Events, features and things to do for families in New Hampshire
By Pamme Boutselis
Nothing quite prepares a woman for the incredible change a child will bring to her life. Whether it’s just one child or the subsequent addition of even more children, suddenly every moment of a woman’s life seems to be accounted for and then some, with work, child-rearing and other life responsibilities.
From the tiny, ultra-special moments (remember that cuddly baby snugged up on your chest or the innocent, but oh-so-earnest, moment when your four-year-old son looked in your eyes and declared you were the best person in the world?) to the exhausting moments when you stayed up for what seemed like three full days and nights with a feverish, vomiting child? Somehow, moms just slog through it all, living on too much coffee, not enough sleep and the thought of that sweet little face greeting her when she gets home each day. Even the most magical of days involves a lot of juggling, a bit of compromise and certainly, lots of love.
What’s a mom to do, however, when life brings one challenging day after another and her patience starts wearing thin? Perhaps it’s time to stop and consider if she’s had a moment to even take a deep breath or spend a little serious ‘mom time’ to finally catch her breath and relax.
“Sometimes a mom can only ‘hold up’ as long as her manicure,” said Stephanie Ncala, a Londonderry mom of two youngsters, Jayden, 3 and Angelina, 4. “With the dishes, baths, and not being able to distinguish between poop or chocolate underneath her pinkie nail, she may be counting on her Tuesday night polish change more than you know.”
Ncala used to think that being a “good” mom meant caring for her children’s every need and always putting their desires before her own.
“I learned the hard way that I could not take care of them if I was not nurturing myself,” said Ncala. “The first step in taking mom time is to remember how lovable you are. Mothers were given the privilege of caring for their children and the best way to start is to take great care of herself.”
Ncala has put that plan into action and takes the time now to meet with friends, go to the gym and eat three meals a day. The result is a happier, healthier mom.
“Quality mom time is anything that reminds you of what you loved about yourself prior to the M-O-M tattooed on your forehead,” said Ncala.
Although still a relative newcomer to the ‘mom’ role, Tali Young of Dover has already discovered that one of the secrets to being a productive, loving and nurturing mom is to remember who she was before becoming the mother of 15-month old Reese.
“Being someone who stays home with my child all day, it is easy for me to get consumed in a schedule of diaper-changing, feeding times and simply running around like crazy,” said Young. “I am so lucky to be able to stay home with my daughter, even if for a short period of time, and I try to take advantage of that.”
The two spend lots of quality time together, and Young said her daughter is at a prime age for learning and mimicking everything she sees. She loves when she teaches the toddler a new phrase, when they sing and dance to her daughter’s favorite songs or the two just chases each other around the playground.
“As for me, one of my other favorite parts of the day is nap time,” said Young. “Whether I take the hour or two to sit in a quiet place with a great book, or sweating out some stress on the treadmill, it just feels good not to be doing that laundry I should be doing.”
She tries to participate in activities that she enjoys doing as an individual at least a few times a week such as Zumba classes or simply browsing at the mall, acknowledging she is fortunate to have friends and family available to watch Reese when she enjoys much-needed girls nights out or date nights with her partner.
“As crazy, tiring and demanding as it may be, I wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything,” said Young.
Heidi Paris’ mom time was all but forgotten over the past year as she spent part of her day caring for a newborn, completing coursework for her master’s degree and household chores. When she returned to her role as a high school teacher this past fall, the Manchester mom worried about how she would balance everything. She and her husband had a candid discussion, recognizing the importance of spending some time each day to de-stress and do something she enjoyed. In theory, it sounded great. In reality, it wasn’t possible. Once her degree was complete, the couple revisited the conversation.
As she rushed to deal with daycare pickup, grocery shopping, playing with her daughter Ella, mounds of laundry, preparing dinner, bath time and feeding, Paris realized she was forgetting to take care of herself. Her husband encouraged her to find something she was interested n and devote a few hours each week to it.
“In my pursuit to be all things all of the time, I was neglecting my own personal growth,” said Paris, who has taken up scrapbooking once again and started planning a garden.
Julie Rumrill of Litchfield has two daughters; Taylor, 10 and Lilly, who just turned 5. While the age difference wasn’t planned, Rumrill said it works out well and enables her to spend some great one-on-one time with each of the girls separately.
“It’s easy to have time alone with Lilly while Taylor is at school, but Taylor and I definitely need to schedule alone time around her busy schedule,” said Rumrill.
One way that she found to spend special time with Taylor is by coaching her basketball team for the past three years, which enables Rumrill to combine her love of basketball with her desire to teach her eldest daughter about the sport and spend some great time together, too. Taylor also enjoys some of the same hobbies, such as scrapbooking, so they try to spend time alone doing that together as well.
Like every mom, Rumrill faces the challenge of finding a bit of ‘me’ time for herself, but is appreciative to have a “very hands-on partner.”
“He does so much around the house and with the kids so I can take time for myself to enjoy with my mom, my friends, and some alone time,” said Rumrill. “Every year, my husband and I are fortunate enough to be able to go away for a week without the kids so we reconnect with each other.”
She looks forward to that vacation every year, but also misses her girls terribly while she and her husband are gone.
Jennifer Razzaboni, the owner of BoBo’s Indoor Playground in Nashua, has three ‘times’ – mom time, mom and dad time and mom and kid time – she tries to balance because she feels they contribute equally to her personal well-being and emotional stability.
“I think it’s super important to make moments not minutes with your children, but at the same time moments to yourself are equally as important as mom time,” said Razzaboni.
She said mom and kid time is spent sharing meals together, doing crafts with her daughter and playing catch with her son, which is one of his favorite things to do. Together as a family, there are tons of board games and bedtime is particularly special since both parents alternate between putting the kids to bed, each with their own routine.
“Mom and dad time is every night when the kids go to bed,” said Razzaboni. “This is when some great, uninterrupted conversations go on that strengthen us daily.”
Her mom time consists of getting her nails done, kid-free shopping, walking from dropping the kids at school and catching up with her girlfriends.
“It’s vital for a mom to have time alone each day, even if it’s 15 minutes, to read, meditate, talk with a girlfriend, or walk outside and feel the sunshine,” said April Dunn Correa, a Concord mom of four kids, ages 4, 6, 12 and 17. “This is one area of my life that I have learned to incorporate on a daily basis and it has taken me many years to figure it out.”
Dunn Correa said every time she notices the clock at 11:11, or when she blows out a candle or makes a New Year’s resolution, she hopes and prays for balance, which is the number one thing for her to master. As a self-employed real estate broker, her work has been a blessing and a beast, since she is always on call, but also has the ability quite often to bring her children to work with her or chaperone a field trip without having to worry about missing work.
“My work is a direct reflection of what I have invested into it. Many nights and weekends,” said Dunn Correa.
Two years ago, she realized that her health was being neglected. She was 100 lbs. overweight and totally stressed out. She had created a vicious cycle of running around and never making time for food preparation or exercise. Dunn Correa changed her diet and exercise and began Crossfit a year ago, three times a week after dropping her kids off at four different schools. She finds time during the work week to catch up with girlfriends, so she doesn’t take time away from her kids during the weekend, and enjoys a Bunko group once a month, which gives her girlfriend time and some networking for her business as well.
“Everything I do is multitasking, I guess, and I love that,” said Dunn Correa. “I wouldn’t want it any other way. We have a crazy family, but one that loves another. We have gone through many changes in the last few years but we all adapt and move forward.”
Pamme Boutselis is a MarCom consultant and a freelance writer.The mom of four grown kids, she now deals with the challenges of raising two insubordinate dachshunds. Follow her on Twitter @pammeb.
Last updated by Parenting NH Administrator Apr 24, 2012.