Maternal Mental Health Matters The Most In Order To Change Our Collective Mental Health

Guest blog post by: Andrea Page, Fitmom Fitness

We can also talk until we are blue in the face, but if we do not have practical solutions for dealing with mental health in real time, talk is yes very cheap. Why do I believe maternal mental health is the benchmark for a healthy society? Simple. 90% of the time a mother is the one providing the fundamental nurturance for infant and toddlers in the time their brains are being wired and developed most.

When we neglect mothers we neglect society.

I did my first media piece on mental health and motherhood 15 years ago on than CITY TV. I was actually in the thick of it. I told half truths and was still banging on doors for help. I was working myself to the bone caring for other mothers and barely sleeping and to be frank was a complete mess most of the time ( but a very good actress ). I lived with shame and guilt. Parented poorly. Did not really know how to ask for the right kind of help. This is a cycle in my family passed down and will share more at a later date. I talked and talked about mental health publicly for years and than I really just stopped. I was tired of stating the obvious and preaching to what felt like the wrong people….. mothers.

After Bell Lets Talk along with a very disastrous mile stone in my families mental health this month, I am opening up again, but with the goal to not just talk but offer tangible solutions and shed valuable insight on improving our collective mental health. I will not be sharing all of my thoughts and insight here but on my personal facebook Andrea Fitmom Page and you are welcome to add me or follow me if this interest you.

I also am available for coaching on how to address with practical measurable changes in addressing acute situations with mothers, children and teens and have caregivers, teachers, principles and parents contact me for advocacy often to help create plans that actually help people without depending on the system that is very broken. You must empower your mental health and that of those you love. There is no quick fix. You have to do the work.

Lastly I will leave you with my post from today on Facebook, and invite you to join me:

“So I have decided to attempt to talk about mental health everyday and back it up with meaningful education and actions you can take for yourself and those around you. A huge corporation that gouges Canadians playing on the vulnerabilities of peoples stories when they have a known track record of not dealing with their own employees mental health does not fly. They ploy us to do their marketing for them for a massive tax right off and does not make a real dent in my opinion. Its about changing us. Our responses. It is about social education. It is not about depending on a broken system.

So day 1.

I have debilitating depression and anxiety that I have learned over time to manage most often and continue to heal the underlying issues. Sometimes my mental health effects my ability to show up for my children and my clients. THERE ARE ALWAYS UNDERLYING ISSUES. You cannot talk about MENTAL HEALTH without talking about trauma current and trans-generational. In fact talk really is cheap. It is good to have someone to talk too but to get the tools to manage a panic attack in real time is essential to helping growth and productivity. The very first thing I would suggest is to recognize there is no easy way out. You MUST DO THE WORK. Hard yes if depression is a factor. Double check if you are surrounding yourself with people strong enough to hold you accountable with love. There can be a cycle of poor decision making when we are suffering the most that feeds the cycle. That is a pattern. You need loving people to challenge you to manage your self care properly. Own your patterns with self love and compassion and commitment to doing better each day. This week I am running a self care challenge that I will run again in a couple weeks. Improving your mental health is about developing self awareness. It is about sharpening your tool kit. It is about fighting back when it knocks you down.”

Each moment is a chance,

Andrea  xo

About Andrea Page, Fitmom Fitness:

In 1999 I became pregnant with my first child I had very little support and I was not prepared for the immense responsibility and stress that accompanies motherhood.

Mothering did not come naturally to me. Like most of us, my reality was often at odds with the glamorized version perpetuated by North American media. I bought into the idea of ‘Supermom’ thinking that if I worked hard to ‘do it all’, I would indeed become one. I was wrong; I often felt isolated and cut off from my community and, it turns out, I wasn’t alone. The experience of raising three sons and training over 50,000 women has taught me that mothering in seclusion is not a healthy option. Community is the key to improving a sense of balance and strength in mothering.

Over the years, my story and what is now called “Andrea Pages Original FITMOM™” programs have inspired women to prioritize their self-care and encouraged women to work together to build community. These values are echoed in every FITMOM™ original class and city that our programs are offered. We encourage our members to strive for balance in their daily lives and we assist them in reaching their personal health and wellness goals. Our ultimate goal is to create a community in which mothers and families can thrive.

Aqua Mermaid Toronto – Review by resident Mommy Blogger – Shannon Fisher, And Now I’m A Mom

I’ve said many-a-time, to many-a-people, that if I could perform my day to day tasks while being in water, I would. And I meant it. So when I was offered the opportunity to try out a mermaid fitness class with Aqua Mermaid, there was absolutely no hesitation before saying yes, and then quietly humming the Little Mermaid song to myself. I was vaguely familiar with the concept of mermaid fitness, but I couldn’t have told you anything real about it, and I didn’t know something like this was possible here in Toronto, especially for newbies like me. I was super excited about fulfilling my lifelong dream of becoming a mermaid. 

I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of class size or structure, but when I packed my bathing suit and towel and headed out, it turns out I also didn’t know how much traffic I should have predicted. Refreshing my google maps every 5 seconds while my husband took as many side roads as possible, I started to panic that I was going to be late, and I wouldn’t get to wear my tail. I awkwardly changed into my bathing suit in the front seat of our SUV, and waved at a guy who couldn’t stop staring at me while I was changing into my top. Angry at myself for not leaving earlier, I called the number for AquaMermaid and asked how bad it would be if I arrived just at class start time, instead of the recommended 15 minutes early. I was happily reassured that it wasn’t an issue at all, and I breathed a sigh a relief knowing that I hadn’t messed everything up. (But this doesn’t mean you should also show up late- that 15minutes would be key with a larger class!)

We pulled up with two minutes to spare, and I rushed through the change-room, whipped off my clothes and headed out to the pool deck, expecting to see a full class of women waiting for me in their tails. Instead, there was simply the instructor, and two gentlemen happily chatting away holding onto what looked like flippers, but would unroll to reveal the tail. I was originally taken aback by the small size of the class, but it didn’t take long for me to appreciate the ability of the instructor to be able to keep the class personalized to our wishes and capabilities. I also loved the fact that is was men, and not just women who wanted to be mermaid for a day. One mentioned it was his goal to be like Zoolander, and he instantly got my respect. 

I got the fin on, and boy, was I excited! I stuck the fin in the water as I sat on the edge of the pool, and eagerly smiled at my husband as he snapped away with the camera, my daughter playing with a small floatie in her car-seat nearby. We then had to take the fins off again to learn some of the basic moves before adding the extra difficulty of essentially, having only one giant leg. Brianna, the instructor, made her fin-less dolphin kicking look graceful and flawless as she used her entire body to glide through the water, and when I tried, felt- and looked- more like a dolphin who had somehow made it’s way onto land and didn’t know what the hell to do. Luckily for me, there were only a couple of manoeuvres like this, because I sucked at them all and I just wanted my tail on. I got my wish and the three of us shimmied back into the long, glorious tails- mine pink, of course. Repeating those same initial manoeuvres but with the tail made a world of difference, and getting to glide so swiftly like that under water is something I have never experienced before, and I loved it. I felt like I just wanted to swim under water forever and never come up for air. If I had regular access to a pool, you better believe I’d be buying a tail. (You can actually own your own mermaid tail!) We were casually taught a few basic moves, like using our arms to propel us (which turns out to be a major arm workout), and swimming with our tail both face up, and face down, before moving onto some enjoyable (and instagram-worthy) tricks, like handstands and fin-high-fives. 

Everything was pretty relaxed, and the instructor just followed our lead to allow us to learn skills we wanted to, have fun, and have pictures taken all the way throughout. I felt like I was super unskilled, but afterwards in talking with Brianna I learned that many of the trial classes don’t attempt some of the stuff we did, or even venture out into the deep end- which we did almost right away. In my attempt to do a dive off the side into the water, I thought I would never even make it pulling myself out of the water, and flinging my body beached-whale-style up over the side. I made it though, it was amazing, and I’m sure it was super graceful. We ended our class with a group-choreographed synchronized routine that was completely random, but also awesome.  Once the class was done, I chatted with Brianna a bit to find out more about the classes they offer, and what they’re like. There are drop-in classes, for people like me who are new and looking for something cool to try, and there’s also packages for weekly classes, which are geared more towards the fitness aspect. AquaMermaid has been around since early 2015, combining the love of water, exercise, and all around fabulousness. The founder, Marielle Chartier Henault has done an incredible job of bringing forward this wonderful and unique option for a workout choice, and AquaMermaid is now offering classes not just in Toronto, but Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Edmonton, Chicago Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale and Phoenix. Classes are offered for kids and adults of any gender, and just about any age- as long as you can swim independently. But if you’re looking for a new way to spend some time on a Saturday, or are trying to add some flavour into your workout routines, I highly suggest giving these classes a try, no matter what your age or gender- as long as you can swim, you’re good.  Worst case scenario? You get some cool photos wearing a mermaid tail at the end of it, because let’s face it- if it’s not on Instagram, did it even happen? 

For more information and to sign up for classes, go to www.aquamermaid.com 

I recently had LifeLabs  come to my home to take my blood, and it was SO nice not to have to get my tired mom bum to the lab, before having my morning coffee (fasting sugars)!

I kept thinking how great it would have been to have this service available when I was pregnant with a toddler in tow (and even more so when I had both a spirited toddler AND a new baby!). I remember it being so difficult and exhausting just to get out the door some days, let alone having to negotiate with a fussy baby & a curious/impatient toddler in a lab/waiting room setting, and many, many meltdowns (sometimes my kids, and sometimes my own).

 

Under this service, a specially-trained LifeLabs technician comes to your home, your workplace, or anywhere you feel more at ease, to complete your blood tests, ECG monitoring, or holter monitoringIt’s a great service for busy parents, busy professionals, or anyone who might feel uncomfortable or nervous in lab situations or who has difficulty getting places, etc.

I think the service is especially great for new parents who are also caring for their own aging or ailing parents, and it would be such a great time and energy saver for everyone to be able to have a service like this available at home, instead of having to travel to a lab.

I personally haven’t had my own blood work done in forever, because this mama is forever taking care of everyone else and forgetting about herself (not good, I know. Mama, have YOU done your blood work lately? Isn’t it kind of sad that a cleaning at the dentist can feel like a mini holiday for busy parents? Anyways, I’m getting off track here – Be sure to get your own blood work done too), but I finally got mine done, and I didn’t even have to leave my home to do it!

You know, I never understood why drive-through banking was a thing.. then I had a baby.. and a toddler.. in Canada. That song and dance of getting kids in and out of the car – especially in the winter, or in rain, or even getting them out of playing in the sun, or if they were FINALLY napping – made me appreciate anything that could make my day easier, and this service by LifeLabs made my day!

To learn more about MyVisit™  click here.

One of the best things you can do to prepare for life with your new baby, is to learn about the little (and big) things you can do now, to help baby proof your relationships. I say relationships, because it’s not just about partners. Strained relationship with in-laws or other family members, introducing a new baby to older siblings, and well meaning (but not always requested) input and advices from family members, over stepping or not stepping up, understanding and setting boundaries etc. etc. etc.. The addition of a baby changes the dynamics, and no matter how strong your relationships are, things will be different.

Unmet (or even unspoken) expectations are frustrating and can lead to resentment. The sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, and requirement to be on parenting duty (All. The. Time.) are just a few of the stressors that can weigh on us. Often parenting styles aren’t discussed before baby is already on the scene. In one of our recent Mom & Baby classes, 90% of the moms said they still hadn’t talked with their partners about parenting topics such as, discipline tactics, or how they would handle disagreements in front of their child.

Romantic bliss can take a hit when a new demanding little customer shows up in your family. The reality is that your partnership is the foundation of that family, and in order to provide the best environment for your new bundle, you have to re-invest in your relationship with your partner. Just like financial investing, it matters where and how, you choose to invest. The addition of a child is one of the BIGGEST tests to your romantic relationship (I won’t even tell you how many people have confided in me that they have felt like punching their partner in the throat – Jokingly of course, but their frustration and resentment is REAL).

These are the reasons why I have decided that adding the relationships piece to prenatal planning is so important. If you are expecting a baby (not only for first time parents), please join us Sunday June 3rd for our Midtown Mommy-To-Be: Prenatal Workshop, to cover some of the things that traditional prenatal prep classes often leave out. Our prenatal workshop includes some extra time at the end to socialize, or to chat with our experts, so that you can leave feeling empowered and supported.


Parenting educator, and life & professional coach, Liz Berholz of Liz B Parenting, will be joining us for the Baby Proofing Your Relationships portion of our prenatal workshop. Liz works with families and individuals to help them discover their ability to create homes and lives filled with mutual respect, understanding, cooperation, connection, responsibility and fun. She helps them uncover their gifts and strengths to create effective change and live lives filled with their deepest dreams of success. www.lizbparenting.com

Have a baby shower coming up? New parents tend to get so much ‘stuff’ that doesn’t actually end up being all that useful. Try to think outside the box (or registry), and make your gift something that will hopefully help make the transition to parenthood just a little bit easier for the mommy-to-be..

Here are just a few gift ideas – that she either didn’t know to ask for, or doesn’t want to just come right out and ask for:


Meal Delivery. Not having to think about what to make and prepare for dinner is huge. I’m not talking about getting ‘take-out’. I mean those meal delivery companies that lovingly prepare tasty, balanced and nutritious meals for your family, making it easy to eat well and enjoy healthy meals. It’s also awesome when guests sign up for a post baby meal train. When visiting the new baby, bring something for the parents to put in the freezer and heat up later. Don’t make mama feed you – just bring the food to her, and tell her its for them to eat another time.

Parenting Support Services.  Parents-to-be tend to focus a lot on the actual labour & delivery, but birth professionals will be there to assist and guide them through it. Afterwards, when its just parent(s) and baby, can be challenging (and most likely sleep deprived). Baby care professionals are available to help beyond the birth, and can take some of the pressure off, while parents get to know and figure out life with their new little bundle of joy (ie. postpartum doulas, night nurses, sleep consultants, lactation consultants, baby proofers, carseat installation, etc).

House Cleaning. Either by sourcing the actual cleaning service, or by offering to cover some costs towards whomever they have hired – Having someone else do the cleaning beyond the regular tidying, when parent’s are busy with a new baby, is super helpful.

12 Months and up. The majority of gifts from others will likely be somewhere in the 0-9 months range. I know, I know, when it’s so little and cute it’s damned near impossible to reach for the same item in the 12-18 or 18-24 month size. Baby’s drawers and closets will probably be OVER FLOWING with 0-3 mo items (and more than half of the stuff most likely won’t even make it on to baby before they outgrow it), and gifted clothing thins out A LOT after the first year. I’m not saying to go and get something that the child will use when they’re entering middle school – that would be crazy – but 12-24 months stuff is pretty easy to hold on to and store for the short amount of time before it’s utilized. *Also think about seasonality, and what time of year baby is going to be wearing the size you buy.

Gift Cards & Money. Gift cards to coffee shops / baby-friendly establishments / massage therapy / hair salon / spa treatments / Mommy Connections (Mom & Baby classes or CPR workshops) or other local program registrations / anything drive through / etc.. Basically thinking beyond gift cards for the baby stores, lets mama know that you’re thinking about her too. Babies (and life) costs money. Designated towards something specific, or to be used at the discretion of the parents – Nobody wants to come out and just ask for it, but money to put toward the baby’s future is generally well received.

NOTE: If you’re contemplating whether or not to get the baby a stuffed toy, the answer will almost always be “No, thank you!”

 

The New Mom Project was started to provide marginalized families with some basic baby necessities to get them off to a great and loving start. The New Mom Project collects donations of gently used or new items and distributes them to families in need.

This year, in partnership with some amazing local mama run businesses, we are proud to be holding a Holiday Social & Pop-Up Shop, in support of The New Mom Project.

Get Flawless in Five with Beautycounter and City Momma Styles, followed by a professional photoshoot with Pictonat Photography, to update your headshot or profile picture. Enjoy drinks and delicious snacks while you shop for last minute holiday gifts from our line-up of amazing local mama vendors!

Proceeds from ticket sales, and a portion of vendor sales, will be donated to The New Mom Project. You can also bring your gently used (or new) items to donate, with you to the event for collection. Suggested items that you can donate: Diapers (open packs ok), Wipes, Toiletries, Blankets, Bunting suits, Snow suits, Carriers, Small infant toys, Clothing

Get your tickets today

#MomsSupportingMoms

We had a super fun Halloween Pizza Party, with Pictonat Photography, at Kidnasium by Kidz Oasis!

I just love this time of year.. I can’t think of anything cuter than a room filled with babies & toddlers dressed up in Halloween costumes!

This year we got to see some really creative parents work their Pinterest magic, and had a very hard time choosing our favourite costumes!

 

Thank you so much to our awesome sponsors – Panago Pizza for providing such yummy pizza & drinks, and Baby Gourmet for the shakers & pouches!

I’m still blown away by how delicious Panago Pizza is! Moms that attended our Halloween Party keep telling me how much they LOVED the selection of pizzas & juices. Panago Pizza now offers 100% organic Italian tomato sauces, made with organic tomatoes, herbs & spices. Ham, Italian sausage, pepperoni & salami made from pork raised without the use of antibiotics. Hormone free meats, fresh dough made in store daily, no artificial colours or flavourings used, and a variety of vegan and gluten smart options available, makes sure there is something for everyone to enjoy!

**A very special thank you to our door prizing sponsors – Leslie Uy, Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot for the Stella & Dot earrings, Olilibaby for the mitten clips, and Jubie Jems for the teething jewellery!

City Mama, County Mama: Zen & The Art of Toddler Maintenance (By Lonelle Selbo, Life Au Lait)

As my little man’s big Oh-Three approaches, I wonder to myself if there’s really any chance that those very real ‘terrible twos’ could possibly be nearing their end.

Not that he was terrible—if I look critically at the last year, I can see a gorgeous, spirited little creature, trying to become himself and find his voice in the midst of mommy and daddy’s concrete world filled with inexplicable, inflexible rules. His behaviour made perfect sense, but it still wasn’t easy for us. When he finally fell asleep at night, we’d spend hours trying to rationalize what had happened that day and what it meant about how we would deal with tomorrow.

“Well, he ate lunch 10 minutes later than normal…” my husband explained.

“And he had hummus,” I interrupted, “you know, I think he might be allergic to chickpeas.”

“Oh, and he also hasn’t had a poo today” he added, and I nodded vigorously.

“Aaand he got that new fire truck toy we didn’t let him take to bed.”

So, we were in agreement: a late lunch, hummus, no poos, and a new toy conspired to give our 2.5 year-old that huge hit of strength that allowed him to bust out of his crib tonight, for the first time.

Every day of his second year of life had been like this though. Our child, a blur of pure physical energy, muscles straining to find the infinite ceiling of their potential – the two of us struggling to intellectualize his every act. 

Why was he crying when we gave him what he asked for? Why didn’t he want to eat the thing that was his favourite meal yesterday? Why was he a perfect sleeper forever and now falls apart when we leave the room? 

And then it hit me. Kids aren’t jobs. They aren’t schedules. They aren’t math or physics or finite equations. They’re little people, humans, given to volatility and unpredictable emotion. And they’re just learning to be humans, so their reactions aren’t seated in logic or based on precedent. To top it off, each of their personalities is entirely unique and wildly evolving—so to try to fit them into any realm of grown up reasoning is to fail before we’ve even begun.

So, as the eve of our graduation from this mini-era grows closer, I offer other parents the only resolution I can find to the tried and true ‘Terrible Twos’: Be Zen. Be open to the capricious universe. Be accepting of the tides. Be a firm and yielding pressure between the land and the sea. Be the permeable shield. Be the unconditional retreat. Be overflowing with love. And be completely vulnerable to the magic that is your child’s exuberant march towards his own being.


From the green belts of Midtown Toronto to the endless pastures and lakes of Prince Edward County, fashion magazine editor Lonelle Selbo, lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes all things mommy—from cool toys to DIY home décor, pretty things to hip places, where-to-eat to how-to-grow, and mom style to toddler chic. Every month, she’ll bring a little County to Midtown Mommies.

www.lifeaulait.com

City Mama, County Mama: D.I.Y.ing My Super Boring Hallway (By Lonelle Selbo, Life Au Lait)

A few nights ago, Catherine (the MC Midtown director), messaged me to say she read and loved a post I wrote, recently published on another blog. “You write like a musician”, she wrote and I swooned at the beautiful compliment.

I have been in the writing and editing biz forever. I’ve been published more times than I can count and have directed dozens of magazines onto newsstands across the country. I’ve managed designers on countless projects, designed loads of logos since my son was born three years ago, and still, every time a new project hits my desk, I feel like I’m faking it.

A friend of mine just posted in her incredible blog about ‘imposter syndrome’—a term that describes high-achieving individuals who are marked by a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud.’ High-achieving or not, talented or a hack, successful or otherwise—every time I get a compliment on something I’ve worked hard on for a client or myself, it means the world to me. It’s a reminder that I’m pretty good at what I do, and that I’m helping other people succeed at what they do.

On that note, I’ve been working on a project over the past few weeks for the most demanding client on my roster: me. I can be a real hardass boss. I’m relentless in the pursuit of perfection and when it comes to projects involving home design and decor, my assistant (aka. husband) will attest to the fact that I’m the total, absolute worst.

Putting up paintings is the most frustrating, because I’m never 100% certain of what I want until I see it in reality—and sometimes I need to see it a few times before I’m really really sure. This means a lot of extra nail holes, a lot of rethinks, and a seriously pissed off drill-handling partner. So when I decided to reinvent my boring hallway, I wanted to make sure I could do a lot of it totally solo and compose the really annoying parts using design and layout programs on my computer, rather than in real time on the wall.

This DIY project was composed of three main parts.

Step 1: Find a kickass mirror that would fit between two totally awkwardly placed light sconces on a reasonably large, white, floating wall.

Step 2: Source or build a cool, but timeless console table or bench to serve as a furniture feature below the mirror

Step 3: Figure out how to fill the rest of the empty wall space without rewiring the electrics…if even possible.

The thing is, each of these steps has to take maximum 20 minutes. That’s the absolute longest I can spend on a task and do it well (which is why I break everything up into baby steps.)

1. Luckily, I had a mirror from the old house that fit perfectly. It was round with an ornate frame so not a lot of real estate in which to see oneself, but it was pointed out to me that there are a lot of mirrors in our house and as a higher traffic area, it wasn’t the primary place one would perch to gussy up. Okay. Fine. I can live with that.
Mirror, check.

2. My dad suggested we try putting this raw aluminum outdoor bench beneath the mirror and everyone pooh-poohed it. I was sure the bench would be too deep, too rough, too outdoorsy, but to placate him, I said we’d try it. It was stunning. After some humble mumbled apologies, I bought some spray paint with a primer and seal coat in one (20 minutes, remember?) in a gorgeous muted gold colour and waited for a sunny day with no bugs. Two coats (and cans) later and I couldn’t believe how amazing it looked. This was a total win.
Furniture feature, check.

Things were starting to look about 1000% better, but I still needed to figure out how to fill the rest of the space in a way that was attractive, but not cluttered, balanced, but not old-fashioned, and could work around those annoying light fixtures.

I took a few days to reflect on some spaces that I loved, and I remembered the wall at the Vic Café in Picton. Sonya, the owner, had created a combination of wall-hung plates and circular geometric designs that had a gorgeous effect.

3. I’d found my inspiration: a gallery design around the mirror and fixtures using various sizes, shapes and designs of wall-mounted plates. I went for a blue and white base palette and got to work. I already owned a set of vintage country-club-meets-fishing-lodge style plates (bought a decade ago for no purpose other than to gather dust in a cupboard until they resurfaced in the move.) The other pieces came from random places (a keepsake from Italy, a collectable from the family archives, etc.) and came together, bit by bit.

First I took quick photos of each of the plates, then shot them beside another plate for size reference. I measured the biggest one against the mirror and figured I was in a good place to estimate the rest. Cropping the photos and placing into a background of the bench and mirror, I resized everything to approximate scale and shifted until I was happy and everything was composed and balanced.

Then I printed out the final pic and stood with my husband, drill in hand, directing him plate by plate. In reality, I realized that “approximate scale” isn’t the best way to do things – the sizes were noticeably off. The plates were quite a bit smaller and some shifting was required. The design seemed to require an extra plate to maintain the composition, but I wasn’t sure. Again, real life is harder for me.

After some juggling, I decided to live with it for a few weeks to feel it out.

Do you guys like it? What would you change? I love to get feedback. After all, it’s not just compliments that make me happy, collaboration is what helps me grow—and ultimately, become much better at what I do!


From the green belts of Midtown Toronto to the endless pastures and lakes of Prince Edward County, fashion magazine editor Lonelle Selbo, lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes all things mommy—from cool toys to DIY home décor, pretty things to hip places, where-to-eat to how-to-grow, and mom style to toddler chic. Every month, she’ll bring a little County to Midtown Mommies.

www.lifeaulait.com

City Mama, County Mama: Welcome To The Motherhood, Baby! (Lonelle Selbo, Life Au Lait)

Well April has only just rolled into May and I’m already starting to feel worry pangs about summer being over. When you move to a place that people visit for sun and wine, your weekends get booked up fast with friends who want to ‘drop by’.

It’s awesome, of course, to live in paradise every day and still get to see the people you love, but it’s also a bit stressful to have the precious sunny season scheduled to the minute before it’s even begun. But spring is the catalyst for birth and rebirth, and I plan to enjoy the hell out of it, so along with a lot of cool things on my plate these days, I’m excited to announce that this is my first post for City Mama, County Mama, a new biweekly column I’ll be writing for Midtown Mommy Connections.

It seems so totally appropriate, as I start a brand new life in Prince Edward County, to share my experiences with the community that had a huge impact on me nearly three years ago, when I began my new life as a first time mom.

********************

When I got to The County, I knew a handful of people. I’d met them a few years before when I was very pregnant and writing a story for a Toronto-based magazine—a travel piece highlighting the amazing wine, food, and coolness of PEC. The people I met here were brilliant: a winemaker, an innkeeper, a chef, and a handful of others who were all amazing, but none of them were first time parents with little kids. And as much as these guys helped us with the who’s who and what’s what of our new home, once we’d moved in and found a second to breathe, I realized that I had zero mommy networks.

A few hundred years ago when I was in university, I didn’t have TV for about a year. Quickly, I realized that the biggest problem with that was that without watching any commercials, I didn’t actually know what to buy when I went grocery shopping. I couldn’t tell what was “meant” for me. It was a weird and memorable thing, and when I moved here I realized I was having a similar experience. I’d been immersed in the Toronto mom groups for so long and relied on them for absolutely everything. In this new land I didn’t know where to get a baby thermometer to replace the one that was lost in the move. I didn’t know who to ask about swimming lessons or if there was a good park and a bad park in the same neighbourhood. Where would my toddler and I go in the mornings if we wanted to play with other kids? Where were the secret beaches, the farm fresh eggs, and micro-greens? And where, for the love of all things holy, could I buy, sell, and trade kids’ clothes and toys!?

I searched for local Facebook groups with every keyword I could imagine and nothing kid-related came up. So, I did what all resourceful moms do in the face of adversity: I started my own community. I obviously found a good niche, because within two days there were a few hundred parents (and some grandparents) in my little group and they were all excited to be there and share knowledge with each other. Quickly, I got answers to all of my burning questions, found out where the Ontario early years playgroups were, and what other classes were on the table. The moms (and dads) were awesome, friendly, funny, supportive, and smart. The kids were the products of these awesome parents and my kid was excited to see his friends every morning. For the second time since becoming a mom, I felt the isolation and anxiety run off me—I’d found my people again.

********************

I remember sitting in my first Mommy Connections class at Gymboree, looking around at everyone’s face and wondering if they were going through anything like I was. Could that little girl with the flower headband sleep without being rocked all night in someone’s arms too? Did the mother with the wide eyes and freckles also feel totally out of control every time she left the house with her tantrum-prone, teething toddler? Were all of these women emotionally overwhelmed about how obsessively they loved their new little human? It was here, talking to these other moms, that I realized that we all have days where we can barely cope and days when our hearts explode with joy. The exact specifics of our situations may be different, but by loving and supporting the mama clan, we would always get love and support in return.

And now, with a whole new set of questions, doubts and joys, I know that there’s at least one universal truth: Whether you live in the heart of the 6ix with your little babe or on a pretty little island two-or-so hours east of it—there’s always a group of moms in your corner.


From the green belts of Midtown Toronto to the endless pastures and lakes of Prince Edward County, fashion magazine editor Lonelle Selbo, lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes all things mommy—from cool toys to DIY home décor, pretty things to hip places, where-to-eat to how-to-grow, and mom style to toddler chic. Every month, she’ll bring a little County to Midtown Mommies.

www.lifeaulait.com

Give your inbox a dose of delight.

Sign up to receive helpful parenting info, program updates, contests, and special offers - right in your inbox.

WE ARE HONOURED TO BE TRUSTED BY: