December Movin’ Mama: Stacey

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We’re thrilled to close out a great year featuring Stacey O’Connell as our December Movin’ Mama, who resides in Boxborough, MA with her 3 children (Ages 8, 4, 3). As a Stay-At-Home-Mom, she works hard to keep the balance that us Mama’s are always striving for–caring for a family household and tending to our own needs as individuals. Running, Reading, Politics, and Cooking are just a few extracurriculars that Stacey enjoys. We asked her how she’s Living Well today, amidst the holiday craziness, and here’s what she shared…

How do you typically start and end your day?

I wake up early so that I can have my coffee in peace before the kids wake up. Three mornings a week, I’ll go for a run.

What has your most effective workout been since you’ve had children?

I’ve enjoyed running for years and it’s the most convenient workout. I live in the woods and love running in the morning when it’s quiet. It’s almost meditative some days.

Finish this sentence: Being a Mom has made me…

More joyful!

What is your biggest wellness challenge as a Mom today?

Managing stress and maintaining a healthy weight. It’s challenging to eat healthfully when there are leftovers on your kids’ plates. I try to eat healthy foods so I can fill up on those things and not eat too much junk.

Can you share a few of your own best practices for a balanced diet?

I’ve been vegetarian for over 20 years but that alone doesn’t make a person healthy. (French fries are vegetarian!) But I do like to cook and have used Cooking Light as my bible since forever. They even have a meal planning tool that is very user friendly. Also, I try to have a few veggies and salad at dinner so that my kids get exposed to them.

Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood?

My husband has always encouraged my efforts to work out. He’s also a meat and potatoes kind of guy but likes my vegetarian cooking!

How will you personally manage the stress that often comes with holiday madness?

The past few years, I’ve tried meditating and it really helps. It only takes 10 or 15 minutes most days and the benefits are amazing. It can be hard to carve out the time, but I try to remind myself that I can spare 10 minutes to calm myself.

It really helps me manage stress and be a better, less reactive parent and partner. There are lots of free apps for your phone, and I like the guided meditations so I’m not just listening to my breath.

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5 Wellness Tips for New Mamas

Every hear that old expression, “Happy Mama, Happy Baby”? Take it in. Write it on a post-it if you have to, and tape it to your diaper bag. Because, it is true–a new mother must care for herself first, before she caring for her new little one.

As a new Mama, I practice this classic mantra that I preach religiously because I am finding it’s ESSENTIAL to find balance and happiness in my own life.

EXERCISE

I list this first on purpose. This is less about weight loss and more about sanity. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 10-minute walk around your neighborhood with your adorable new baby, or you decide it’s been your lifelong dream to train for a marathon.

Once you’re medically cleared to move, JUST DO IT. Not only will your body benefit from the physical activity, but your MIND will thank you later. Between the massive ejection of hormones (hello, psycho!) and lack of sleep thereafter, I encourage you to embrace the endorphins and energy that exercise naturally generates. You will not regret it.

PAMPER

THINK – What did you do to treat yourself, pre-pregnancy? It may seem like a lifetime ago and pointless when you’re covered in poop and spit-up half of the time, but perhaps a hair appointment with your favorite colorist, a mani/pedi, a barre class, or maybe a massage at your local spa did the trick?

Whatever the case, pencil it into your busy calendar–once a month works just fine! Wandering around Target alone for 2 hours and eventually buying nothing (or everything) definitely counts, too. Anything to make you feel like YOU!

SOCIALIZE

Who loves you, besides your new baby? I’d guess a whole lot of awesome people. For the first 8 weeks, go ahead and hibernate. Become somewhat human again, keep the germs away from the little one, and let yourself heal and adjust.

After that, game on. Accept or find help, and please lose the guilt! It is reasonable and in fact healthy to go out on a date alone with your partner and talk about things besides your newborn; or grab a cocktail and reminisce with your girl friends; or wander around target alone with complete strangers and never actually buy anything…even if it’s just an hour spent out of the house. Those rare yet important social excursions in the first few months will strengthen you!

COMMUNICATE

There are MANY moving parts when it comes to being a new parent.

Constant learning through trial & error is exhausting and rewarding all at once, and I’ve been told it is a never-ending curve in motherhood. So try to relax, don’t sweat the small stuff, and be thankful for your beautifully changed life. Also if you are a spiritual person, I have found that strengthening my own faith has helped me tremendously in motherhood.

REMEMBER

Do remember that you are just one, perfectly imperfect human being. Reality check–you simply cannot do it all, and most often than not, you won’t do it the right way, the first time anyhow. So cut yourself some slack, for your own well-being’s sake!

Finally, don’t forget that time is fleeting. I cannot tell you how quickly 10 months has passed in my home. It is incomprehensible, really. I am eternally grateful for every single moment, and wouldn’t trade ’em for the whole world.