How to Start Moving Forward amid the pandemic


It’s been a hard year for mental health. Not that I have to tell you that.

No matter how the pandemic has changed your life — losing jobs, losing people, working overtime, parenting overtime — odds are it’s starting to wear on you as we continue missing family, friends, and any sense of normalcy.

Most people have spent the past 18 months just trying to get by. But going forward, we need to think seriously about how not to just tread water, but to propel ourselves forward despite this strange world we’re living in. There’s no telling how long it will be before we’re back to our old habits and routines. In the meantime, how can we take care of ourselves so that life doesn’t pause while we wait? The Fit Dallas Mom Blog explains how.

Schedule that therapy appointment

First, I want to address how hard it is to change your mindset on your own. It’s possible to undergo radical transformation through self-help, but it’s also slower and prone to setbacks. That’s why I’m a huge proponent of therapy.

Therapy isn’t just for fixing something that’s broken. It’s a means of getting a new perspective on old problems and a tool for changing patterns of thinking and behavior that hold you back from where you want to go. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is great for people who get stuck in cycles of negative thinking. Acceptance and commitment therapy helps with mental flexibility, mindfulness, and aligning values with actions. Psychodynamic therapy promotes self-growth by exploring the deep-rooted reasons underlying behaviors.

Don’t get discouraged if your first attempt at therapy isn’t a good fit. It usually takes a few tries to find the right therapist and modality for you. Luckily online therapy makes shopping around easy (not to mention COVID-safe).

Set and keep goals

Set your mind on achieving goals you’ve been putting off, like going back to school. Low-cost, flexible programs are available, and when you enroll in career-relevant online coursework you’re opening the door to career advancement and a higher income. Going the online route has many benefits, including the ability to go at your own pace wherever you wish, which allows you to continue working your job and tend to family matters without having to attend in-person classes on campus.

Pick up an outdoor activity

Are you spending more time indoors during the pandemic? You’re not alone. Some of that has been positive; however, all that time inside isn’t great for our health — and I’m not just talking about catching COVID-19. Indoor environments are a major source of air pollution and the more time we spend at home, notes The Verge, the worse it gets. Time indoors also promotes a sedentary lifestyle, contributes to vitamin d deficiency , and over time can even lead to a buildup of negative energy, stress, and unhealthy coping behaviors.

An outdoor hobby gives us a reason to spend more time outside, moving our bodies and soaking up the sunshine and warmth that’s so good for wellness. Walking and hiking, outdoor yoga, bicycling, rollerblading, gardening, and contact-free sports like tennis are safe options that don’t require a lot of money or experience to start. Of course, if fitness tops your agenda, working with a dedicated personal trainer can open a new door to customized fitness plans that work inside or outside. 

You can also invite the outdoors into your home. Open your windows daily to clear out stale, negative energy and let fresh air in. Invest in a few houseplants and remember to open the curtains each morning. It makes a bigger difference than you think.

Stay intentional about your relationships

In the beginning of the pandemic, we were hosting virtual game nights, video chatting with extended family, and sending postcards to old friends. But when restrictions began to lift, a lot of our efforts to stay connected slowed down.

As tempting as it is to fall back into solo time, relationships are important for our emotional well-being. I know that for me, the harder it feels to call a friend, the more I need it. Make a point to keep social engagements on the calendar and get into a safe social routine with your closest friends. Even if it’s just meeting up for a virtual coffee date once a week, seeing a friendly face boosts your spirits and makes life in a pandemic feel a little less lonely.

Make a point to also stay intentional about your relationships with coworkers, which is especially important if you’re all working from home. Isolation can be very difficult to manage with remote work, so finding ways to interact can boost morale, and it can add a regular dose of positivity that everyone needs right now. Consider too what else you can do to create more inclusivity for everyone, even if you’re far apart. 

Living through a pandemic has taught us a lot about ourselves and each other — like how resilient we are, how compassionate, and how much we can come together in a time of crisis. Yet there’s no denying this crisis has challenged us in many ways. As you look to the future, learn to let go of the things you can’t control and instead, focus on what you can do to keep life moving forward for yourself and the people you love.

The Fit Dallas Mom Blog is written by a mom, for moms. Read more informative articles today!

Written by guest writer Janice Russel

4 Facts You Need to Know to Protect Your Family From Ticks and Mosquitoes

Warmer temperatures mean more families are getting outside. If your family lives in an area prone to ticks and mosquitoes, however, you could be more worried about getting bitten. Mosquitoes and tick bites can carry serious consequences, so you’re right to be concerned. Instead of letting those concerns keep your family from enjoying the great outdoors and getting some exercise, though, why not focus your energy on preventing those bites? To make sure your outdoor fun isn’t ruined by these pests, here are some vital facts you need to know, brought to you by Fit Dallas Mom Blog.

Poorly Maintained Yards Can Hide Pests

Is your yard looking a little overgrown? If so, to keep pests in check, and keep your yard looking its best as well, consider hiring a gardener to help with landscaping tasks. Ticks can hide in tall grass, and mosquitoes love to hang out in unkempt lawns as well. In addition to sprucing up your yard, your gardener can also be on the lookout for any standing water or improperly draining planters around your property, all of which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Garlic Laced Foods Can Repel Mosquitoes

If you live in an area that’s prone to mosquitoes, you may already have some mosquito knowledge. Still, it never hurts to brush up on mosquito repellant tips. For instance, eating garlic on a regular basis may make you less appealing to these insects. As an added bonus, adding more garlic to your diet may also precent tick bites, which can reduce your family’s risk for Lyme disease, which can have lasting and painful impacts on health.

Tick Prevention for Pets Can Also Help Humans

Dogs and cats can bring joy to your life, but they can also bring ticks into your home. The best solution to keep pets from infesting your yard with ticks and other pests is to focus on prevention. Treat your yard with pet-safe pesticides, find a flea and tick preventative for any pets that venture outside, and be sure to check those pets for ticks frequently. If you find a tick on your pet, have a vet or vet tech remove it, to prevent additional issues. Also, stay vigilante for potential Lyme disease symptoms, such as pain or fever, in any pets that have been bitten.

Mosquito Prevention Can Be Fairly Simple As Well

If you don’t want to deal with the discomfort of mosquito bites, the best remedy is to take steps to prevent mosquitoes in the first place. By now, you already know the importance of dumping standing water and keeping your lawn trimmed. What you wear outside, however, can hurt or help mosquito populations as well. So if you notice mosquitoes around your home, be sure to cover your arms and legs before spending time outside in the evenings, and think about using a repellant on your skin. If you are bitten, you can use natural remedies, such as tea tree and apple cider vinegar, to help reduce itching and discomfort.

Mosquito Bites Can Be More Than Just Annoying

You may be aware of the dangers of lyme disease and tick bites, but you may not be aware that mosquito bites can be just as dangerous. In fact, world health reports indicate that mosquitoes may be the most dangerous animal on our planet, in terms of human health and safety. Mosquitoes are responsible for the spread of deadly diseases, such as malaria, which makes it crucial to know potential symptoms of mosquito-borne illnesses. Chills and unexplained pain after a bite should be addressed immediately, so if you or a loved one experiences them, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Bites from ticks and mosquitoes can not only ruin your family fun, they can also harm your health. So take the necessary steps to prevent mosquitoes and ticks from breeding in your yard. Also, make sure you know how to protect yourself from insect bites while you’re outside, and know how to reduce the potential for serious health impacts if a member of your family is bitten.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Survival Tips for Work-from-Home Parents With Young Kids

Written by my guest writer, Janice Russel of Parentingdisasters.com

Working from home has many benefits. You can eliminate commuting, saving valuable minutes, and leaving more time to spend with family. If you have a toddler or baby at home, however, managing child care alongside a busy workday under one roof can be a challenge.

Rest assured, this juggling act is a test of patience for anymom or dad. You are not alone. The great news is that there is a supportive community out there offering plenty of tools to help you manage a home office plus parenting. Fit Dallas Mom Blog is one, with a blog full of tips. A couple of other blogs run by parents who work from home that are worth checking out are Single Moms Income (which has great advice for dads and married folks, too!) and Catherine Alford’s site.

Read on for some additional tricks and tools you can rely on to help make working from home as a parent with young kids easier.

Set aside a dedicated workspace.

Creating a dedicated work zone increases productivity. It also lets you keep your computer and papers in one place, away from baby bottles or your toddler’s sticky hands. Having this separate space will also make it easier for young children or spouses to recognize when you’re working. You can even use colorful tape to mark off mommy’s or daddy’s workspace. This kind of visual indicator is easier for toddlers to recognize.

Follow these tips from SHAPE magazine for creating an ergonomic workspace that is comfortable and healthy. Invest in a proper desk chair and desk, and set it up correctly. In addition to configuring your office furniture, make sure your workplace electronics are configured for home office use.

Consider a career change.

If you’re at home with young kids, you may want to start thinking about a new career once your kids are old enough to attend school. Fortunately, there are many online degrees you can earn which allow you the opportunity to learn from home at your own pace so you can still meet your children’s needs. For example, if you’re interested in becoming a teacher, you could work to earn a bachelor’s degree in education.

Create a kid-soothing zone.

Create a kid zone with your little one’s amusement in mind. If your baby has that one rocking crib that always seems to soothe them, place it here. If your toddler has a favorite stuffed animal that stops the crying, make sure it’s there. Set your kid-soothing zone up near your workspace. As a work-from-home parent, it’s impossible to avoid interruptions during the day. By setting up this space close to your office, however, you can hopefully minimize the amount of time every disruption takes.

Take advantage of nap time.

As a work-from-home parent, nap time is your best friend. Take advantage of these quiet moments. For example, if you know that your child usually goes down for a snooze after lunch, this is the perfect time to schedule conference calls. Of course, nap time isn’t a guarantee. It can seem like the moments when you really need your little one to sleep, they simply won’t. The website Parents.com has great tips on helping your toddler nap, for example, by laying them down with some gentle music.

Call for reinforcements.

Remember, you don’t have to do it all on your own. If you have a partner to help, enlist their assistance. Sit down at the start of the week and compare schedules. What days do you each have critical deadlines or meetings? See if the other one can step up and take over child care during these times. Alternatively, you may have friends or family who can help. Another option is to hire a professional via an online platform like Care.

Be kind to yourself.

Working from home with kids clamoring around you isn’t easy. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Find time for self-care. Taking a hot bath after the kids are in bed is a great way to unwind. Also, take time to nurture your mental health by practicing mindfulness through activities like meditation and showing gratitude. These small acts will enhance your mental wellbeing and make you more resilient to everyday challenges.

Being a working parent isn’t easy. There’s scientific evidence to prove it, as surveys show that working mothers are more stressed. The above survival tips will help you get through the workday while alleviating worry.

I’d also offer the advice to recognize when you need to pause. For me, this is when I start snapping at my kids. If I notice myself doing that I try hard to set boundaries and realistic expectations with myself and my family. For example, “Mommy needs five more minutes, let’s set a timer and when it goes off let’s snuggle!”

Photo Credit: Pexels

Pregnancy leg day

I’m a little over 6 months pregnant now. My belly is getting bigger which means movements while working out are getting more difficult. However this isn’t stopping me from working out! Workouts are the one thing keeping up my strength and energy for the boys!

Today was a leg workout. 4 sets of 12! 💪🏻

Introducing your kids to a new baby

It’s hard to believe this was just 3 years ago! My little guy has gotten so big so fast. In a few short months we will be a family of 5! Fingers crossed Ryder handles baby #3 a little better than he did with Camden.😳

When I first brought Camden home from the hospital, if you were holding him, Ryder would just sit there and give you dirty looks. He would refuse to come near anyone that was holding Camden. He would actually tell me to put Camden down. He was not a fan. That first month was definitely one of the hardest I’d ever experienced. It broke my heart that Ryder had such a hard time.

Hopefully now that he’s been around Camden so long he understands that a new baby isn’t a “threat.” He’s so good with Camden now and even tries to share with him (sometimes).

I did screw up with Ryder in the beginning when I had Camden. I thought after Camden was born I needed to give Ryder a ton of attention to make up for the shared attention that was about to happen. People kept telling me Ryder was going to get jealous and would need a lot of individual attention. I shouldn’t have listened to them.

I had my mom spend a lot of time with Ryder as well thinking that individual attention was needed because of everyone’s comments. That actually made Ryders jealousy worse. When he actually did spend time around Camden and I, it was really bad. He just couldn’t handle it and would have melt downs and be extremely upset. What I should have done is let Ryder spend time around just me and Camden the minute I brought him home. I should have gotten him used to being around Camden right away so he could see he and baby will both get my attention. I think if I’d done that, it may have not taken so long for Ryder to adjust to Camden. By giving him too much individual attention, it’s what he expected all the time and wasn’t getting used to having to share.

Obviously now things are ok. We have our days where one kid needs more attention than the other. But for the most part they both understand they have to share moms attention and that they will both get the attention they need. I definitely learned a lot that first time around. I think I have the hang of it this second time. Fingers crossed!

Stay at home parents

One weekend my husband asked me what we had planned for the day. I told him nothing. We actually didn’t have anything scheduled. His exact response was “you mean we have nothing to do and are going to sit in the house ALL day?” I literally thought to myself “yes Chris we are, welcome to my life every day as a stay at home mom.”

Being a stay at home parent is NOT easy. Especially after having spent 8 years in a corporate job then a few years as a teacher. I was used to being around people. So it’s a very different world when you’re around one or two little ones all day, every day. We have our good days and bad at home. Obviously the bad days make it a lot harder on you mentally.

Don’t get me wrong, I love spending every minute of every day with my kids. I love that I don’t miss a second of anything they do. But it is very difficult not seeing adults regularly or having any adults to converse with daily like you would at an office job. For a good two years my oldest didn’t really talk. I would actually leave the tv on all day to Friends just so I had the sound of adults to listen to.

Anyone who says being a stay at home mom is easy has clearly not done it or has stay at home amnesia and forgotten how difficult it is. It takes a toll on you physically and mentally. I’ll be honest, I think being a stay at home mom has been harder on me psychologically and emotionally than either of my previous jobs were.

If you are a stay at home mom(or dad), you deserve the biggest gift in the world. If you know a stay at home mom, remember to have empathy for them. They’re doing a thankless job that they love but also really wears on them.

Toddler meltdowns

My toddler is in a stage of meltdowns. Even though he talks he’s still not able to voice or even truly understand all his feelings. He’s still learning. There’s two main causes for them we have learned.

The newest thing that causes meltdowns is hunger. He gets so busy playing some mornings that he doesn’t eat or will eat just a few bites of his breakfast. I get so distracted with the baby sometimes that I don’t notice Ryder hasn’t eaten or barely eaten his food. By 10am we will have multiple meltdowns if this happens. And it’s all due to hunger. When the meltdown happens, if we sit him at the table and get food in him, it’s like he becomes a different child. His attitude changes and you can literally see him go from mad, to calm and happy.

The other thing that causes major meltdowns is tiredness. If he’s overly exhausted he doesn’t understand the feeling so he has a meltdown. The only thing to fix this is obviously sleep. And of course he has a meltdown when we tell him it’s nap or bedtime. If I keep him on schedule and get him down for a nap before the tiredness hits I can usually avoid a melt down. But there are days that he’s been super busy and even when I stay on schedule, a meltdown is just unavoidable.

The toddler stage is super difficult, for you and your child. You’re both learning to understand their emotions and what causes them to feel a certain way. 💙

Working out when pregnant

Recently I was reading an article about current health and fitness statistics on pregnant women and I was a bit blown away. Less than 25% of pregnant women exercise regularly!

There have been so many proven health benefits to working out while pregnant. I think women take “rest while pregnant” too literally. Yes you should rest often while pregnant. But that doesn’t mean laying around all the time doing nothing. I notice a huge difference in my joints and muscles when I exercise vs when I don’t.

If your doctor hasn’t told you, then any google search will tell you there are so many health benefits to working out while pregnant. It helps reduce back ache, constipation, bloating and swelling. These are major things almost every pregnant woman battles with. I had minimal swelling while pregnant with both my kids and I credit that to workouts and drinking lots of water! Additionally working out can lower your blood pressure and help prevent gestational diabetes!

My doctor actually encouraged me to continue lifting weights through my pregnancy to keep my strength up. The only thing she discouraged me from is lifting an extreme amount that I’m not used to, or working out on my back. You shouldn’t workout on your back when pregnant because the uterus puts pressure on a vein that brings blood to your heart. Lying on your back can cause your blood pressure to drop and limit the flow of blood to your baby.

I understand some people don’t have access to a gym whether it be to cost or location. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do things at home. Walking, running, push-ups, body weight exercises, or dumbbell exercises (every sporting goods store sells them and you can get away with one or two sets).

I know there’s that one person who always says “I just don’t have the time.” Working out doesn’t have to be hours long. 20-30 minutes a day is all you need! Obviously it helps to eat a healthy diet as well. When you’re pregnant just the idea of working out may be exhausting. Of anything, a walk is better than nothing!

Food Aversions

This third baby is taking a toll on my diet. I swear I can’t eat anything without getting nauseous. With my second baby I was sick for maybe a month and it went away. But this time around it’s stretching a lot longer.

Strangely enough, the only things that don’t make me sick are: Ice cream, a tortilla with peanut butter, avocado toast, milk, pizza, cheese and vanilla cheerios. You’d think milk products wouldn’t be easy on the stomach and would make me sick. But weirdly enough they don’t bother it!

One strange food aversion I’m having that I had with our second baby is with chicken. I can’t eat chicken cooked at someone’s house. It literally makes me start gagging. I can’t even cook it myself without feeling sick. But I can eat chicken from a restaurant! There’s something about the smell of it cooking in the house that makes me sick. Since I can’t smell the chicken being cooked in the restaurant, it doesn’t bother me.

The first three months I was really battling with food. But now I’ve found a few items I can eat regularly with no major issue. So every day, I eat pretty much the exact same thing. I actually don’t mind it much because I’m a creature of habit and love schedules. I’ve always had my meals planned out days in advance so I’m not doing too much different than my usual other than being limited on foods.

This is definitely proof that every pregnancy is different! I’m learning as I go with each one!

Potty training win

Want to know what the biggest early parenting win is? (In my eyes that is)……When your child finally uses the potty!!

It sounds ridiculous to be making such a big deal of something like that. But when you’ve had to deal with diapers, it’s exciting to see the light at the end of the tunnel! Even if that light may be super far away.

Diapers aren’t cheap and if your child is like mine, they go through SO many. My child drinks so much water during the day. I swear it seems like I change his diaper every couple minutes. Yes that’s a bit dramatic and I know it’s not that often. But if feels like it!

Potty training itself isn’t terribly difficult. I would say the most difficult part for me was getting my child to actually want to go in the potty. A regular toilet scared him. I think the size was a bit overwhelming. So I got him a little kids potty. He didn’t like that I had it in the bathroom at first because it was close to the big potty. So strangely enough I moved it into the living room and tucked it behind a chair so he had his privacy. That’s when he actually showed a little interest in it!

I started by letting him run around naked and just reminding him he didn’t have a diaper on so he needed to tell me when he had to go potty. The first two times he didn’t even tell me. He walked right over to the potty, sat down and went! After that we had a few accidents. He peed on the carpet twice while playing. However he did stop himself. He started peeing then was like omg I don’t have a diaper on. He stopped, told me, then went over and used the potty. While I don’t love that he peed on the carpet, it’s all a learning process so I didn’t get mad at him.

I’ve figured out if I put “big boy underwear” on him, he can tell the difference in the feel of that and a diaper. So he will tell me he needs to go potty if wearing underwear. However, if I put pull-ups on him, he uses the diaper not the potty. It’s almost like it’s done out of laziness. He doesn’t want to stop playing to use the potty so he’s like ok cool I have a diaper on I’ll use that. So lately if we are at home, I have him just wear underwear (and pants) so he gets used to the feel and using the potty becomes a habit!

He does get super excited about using the potty. He would tell me he needed to go then when he finished he would excitedly announce that he used the potty. It was super cute! He gets so proud of himself.

I know we aren’t 100% done with diapers. But we are past the starting line! That’s a success in my eyes!