Peace on Earth (and in Your Home) – Navigating the Tension through the Holidays

This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on November 23, 2016.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

There is nothing that brings my heart more joy than being with family. My husband and I are extremely blessed to have four wonderful children together, and the majority of our immediate family live locally or just a short drive away. While we get to enjoy family time fairly regularly, I always look forward to Thanksgiving, when we travel to visit my extended family. The holidays are that special time for many people to meet up with loved ones they rarely see and reminisce, bond, and make memories together.

Then 2016.

Guys, let’s be real. This year has been tough on everyone. The last few years have brought to light many social and political issues facing our nation, and all that building tension climaxed this year with possibly the most divisive election cycle in American history. While some people like to keep their circles small and unified in beliefs, I count myself lucky to belong to a large, diverse family holding many different opinions and convictions. The one thing that unites us — and probably how you can tell we’re related — is our passion and stubbornness when it comes to what we believe. 

While I’m pretty sure my family’s Thanksgiving celebration will not include any punches being thrown (fingers crossed, y’all!), you might not have the same confidence for your own holiday gathering. If you are one of the many people worried about facing family with whom you disagree politically this holiday season, remember these pointers to make sure your get-togethers go smoothly, and maybe one day you can even look back on this year and laugh. Or you can just survive until January; I mean whatever you gotta do, bruh.

  1. Go with a plan. And the plan is, let’s just not.

To continue reading, view the full post on the Knoxville Moms Blog. Happy holidays, and remember that family is worth not fighting for. 😉

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How to Help a Mom with Postpartum Depression

Last week I shared on Knoxville Moms Blog a little about my struggles with postpartum depression and ways you can help a loved one who is also battling this illness. Postpartum depression affects as many as 20% of live births, and that’s just those who self-report symptoms! It is also very common after miscarriage and stillbirths. This is so common, yet so isolating. Read on for some first-hand tips on what you can to to help a mom you love.

How to Help a Mom with Postpartum Depression

I never thought I would be affected by postpartum depression. I didn’t have any of the risk factors: I had healthy pregnancies, my husband and family were supportive and helpful, and I had no previous history of mental illness. So when depression came knocking at my door after my second child was born, not only was I shocked, but I felt so ashamed. I’m better than thisI told myself, as though I could reason my way out of it. That line of thinking only led me to more shame and ultimately deeper into depression.

Thankfully a gentle older mom at my church reached out to me. Actually, she reached out to my husband one Sunday while I was still staying home with the baby. “If she ever feels depressed, tell her to call me,” she said. “I mean it!” Jeremy came home and told me about her offer, taken back by her forwardness. I acted as surprised as he was, deep down wishing I had the courage to approach this woman whom I barely knew. A few months later, I reached my breaking point and finally confessed my struggle to my husband. He held me, comforted me, and gently whispered, “You need to call Dawn.”

I did call Dawn, who turned out to be a peer counselor for moms with postpartum depression, or PPD. She gave me great tips – try to sleep at regular intervals, do light exercise for a combined 20 minutes a day (even if that’s 5 minutes at a time), soak up the sunlight, limit sugar intake… All this is great advice, but I probably could have found it on a website or blog. What she really gave me – and what I really needed – was a friend. She let me know I was not alone and that it was okay to ask from help, both from friends and from my doctor. She was there for me when I felt all alone.

If you know a mom who is battling PPD (or another mood disorder), here are some ways you can help:

  1. Listen.

Click here to see the rest of this post on Knoxville Moms Blog! Also, please check out the links below for more information on postpartum depression and other postpartum mood disorders.

Learn About Postpartum Mood Disorders
The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (in Plain Mama English)

Tips for Growing Families in Small Spaces

A growing family is always a blessing… but it also comes with a lot of challenges! Our “shrinking” home seems to be one of them. Check out this post from Knoxville Moms Blog that appeared on October 8, 2015, and see if these tips can help you manage your small space too!

Tips for Growing Families

When my husband and I bought our home in 2009, we were so proud to get the keys to our first house. Our daughter was just 15 months old, and this 1400-square foot, 3-bedroom rancher was the perfect space for our little family of 3 to spread out. The realtor described it as a “starter home,” which made sense considering we were just starting our family and our life as homeowners. What I have learned that term to mean 6 years and 3 more kids later is “place you don’t want to stay for very long.”

Don’t get me wrong; I love our house! We have a fantastic yard, unbelievable neighbors, and the most picture-perfect screened-in patio for morning coffee and Sunday afternoon naps. But when we brought home our 4th child in August, each of those 1400 square feet seemed much smaller than they did in 2009. Still, we have managed to make our situation work. While expanding our frontier may be on the horizon, in the meantime, here are some of the tips and tricks I have learned for making a growing family work in this same little house.

  1. Get organized. As much as I hate to say it, surviving a big family in a small space starts and ends with organization. Get rid of things you don’t use, or put them in storage. Rotate clothes and toys so you only have to contend with small quantities at a time. Label everything so you can easily find less-used items that are tucked away. Actually file stuff in the filing cabinet! (Yeah, some people really do that! I am not inclined to be one of them, but desperate times call for desperate measures.)

Click here to see the rest of this list on the Knoxville Moms Blog! I hope these help you!