I was chronically busy and it had to stop

busy mom

“How are you?” a friend asked me at a conference a couple weeks ago. I could feel an inner push and pull as to how to answer this question. I had just checked into the hotel and was crossing the threshold from frantically getting deadlines done, making lunches, breaking up my kids’ fights, and keeping my home afloat, to two days away, to take a minute, reflect and reassess.

“Truthfully,” I started, “I’m burnt out.” I immediately felt guilt bubble up inside of me, scolding me for complaining about life, when I had it so good on paper. My business was booming, my kids were healthy and doing well in school, my marriage was solid and my house was in the midst of getting much needed upgrades and renovations.

But then if you scraped just below the surface, you’d see that my work was so busy that I was neglecting myself and my kids, leaving my body feeling tired and out of sorts, and my kids edgy and vying for my attention. Although date night was keeping my marriage copacetic, Mike and I have been craving more day to day free time to play with our kids and be intimate with each other.

And then there’s our house, oh our house… every room told a story. Whether it was my dining room table, unrecognizable under the boxes of products, random fall and Christmas decor scattered throughout leftover from hosting and filming videos, or my seven-year-old daughter’s room, so messy it was begging for little critters to find it, each room was screaming “I NEED ATTENTION.”

As I continued answering my friend’s harmless question, I heard myself robotically say, “works crazy, and life is a bit off balance, but that’s a good problem, right?” a nervous giggle followed.

“Not always,” she replied.

As I sat in on inspiring panels, and delighted in a mid-afternoon nap, (which only happens when I am away at conferences), it became clear what I had to do going home.

I had to fight for balance.

Balance, less stress, less frantic, how ever you want to put it, wasn’t going to walk up to me one day and say, I’m here! No, it was up to me to fiercely fight for time and to create a life which is less busy, but more manageable and healthy.

So, how am I going to fight for what I so desperately need?

I am going to say no.

I have a lot on my plate between now and Christmas. Social gatherings and work commitments and piling on top of each other. Now, it’s one thing to properly tackle what you have committed to. It’s another thing to close the flood gates and say, “I’m at capacity.”

I am going to drop perfection.

I can tend to have this personality that is very all or nothing. As a kid and teenager it made me tip into the “I don’t care” category, leaving me failing classes and skipping school. But as an adult, it’s tipped the other way. Perfection with work, neglect with myself and home. I will leave a little on the table when it comes to work. Know that I am putting my heart into everything, but quitting the second guessing and the tinkering and just get on with it.

I will make plans.

We’ve booked a BIG vacation. I will document it all, don’t you worry. But what this has done has created a hard end date to my busy schedule. I will take time off a hit the reset button coming back.

I will stop wasting time.

I know, I was squeezing them lemon pretty hard. But guess what? I have been setting my alarm pretty early each morning and doing a pathetic workout and playing on my phone. But today was different. I went to a 6am fitness class where I was held accountable and phones were not allowed. I plan to go to these classes every weekday.

I will stick to my work hours.

Although I may have to still do some work on the weekends due to the nature of the projects I am working on, I will stop working after my kids get home from school and shift into mom-mode. Even if I am not entertaining them, (which isn’t my job), I can be a listening ear while prepping a healthy dinner, making lunches, or tidying up. Actually my kids seem happiest when I am occupied with mom tasks instead of sitting at my desk, shut away in my office.

It’s been a week now since pledging these changes to myself amidst this busy season, and I am happy to report that the “frantic” is gone. Life feels more manageable. I will never get it 100%, but who does? What matters is a calm has come over me and my family. We have slowed down. That burnt out feeling has dissipated.

I am fighting for balance.



Today I felt joy and wondered when life got so serious

Today I skied. This was a big freaking deal for me because although I was an avid skier since age five, I gave up skiing when I was pregnant with my oldest child and never picked it up again. This was a ten year break from something that I loved.

As I whooshed down the hill solo, assessing my body to make sure I wasn’t about to break a hip, (I was ten years older and had birthed four children since my last ski experience), it hit me…

All of the stress that I had been feeling, especially from the previous week was gone. In fact I felt good. I felt alive. I felt ache and pain free.

As the cold air hit my cheeks I felt as though my troubles were an eternity away.


You see, although I share most of my life on here, or on my videos, there are some areas of my life that are sacred. Especially the lives of my children. Although I may share this particularly stressful situation with you one day, at the moment it isn’t my story to tell. But for context, I must say, I have been under extreme stress during the past week.

For the first time in one week, or 168 hours, my stress was one hundred percent gone. I felt free, like someone had cut this cord I was tethered to.

“Why,” I thought to myself as I carved through the snow, “can I not let go of this stress away from a ski hill. Why can’t I take a break from worry in real life?”

As I went up the chairlift, looking down at a winding creek below, it hit me, I had been carrying around intense stress and worry, thinking that if I took a break for even a minute the world would come crashing down, shattering around me.

That somehow because I was deep in the trenches of anxiety and dread I was fixing my problem. If I put down the worry for one minute, everything would fall apart.

But here I was, zipping down a ski hill, like I was 25 again, not a worry in sight, and the world was still in tact. It was still turning.

I haven’t been doing anyone any good allowing myself to be so immersed  in my stress that I am in physical pain, can barely tidy up, or prepare a meal at home. I am sabotaging my healthy eating, and I am an emotional wreck.

This particular stressful period of parenthood won’t be my last. In fact far from it. I have four kids who haven’t even hit their teenage years. So I need to figure out a better system.

First step, loose the guilt about taking breaks from problem solving and worrying. Allow myself to feel joy during each storm.

Remind myself that letting go doesn’t mean I care any less.

Letting go of the worry is allowing my head to go above water for a breath of air before the next wave.

I’m actually enjoying Christmas vacation… well, so far

toddler playing with doll

I am a routine freak. I don’t try to hide it. I need my routine. When pulled out of it, even for a weekend, I unravel.

But here I am, Thursday December 28th, and I am intact, mentally sound, and have not crumbled. Not even during the three straight days of family events, (some with two events per day). Nope, I’m as cool as a cucumber over here.

At least for now.

Maybe this is the sign of the times. I have emerged from the baby haze and can actually cope with life. Okay, okay, our twins went back to full-time daycare yesterday, so maybe I am cheating just a little. But hey, I have learned what works for our family, and I am taking full advantage of childcare so that Mike and I can spend some rare one-on-one time with our big kids.

Christmas morning

Despite the plethora of toys our kids were given for Christmas, I have still heard, “I’m bored,” already at least ten times. My response… saying you’re bored buys you a ticket to play in the mounds of snow in our backyard. This redirects them pretty quickly, especially since it is -23° C outside here in Canada.

So, I survived Christmas. It was pretty great actually, despite some kids getting over colds, and Beau having a bad fall on Christmas morning. It was mostly magical. I’ve added our last couple vlogs below in case you want to catch up on our Christmas vacation.

Fingers crossed I keep going with the flow, and can survive the next week. But for now I am going to enjoy the all-day pj rule, the midday movie outings (we saw Wonder today, it was incredible), and Mike and my evening movie dates enjoying our new basement home theatre.

kids playing

I hope you are surviving the holidays too, and are finding the unstructured days manageable. Fingers crossed!

The day I dropped the guilt and embraced our village


This post was created in partnership with Kids & Company.

One vivid memory I have during my pregnancy with Beau, is having Mike drop me off at the hospital’s labour and delivery room, (not in labour), sitting myself down, and feeling a flood of tears making their way out. Before I knew it, I was sobbing uncontrollably.

At the time, Holden was eighteen months old. I was struggling with a child who hated life at the time and I was about to bring a newborn into the mix. Without having said much about my then situation, two incredibly compassionate nurses rushed to my side as if almost knowingly, and proceeded to share their own parenting horror stories.

They then offered what I strongly believe to be the best parenting advice every parent deserves to be in on: “Get. Help.”

Before this I had never considered getting help. I assumed that as a parent it was my job and my job alone, to take care of anything and everything. It was almost as if these nurses had freed me from the guilt I would have felt had I sought after help. Their encouragement permitted me to be okay with the idea of asking and almost immediately pulled me out of my misery.

toddler and pregnant

I hired a babysitter to come twice a week to be with Holden, while I went out with our new baby girl Beau. Soon after, I moved him to a home daycare two afternoons a week, then three. Holden started to enjoy life more, being around his peers, and I was beginning to manage better as a parent.

Three years of doing this and being home, I was yearning to have more of a work-at-home-mom balance. With this new goal in mind, I looked into where I could use more help. I tried working part-time while my kids were first at home with a nanny, but we later realized that this new arrangement wasn’t quite right for our family.

Over the years my mural painting business, Nesting Story, (yes, that’s where Nesting Story began), transformed into a blog, we added two more kids to our family, and grew our village to include help with cleaning our home every other week.

newborn twins

Today, our twins (Mia and Everly), are at daycare four days a week and both our older kids (Holden and Beau) are in school and attend day-camp during the summer.

Kids and Company has helped our family establish a routine with our twins, prep them for school, and supports our family by creating balance in our world.

With every change in circumstance, I’ve allowed myself to be okay with getting help and it has made a huge difference in our lives. I am a big advocate for women’s mental health and I urge every mother to look for a way to find balance in your life, even if it means having to lean on a friend, family member, or any other support.

It is important to have a career and be able to pay for steady childcare for my kids. To create a routine that works for everyone, is what keeps my family healthy and happy.

It took a long time for me to let go of these expectations I originally set out when I became a new mom. I had this ideal image of myself having everything put together, my career and my family life being perfect. Though I have my career and (at most-times) a happy family, it took some help to get here. I urge you to rid your guilt, and really think about where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Don’t lose yourself in the shuffle. Carve your own parenting path, even if it means getting help. I definitely don’t do it all, and I heavily rely on our village.

With locations all across Canada, Kids & Company is a high-quality care and early development centre that parents can trust and kids will love. It started under the leadership of two moms (one with 8 children!), who felt there was a need for flexible care options in a setting with amazing teachers, community, proven development programs and an understanding of today’s families.

Whether it’s their Grab ‘n’Go snacks, parent workshops, or their complimentary care for date nights and shopping days outside of regular hours, nothing has been forgotten.

Here’s where it gets exciting… right now Kids and Company is waiving the registration fee (a $150 value) for Nesting Story readers! Just email msawatzky@kidsandcompany.com to access this exclusive offer.
One waved registration per family for a newly registering child before December 31, 2017. Subject to availability.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kids & Company. While compensation was provided, all opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the opinions of Kids & Company.

I’ve Decided To Start Clocking Out From My Mom Job

This morning I woke up and I was already done. My “patience bucket,” as we call it in our house was empty and I was running on fumes.

As I finally sat down to my now cold breakfast, after racing around getting my four kids their food first, my five year old started grunting like an animal, gesturing at the napkins in front of me.

I glared back at her, seething with frustration, and said, “mommy, may I have a napkin please? That is what I need to hear if you are going get a napkin.” She rolled her eyes and repeated the words with a twinge of angst in her voice. I passed her the napkin as I used every fibre in my body to hold back the explosion bubbling below the surface.

As I drove everyone around to school and daycare, thirty hectic minutes later, I could feel it coming… this all to familiar feeling of my mind breaking apart, my cheeks hot and knowing I had nothing left.

It wasn’t even 9:00 A.M. yet, and I was utterly depleted.

I requested quiet in the car and blamed me needing to concentrate on my driving, as I request all too often.

I just needed silence.

Lately I have been trying to find a new balance in my world. For a while now, while I run my own business from home, I have poured almost every penny into childcare. Recently after some very honest discussions with my husband, we decided to cut our two youngest kids’ daycare, (the ones who aren’t in school yet), in half.

So, here I am. Still working just as hard as ever, often during naps, but I am also momming hard too.

I have been making more of an effort to really enjoy my four kids more, involve them more, and focus on them more during the day. That has included reading more, playing more, cooking with them more and basically just participating in life with them more than I had when I was still in the trenches after having our twins. I am really enjoying it too.

But by about 5:00 P.M. each day I can feel a shift happen, and it’s not really fun anymore.

It’s work. Hard work.

Because my older kids are going to bed later and later, my evenings are including more reading, help with homework, or a game night. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is there too, and he is all about family (which includes me) all. the. time.

By the time the big kids are finally in bed, my husband and I eat dinner and binge watch which ever TV series we are into. Or at least he’s into and I am kind of into.

But here’s the thing… I have loaded a whole bunch of extra stuff on my plate lately, and haven’t protected any time for me.

I’d really like to get back to working out. Or maybe start reading again… you know, real books? I haven’t read a book in about seven years, which is pretty sad when I really think about it.

I’d love to have a bit of gravy work time. Just a bit of extra time that isn’t already dedicated to a deadline, where I can just work on something creatively, without pressure.

I’d love to have a hot bath. A long hot bath, where I can just lay there long enough to get wrinkly fingers and toes. Maybe, just maybe I could soak long enough that I’d have to add a bit more hot water… ohhhh while reading a book. Yes, a long hot bath while reading a book.

Sorry guys, I didn’t mean for this to turn into porn for moms. Back to the point.

As I finished my morning drop-offs, it finally dawned on me. I need to start clocking out from my mom job.

Stay with me.

I had a pretty amazing childhood. My parents are still happily married, and I too was one of four kids.

My mom mommed hard everyday too. But guess what? After my dad arrived home from work, and we had all finished dinner, she passed the torch to him.

My mom would spend every evening washing dishes in an empty kitchen, because she would request some quiet. Then head upstairs and have a long bath while reading yet another book. Well, this was her routine on the nights that she didn’t go out and pursue her dream as an opera singer.

She clocked out of her mom job in the evenings, and we all respected this fact. There was no guilt trip, no being made to feel bad, no mom shaming. It was the way it was and it worked for everybody.

While my mom was doing her thing, my dad would head to the basement with all of us, and we would wrestle, (picture a litter of puppies, only the puppies are children), play games, or go outside.

Even in the dead of winter.

After a couple of hours my dad would go take his own break, while we watched a bit of tv, or just entertained ourselves before reuniting with my mom, who would read us a book and put us to bed.

I have amazing memories of my evenings as a child. My mom was onto something.

As I pulled into our driveway and started to prepare myself to get as many deadlines done as I could before I picked up our twins in a couple of hours, I phoned my husband.

I explained to him how I felt, and that I needed to be off parenting duty more in the evening. I reassured him that we will still spend quality time together, but I needed this. He quickly agreed, I think because he had witnessed my breakfast death-stare.

Don’t get me wrong, there will still be cuddles, and books and bedtime routines, but I am off the hook in the evening. I have found that chunk of time each day for me that I so badly need.

People say that being a parent is the hardest job in the world, and I would have to agree. It’s very rewarding, but it is a lot of work, and it drains your mind, body and soul. We have to create more boundaries so that we don’t loose ourselves in it, or the joy about it.

I think my family is going to be just fine without me in the evenings.

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