. This city double stroller by Thule saved us. This is the glider board which drives easier than the universal fit ones.

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Our rookiest move was trying to eat in restaurants with small children. It was too much for our kids’ ages. Luckily we had Trey’s tablet with us which saved us multiple times, but we learned next time to just always take everything to go and picnic our way through the day. (Another options is to stay in an AirBnB outside the city so you’d have a kitchen.)

Pool of my dream! Kitsilano Pool. Heated, outdoor, saltwater pool. We spent hours here. Our whole family got in for $6 CAD (under $5 USD!) for the whole day with in/out privileges. Outside the city, so if you’re staying downtown it’s a short drive (or a bike ride).

Umaluma Gelato. Plant based, dairy free, right above the pool.

Our downtown hotel pool view was insane. It really is a gorgeous city nestled right next to water and mountains.

Other noteworthy things:

The exchange rate changes daily, buy when we went the rate was 1 CAD to .76 USD, which means everything is about 30% off if you pay with an American credit card. (Especially fun at the Lululemon flagship where the prices are the same as marked in the US, but you get the discount.)

At this time, babies need only a birth certificate to travel between countries, instead of a passport.

Pack all the snacks you think you’ll need, then double it.

A tablet (or something similar) and kids headphones are a lifesaver.

The drive time from Seattle is only about three hours, which we’ve found is the perfect amount of time for a road trip with kids at this age. Not too long, but far enough that you feel like you’re really out of your daily routine.

Seawall is a fun walk. We put the kids in the stroller, walked along the waterfront, and actually got to have a conversation.

Next time I want to try:

Coffee: Matchstick, Jam Cade, Le Marche St George, Federal Store, Liberty, Dalina

Eats: Nuba Town, Tacofino, Juice Truck, Las Margaritas, 33 Acres, Hey Komoko, Ask for Luigi, Tuc Craft Kitchen

Ice Cream: Rain or Shine, Earnest

To Do: Mt. Pleasant Park, Old Faithful Shop

We’re excited to go back! Traveling with kids takes some strategic planning, but the adventure is worth it. Just go, embrace the chaos, the laundry will still be there when you get back home.