Adapting to Change in an Ever-Changing Life

adapting to change - Boston Moms

Change is inevitable. We see changes in ourselves each year as we grow older. We see changes in our children as they move from one developmental stage to the next. We can experience change in our careers, relationships, housing, finances. 

Change may be inevitable, but this fact doesn’t make it any easier.

Like many others, I initially struggled to transition into the college environment but then felt deep grief after graduation when it all ended those years later. I’ve felt pain when friendships dissolve as life gets more complicated. I’ve experienced the rush of anxiety that comes with a new job opportunity.

But adjusting to the change of becoming a new mom was one of the hardest experiences I have ever dealt with. Just when you think you have everything under control, your baby hits a developmental milestone and you’re back to playing catch up. These past two and a half years of motherhood have taught me that change is always a moment away. Even though this is good change as your child grows into the person they will ultimately become, it still doesn’t make change any easier.

Becoming a mother highlighted how hard it is for me to accept change. During previous stages of life, it had been easier for me to ignore the warning signs that I was struggling to adapt to change. But during my postpartum period, those signs were amplified to a level I couldn’t deny or ignore. 

So how can I learn to better manage the ever-changing landscape of motherhood and life in general?

I’ve searched for answers by turning my focus inward — to self-reflection and self-care. As I’m learning more about myself and how to provide self-care that delves deeper than just the occasional bubble bath, I’ve come across some tools that have helped me embrace change more effectively, both physically and mentally.

1. Daily meditation

Do you have a million thoughts floating around in your head? Yeah, me too! While I’m meditating, I’ve thought about the grocery list I need to make, an incident that happened 10 years ago, and even the latest episode of “This Is Us.” However, in the moments when I can get quiet, I feel this sense of peace, calm, and hope that it will all work out in the end. My practice isn’t perfect, but those moments I experience in between the chatter are worth the 5-10 minutes I dedicate to meditating each morning.

2. Breath work

In moments when worry consumes my thoughts or when I make up stories about the future, I take a moment to close my eyes and take deep breaths. I breathe in for four seconds. Hold for four seconds. Breathe out for four seconds and then hold for four seconds. I repeat this as many times as I need until the feelings of anxiety and worry dissipate and I can think clearly again. This also works great in the moments when you need a little mama break from the long days inside with your littles while in the middle of a pandemic. 

3. Talking about it

In full transparency, this is an area of growth for me. Yet, what I’ve learned so far is that it’s helpful to let go of some of the burden you carry and be vulnerable. Sometimes you just have to let it go by speaking your truth out loud to another person so you can finally release it.

4. Social support

Whether it’s other moms, your partner, friends, or family, surrounding yourself with positive people who express love, care, and concern for you makes any change seem manageable because you have your people to fall back on in those hard moments.

Adapting to change is not easy for me, but now it’s more manageable — and it’s a work in progress.

Change is inevitable as we move through different seasons of life. Motherhood will present new challenges as our children grow. With the right tools, support, and deep self-reflection, we can handle whatever comes our way. 


As mothers, we seem to always put ourselves last on the list. If you’re struggling to bump yourself to the top, read this Boston Moms post for a friendly reminder: “It’s Self-Care, Not Selfish”.

Forging New Family Traditions in the Age of COVID

Believe me, you are not going to find me saying that COVID-19 has a blessing in disguise or that the last year has in any way been anything but heartbreaking and extremely challenging.

COVID has shattered families, ravaged jobs, created long-term health issues for many, and destroyed normal U.S. life. As a world-class worrier and self-diagnosed germaphobe, staying home (for the most part) has been a sad reality, especially in the colder, darker time of year.

I will say that it has forced many families into finding new and creative ways to not drive each other crazy, uh, I mean stay connected. For the nuclear family unit, that means maybe a new meaning to the family dinner or new traditions being forged based on the circumstances. Some have turned to Zoom, others to drive-by encounters.

Here are some new and creative family traditions our family has adopted due to the pandemic — these are sure to persist way beyond the point where we all get vaccines and can get back to a semblance of normalcy.

Family meals

We have started a few new rituals, games, and habits during our time in lockdown. We decided it was time we started talking about current events and the news of the day since our kids are now 10, 13, and 15. Each of us is charged with reading a current article in the news one day a week, and that person generates a discussion around it that evening. We have gotten into conversations about elections, COVID, foreign policy, and local politics and how we can get involved. It’s honing our kids’ critical thinking skills, and we really look forward to our discussions at dinner.

We have also started having family brunch on Saturdays. My little one makes fresh-squeezed OJ, and I make eggs or waffles or whatever. At first, we marveled at the idea that pre-COVID, we NEVER ate a weekend meal together. Now it’s part of our weekend ritual, which we love.

We have started Zooming in my mom on certain nights to “have dinner” with her as well.

And we have all started to play a role in meal planning. I will come up with a wireframe plan for the week, and the girls help me with creating the shopping list and making sure everyone will be happy with at least one component of every meal. We order takeout once a week, and each week one of us gets to decide where we order from while the rest of us suck it up.  

Extended family connections

We have also found fun and creative ways to include extended family and to “see” people even when far away.

For example, my 81-year old mother, who has been mostly isolated in a NYC studio apartment for the last 10 months, has become an active member of our new family traditions.

Before COVID, we would see her every three months or so; now my kids get to see her every week as she gives them virtual cooking lessons on Sundays plus other regular “visits” where she teaches them to quilt, knit, and sew. As mentioned earlier, she also joins us for meals. We see her and connect with her now more than we ever did before, and for that I am grateful, despite not being able to see her in person for almost a year.

Similarly, my father-in-law, who is local, comes over to the backyard on non-frigid Sundays for a firepit out back and a cup of tea and some munchies.

And those cooking lessons on Sundays? My brother’s five kids join from New Jersey, so the cousins get to interact as well. Normally we see them maybe once or twice a year.

Games, movies, and lots of downtime

Pre-COVID, we were all overscheduled. We rushed around every minute of the day, and it was hard to find us all in the same house at the same time (let alone many hours of the day together at the same time, day in and day out). Now, we play Pictionary after dinner, we play Jackbox virtually with friends and family, and we actually watch movies together (replete with hot chocolate and salty snacks). My youngest and I play cards almost every single day. New traditions.

Once again, I’m not saying all of this as some way of finding a silver lining to this horrifying mass casualty event and national crisis. I say it as evidence of our resilience and ability to adapt to even the hardest circumstances. And my hope is that long after the COVID crisis ends, these new rituals and family connections can live on.

I hope we usher in a new era of slowing down, of simple joys, and of mindful living.

Healing Perfectionism in Parenting

perfectionism parenting - Boston Moms

2020 was a big year for personal growth for me, primarily because COVID forced it. It was a year in which boundaries became necessary — for both comfort levels and safety precautions. It was a time in which the world around us slowed down, and we stayed home and had time to reflect.

I am a typical middle-child people-pleaser, and this unexpected time at home helped me to realize all the things I didn’t have to say yes to, ultimately leading me to admit that… I am a perfectionist. I realized my search for perfectionism was hindering my relationships and could be impacting my children. Here’s how I healed. 

“No problem!” and “Yes!” had been two of my main responses before the pandemic. “Yes, I’ll watch your kids!” “I can bring a salad, no problem!” “I’ll drive to you!” Yes, yes, always YES! I never wanted to disappoint others, much less myself, and I could be found bending over backward regularly to meet others’ needs while simultaneously avoiding my own.

When speaking to a therapist years ago, she asked, “Would you consider yourself a perfectionist?” “No,” I responded, a bit embarrassed. “I’m not perfect.” It took me another two years from that conversation, as well as being home 24/7 due to a global pandemic, to truly give that conversation deeper thought. Would people still like me even if I couldn’t do everything they asked, I wondered? Perhaps there are things about myself I need to heal in order to be a better mother.

What really got me thinking about perfectionism during this year at home was how I want to be as a mother. I want to guide my children successfully — to teach them to think for themselves creatively and have healthy relationships. But I began to worry that my own fears of imperfection would impart into my children. For as my mother often says, “Children learn what they live.” I was so afraid of passing my imperfect anxieties onto my children.

I realized it was time to confront and heal them.

I never wanted my fear of failure to impact my children or have them feel that I was in any way disappointed with them. When someone complimented me about my son, I wondered, “Did they really mean it?” and realized I was listing off in my mind the ways he wasn’t “perfect.” It was horrifying to realize that the ways I thought of myself were trickling down into how I perceived people to think of my children. I had to discover ways to set boundaries so that I could focus on enjoying raising my children and watching them become exactly who they wanted to be.

So I dove headfirst into research. I read multiple books by Brené Brown (namely “The Gifts Of Imperfection“) and watched her special on Netflix, which encourages people to live authentically and with courage and vulnerability. I also began following a great therapist on Instagram, Nedra Tawwab, whose explanations really helped me to further understand my own thought process and how to begin to change. I also began following five great parenting accounts on Instagram who have given insight, advice, and relatability to daily parenting life.

Of course, none of these books or online resources could actually change me unless I acknowledged that something had to give. I had to start changing my own behaviors.

I started small, by simply saying I was unable to do something for my parents. I waited for reproach and was astonished (and relieved!) when nothing negative happened. I also found a friend to confide in who I felt comfortable practicing on, and I vocalized that need to her. She was accommodating and encouraging in my quest toward self-awareness and preservation. From there I began vocalizing some of the issues that bothered me and the ways I felt taken advantage of, or I simply set boundaries with friends and family by not agreeing to every ask. And all was well.

Turns out the people who truly care about me love me for simply being me — not for always saying yes or doing them favors. 

I have also discovered that I can, in fact, not answer every call or text right away. I had toyed with this concept earlier in the year when my phone broke and I learned healthier phone habits from not having a phone for a week. If I am feeling overwhelmed with daily parenting life or am in the middle of something, I simply don’t answer right away. This has helped me to prioritize myself and my children, as well as give me time to consider what’s being asked and whether I can do it. I’m more selective about what I agree to help others with, and I feel happier doing these favors when I’m not feeling as if it is an obligation.

My goal of perfectionism and striving for success was repelling my own daily enjoyment of my time as a young mother. As described in Pyschology Today in an article describing the effects of perfectionism on motherhood, “Authenticity is a requirement for the pleasure of love, joy, fun, and overall happiness.”

I’m still learning as I go, as changing my people-pleasing ways of the past 30-odd years isn’t going to happen overnight. It hasn’t been easy, and I struggled many days trying to create new boundaries — in some ways it felt as if I was creating a new identity for myself.

I feel so much more at ease with myself than I did a year ago, and I will continue to work toward becoming perfectly imperfect. 

Fun Indoor Activities to Finish Off Winter and Prepare for April Showers

Well, it’s STILL winter in New England and we’re STILL living the COVID life. It’s cold, and cabin fever is rearing its wild head in the form of wailing children, tears, and temper tantrums. Sure, spring is around the corner, but the rainy days ahead mean more time indoors! But worry no more with this shortlist of activities to distract the kiddos from the dog days of winter (and spring, and COVID life in general).

Subscription boxes

This is my new favorite for the kids! The boxes offer new and exciting activities to look forward to each month, making the cold winter days a bit more forgiving. They are also great for getting one-on-one bonding time with each child around something they love. We currently have five subscriptions going on (we have five kids). Each one was chosen to match the interest of one of my children, making it more exciting to receive and dive into. We currently subscribe to Raddish Kids, a cooking kit; Think Outside, an outdoor survival guide box; Literati, a book club subscription; Lovevery, a Montessori-inspired play kit filled with developmentally age-appropriate toys; and Let’s Make Art, a kid’s creative art project box. All my kids look forward to the next arrival of their personal boxes!

Time-consuming/independent activities

Dinosaur dig

This impulse purchase was a pleasant surprise! For our homeschooling, we were studying dinosaurs and I came across a realistic digging activity called Dig It Up! for ages 8+. It is awesome! The bones of a model-sized T-Rex were buried in plaster, and my son had to use tools similar to what a paleontologist would use to dig them out. After he found them all, he assembled them into a model T-Rex skeleton. My son worked straight for three hours. It was another two or three hours until it was completed. He has since asked for other sets like it! A big winner.

Color sorting with envelopes

For the toddlers, tape different colored construction paper to the outside of six envelopes and then attach them to the wall at varying heights. Cut a bunch of small squares out of the six colors. Have your toddler take the squares and match them to the correct envelopes, open the envelopes, and tuck the squares into the envelopes. This was great for my active 3-year-old who is working on her fine motor skills, focus and attention, and color matching. There are many ways this can be adapted to meet the learning needs of various ages and topics.

Pickler triangles

These are perfect for the toddler age. They are triangle-shaped climbing structures with an attachable board that can act as a ladder, climber, or slide. They can be more elaborate or very basic. We gifted a local handcrafted one from Speckled Newt out of Norwood for my daughter’s first birthday. All five kids thought it was awesome. The weight limit is 95 pounds, which allows my 8-year-old to perch at the top when he is seeking a different sensory vibe.

Online programming

GoNoodle

This is a free and fun interactive site that promotes movement, kid-friendly entertainment, and active learning opportunities. My kids love dancing and learning fun routines to popular songs. So do I!

BrainPop

My kids also enjoy watching videos on BrainPop (not free) about subjects they are interested in. My son has been caught watching videos on ancient civilizations, historic battles, and American History. I like to give them the goal of earning a badge to keep them engaged and motivated for longer!

Art For Kids Hub

These YouTube videos are a big favorite in our home. My oldest two will sit and draw for hours. They are great for elementary-age kids and even older kids just starting out. They have a fun punky vibe and a variety of videos to learn how to draw pretty much anything kids love to draw!

Get outside

During my teacher days, the rule of thumb was if the wind chill or temperature fell below 20 degrees or it was raining hard enough to get uncomfortably wet, the kids stayed in. Pretty much everything else was outside weather. The truth is, kids need the outdoors, and that need does not change in winter or poor weather. Make outside time part of the daily family rhythm. This winter we have gone on hikes, visited the beach, played in the snow, and visited the playground. We bundle up and spend as much time as we can handle in the fresh air. On the days where outside time is prioritized, my children present more calm, regulated, and agreeable. 

Winter in New England can be tough even without social distancing. Hopefully, some of these activities during COVID times will offer just the right amount of relief for the family when needed!

Meet a Boston Mom :: Priya Lane of BizGrow at Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston

Meet Priya Lane, director of BizGrow at Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston!

Moms don’t get the recognition they deserve! As a business run BY local moms FOR local moms, Boston Moms is excited to showcase the hard work local moms are doing – both at home and in their professions.

Meet a Mom: Priya Lane

Boston Moms is proud to feature Priya Lane for this “Meet a Boston Mom Monday!” Priya is a mom of one and the director of BizGrow at Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston. Join us in celebrating Priya and the important contributions she makes at home and at work!

We asked Priya to share a bit about herself. Get to know her here!

Full name: Priya Lane 
 
Occupation: BizGrow director at Lawyers for Civil Rights
 
Children: Kareena, 2
 
Hometown: England, Singapore, and now Massachusetts! 
 
How have the different places you’ve lived inspired you on your parenting journey? All the places I’ve lived have really instilled in me the importance of understanding other cultures and have given me the ability to empathize and relate to people who are different from me. It really impacts my work at LCR and my ability to connect to our client communities; it also dictates the priorities I have while raising my daughter. I try to emphasize diversity in everything we do — the books we read, the food we eat, and our school community.
 
Favorite local restaurant: Fresh Food Generation 
 
Favorite local business or brand: Sweet Teez Bakery 
 
Tell us a bit about your work/job: We help minority-, immigrant-, and women-owned small businesses start and navigate the legal complexities of their business — for free. I love my job! It is so rewarding to be able to work with inspiring small business owners all day, and hopefully I’m teaching my daughter that with hard work she can make her dreams come true.  
 
What is the one thing that surprised you the most about motherhood? How quickly you can make time in your life where you didn’t think you had any, and how time seems to go both slowly and quickly at the same time. 
 
What is one piece of advice you’d offer another working mom? Don’t be ashamed to ask for help or feel guilty admitting you need it. Making sure everyone has the support they need is always going to be healthier for your entire family!
 
What is one way you take care of yourself? I love to read, do yoga, and get takeout when I don’t feel like cooking.  
 
What other women inspire you? My mother and my mother-in-law, who dedicate so much of their time and effort to making sure that my family is happy and taken care of! 

You can read more about Priya Lane here, and find LCR Boston on Facebook and Twitter. You can also donate to their cause here


Are you interested in being highlighted in a “Meet a Boston Mom” feature, or do you know someone who deserves this recognition? Let us know! Please email Chelsey Weaver at [email protected] to discuss a feature.

The Perks of Being a Plant Mom

plant mom - Boston Moms

Long before I became a mom to my son, I became a plant mom.

I hope you’re not thinking “crazy plant mom,” as in the oft-envisioned “crazy cat lady.” But I enjoy being a mom to my (mostly) content household plants. Plants are one of the few constant bright spots in this uncertain world. I enjoy outdoor gardening as well, but New England offers such a short gardening season, and it’s nice to have the year-long comfort that comes with indoor plants. I admire them in my bay window daily and instantly feel a sense of peace. Not to mention there are health benefits to owning indoor plants, such as cleaner air to breathe.  

I mention myself as the sole person responsible for my household plants for a reason — I am a bit protective of my plants. I don’t want my son over-watering them, for example. And I prefer to leave my well-meaning husband off of plant duty completely. (The one time I asked him to water my plants, he not only watered them, he also doused the fake plant that was next to them. Enough said.)

Perhaps you already know the joy of being a plant mom. If you are not yet a plant mom, or if you’re a newbie plant mom, I truly believe plants will bring you great comfort. If you’d like to own plants but are not sure where to start, below are a few varieties that are super easy to have in your house. 

Trust me when I say you cannot kill the following plants:

Snake plant (sansevieria)

These plants are low maintenance (unlike your children). They require very little and in the winter can actually go a month or two without water! Doesn’t get much easier than that. They can take bright light or low light, and the tall ones look beautiful in planters on the floor.

Christmas cactus (schlumbergera)

I have a few of these, and the flowers come back each winter after I’ve done absolutely nothing to them all year besides water them every two or three weeks (and add an occasional fertilizer). Make sure your pot has a draining hole, and water it a bit more frequently than the snake plant. Otherwise, no special care is required!

Pothos (epipremnum aureum)

This is the absolute rookie plant for new plant moms. Pothos grow quite a bit, but unlike your actual children, you can give them a trim and they won’t look horrible afterward. (Side note: I learned the hard way that I should not trim my son’s hair.) This beauty will thrive in bright or low light, and once you trim some of the stems you can root them in water and start a new plant!

Chinese money plant (pilea peperomioide)

chinese money plant - Boston Moms

This is a fairly new variety to my home that I discovered recently at Mahoney’s. I wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to care for this plant, but so far, so good. It’s a beautiful plant with round leaves and can be propagated to grow more plants for your own home (or to share as a nice gift). It’s a beautiful conversation piece — not that I’ve had anyone over recently!

Whatever varieties of plants you choose in your own home, I hope the serenity and beauty of being a plant mom is something you will enjoy as much as I do. After all, unlike your children, plants are quiet, eat what you feed them, and can be left alone for a while.

My Frustration with All Things COVID

I’m frustrated.

I’m frustrated with the man at Target who refused to wear his mask in the store. I’m frustrated that when I asked him if he could put his mask on, he asked “Why? Do you work here?” and continued on his way. I’m frustrated that a grown man would not care enough about the store employees to follow basic guidelines, and that my toddler son, who was wearing his own mask, would have to see this reaction and not understand why that man doesn’t “have” to wear a mask when everyone else does.

I’m frustrated.

I’m frustrated at the people in the grocery store who ignore the “one-way” traffic signs and the calls to “keep a cart-length apart,” because wearing a mask has given them a sense of anonymity usually reserved for online trolls. With a winter hat on their head and a mask covering their face, there is no longer a need (it seems) to wait patiently for someone to get their bread or to say “excuse me” if carts accidentally bump. The awkward “hello” or smile that used to happen in every grocery aisle is now replaced by a purposeful act of ignoring that makes me feel so isolated, despite being amongst a crowd.

I’m frustrated.

I’m frustrated that my toddler son, who is so full of energy and joy, can’t play with his friends or go to daycare because of this virus. And I’m frustrated at my own frustration, because I know what immense privilege I have been given to be able to keep my son out of daycare and work remotely in a white-collar job that allows me to do so. I know so many who can’t — the grocery store clerks and the Target employees and everyone else who is working hard just so that I can still experience some sort of normalcy in my own life. And I’m frustrated that everyone won’t just wear masks and social distance, to keep not only those employees safe but to keep all of us safer, too.

I’m frustrated.

I’m frustrated that life no longer has any spontaneity. If I have to go anywhere, it’s well planned, with masks, hand sanitizers, and a mental list. There are no playdates with the neighbors when we happen to see them outside. There are no date nights with my husband, no check-ins with my friends, no quick runs to Starbucks where you bump into an old friend and chitchat about nothing while your order is made. Everything is structured and planned, and when time is already at such a premium with work and kids and grocery shopping and errands and household chores, how do you schedule fun?

I’m frustrated when I see others not being as structured or as careful as I am, because I worry the disease will just keep spreading and we will have to keep living this way. 

I’m frustrated.

I’m frustrated that my toddlers think this is normal. I’m frustrated that they see my own anxiety about the situation and say things like “I touched that box. Do I need hand sanitizer?” I’m frustrated that they never get to play with their friends. I know that the choice to truly social distance was the right choice for my family, and I believe that those who are privileged enough to remain distanced have an obligation to do so, so that teachers and healthcare workers and grocery store workers who can’t remain isolated are at less risk.

But I worry about the longer-term impacts this isolation will have on my kids, and I worry that my own anxiety will never normalize after this pandemic is over. Will I ever touch a door again and not instantly look for hand sanitizer? Will I ever be comfortable sitting at work next to a co-worker with a runny nose? For those who are already a bit anxious, will this make it so the anxiety becomes not a small trait, but perhaps the biggest character trait we have?

I’m frustrated. And I feel ashamed for being frustrated because I know so many people deserve to be more frustrated than me.

I know I am lucky, and my feelings of frustration make me mad at myself. I should be grateful. And I am. But I am also frustrated.

And I’m not alone.

Our Guest Writer

Colleen Hynes is a working mom with two small boys (who are just 17 months apart!). She and her husband alternate days where they wake up early with their kids, and this schedule is the secret to their happy marriage (well, that and good coffee.) Colleen’s favorite place to be with her family is Cape Cod, especially Corporation Beach in Dennis. She grew up in MA and is happy to raise her family here, though she does really hate snow.

Protecting Kids on Social Media During the Digital Age

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I’m part of the last generation that distinctly remembers life before the internet. A world where cell phones were the size of bricks and only the wealthy could afford them. Where computers existed but served only as word processors or for playing games like Oregon Trail or Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego?

But most of my adolescence occurred during the heyday of AOL, where I have fond memories of coming home from school, tying up my parents’ phone line, and spending hours in Backstreet Boys chat rooms.

It was a simpler time, where we found ourselves on the precipice of a new horizon. “Be careful who you talk to,” “make sure you’re staying safe,” “don’t meet anyone you met on the internet” were common warnings we heard from our parents. Looking back, it seems crazy to think about this cautionary warning knowing how far technology has evolved. Back then, there was still a sense of anonymity. Social media was non-existent.

But now, social media is embedded into our culture. Facebook has 2.7 billion users worldwide, about 330 million people have Twitter. Platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp, and TikTok have surged in popularity.

Social media has become a double-edged sword. It is a wonderful resource for reconnecting with old friends and distant family members, a great promotional tool if you are a small business owner or freelance artist, and a fun place to turn to for entertainment or a laugh.

Like most things, though, you have to take the good with the bad. Some of the many problems with social media include online bullying, widespread disinformation, and increased depression and anxiety.

When I was pregnant, I made the decision to minimize my child’s exposure on my social media pages. I do not post pictures of his face on Facebook — the share button feature just does not sit well with me. I also keep my Instagram private and limit who can view my profile. Here are a few of the reasons we have decided to minimize our son’s social media presence.

Privacy

It feels wrong for me to post images of my son all over my Facebook when he has no say in it. When he is older and able to make decisions, that could change; but we’re OK with our decision for right now. Plus, Facebook is constantly changing its settings features. In general, I have maintained a pretty private account, but there have been a few times where I noticed the settings on some of my posts are public when they should be set as private, and I have to manually change it.

Safety

This is a big one for me. I have read about digital kidnapping — when someone takes photos of a child from a social media page and repurposes them with new names, stories, etc., often claiming the child as their own. It sounds like something straight out of a Lifetime movie, but it does happen. Additionally, there are dangerous people who lurk on social media. Posts often have identifiers such as where someone lives or goes to school.

It’s natural to want to share special moments and brag about your children, and it’s OK to post about them — but make sure you’re taking appropriate precautions. Check your privacy settings regularly — the “view as” option on Facebook is a great tool to see who can and cannot see what you post on your page. Ask family and friends not to post pictures of your children without your consent. It’s scary raising kids in the digital age, but with the right tools and safeguards, we can navigate it.

How I Keep My Mom Life Organized

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Planning in progress. (Coupon pouch from Massachusetts company Blue Q.)

In my day job, I’m an engineer focused on improving manufacturing quality and productivity. So most of my professional life revolves around the fact that everything is a system, and every system can be optimized. Perhaps this is more of a theoretical statement, and it isn’t as cut and dry in the real world — never mind the real *mom* world. Through trial and error, though, I’ve found a few tools that work for me as part of my system to keep my mom life — to-do lists, calendars, groceries, meal planning, and all that comes with it — organized.

To-do lists

For our family’s to-do lists, we use Trello. Trello is a free cloud-based list-making app that allows you to manage and organize multiple tasks and lists. Your workspace is a virtual board, which consists of multiple lists, where every task or item is represented by a card. I use two Trello boards every day — one for myself, and one for our family.

My personal Trello board has one list for each of the community groups I work with, as well as a personal shopping/wish list and a parking lot list that serves as a brain dump of all my “someday” tasks. Each card has space for a sub-checklist, notes, links, and a due date and reminder feature, which helps me keep on top of preparing for various committee meetings, daycare events, and more.

Our family board includes a grocery list, multiple to-do lists, and a list that has cards with important notes we want to keep top of mind. There is an “incoming” to-do list with tasks that get dumped there as we think of them, and then lists for this week, this month, and a parking lot for non-timely tasks.

Trello gives us the flexibility to create a list of tasks associated with a specific project as well. For example, when we refinanced our house, we had a separate list of all the tasks and dates associated with that process. Since tasks can be moved from list to list, we review the incoming list on a weekly basis, decide who will be responsible for the task, if the task has a deadline, and which list it belongs on. This helps us to build our plan for the week, while still not losing track of the tasks that don’t need to be top of mind right now.

Since tasks can be assigned to a person, I can easily copy tasks from our family board over to my personal board as I build my work/life task lists for the week.

Grocery shopping and meal planning

As I mentioned before, our grocery list lives in Trello and gets built throughout the week. We use an app called If This Then That (IFTT) to connect our Amazon Echo to the Trello list so that anyone in the house can easily say “Alexa, add ____ to my shopping list” when they discover we’ve run out. This means I can be fairly confident that, by the end of the week, most of our needs are already on the list. Seeing what items we add week after week gives me visibility of what items I should stock up on when they go on sale or even set up a Subscribe and Save for.

For meal planning, I use an inexpensive whiteboard with a one-week calendar on it (similar to this one) to plan out our meals for the week. I have a handful of easy go-to dinners I like, and I typically cook a double batch so we can add leftovers into our dinner plans.

Every week, I sit down with my Trello grocery list, coupons, the grocery store flyer, and this whiteboard and lay out what’s for dinner each night that week. We generally eat the same things for breakfast and lunch all week, but the whiteboard can be used for anything we want to plan there as well. If any family member has an evening commitment that may impact dinner plans, I’ll grab that from our Google Calendar and note it on the meal plan as well. With the week’s meals laid out, and a keen eye to what sale items I may want to stock up on, I can add anything else we need to the grocery list that was built throughout the week.

Calendars

My husband and I both have used Google Calendar for over a decade, so we continue to rely on it for scheduling and reminders. There are a lot of benefits to using an electronic calendar: the ease of creating recurring events, having constant access to the calendar on our phones, and being able to add items and appointments far into the future (like next year’s annual physical). We each have our own calendar but share view access. This allows us to see when we are traveling for work, and we can send calendar invites for family events or for our son’s appointments. Each weekend, we look at what is on the calendar for the coming week and determine how it impacts the rest of our planning. One of us has an evening meeting or an overnight work trip? Plan for leftovers that night. Busy weekend? Maybe those “this week” tasks on the Trello board can be moved out.

Much of my system has emerged from trying many different tools to see what works and what doesn’t. As our family’s needs evolve, I’m sure our systems will too. This system works for us for now and has helped us to start 2021 on the right foot!

Meet a Boston Mom :: Jackie Bruno of NECN and NBC10 Boston

Meet Jackie Bruno, anchor of “The Ten” on NECN and NBC10 Boston.

Moms don’t get the recognition they deserve! As a business run BY local moms FOR local moms, Boston Moms is excited to showcase the hard work local moms are doing — both at home and in their professions.

Jackie Bruno- NECN

Join us in celebrating Jackie and the important contributions she makes at home and at work!

We asked Jackie to share a bit about herself. Get to know her here!

Full name: Jackie Bruno

Occupation: Anchor at NECN and NBC10 Boston. I anchor “The Ten,” which is a 10 p.m. newscast on NECN where we go in depth on a single topic for ten minutes every night. I also fill in as anchor on NBC10 Boston!

Children: Jack Bear, 6, and James, 2

Hometown: Assonet, MA

Favorite local restaurant: It’s so hard to pick just one! We love Boston Chops, SRV, and Table.  

Tell us a bit about your work/job: I absolutely love my job. I always wanted to be a broadcast journalist in my home state, and I’m so proud I’ve worked here my whole career. On any given day, I’m helping to sculpt our news coverage — from picking out topics for our show, to setting up and conducting interviews (virtual interviews lately), to helping write and ultimately anchoring the show at night. It’s a busy day, but I love the challenge. I also fill in a lot on NBC10 Boston as an anchor, so on those days I’m jumping in wherever they need me. I’m also reading a lot of news outside of work and watching coverage to stay on top of the industry and current events.

When I’m not at “work,” I’m doing the job of mom at home! It’s a real balancing act, and it’s only possible because I have an amazing godmother and mother who help watch my boys during the week. My husband is also an incredible father who holds down the odd hours when the news doesn’t stop.

What is the one thing that surprised you the most about motherhood? How much I love them! Is that a weird answer? It’s true, though. It’s all consuming, and I love being with them. The older they get, the more fun our family time has become. My 5-year-old is a little comedian lately, and my 2-year-old is a brute. The combo makes for endless laughs and a whole lot of joy.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer another working mom? It’s never going to be perfect, so let something go. I’m terrible at organization. A few times a year, I’ll go through and do a major purge and organization spree. Otherwise, it’s a battle I feel like I’m not going to win until they get a bit older, and that’s OK. These can be the cluttered years. Letting that go sometimes allows me to focus on the quality time I do have with them.

What is one way you take care of yourself? I get my nails done. If my nails look good, I feel like I have control of something.

What else should we know about you or your work? We are working hard to bring you important information every day, and we’re trying to do it in a way that is compelling, thoughtful, and artful. It’s both a public service and, for me, a craft. We take it seriously and feel very proud of it.

I can tell you that my co-workers and I truly care about our communities, and we want you to feel supported by our newscasts. I also am always looking for story ideas. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @JBrunoNBCBoston. Follow me and send me a message about a news tip anytime, or just say hi! I love meeting new people.

What other women inspire you? I absolutely love Maria Shriver and Katie Couric. Both have been idols of mine for a long time. They strive for compelling, compassionate, and authentic coverage of things that truly matter. Locally, Latoyia Edwards has been both a friend and colleague for a long time. We actually met through pageantry, when she was Miss Massachusetts USA and I was competing for the teen title. I remember being in awe of her natural ability to connect with people and her enthusiastic presence. She is a leader in our newsroom — and also an incredible mom of two amazing kids. She’s given me great advice over the years — and I am so grateful for her friendship.

Jackie Bruno with her family

You can read more about Jackie Bruno here, or look for her on Instagram and Twitter.

Are you interested in being highlighted in a “Meet a Boston Mom” feature, or do you know someone who deserves this recognition? Let us know! Please email Chelsey Weaver at [email protected] to discuss a feature.

It’s Time We Take Off the “Masks” We Wear

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I am about to get very real with you, mama. You may not like what I’m about to say. But it’s important, and I am frankly tired of biting my tongue.  

You are beautiful, important, and wonderful just as you are. You do not need a heavy filter on that selfie. It does not look like you. Your skin is not perfectly ironed silk, and your eyes are not the size and shape of the eyes of anime or manga characters. Your eyelashes are not a mile long and your cheekbones are not that pronounced.  

See, when you take a selfie with a feature-altering filter on and you post it on social media where countless people can’t help but comment on how gorgeous and beautiful you are, your perception that you are not enough is confirmed. It’s a vicious cycle. You feel like you need the filter: You use the filter, people compliment you, and you are trapped — unable to go without the filter.

This is about you, mama. And the “masks” you and all of us wear. (And I’m not talking about the much-needed face coverings to stop the spread of COVID — please keep wearing those.)

The real you is enough.  

Why is it that we think we must alter our appearance, be it for social media, for the outside world, or even for our own approval? Let me be clear, this is not about getting our hair done, putting on make-up, and wearing flattering clothes. This is about altering ourselves to fit into some expectation created by unreasonable societal stories and narratives of what a good mother and a professional woman are supposed to look and act like.

The photo filters are one of the social media “masks” we wear in order to show the world we’ve still got it. We’re still young and beautiful (whatever that means), and we’ve got it all together.

The problem is, we also wear “masks” in the real world. When we talk with friends or acquaintances, we keep things very superficial and pretend everything is OK. We might use acceptable buzz phrases like: “Things are crazy busy” or “Everything’s great — I mean, the kids are driving me crazy, but what else is new… ha ha ha.” But for the most part, we keep things safe and prevent ourselves from getting vulnerable.

When we do bring up typical parental struggles, we often disguise our overwhelm by making jokes, which makes us look like we’re “real” but fails to address possible underlying issues that a friend could actually help us through. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for using humor as a coping skill, but it has to be one coping skill in our toolbox. Not the entire toolbox. 

So, a public service announcement:

The majority of us are not keeping it together 24/7. Most of us struggle, most of us feel inadequate as parents, most of us worry that we will ruin our kids, and most of us are pretending like it’s no big deal. And guess what? It’s going to take some of us being brave enough to be honest, to break this cycle, and to change the way society expects us moms to look, act, and feel, while our lives are completely transformed and we’re becoming different people than we were before we became moms. Because that’s what’s happening.

From the moment we become mothers (through whatever means that happens for each of us), a process begins where we shed parts of who we used to be and develop into new, oh-so-amazing versions of ourselves. The motherhood journey is long. It may never end. And it is up to us moms to rewrite the way society views it and us. We need to be honest and ask for help. We need to be open to offering help to fellow moms when we’re doing OK and can give some support.

And we need to stop pretending. In person, on social media. Everywhere.  

And, a disclaimer:

Please know I am not trying to imply that everything about being a mom is hard or that we never have “it” together. I’m talking about the fact that there is no perfect way to be or image to aspire to. Our reality is good enough with its amazing ups and its difficult downs. And I firmly believe we need to honor that in each other and stop trying to fit into a story that isn’t ours.

So I’ll say it one last time. (Just kidding — I will keep saying this stuff until I’m blue in the face!)

You are enough. You are beautiful inside and out just as you are. You are loved. You are appreciated. You are important. You matter. Your needs matter. You are enough. You are enough. You are enough!

Will you pledge to show up to social media without heavy filters? Will you pledge to show up in real life without pretending motherhood is easy or under control?

Boston-Area Nonprofit Spotlight :: Parenting Journey

The Greater Boston area is home to many exceptional nonprofits, but the ones that serve moms are especially close to our hearts. Boston Moms is excited to spotlight and support the local nonprofit organizations that make our area so great.

This month we are showcasing Parenting Journey.

Parenting Journey knows that resilient parents are a catalyst for social change — and that all of us have a role to play in harnessing that power to build strong communities.

Local studies have shown that their programs reduce parent stress and improve family outcomes, and we love and support their innovative resources.

Join us in celebrating Parenting Journey‘s mission by donating to their cause HERE

Parents and children sitting

We had a chance to talk to Rachael Dubinsky, Parenting Journey’s manager of external affairs, who shared why the organization is such an integral part of the Greater Boston community. 

Where is your non-profit located? Somerville, MA.

What is Parenting Journey’s mission? Since its founding, Parenting Journey has refined and adapted its services to best partner with families. We cultivate the inherent strengths of parents to disrupt the intergenerational trauma caused by racism, poverty, and other systemic barriers by providing evidence-based, therapeutic programming in a group setting and training social service providers in our model. Our dynamic and systemic approach supports parents through high-impact programming and promotes family-friendly environments for all. 

What services does Parenting Journey offer families? In a PJ group for caregivers, a small number of parents and caregivers meet for two hours a week for 12 or 14 weeks (now virtually). Our program is experiential, which means you learn by doing. Through a combination of hands-on activities and guided discussions, parents develop knowledge and skills that support them as parents and role models. By reflecting on their own childhoods, they will be able to choose what kind of parent they want to be and create their own style of parenting — one that reflects their personal vision and values.

There are a variety of Parenting Journey groups to help mothers, fathers, and caregivers increase their confidence, capability, and resiliency — as individuals and as parents. We have foundational programs like Parenting Journey 1 and Parenting Journey 2, and we also have more specific programs such as Parenting in America (for immigrants), Parenting in Recovery (for substance use), and Parenting Journey for Fathers. Currently, our groups are offered in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. 

mother and daughter

Parenting Journey also provides professional development trainings. What do they look like? Our professional development trainings prepare human service professionals to interact with families and their colleagues in a supportive and reflective way to ensure families are receiving consistent communication across all the services they access. Parenting Journey offers immersive five-day facilitator trainings for professionals interested in implementing Parenting Journey programs at their agency.

In this virtual environment, our hybrid training is composed of live virtual sessions and self-directed online components delivered across five days. Live virtual sessions focus on experiential learning of curriculum content and facilitation skills. We have also created an online portal to serve as a hub for Parenting Journey facilitators to obtain resources for implementing groups, network with other facilitators, advertise or make referrals for groups, and learn more about upcoming events and offerings.

How does your mission support local moms? Moms tend to be the primary caregivers in many families. As such, it is imperative that moms, and all parents (could be grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc)., have the tools they need to succeed. Our parents form invaluable connections with one another through PJ groups. Having a support network is critical in helping moms be their best selves as parents and individuals.

What is something new Parenting Journey has been working on recently? Parenting Journey has updated the language in our materials to move toward more equitable and inclusive language. We promote the use of person-centered and strengths-based language by shifting to gender-neutral terminology, diversifying the examples used in curriculum content, and eliminating any assumptive or negative language.

What is your favorite part about working at Parenting Journey? Parenting Journey is really concentrated on helping families, no matter what. Our network of parents and human services professionals are constantly providing us with feedback that we take to heart. If there is one thing we know, it is important to listen to our clients and do our best to meet their needs. We get a lot of referrals on both the group and training side because of our caring approach.

If someone is interested in groups or trainings, what should they do? Please visit www.parentingjourney.org. Our spring groups are full and start February 22, but if you are interested in being added to the waitlist for future groups, please email Leticia St. Remy at [email protected]

If you are a part of a human services organization and would like to learn more about our trainings, please email Lydia Carbone at [email protected].

What do donations to your nonprofit go toward? Donations go toward our operations, including running groups and trainings, doing outreach, offering more programming in different languages and with increased frequency. At this moment, the demand for our programs is much greater than our staff capacity. In this virtual environment, we have found that our groups and trainings must be capped at six people to remain effective. As such, this has added to the length of our waitlist.

You can donate to Parenting Journey HERE and can find them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


Are you interested in being highlighted in a Boston-Area nonprofit spotlight, or do you know an organization that deserves this recognition? Let us know! Please email Chelsey Weaver at [email protected] to discuss a feature.

A Real Client’s Honest Review of NEDC :: The Reliability, the Workmanship, & the Follow-Up

This post was sponsored by our partners at NEDC. We hope you'll consider them for your Design-Build needs!

If you are considering a major home renovation, you probably want to hear from someone who has BEEN through it before you take the plunge, right? What better way to know that you have chosen the correct company to help you on your journey to “lift spirits with spaces” than to hear directly from a past client?

Watch this incredible testimonial of the work David Supple and NEDC completed for a Chestnut Hill family, and see more information on the project in the February issue of Modern Luxury Boston Common.

After three projects with NEDC: “If we ever had to do anything again, we would definitely ask [NEDC] back a fourth time. I wouldn’t actually trust anyone else with my house.” 

HUNKERING DOWN AT HOME?
LET US JOIN YOU WITH A VIRTUAL DESIGN CONSULTATION!

(617) 981-6250

Pizza vs. Bar Pizza :: Experience the Phenomenon

Spending my formative years in Florida, Hungry Howie’s pizza was the go-to for my family. Sure, it’s a chain, but the pizza comes with your choice of flavored crust! You really can’t go wrong with a cheesy pizza with a garlic butter crust. One of my friends from Maryland would rave about the Hungry Howie’s flavored crust and make it a point to order some whenever she visited. When my husband and I visited the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore, we ended the night with giant slices of pizza, channeling our inner Snooki.

And now, as a mom, I’m still finding myself drawn to pizza time and time again. Because pizza, in my opinion, is one of the easiest mom hack foods. Why? 

  • These days, you can get crusts with veggies already in the dough. 
  • You can add veggies (pureed or chopped small) into the sauce
  • You can layer veggies in between the sauce and the cheese 
  • You can sprinkle nutritional yeast on top 
  • You can eat it cold or hot ← (Hi, I’m Courtney, and my son has had cold bar pizza in his lunch bag)

When I first moved to Massachusetts, I had no idea there was a difference between pizza and bar pizza. I will forever remember brainstorming different menu ideas for a restaurant group I worked with for its Quincy location. The manager suggested we start making “bar pizza.” I didn’t even pretend to know what that was and asked, “Why, because it’s for people sitting at the bar?” Little did I know that this is a regional food staple that continues to thrive no matter what is happening in the world. 

So what is bar pizza? It’s a personal-style, thin-crust pizza cooked in a deep steel pan. 

Takeout Bar Pizza

It doesn’t stop there, though. You can order it “laced” — aka, sauce is put around the crust and burned on the edges. You can even ask for it “well done,” where the bottom is crisped to perfection. Bar pizza slices also lack the flop, meaning you can hold it up and not find your toppings slipping off.

One of my first bar pizza experiences was at a restaurant in Pembroke called Poopsie’s. My mother-in-law ate it when she was pregnant with my husband, he loves it, and it holds the first place spot on his bar pizza ranking. Despite COVID restrictions, they still have an hours-long wait for takeout. There are fewer tables inside and the Pac-Man machine is stored away, but the charm is still there and the pizza is still delicious. 

We’ve become a bit obsessed with trying new bar pizzas. We’ve ventured to J’s Flying Pizza, which is made in someone’s garage. We’ve tried Facebook-recommended Johnny Kono’s (yes, there is a bar pizza Facebook group). Boxes are optional, as this pizza usually comes neatly wrapped in brown paper bags like a gift ready to be unwrapped. 

Bar pizza is like the little black dress of dining.

You can dress it up with a glass of champagne or keep it grounded with a cold beer. It’s great for families or for eating solo. Its slices are perfect for little hands to enjoy and feel like they’re eating like the grown-ups. It’s a comfort food and a casual food, and it can be enjoyed hot or cold! 

Have you tried bar pizza? What’s your favorite?

Why Martin Luther King’s Dream Is Still Just A Dream

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This month, we celebrate the accomplishments of revered civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. You’d have a hard time finding a child in America who isn’t familiar with Dr. King and his role as a preacher and activist. He is an integral part of U.S. history and he is, rightfully, celebrated for his accomplishments and for modeling civil disobedience in the face of oppression.

I remember when my bonus sons learned about him for the first time in school. Well, it wasn’t the first time they’d learned about him, but it was the first time they really understood his story. One twin came home and said, “We learned about MLK and why we have a holiday to celebrate him.” My husband and I exchanged a look and then asked the 6-year-old to tell us what he’d learned.

He explained (in the long and roundabout way kids tell stories) that Martin Luther King was a leader who said it was wrong to treat Black people “badly” because of the color of their skin. That all people should get along and love each other, and no one should be treated in a “bad way” because of the color of their skin. He paused there, and we thought the story was over. We started to respond when he quickly said, “But white people didn’t like that so they shot him. He died.”

He looked horrified. He looked at us and asked, “Why would they do that?”

We were caught off guard. We had no idea how to respond. How do you explain to a child — or to anyone, for that matter, that standing up for love and equality in a non-violent way would actually anger people enough for them to kill you.

That was the day we started the lessons on white rage in our home. That, as James Baldwin said in 1963, MLK’s message is undercut by “a society that has always glorified violence, unless a Negro has a gun.” That a great double standard exists in this country. Fighting for freedom, even non-violently, can be a death sentence for a Black person.

Fast forward to 2020 and 2021. Our now 12-year-olds experienced the trauma of George Floyd’s murder, and they witnessed the aggression against the people who protested and marched against police brutality in the wake of his murder. They then tuned in to the news in early January and watched an armed, violent, zip-tie-toting, noose-erecting mob storm the Capitol building and walk away unharmed. How do you explain that to the children?

My husband and I lie in bed at night and talk about how we should talk to our children about these disparities. We teach our children to stand up for the things they believe in. We teach our children to stand against human rights violations and oppression.

We teach our children to defend the poor, weak, and innocent, but we also have the unpleasant task of teaching them that doing those things, as a Black person in America, will lead to acts of aggression or violence against them, even possibly incarceration or death.

The truth is that MLK’s dream is still very much a dream. Our children are still judged by the color of their skin and not by the content of their character. The truth is that the same violent white mobs that terrorized Black people by dragging them out of their homes in the middle of the night, burning their bodies, cutting off and out their body parts, and hanging them from trees are still more protected than Black people who mobilize and march against injustice.

That’s the conversation we’ll be having in our home — whether it’s MLK Day, Black History Month, or any day of the year. Because #blacklivesmatter.

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