5 Ways to Decrease Mom Guilt During the Holidays

Christmas is almost here and mom guilt is in full effect. There’s presents to be wrapped, the kids asked for a new toy from Santa, and the cookies haven’t been baked yet. All while you still have to parent, work, and everything else too.

Not thinking you can get everything off your Christmas Bucket List done or making the holiday season as magical as it can be, it makes you feel bad.

In efforts to be nice to myself, I wanted to share some ways to I decrease mom guilt during the holidays with you.

Take a Deep Breath

Whenever I feel myself spiraling into mom guilt, I try to calm myself. Usually, I just need to take a deep breath and realize my thoughts and emotions are getting the best of me.

Believe me, I get it. There’s a ton to do, but if you can calm yourself with a deep breath and taking things one step at a time, it will help. In that moment you can realize what’s really important and what you can handle in the next five minutes, hour, or day.

You are one person and it feels like the world is on your shoulders. Don’t forget to breathe and remember you’re doing your best.

Buy Premade Crafts/Baked Goods

I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. It makes me feel creative and show other parents easy activities to do with your kids.

On the other hand, there are times I have NO idea how everyone’s getting things done… and so beautifully! It can make me feel guilty about where I am with the holidays or coming up with unique crafts or baking all kinds of cookies from scratch.

My big tip… buy premade crafts and baked goods. They don’t even need to be all the way done.

If you walk into Joann Fabrics or any craft store (even the dollar store), there are a ton of different fun Christmas crafts and activities. Mila and I have done quite a few this year and it was just as fun… with just as cute outcomes.

Plus, I am all for buying cake boxes so I don’t have to think about all the ingredients. Or they had premade cut outs that all you had to do was bake and decorate.

This is such a time saver for me while still giving me that feeling of doing jolly holiday activities.

Involve Your Child

Kids are seriously magical. They want to help whenever they can and what they do always turns out so precious… or hilarious.

Mila helps me out with so many different things during the holiday season:

  • Picking out/Making presents
  • Decorating cookies/cupcakes
  • Creating DIY wrapping paper
  • Picking up her toys
  • Practicing being patient
  • Voicing what activities she wants to do or not do

The root of the holidays and making traditions are the kids… so make them the center of it.

Cookies, presents, and all the other home things do not have to be perfect; especially during the holidays. I think it’s more special knowing a child helped with all of these things. It teaches them and helps you out too.

Another part of mom guilt and worry during the holidays is money. Mila and I always try to make gifts and they’re usually the ones most loved.

Involving children in the holiday hustle can really help with mom guilt and making memories too.

Take Care of You

If you’re anything like me, I put myself on the back burner. I constantly try to put others ahead of me and make sure the ones I love have everything they need… even if I don’t.

Whenever I’m in a bad mental place, I feel like my mom guilt is worse. I’m not at my best (or nicest) to Mila. It makes stressful times like the holidays way more intense. Not only do I feel bad on the inside, everyone else can feel it too.

Even when you have a million things to do, make space for you.

I know it’s hard, but you need and deserve it.

Personally, I love wrapping presents. It’s really relaxing to me and I make sure to put one of my favorite movies on with a big cup of peppermint hot chocolate. Honestly, it’s not much, but it gives myself space and takes care of my needs.

I would also suggest trying to get a babysitter so you can do things like that OR a self care day during this time.

The biggest message I’m trying to convey is to not forget about yourself. You are important and need to be taken care of just like everyone else, no matter the time of year.

Live in the Moment

Through the craziness of the holidays and trying to plan everything out, try to live in the moment.

Whenever I get so busy and planned out, I feel myself slip into autopilot or going through the motions. Honestly, the best parts of this past month is the moments not planned.

Mila and I went to the Akron Zoo’s Wild Lights on a whim. It wasn’t planned and we had so much fun. Another time, we were asked to go watch a play of The Grinch a couple hours before it started. Again, it was so much fun.

It’s easy to fall into checking things off your list, b it you can’t forget to live either.

Whenever I feel guilty as Mila watches a show while I’m rushing around, we hop in the car and go look at Christmas decorations and lights. It’s simple, but puts a smile on both of our faces.

Life is way too short to feel guilt and not soak up all these moments.


No matter what you need to do during this holiday season, remember you are doing your best. There’s no need to feel guilty. You are the best mom and parent to your child.

I promise they see your hard work and love you so much for it and for you just being their parent.


What ways do you decrease mom guilt during the holidays? Let us know in the comments.

DIY Thanksgiving Gratitude Sign

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This year, I’m trying to start a new tradition with my family: a DIY Thanksgiving Gratitude Sign.

Since there’s been so many events, people, and things in general that have happened in our family, I thought it’d be special for everyone to write it all out. It’ll be a snapshot of gratitude.

Who doesn’t need a little dose of that?

Like this year’s Christmas Bucket List, our DIY Gratitude Sign only uses craft paper and markers. To make it a little more special, I used some left overs fall elements from a centerpiece.

Then, just add tape to the back and it’s ready to go.

I added the first three items to the list: family, health, and laughter.

After looking at it, I decided to add my name to the sign too. Hopefully all my family will so we can all see what everyone says.

I think this will be a beautiful tradition for my family. It’s something I want to do with Mila as she gets older. Even if she’s not in a positive space, I want her to know that I’m always thankful for her. Plus, sometimes the things you’re most thankful for are ‘small.’

This simple and easy to make gratitude sign will make a big impact on Thanksgiving Day.


I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving and holds their loved ones close this year and for as long as they can.

With that, I know so many people grieving through the holidays. They are so hard. I miss Jensen everyday and am so thankful that he was in my life. No matter if you can’t think of anything else to be thankful for, I know a name can be powerful. Write and say your loved ones names.

I know anytime I hear Jensen’s name, I’m so thankful others are thinking of him. I’ll never be able to thank him and Mila for choosing me to be their mom.

How do you talk about gratitude during the holidays? Do you have a tradition like this? Let me know in the comments.

A Letter to My Son, Who Died, on National Son’s Day.

Dear Jensen,

It’s National Sons Day and parents are posting pictures of their favorite little guys.

When I see everyone’s post, I smile because every child is so special and worthy of being shared. They’re proud of their sons and when it was National Daughter’s Day, they were all proud of their daughters too. Just like I was when I posted Mila’s picture.

On that day, I paused and thought about all the grieving moms and dads whose daughters died. I know that sting of seeing other kids grow.

It helped me prep myself for this day, because I wish I had pictures of you at five.

Instead, I get to post my favorite pictures of you when you were born. It’s my day to share how proud I am of my son, of you. I get to talk about how you made me a mom and how even though you’re not here with me, I get to love you more and more every day.

You and Mila both know that every day in our home is kid’s day. In different ways, you and Mila are the focus of everything I do.

I still get to buy the ‘boy’ things and Mila brings them to your bear. She still talks to you all the time at home. Sometimes she even talks for you, with her deep Jensen voice. It always feels like you’re right there with us and I know you’re there. Just as much as Mila is celebrated, you are too, my sweet boy.

On this Son’s Day and all the future ones, I want you to know that you are never forgotten and that I’m so proud to be your mom.

You were the one to teach me how to love unconditionally and to show me the meaning of life.

I love you and miss you always.

Love,
Your Mom

My Response to My Daughter Being an ‘Only Child.’

Grief is an ever-changing entity in my life.

Since losing Jensen, I’ve heard the wildest things in efforts to help me ‘get over’ his loss. Now since Mila is three, it’s evolved.

I’ve not been shy in talking about how things can come off as rude or intruding. Honestly, I don’t think that anyone means to come off that way. They mean to be helpful, but it’s just not.

Anytime anyone mentions me having one child, I always let them know “I have two.”

Here’s what I wish I could say…

“Don’t you want more kids so she’s not an only child?”

I have more kids. He just died.

She’ll never, ever be an only child because one came before her. I’m fact, Jensen will always be her big brother. Not even death can take that away from her, him, or me.

If you have a conversation with Mila, she’ll tell you who her big brother is. She’ll let you know he lives in her heart and she loves him.

When we have guests, she shows his pictures off and wants everyone to hold Jensen bear.

She is definitely NOT an only child.

“It has to be lonely for her not having a brother or sister?”

Just because her brother isn’t physically here, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a relationship with him. She talks to his pictures and bear. When I hold his bear for too long, she gets jealous. She misses him dearly and always wants us to read his book. Her relationship with him is beautiful.

Mila also has an amazing set of kids she’s with all the time. Friends and cousins love her and play with her whenever she asks. She is in dance classes and will be starting preschool too.

She’s not lonely.

“Don’t you want to give her another sibling?”

She has a sibling.

My daughter grieves her brother. She wishes he was here and could come to our house all the time. We talk about him because he’s a part of our family. Our family just looks different than most.

If she were to have another sibling, it wouldn’t take away that she misses Jensen. Just like how no other child could fill his spot for me.

When she talks about missing Jensen, Mila has never asked to have another sibling.

She already has one.

One other thing… don’t ask intrusive questions about private lives. If you were supposed to know what was going on, you would.

It’s rude to assume that everyone can have a child easily. For a lot of people, it’s not.

Some people are healing from abuse.

Some just like their family unit just the way it is.

My Everlasting Flowers.

I always dreamed of Jensen picking flowers for me. We’d have a house filled with dandelion and wildflower jars.

Although I do have a house like that now, it’s not from Jensen. Mila brings as much love as she does flowers into our house. Our life is happy, but we will always be missing a piece.

For a long time, I’ve wondered how I could get the dream of flowers from Jensen. Then I got a random tattoo.

After that tattoo, I talked to the tattoo artist about Jensen and how I’d love a bouquet of forget-me-not flowers on me. I wanted to always carry them, just like how he always walks with me.

So, we scheduled another tattoo session.

In a couple hours, I have my flowers picked by my Jensen. Every time I see blue forget-me-nots, I think of him. Now when I look at my arm, I think of him and the countless amounts of flowers he’ll have for me.

It felt a little radical to get a tattoo on my forearm that can always be seen, but I love it.

He and these flowers are a part of our story.

Most of my tattoos are in remembrance of Jensen. I love knowing that even though he’s not physically with us, I can always see him in my body. No matter if it’s on my foot, wrist, or arm, I can always catch a glimpse of him.

By the way, Mila likes this tattoo way more than the one on my ankle. She loves counting them and telling me how blue is for her brother.

What’s your favorite tattoo that you have? Or if you don’t have one, what would you get if you did?

Jensen is FIVE.

I always need a few days after Jensen’s birthday to collect all my thoughts.

Five feels really big. He should be half a decade old. That realization is hard to wrap my mind around. Then I remember, I have to live the rest of my life without him. It’s a mix of seeing Mila grow older and knowing five holds so much that really brought me to a dark space this year.

Not that every year isn’t hard because having your child die really sucks.

Anyways, Jensen’s actual birthday was everything it needed to be. We still celebrate his birthday and I probably always will.

This year, I wanted to do an activity a five-year-old would love to do. So, we went to the zoo.

I want to go over how much we loved the Cleveland Zoo in a future post, but it was a huge part of Jensen’s fifth birthday. It would be silly not to share the highlights of the day.

My favorite part of going to the zoo was that all the animals were out. Since it was a cooler day, they were playing and being active. The big cats were all out and not napping. Even the bears were out of their caves and showing off.

Honestly, I thought of Jensen’s birthday eve book. We read On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman. In the book, the animals were all dancing the night the baby was born. It felt like the animals were out at the zoo for Jensen. I know that sounds silly, but those little connections are my only ones to him.

As with anything during child loss, I also wondered what animal Jensen would like seeing the most at the zoo. At five, he’d definitely have a favorite. Part of me felt like he’d have liked the red pandas the most. I wonder if he’d want his face painted too. Just those little things that constantly pop up.

I’ve finally realized it’s okay to have those sad moments in a happy day. Grief and happiness coexist in the strangest way, especially on their birthdays.

Of course we had dippin’ dots at the zoo!

After the zoo, we went out to eat.

There were a few birthdays that got celebrated and it was hard because Jensen didn’t get that. Mila is at an age where she wants to sing along with everyone else’s birthday celebrations when we go out. Yet, we didn’t get one for her brother at the restaurant.

I often wonder what Mila thinks of those types of things. It’s just our life, but it’s just something I think about.

When we got home, we had family over to celebrate Jensen and his birthday. There was ice cream cake, singing, and bubbles. Everyone said his name and that will always be the greatest gift of all.

Just knowing Jensen is remembered and loved brings me such happiness.

Throughout his birthday, I received so many birthday messages and love. I can’t thank everyone enough for that. The love that surrounds him and his memory is so beautiful.

I don’t know what this year of grief looks like. Whenever I try to plan something, it feels like it gets a little derailed.

One thing I want to do in honor of Jensen this year is a backpack drive to donate to a local school. Since he’d be a kindergartner this year, I feel like that would be a beautiful way to honor him. The closer we get to the summer, the more details and information I’ll have on this.

What I do know is that as we dive into year five, he is still so loved and missed.

I think about my little boy every single day. He is the reason I keep going forward and shapes the way I parent Mila. Jensen is a part of our lives in all ways. Even though he isn’t here with us doesn’t mean he isn’t in our hearts.

No matter how many years pass, I’m so proud to be his mom.

April is National Poetry Month…

…and a bunch more too.

April is not an easy month for me and this year feels extra difficult too. On top of my intense grief with Jensen’s birthday only four days away, I’m drowning in my last semester of school, work, and Mila’s birthday too. It’s a dangerous combination. Breakdown probably imploding soon.

Through it all, I’m trying to remain positive, even when it feels really hard.

This morning, I didn’t know if I was going to blog today. Instead, I took the morning easy and painted with Mila. Since it’s National Poetry Month, I thought it’d be fun to write a poem too.

My plan is to write a poem a day, whether I share it or not. It challenges me to think inward and be expressive. In a month where I don’t have a ton of time to self reflect or do a lot of self care, this will be my time.

For the first one, I thought it’d be poetic to write one about April.


April.
you hold so much of my heart,
i don’t know where to start.
you’ve brought me life and death,
promise you won’t take my breath.
your sun shines so hot,
my son comes through forget-me-nots.
you have flowers grow all around,
while my daughter runs all around.
you always tempt me to love you,
and one day that’ll be true.

It may not be the best poem around, but I think it perfectly describes this month for me.

Here’s what’s coming up for the rest of the month. Again, it’s going to be really busy here, but I’ll be around… promise.

  • April 4 – Easter & Family Pictures
  • April 5 – Jensen turns FIVE!
  • Mila’s Birthday Party
  • April 14 – Mila turns THREE!
  • April 22 – Earth Day
  • April 27 – Last day of this semester.

When it’s listed out like that, it doesn’t seem like so much. Yet, behind every single one of those is a lot of emotions and time. So, I’ll be just a bit busy.

Let me know if I should share my daily poems. Maybe I’ll paint too!

What Happened to Laundry Weekend?

It was supposed to be a laundry weekend.

Moms know what this means. We had a long weekend so all the clothes in the house were to be folded. Extra cleaning was to be done too. The chore list doesn’t just do itself. It was all supposed to be neat and tidy for the week ahead.

Even though it was supposed to happen, it didn’t.

All the clothes are still waiting to be folded. The floors are swept and the house is somewhat tidy, but not to the level it could have been.

Instead, I focused on the hardest job: being a mom.

Mila and I played outside most of time. We went to get dinner at a food truck and made new friends. When the weather was it’s nicest, we went on a hike. She made me wear silly headbands, pretending to be a pirate. I played along with all that she asked. At night, we cuddled and watched movies. I listened when she needed to be heard. She showed me her new superhero power. We did what we needed to as a family.

Even though there’s a to do list full of chores, it didn’t seem so important in the moment.

At this time next month four turns to five and two turns to three. Time is continuing on, even when I want to hit pause.

I’ll always think about the should be’s, the moments I missed, and the extra laundry too. The Jensen-size-hole in my heart is just aching a little more. It reminds me of the choices I make on weekends like these.

He reminds me of moments and why I soak them up with her. Things around the house will stay, but she’ll continue growing. I don’t want to miss any more.

So, if you ask how my laundry weekend went just know…

All the laundry that was supposed to be folded will always be there. These moments won’t.

6 Ways to Help Your Child Grieve.

When Jensen died, it was the first time I had ever felt that type of grief.

It followed me everywhere. No matter what I did, it felt tangled in my every day life. Honestly, grief is still present. Although it doesn’t control me as it did before, I can feel it deep down. It’s been creeping up lately, so have the tears, as we get closer to his birthday.

When I got pregnant with Mila, I wondered how his death would impact her. We’ve always said his name and she loves seeing his picture. Mila always says how much she loves and misses her Jensen. She’s not been the biggest fan of Jensen bear, but as of lately, she’s been more interested.

For the first time ever, I haven’t had to wonder when the first time she’d bring his loss up.

Before bed, Mila asked, for the first time ever, if Jensen bear could come and sleep with us. She picked him up and didn’t complain about how heavy he was. After she tucked him in beside me, she went and grabbed a book for us to read.

While reading it, she cuddled with Jensen bear and hugged him tight. As the story ended, she looked at me with her big eyes and asked why Jensen wasn’t with us.

I told her he was always in our hearts and when we missed him we could talk to him.

This answer wasn’t the one she wanted. Her mouth turned to a frown and I saw a familiar feeling. The heaviness of grief weighed her down. She misses him and doesn’t understand why she can’t have her brother.

I wish I could tell her why and make it all better, but this is the grieving process.

Instead of telling her it’d eventually be all okay, I held her tight and told her I missed him too. I let her know it was okay to be sad.

This is sibling grief.

I’ve been on this grief journey for almost five years now. It’s changed how I view the world and myself in it. There’s no question on if it’ll do the same to Mila.

It will.

Here’s some ways I’ve helped her grieve the death of her brother. Maybe it can help your child grieve too.

Talk openly about the person.

Let your child know it’s okay to talk about the person that’s not here anymore. By opening up that conversation, they’ll be able to express their feelings and memories about the loss and the person.

Get a physical way they can remember their loved one.

We love our Jensen bear. It’s a great comfort object that can actually help and squeezed. For toddlers and kids, I think a stuffed animal with a loved ones shirt would be perfect. Another idea would be a necklace or piece of jewelry they can keep on them too.

Start a journal with them.

Although Mila is a little young to be journaling, I plan on doing this with her when she starts to write. Sometimes kids don’t want to express their feelings through talking, a journal is a great way to get those feelings out without making them uncomfortable. There are a lot of ways to co-journal with your child too.

Encourage them to express their feelings through art.

Drawing and painting is a great way to have your child show you what they’re feeling. This could be incorporated as a journal or a weekly activity. Let them know there’s no wrong way to feel or express it.

Celebrate your loved ones.

I think one of the hardest things for people to grasp is there is joy in grief. As hard as it is to lose someone, there’s still all that love and happiness they brought too. For Mila, we celebrate Jensen’s birthday every year, we put up his Christmas ornaments, and include him in our family pictures. He is always celebrated with us and is included just as much as if he was actually here.

Let them be sad.

No one can make grief feel better. Sometimes you have to sit with that sadness. This goes the same for kids too. All you can do is listen and be there for your child. They’ll let you know what they need from you. Sadness is a healthy emotion when it can properly be felt.

If your child is depressed make sure to reach out to a therapist to best help their needs.

I’ll never claim to know everything about grief, but a lot of these things have helped Mila and I plan on continuing to incorporate them in our lives for a long time.

Do you have any other ways that can help a child through the loss of a loved one and grief?

The Blanket of Grief.

Almost five years after losing Jensen, grief feels like a blanket of snow.

It comes out of no where and all of the sudden. There’s a sense of beauty to it mixed with the coldest you’ve ever felt. Once you start to get used to it, it melts away and the season changes. Grief is complicated and is always reshaping itself.

I’ve never thought of it as snow or the winter season, usually just the ocean waves as it comes and goes. This year feels different though.

Somehow, it doesn’t feel like all this time has passed. Maybe the weight of time and the part of life I’m in has made me feel this way. When I saw Jensen’s angel covered in this literal blanket of snow, I somehow felt the instant beauty and cold at once.

Grief, for me, has its seasons. I can tell when I’m close to important dates or I’m beginning to feel it more heavily now with his upcoming birthday.

It’s beautiful to look at the love I will always have for Jensen. Mila adores talking about him and seeing his picture. The way he touched our lives in such a short amount of time will always be so touching. Love and grief are so intricately intertwined.

Then when it all comes down and lingers, the weight of the cold and loss settles.

His absence is so heavy. I cry knowing I’ll never have him again or Mila will never be able to play with her brother. Then, five years feels like such a short amount of time compared to how much longer I have without him.

These thoughts make me feel cold and alone. There’s no real protection from the cold and snow. You can put layers on or go inside, but it’s still out there until it’s time to go away.

Just as you start tackling it, the sun starts to shine a little. The world gets a little warmer and the weight of that season of grieving lightens up. Grief is always there. Always. Somehow you get stronger and can carry it through what’s going on then.

You always remember the sting of the cold, but you can live in the warmth of summer.

At this point in my grief, I go through my seasons of heaviness. I think about his loss and the hurt surrounding it. When I can move forward through the coldness, I still always carry him with me. I think about him walking through life with me and picturing his smile. He would want me to smile when I think about him.

I miss Jensen every single day, but the love and guidance he brought me is something I’ll always treasure. Five years later, and I’m just starting to get to this new season of grief.

It takes time and a lot of work, but summer will be here again. Then you don’t have to feel the constant, overwhelming weight of the blanket.