Top Posts of 2018

The top blog posts of 2018 for the Courtney Kramer Blog. This past year a lot of my writing centred on being a mom. My writing has evolved over the years as my life has changed.

 

First of all, thank you for reading my blog! I appreciate every comment, view and share of my posts more than you know. I started this blog back in 2013 because I had so many thoughts floating around in my head that I wanted to share with others. I have always been into journaling so blogging was a natural extension of my love of writing.

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What I Wish I’d Known as a New Mom

Becoming a mommy has been the most incredible experience. It’s a feeling I cannot describe. Even on my darkest days postpartum as a new mom, I felt such a deep love for my baby. Now a year later I have a much broader view of the first year. I have perspective compared to in the thick of newborn days. I’m not going to lie bringing home a new baby was a total shock. I remember going into our church nursery at 4 weeks postpartum and asking how mom’s with multiple kids did it. A year later I know it’s possible to make it through the infant stage to the cuddly, kisses on our face, hugs around the neck, starting to talk stage.

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How Do You Know You’re Ready to Have a Baby?

Deciding to try for a baby is a big decision for any newlywed couple. Although there is no perfect time there are better times to try for a child.

There is no perfect time to have a baby but there are better times. This post is by no means a checklist of things to have in place before having a baby. Rather it’s a list of things a couple may find helpful to discuss before starting their family. As I note at the end only God is the one who gives life and each life is a precious gift. 

Full disclosure we got pregnant nine months after our wedding while I was in my last semester of university. Looking back I wouldn’t reccommend being pregnant while in school because it was very stressful. However, it can be done and I did have the benefit of a very flexible schedule to accommodate all my appointments. 

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5 Ways to Stay Strong Mentally as a Mom

As a new mom or really anyone leading a busy life, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by one’s present circumstances. Maybe you feel stuck or like things will never change or improve.

However, a goal I have for this year is to overcome my mental outlook and instead of being lead by my feelings into despair and sadness I’m working on telling myself how to feel.

My daughter is a great source of joy and I find myself choosing to be happy for her instead of moping around feeling sad or discouraged. She deserves to be happy and I want her to feel secure and loved despite how I’m feeling on the inside.

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My Favourite Baby Products Newborn to 3 Months

Being a first-time mom I did a lot of research on what baby products to have ready for when Lyla arrived. However, you don’t really know what works until your baby is here. For our family, these products have worked well, were mostly inexpensive and made caring for a baby easier. A major goal I had when researching baby items was to find stuff we could get a lot of use out of and not have a ton of baby stuff to store later on.

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Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum

Lyla is six weeks old and I finally feel like I’m emerging from the postpartum fog. I expected birthing her to be hard but I was not prepared for the unique and unexpected trials of postpartum life. Of course, I’m so happy to have my sweet daughter but I’m not enjoying the challenges postpartum has brought to me personally. Everyone’s recovery and experiences are different but I want to share my experience in the hope that if you are pregnant or postpartum we can support each other in our journeys.

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Baby K’s Baby Shower

I’m currently 39 weeks pregnant which means we are one week from my due date of October 17! I can’t believe how fast this pregnancy has flown by after the beginning stages feeling like they lasted forever. Alas, we are all ready for Baby K (thanks in part to the generosity of my baby shower) and are so anxious to meet her and introduce her to everyone.

Our wonderful church family hosted the most beautiful shower

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Me, my mom, sister and grandma’s <3

Baby shower for Baby K hosted by church. Learning to trust God in the midst of major life changes like moving to a new city with a newborn.
Such a beautiful and well-planned shower hosted by our church family! Baby K got spoiled <3

Baby shower for Baby K hosted by church. Learning to trust God in the midst of major life changes like moving to a new city with a newborn.
I can’t even handle the cuteness of this coat!

I’m also set to officially graduate on October 27! Currently, I’m unsure if I will be able to attend the ceremony. Yet I am going to try my best not to miss this monumental moment. Upon graduating and having Baby K I plan to take some time off. Although in the interim I would like to volunteer within my field, attend some networking events and a Home Economics conference in March.

Baby K is not the only change to our lives this fall, as Michael has started a new transportation job in a steel factory and as a result, we are moving. Although all these changes are good for us I’m also sad to be closing a chapter of our lives.

On the one hand, I appreciate that upon moving we will be less than 20 minutes from Mike’s work rather than an hour and he won’t have to traverse snowy, deer infested backroads anymore. Although moving is not fun, packing up our apartment has helped me pass the time while waiting for Baby K. Furthermore we will be closer to Mike’s family and still within an hour of my family.

However leaving our quaint small town, possibly our church and an area that I’ve lived in my whole life to move to the outskirts of a large city with a newborn is not the easiest transition. That being said we did only move to our current location to allow me to finish University and knew that eventually, we would be relocating. Nonetheless, I will miss the walkability of our neighbourhood, our late night McDonald’s runs and the charming rural atmosphere of our community. Our first tiny apartment and wonderful town we’ve called home for the past year and a half will always hold many special memories for us.

To be honest, as I think about these changes I can often get wrapped up in my emotions. I want things to stay the same although I know that’s not the best for us. I wonder if we will be able to find the same community we experience now with our church, whether I’ll meet other young moms and make friends and how long we will live in this next location.

I can at times get too consumed with worrying and certainly hearing others concerns also makes me worry more.  Yet, at the end of the day, I quell my fears by trusting that a lot of what’s happening in my life is not in my hands. We prayed for God to open up this opportunity for a better position for Michael and he proceeded through the hiring process fairly quickly. Furthermore, He provided a larger place for us to live that we could move into not long after the baby comes. Plus Michael only has to commute a long distance for a limited time. Certainly, there are upsides to relocating and I don’t need to worry about the future.

I have to put my trust not in man, or my husband or other people but in God. I know that no matter what happens or where we move He will watch over me and protect me. The best thing I can do when I feel uncertain or overwhelmed is to pray about the situation. Only God can change hearts, or direct others steps. I may have an influence but God has the power to effect His will in our lives.

A man’s heart devises his way: but the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

I have to leave my anxieties, worries, and questions with God. I have to trust my husband and know that these next steps are what is best for us as a family, although it’s not easy for us, it’s good. As a wife, I want to be supportive of my husband.

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phillipians 4:6

I’m not perfect at espousing these truths and sometimes my pregnancy hormones make me cry when I think about all the coming adjustments. Most of the time I am excited and look forward to the future but other times I feel uncertain of this new chapter. I will have family close by so that is a huge blessing for sure.

However, my deepest desire and comfort rests not in man but in trusting God through prayer and dwelling on His word.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
    He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to Him,
    for God is our refuge.

Psalms 62:5-8

5 Way’s to Prioritize Self Care

The first time I heard about self-care was from my practicum professor who also happens to be a therapist (class felt like a therapy session because we just talked about our practicums and ate food, it was literally the best.)

Why do You Need Self-Care?

Our professor knowing that we all lead stressful and busy lives especially as students on the cusp of graduation or grad school encouraged us to make self-care a priority. She shared how taking a hot yoga class when she’s really stressed or spending time with horses helped her maintain a balanced life.

During this time I was under a lot of stress from school, life and being pregnant (but also not knowing it, I was very emotional and overwhelmed). I really needed to hear this message of taking care of myself beyond my physical needs and my daily work of school and home.

 

5 Tips to Prioritize Self Care

What is Self-Care?

In short, self-care consists of taking time for yourself to recharge and take a break from the pressures of life. It may seem selfish to want to make ‘me time’ a priority but as my professor explained to us it will enable you to be a better person for yourself and to those around you.

Self-care is especially important for women as we take on so many roles and are relied upon by multiple people. In fact, when I’m not taking care of my well-being I tend to suffer-emotionally, physically and relationally as I did during the beginning of my last semester.

However, when I do make time to do things that fill me up I feel energized, loved, taken care of and more motivated and inspired to accomplish the more mundane tasks in my life. Plus I’m a happier person because I’m not relying on those around me to satisfy that need.

Self-care doesn’t have to expensive or take a lot of time. The main thing it involves is intentionality or else it’s just going to fall to the side. Below I have 5 tips to get you started on ideas for self-care and how to make it fit with your life.

Find Out What Recharges You

First, without taking the time or your schedule into account brainstorm a list of activities that you find enjoyable.  Think about hobbies you gave up in the past or interests you never got around to trying. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn ceramics, or you really enjoy reading, perhaps it’s the yoga class you never signed up for, or gardening, writing, browsing the bookstore, seeing friends, even getting your hair done. Let your mind wander and write down any ideas that pop up.

Personally, I feel recharged after I spend quality time with a friend or family member I haven’t seen in a while, treating myself to a Starbucks date, going on a walk, listening to a podcast, taking a bath, baking, reading a good book or even going for a run.

Schedule Self-Care

Next, take a look at your schedule and determine where you have the margin to fit in self-care. Is it after work on Tuesdays, Sunday afternoons, before everyone wakes up, during nap time or perhaps you can book a day off work once a quarter to do something extra special.

As I said above if self-care is not a priority it will never get accomplished. Just like scheduling a doctors appointment write down or make a mental note of when you can have time just for you. It might take some juggling but remember when you take care of yourself everyone around you benefits.

Take it One Week at a Time

Perhaps in your current season of life, you can’t commit to a weekly class or taking time off work. That’s okay! Maybe all you can manage is a weekly bath and reading your book for 15 minutes. The important part is to make sure self-care is part of your weekly routine.

Evaluate Your Self-Care Routine

In addition to making time for self-care and taking it season by season, take the time to evaluate how your self-care routine is working. Are you feeling more fulfilled in your daily life? Do you have more or less time in the coming months for self-care? Is there something you would like to change or a new activity you’d like to try?

Life is constantly changing, it’s important to make sure your routines are being adapted to fit your lifestyle or else they become another thing that can bring you down and make you less productive.

Find Creative Ways to Incorporate Self-Care

In addition to scheduling time for just myself which I also encourage my husband to do, I like to include self-care while I’m doing mundane tasks. For example, while I’m doing the dishes or driving I’ll listen to a podcast. Sometimes it’s a lighthearted and entertaining one like the Popcast or a more at times serious and inspiring one like the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. Or maybe you don’t have time to read so an audiobook is a better choice. In fact, most libraries offer free downloads of audiobooks. I love that I’m able to be productive while still taking time for myself

I’m not a mom yet but I do know that when Baby K gets here I’m going to make it a priority to make sure we get out of the house. Whether we walk to get coffee or to the library, I know we’ll both benefit from the activity.

Plus when you model that taking care of your mental health is important for your children they will take notice. Even if they are young, having quiet time once a day can demonstrate that having alone time is important and that mom needs time for herself in order to be the best mom she can be.

Spend Quiet Time with God

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the number one thing in my life that keeps me steady, hopeful and able to face each day. That is my relationship with God. Spirituality is something that oft gets looked over. Yet it’s so related to our mental health and well being it cannot be ignored.

For me spending time with God is simple. I first spend time in prayer thanking God for all the blessings in my life no matter how big or small they are, I talk to God about my worries, I confess sins in my life, I pray for my husband and our marriage, my family, safety, health, friends, just anything that’s going on in my life. Remember it’s okay to share anything with God or ask for help in areas where you’re struggling. The psalms are a great example that it’s okay to tell God our honest feelings.

Following a time of prayer which I may or may not also write down, I use a tool called She Reads Truth. This website has reading plans that also provide a devotional for each day. Currently, I’ve been reading through Romans and before that, I went through the Song of Solomon. This tool has been very effective in helping me stick to doing devotions because it lays out what to read. First,  I’ll read the assigned passages, usually out loud so Baby K can hear too and then reread the passage and take notes on what the author is saying and how I can apply it to my life. Even if I never come back to these notes, writing it down helps solidify what I’m learning.

Finally, I’ll read the short devotional accompanying the readings. Usually, it contains a helpful commentary on the big picture and other themes I haven’t considered. Perhaps if you don’t know where to start in having a devotional this website would be a great resource. Just try to find what works best for you and stick with it.

Overall scheduling time for yourself is not selfish, it means that you care about your mental health and want to be the best you. Don’t feel guilty if you need a night off once a week or have to make room in the budget. In the long term, it is so worth it not only for yourself but for your family and everyone around you.

In Summary:

  • Find out what recharges you
  • Schedule self-care
  • Take it one week at a time
  • Evaluate your self-care routine periodically
  • Incorporate self-care in creative ways
  • Spend quiet time with God

Finally, here’s a great mantra to remember “Create your own sunshine”

Find things that bring you joy and make them a habit. 

5 Ways to Prioritize Self Care

 

10 Ways to Create Your Own Sunshine Today

buy fresh flowers

get a manicure

print off pictures

go for a walk

write a gratitude list

take a bath

schedule a coffee date with a friend

read a book

treat yourself to a special drink

colour

For more great tips on incorporating self-care be sure to check out this post by Lisa from Lisa Designs Life, she has a lot of tips to make self-care part of a busy life.


What are some of your best tips for self-care?

What activities help you feel recharged?

I’d love to hear!