Tell me, have you cried today? Did you wake up having trouble breathing last night? Did you and your partner/housemate/child have a fight? Did you put your kids in front of a movie just to be able to take a bath and wash your hair? Yeah? So did I.
Times are uncertain. The news we hear every day at 11:00 in the morning is rarely reassuring. Even when we’re being told each day that all is stabilizing. Between health measures, social distancing and fear of the virus, your breathing is quickening.
Belgium is on a break, but you feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut for weeks without being able to get out of it. You’re dizzy, out of breath, you feel nauseous, but you have to pretend that all is well and that you are enjoying it. Posting positive pictures to Instagram with hashtags#TogetherAtHome #MyPandemicSurvivalPlan
So that your brain will finally believe it and give you a break, but also to make your family feel somewhat good or better.
You’re the focal point of your household. The pillar. The one that keeps the roof from falling on your head. The lifeline at the end of each other’s line. The moral support on your keyboard at all hours of the day.
You’re made resilient. Everybody knows that. But then, the incessant “mommmmmy” in your ears, the “what are we eating”, the “what are we doing”, the “how are you”, the “did you take time for yourself today”, the “you should go for a walk” irritate you to no end.
You don’t feel like taking a walk to breathe. You want to go to the spa. By yourself. For a week! You slightly envy your friends in a solitary quarantine. You find it hard to sympathize when others tell you they’re bored… Honestly, you’d just send everyone away.
But you won’t. Because you love them. Because you know it’s just a bad time and you know it’s gonna be okay. You roll up your sleeves, tie your hair up and put a smile on your face so your kids will remember this as their best family vacation ever.
You’ve always been a strong woman. You’re going to be Wonder Woman when this is all over.
I’d like to tell you that your eyes won’t be wet today. You won’t clench your teeth, you won’t smother a scream in your pillow, you’re gonna be okay and that you will be able to wash your hair.
The truth is, I don’t know. What I do know is that Wonder Woman always wins at the end of a movie. It won’t be any different for us.
But I also admit that…while I’m trying to make myself the advocate for the authenticity and transparency of the challenges of an abused single Christian mom’s life (and life in general), I thought twice before deciding to make this public confession, and write about it.
Because in the Christian circle I grew up in, it was taboo to talk about that. It doesn’t sound spiritual at all, actually. At best, we recognize the big impasses in our lives, we promise to go and see a professional, but we actually just talk about it to one of our friends and tell them not to repeat it. At worst, we despise the very idea of talking to a shrink, especially if they are not a believer.
I’ve actually been around so many Christians who have had a long walk with the Lord and the equivalent of a Master’s degree in theology just by listening to preaching, reading books and participating in Bible study groups, but who are consumed by their inability to forgive, are unable to even name their emotions – let alone deal with them – and hurt everyone around them by repeating old patterns from their unregulated childhood. I say this with a great deal of compassion, but also with a great deal of sadness. Because it’s sad.
I’ve decided it’s not going to happen to me. I’m dealing with some severe stuff. Being surrendered to adoption as a baby. I’m also dealing with a hard life as a single teenage mom and more recently, finding out that my (ex) husband had been drugging and abusing me for years, and that my daughter was his victim too.
So there is enough reasons as too why I should go and see a therapist. We can all agree that difficult grief requires a helping hand from someone who knows about it. And It helped me a lot, by the way. It’s been a few months now and I feel like we are just getting started, there is so much going on, so much to be processed and we only have 60 minutes each time every other week. But I still desperately need it and will need for some time to come still.
Not going into too much detail, but I still suffer from anxiety attacks, chronic stress and pain, depression, bitterness and the inability to let go. A classic example of an imperfect and tired mother. Except that I’ve decided I really want to fix this in my life.
Going to therapy doesn’t stop me from having a real prayer life you know. God and me, we talk a lot.
I have a relationship with God Almighty, even though we’ve had some arguments and even though I have a hard time understanding life, my relationship with Him is the main thing giving me strength.
But I needed a little more help, I couldn’t cope…and I admitted to it finally.
It should just be the first step in a real transformation process. Admitting. Acknowledging that we’re having a hard time. Then trying to fix those flaws, letting ourselves be transformed by God who calls us to walk from glory to glory and to continually become the best version of ourselves.
For me, going to a shrink and trusting God for a drastic transformation of my character…because often it takes a miracle…is by no means inconceivable.
It’s like believing that God can cure us of an illness, but going to see the doctor anyway, just to understand what’s wrong. It’s like believing that God can provide for our difficult finances, but going to an accountant anyway, just to manage our money well.
I could go on for a long time about the fact that I am convinced that God wants us to be able to be vulnerable but also wants to take advantage of the talents/knowledge that He has given to other people. He really likes to use human beings in general to bless us, and it’s just completely foolish to deprive ourselves of that.
What to do?
So, didn’t I convince you? You’re judging me, aren’t you? It’s really not a big deal. The point here is: do you have some boo-boos in your heart, some dead ends, some things inside you that are ruining your life and the lives of others? Are you convinced that you need to seriously work on living a real transformation to finally have a more peaceful and abundant life? (I hope so, because answering no to that question is a problem, in fact…! Haha! (uneasy laugh)). But you refuse to go see a shrink or you really, really can’t afford it, and there isn’t even a counseling service in your church? Well then, here are a few other suggestions, so you don’t become like the old Christians I described above:
Find yourself a series of good books on the subject(s) that concern you (that doesn’t replace your Bible, we agree) and seriously study them, with an open heart.
Talk to friends, real ones, who will challenge you and to whom you will be held accountable to on a very, very regular basis.
Find a mentor you admire and want to be like and spend lots of time with them. Ask her lots of questions too.
Put yourself in a “straight talk” mode with God…like, “What do you want to change about me? Where does that come from? What lie do I believe? Why am I reacting like this? “and listen to the answers, even if they might hurt! Afterward, ask Him concretely what you should do to experience healing (…suddenly He would tell you to go see a shrink, you know!). Hahaha!!!!!!)
After a full day of school, playing in the mud and sand, then kneading (almost) 100% natural slime at home plus baking and eating a carrot cake, my child deserves to end the day with a nice hot bath! All parents know that moment of calm and serenity that follows the bath: a clean little cutie who smells like soap, warm in his pajamas and ready for stories. And what if bath time could also be an opportunity to take care of our children’s health by offering them a gentle detox? Zoom on into my 4 favorite recipes for my child’s detox bath.
These 4 recipes I have come up with myself or found ideas on Pinterest and played with them.
They make falling asleep easier, provide quality sleep and gently cleanse the body of toxins accumulated during the day. What’s more, these recipes cost almost nothing. Why deprive yourself of them?
1 – Detoxifying bath salt with lemon
This detoxifying bath salt recipe is excellent for children with skin problems, irritations, eczema, dryness, etc… It helps to regain well-being when children are very tired from their day. Lemon essential oil is excellent for regaining a good mood and feeling soothed, it promotes a positive atmosphere and an optimistic attitude.
Mix a cup of Epsom salt and a cup of baking soda then add a drop of lemon essential oil. Then place under the faucet. I buy the Epsom salt at Holland & Barret.
Let your children soak for 30 minutes under supervision of course!
2 – Purifying Bentonite clay bath
The bentonite clay boosts general circulation and has been shown to act as a detoxifying agent.
Dissolve one cup of Epsom salt in hot water and add the tea tree essential oil.
Mix the clay with a small amount of water until all the pieces are removed (use a plastic spoon and a glass jar, no metal in contact with the clay!). Add the clay mixture to the saltwater and place it under the water jet.
It is also possible to make a clay paste that you can massage on your child’s body before bathing. Leave to dry for 5 minutes and let your child sit in the water and rinse.
3 – Detox bath with ginger
This bath is especially recommended for sick children! Small blocked noses, congested bronchial tubes, etc. can benefit from these two simple ingredients.
One cup of magnesium flakes and 1 tablespoon of organic ginger powder. Place the mixture under warm running bath water and let your child soak for 20 minutes.
I will be given my little Baba this bath tonight as he has been coughing profusely lately.
4 – Revitalizing bath with apple vinegar
This recipe is particularly suitable for children with skin problems. Apple vinegar helps to rebalance the pH of the skin and treat minor skin problems such as eczema, sunburn, itching, etc. It is a must to have at home but be careful, it is important that it always contains the mother of vinegar. I use the Bragg cider vinegar, but you can use any kind you like as long as it is raw and “with mother”.
Vinegar is also great as a conditioner for shiny and soft hair! If you don’t like the smell, add a drop of EO of real lavender to the mixture. The use of essential oils for children must be well thought out, and especially the oil must be of high quality!
Mix 500 ml of unpasteurized apple vinegar with the bathwater. Soak your child (or yourself!) for 30 minutes and dry thoroughly.
What’s the difference between Magnesium flakes and Epsom salts?
Magnesium flakes contain magnesium chloride and Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate. Magnesium flakes are purer and actually safer to use on children. They also absorb into your skin much faster than Epsom salts and the effects last longer.
Keep in mind:
When I mention essential oils, I am referring to quality, therapeutic-grade oils. I’m not talking about using diluted and watered down oils.
Try to keep them in the bath for 20 minutes to get all the benefits of the bath.
Lather them up, if you wish, with a natural moisturizer like coconut oil. I add in a few drops of lavender and give my son a light massage as I’m putting on his clothes.
Give your child some water or leave some beside their bed. Detox baths can make you thirsty. We always have a full reusable water bottle next to the bed.
Cuddle on the couch or in bed and read a good book before kissing them goodnight! Magnesium promotes sleep so they should sleep very well! Good for you! 🖤
I hope you’ll enjoy these few recipes and that you little angels will have fun playing splash and help them to sleep well.
To you, my child’s teacher, to whom I entrusted my little one a little too early for my taste. You, who every morning when I arrive at the school, have a smile on your face. You confirm to me that I made the right choice. That even though my mother’s heart is heavy to carry when I walk through the door, the most precious thing in my eyes is in good hands.
To you, my child’s teacher, who marks every birthday with sensitivity and celebrates every celebration to the delight of the little ones. Who even goes so far as to push our participation in order to make each experience unforgettable for our babies.
To you, my child’s teacher who simply takes the time. The time to listen to him and me, to prepare with attention the activities of the next day in order to amaze the children, to cook recipes with love and by knowing the preferences of each one. To take the time to comfort one while you must also entertain the other. Taking the time to go outside to play, even if it means dressing them layer after layer or creaming them every ten minutes. At pick-up, take the time to tell each parent about the day in a hurry.
To my child’s teacher, to the one who raises my son, who binds up his scratches when he hurts himself on the playground. I am grateful for all your small attentions and for all your work. To the one who treats my son as if he were her own; thank you for everything.
You are in a profession that demands the best of yourself in order to pass it on to others. A profession that, unfortunately does not get the credit that it deserves. I have spent many hours in your classroom and just keep on being amazed by your abilities and calmness.
And to you, my child’s teacher, my son finds himself in you. I trust your passion, your interest, your skills and your love; thank you for everything.
So bye bye July, what a month you were. The heatwave nearly killed me, thank God that it only lasted about 3-4 days.
EEEEEEEEEEH, I’m a born and bred Canadian. I like my summer’s warm, but not scorching hot. What I really love is the fall, it’s my favorite season but it was the winter that I was dreaming for during that heatwave. I made a promise to God that I would NEVER complain about the rain again and I’m sticking to it.
So for besides those 4 days in hell where you could hardly move, we had a great summer already.
I would not be a mom blogger if I did not share with you another list of must doe’s, just to give you all some inspiration so here are the best summer activities we did so far.
Just a reminder: I’m a Canadian native living in the suburbs of Antwerp Belgium. I’m a mom of three, with two “kids” still living at home. My 25-year-old daughter and my 5-year-old son. We are sometimes accompanied by our two Doxies Toby and Charlie. And we travel mainly by cargo bike or transit.
Looking for free things to do with kids in Antwerp?
The summer is almost halfway done. Some of you are having a blast, others are struggling with keeping their kids occupied. If you are like me, a single mom on a budget, you want to keep the vacation costs low. So here are a few of my favorite places to go in Antwerp with my 5 1/2-year-old son.
So what free things can you do in Antwerp with kids?
One of my favorite things to do with my girlfriends and kids is visiting a child-friendly summer bar. And “Antwerpen” has a lot of them. For all types of people. The family people, the hipsters, the fancy pants …and so on.
We have been to the “Zomerbar” at the Sloepenweg for a few years now, just because my son loves it so much, heck even my 25 year old and her boyfriend love it.
You have an open-air library and there is even a volunteer who will read a story to the children twice a day.
This year they built this awesome a boathouse with slide up in a tree.
And when it is really hot outside, they put out puddle baths for the kiddos to cool off in.
Coming by electrical bike? Great, you can even charge your battery there.
Have some spending money? Book a circus show. Or order some great food from the food trucs there. Believe me, you will love the Zomerbar, or you will find another one that suits your needs better. Give them a try.
Check out this LINK to see if there is a Summer bar near you.
PETTING ZOO’s (kinderboerderijen)
You have many of those here in Belgium. Most of them also have a tavern and/or a playground in the vicinity. For us, in Brasschaat we love going to the Mikerf Farm. It is situated in the ‘De Mik” domain where they also have a real castle and towers. You can picknick at the lake before or after visiting the farm animals. It is a magical place.
You can even order a “fairytale walk” (sprookjespad) for your child’s birthday. Have a look here, and use google translate.
If you are planning a trip to Bokrijk or would not mind driving out a bit further, we highly recommend the playground next to the open-air museum. IT IS HUGE! You can pack a picknick and easily stay there all day. Read about my review of our day trip to Bokrijk HERE.
They offer the opportunity to walk barefoot for some distance and to feel the natural ground and various materials with bare feet soles.
In addition, visitors can enjoy balancing or climbing and walk through brooks or even rivers. Some barefoot parks include playground sections designed for bare feet. These healthy combinations of barefoot hiking and playing have become popular tourist attractions.
I’m including a few small free ones, but if you don’t mind spending a bit of money on a memorable trail, then I would strongly recommend the barefoot trail in Zutendaal. (google translate if needed).
We absolutely loved it there. We went there when my son was a toddler and I carried him half way on my back in the carrier and will never forget walking through a deep thrench with water up to above my belly button, with a sleeping toddler on my back. Going back with my 5 year old again for payback time. Ha!
The swimming facility in the Boekenbergpark in Deurne is an ecological swimming pond. Plants purify the water in a natural way, so the pool contains no chemicals. There is a large pond of 73 m long with a depth between 1.80 and 2.50 m. There is also a small play pool with a depth of 50 cm and a large lawn area to sit and lie on.
I’m going to end this post with the cheapest and for me one of the nicest free activities, and those are playdates.
When it comes to playdates, I choose to keep it simple. I am not winning any “hostess of the year” awards—but I am totally okay with that. I keep the food and fanfare minimal these days, but I like to think that both the adult and child guests enjoy themselves while in our home. The kids get to play with other toys (kids love our dress-up rack) and mom’s get to relax, talk and enjoy some good coffee or tea. As simple as that. When you invite, you get invited back, especially useful in the summertime when in need of a pool. 🙂
Am I missing something you LOVE? Just let me know in the comments below.
If you follow me on Instagram you will know that we embrace creativity and crafts in our home. For me, it started when my eldest child was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) some 20 years ago.
I looked into ways where I could connect with her and at the same time to help improve her attention span, self-expression, and to help reduce her anxiety.
Twenty years ago I did not have a computer, so no Pinterest and no YouTube tutorials. I did it the old school way. Libraries and workshops/classes.
I found tools that helped, especially using Montessori methods in our daily life like having open shelves in our home to encourage her to craft, read or play a board game, how to learn to have conversations, teaching her daily life skills and giving her freedom to explore and express herself.
This is where I start talking about creativity. I can go on and on about Montessori and I will in the future on this blog but I have started with it because Montessori has also helped us to get creative. It made us think outside of the box.
I’ve learned many things over the years and now we have the internet at our fingertips. Many years later and 4 children further creativity still is a big part of our life. I’m a gap mom, I now have a 5-year-old. He and his eldest sibling are 20 years apart and that means, I’ve had some practice. These are the ways that I encourage creativity in our home.
Create an environment that will encourage them to be creative.
I know many people who rather have their living area unmarked by children’s toys and personality. And all the peace to you. But your child will only be a child for a short period so why not let them take over your home for awhile? As I once saw in a post on Facebook, you will “only” have 18 summers with them. So enjoy those 18 summers and plan to redecorate after that. Pin Pin Pin on Pinterest!
Having open bookshelves is a must. children usually don’t tend to look for the things hidden away. I have one very big Kallax bookshelf. The bottom row has boxes to store little toys, a box for music instruments, a box for Duplo, and box for cars and so on. The shelf above that one has age-appropriate books. Then we have educational toys and learning material. The top shelf is for board games. Next, to that bookshelf, we have the arts bookshelf. For this, I used the smaller Kallax shelving unit. On top of it sits a tray with craft articles we use daily (pencils, markers, crayons, glue, tape , scissors and paint bruskhes). On the shelves beneath are boxes with craft paper, paint, play-doh and so one. Our friends know that we love getting craft stuff.
Space is also a resource your kids need. Unless you don’t mind creative messes everywhere, give them a specific place where they can make a mess, like room in your attic for dress-up, a place in the garage for painting, or a corner in your family room for Legos. We are lucky to have a lot space where we live now and my son has a playroom. In the playroom I store his building stuff like lego and playmobil and we have a clothing rack with his impressive amount of dress up-clothes. His friends just love going up there.
What Monkey sees, monkey does. I tell you, if I just go sit down with some art project, mister 5 years-old will surely join in, I have then successfully lured him away from his iPad.
We’ve heard a lot about attachment, so the concept and importance of bonding with our baby seem obvious. Just because our little one has grown to become a lot bigger, smellier and sassier doesn’t mean your bond and connection is any less vital to their development. In fact, it continues to be of the utmost importance throughout childhood. So go on, get the paint out and make some memories, you might even find out that you have a hidden talent.
Encourage children to read for pleasure and participate in the arts.
Limit TV and other screen time in order to make room for creative activities like rehearsing a play, learning to draw, reading every book written by a favorite author. Maybe they have after-school art classes in your area. One of our favorite outings is our local library. We just like to collect some books and sit on the coach there and read a little, deciding whether or not we chose the right books to take home. We love the library.
Of course you can say positive things about their creativity but we tend to say the same things over and over. “Goodjob” “that’s awesome”.
Try to be honest, look at their project and think about how you can be a help towards their improvement at the same time as being encouraging.
I would sometimes say: “wow, you are getting very good at drawing mommy but I think that I might be missing a few fingers”. 🙂
And please don’t do rewards for creativity. Incentives interfere with the creative process, reducing the quality of their responses and the flexibility of their thought and that would be a shame. Just find a special place to hang it up and give them a great big cuddle.
Let them fail and make mistakes
My son is quite the perfectionist. He has this idea in his head that he wants to execute and when it ends up not being as imagined, he can get very, very upset. When I realize that he is getting frustrated, I just sit next to him and ask him to explain to me what he has in mind or what the problem is.
Yesterday he was trying to draw a dolphin, he couldn’t get the flippers right and he was going to give up and rip the page to pieces. I told him to maybe practice it a few times on the same piece paper and that once he got it the way he wanted, he could take a new sheet of paper. I explained that we all need to practice things, and by not giving up we will usually achieve it. Also, I was there and I was going to help him if he wanted me to. That usually gets him motivated again, knowing that he was alone in front of this endeavor.
Well, he drew a mighty fine dolphin and gifted it to his big sis.
Remind your child it is OK to make mistakes. Encourage them to explore, play around, and make those mistakes. This fosters the love of discovery.
Always have music on in the background
Music, creativity and movement are essential parts of early learning. From singing songs with children to having a variety of music instruments in the open shelves area, it’s important that you create an environment that inspires children to express themselves.
So I have created a few Spotify lists for our family, like the ABC’s and the 123’s, moving and dancing music, classical, children’s songs and worship. I need to create a work-out playlist and have no idea what songs to choose for that, but it’s been my son’s request lately so we could “work-out” together. We are currently experiencing a heatwave this week, so I will put that on hold until after. Until very much after.
My son loves to hand us instruments to join in on the music and we can get very creative then.
I hope I got you all as inspired as I am.
I will share some more suggestions for raising creative children soon and how I’ve integrated Montessori methods into our home.
Meanwhile, if you just want to comment or if you have an idea of what songs to put on our Spotify playlist, please let me know!
My adoptive mother passed away last January. She was not a good mother to me and I left home at the age of 16 with my baby girl as my adoptive mother was a drunk abusive alcoholic and the environment was no longer safe for my infant.
That’s why I decided not to accept her inheritance and neither did my children. So yesterday we finalized the paperwork and the notary. But how to explain inheritance to a 5-year-old?
My youngest son always needs a detailed explanation about what we are doing and where we are going. A counselor once told me that it is best to be honest and tell the truth to our children, however old they are (keep in mind that it is age-appropriate). Like this, we can have a relationship built on trust. So, I have been trying to do this, but I am often challenged.
‘Those people are screaming because they are drunk. They have ingested too much alcohol and when you do this you become stupidly drunk and don’t use your best words.”
“We are not rich no; we can buy things but not everything”
“I don’t know why frogs don’t eat cheese; I think that they prefer flies”
“Well, do you think Santa exists?” (he still says yes, and he does not ask me back if I think that Santa exists, so I’m safe for now)
“yes, having a baby hurts, imagine having to poop out a melon”
“Uuuuh, the problem with the world is people?”
“Farts smell because we swallow air, and that air mixes with the food we swallow, and gases and somehow that makes farts stinky? I think…”
“We have two eyes to see one thing because God made us that way “(was my answer after having to google the question, this seemed the easiest answer for now) 😀
And then the answer (and discussion) to the question leading to this post that is not as funny as most questions my son asks:
“Inheritance is the stuff you get from someone after they die”
I also had to explain to him that I did not want any stuff, but that he could just not understand, he kept on whispering(loudly) in my ear while the Notary was reading the document out loud and my two other adult children were giggling;
“When are we getting the stuff mommy?”
“We don’t want the stuff honey”
“Why mommy, why?”
“Because why mommy?”
“Because mommy does not want the stuff, because this lady did not feel like a mommy to me and I do not want her stuff”
End of questions…
Being truthful is hard, sometimes you want to lie because the truth hurts, but I felt peaceful about it afterward. I don’t want to hide my feelings and real-life situations, I rather live like I have nothing to hide and hopefully, my son will learn from it too.
As a child, my father gave me a little Gideons bible. I used to treasure it. Bringing it with me to church each Sunday, even before that I could read. Then as a teen, I would start taking notes, circling verses, just like my dad would. But when I became a young adult, many things had happened, that made me question God so I decided to put the blame on Him for things that had happened to me and I decided to live a life far from Him.
Yet, I still had that Gideon’s bible, it was very weathered by then. I would still flip through its tiny little silken pages and would search in the front part for a topic that I was going through at that moment. Faith, forgiveness, endurance…hoping to find answers, but my heart wasn’t willing to understand then. Life, earthly life, partying, drinking, dating…all seemed more interesting and more satisfying. but it wasn’t, because then I would not have had the need to turn to that tiny little book the day after.
Then one day, with the bible on my lap, I surrendered to God, my heart finally understood. I am still going through hardships, but I go through them now without self-pity, but rather with hope and understanding that God is still by my side, no matter what.
It’s funny that over time that I forgot about my tiny Gideon Bible. I still have it, somewhere tucked away safe, because it is falling apart. But now I have a multitude of bibles even on a phone that I use daily.
But a while back my father gave me a stack of new ones that I have distributed over the years and I still had one left. One just like mine, with a dark brown leather cover (apparently they would distribute those in jails). Golden letters and the Canadian flag on the inside. It was sitting on the bookshelf, and my youngest son who is 5 has run past that bookshelf a thousand times, but today it had caught his eye. He picked it up, flipped through the pages and I told him about my little bible.
Just like I am sharing with you. He decided that this one will be his and will mark it with his name that he loves to write. He is about the age that I was then when my relationship with my bible started. I pray that that bible might bless him as it has blessed me and that He will search for life answers there, instead of somewhere else.
Do you remember your first Bible? I would love to hear about it.