This past, Canada Day, weekend I took a well-deserved girls trip to Tofino! And it was beautiful! For those that don’t know its a small town on Vancouver Island and is a quaint little fishing spot with some breathtaking ocean views. I went with a small group of (eight!) friends to relax and do some exploring. We caught an early ferry to Nanaimo and then drove across the Island to Tofino. En route we stopped at West Coast Wild where some of the group did zip-lining and some did kayaking and paddle boarding. Not being a fan of heights I decided to stick to the water, the thought of paddle boarding was terrifying to me but I navigated the water first with the kayak and then reluctantly tried the paddle board. As soon as I gained my balance on the paddle board I loved it! I would most definitely do it again!
The journey took us about 6 hours including the ferry ride and I was car sick! I hadn’t felt this type of nausea since being pregnant and it made me feel so blah. I stopped reading my book (Eat Pray Love!) and closed my eyes taking in some deep breaths and trying not to throw up. I was so glad to finally reach our destination. We stayed at the Crystal Cove Resort, in a self-contained beach facing cabin. The cabin was fully equipped to house all eight of us! It had two bedrooms, two living rooms (with two pull out beds), two bathrooms, full kitchen, hot tub and deck. I would highly recommend this place to anyone heading out there- they are especially child-friendly. The staff were really friendly and very helpful they made our stay very comfortable.
We spent our time exploring the beaches and (most of us) biked 20 km to downtown Tofino. We rented bikes from TOF Cycles- http://www.tofcycles.com/ and we were so happy with the great service Marc, the owner, provided. He happily delivered the bikes for us to the cabin and took the time to show us the best route’s on the tourist map as well as where to stop for food. (Fun fact: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also rents bikes from Marc when he is in town!)
The beaches of Tofino are amazing for a Canadian beach (haha)! my two personal favorites, were Cox Bay and Long Beach, both had miles of soft golden sand with endless ocean views. It felt so nice to be out of the hustle of Vancouver and on a serene beach watching the waves come in and the sun set every evening. There is a unique pleasure you feel being so immersed in nature. For any avid surfers, Tofino beaches, are a surfers paradise! Luckily the weather was also perfect but anyone heading out there please take a warm sweater and blanket for the beach as it quickly gets chilly in the evenings!
It was an easy decision to go, how could it not be? A chance to relax, enjoy some quality time with my friends and explore a new territory! The trade-off, however, was this would be the first time I would be away from both my little cubs overnight and that too for a few days.
Ah Hello, Anxiety! My old friend…
Mummies often find themselves feeling anxiety at the thought of leaving their little babies after spending so much time with them, we’re so used to tending to their every need it becomes so hard to let your guard down and think someone else can take care of them. Relax Mummies! Stop, Pause and take long deep breaths. I like to imagine I’m walking through a woodland, the sun streaming through the trees and the smell of pine in the air, in this calmness I reminded myself that my children would be well taken care of by ‘My Village’ who in this case were my family.
The concept of ‘The Village’ comes from an African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” and like every proverb, it means something a little different to everyone with their own unique perspective. To me, it means that parenting is not only the responsibility of the parents but, also their tribe/community. This can be anyone; parents, siblings, aunts & uncles, relatives, friends, colleagues etc.anyone who has a meaningful contribution to your children’s upbringing. ‘The Village’ becomes a source of support and knowledge which helps you to navigate the ever-changing role of parents. Once I realized this truth and recognized the ever valuable members of my tribe, I was able to breathe a little easier and come to grips with leaving the children, knowing that they would be fine without me.
It is a difficult concept to understand within our western society to implement the village, as most families live in a single family home and the care and upbringing of the children fall solely on the parents. This responsibility then falls further on the mother, this isn’t to say that the father isn’t involved, but because she bears the child, gives birth, then may (or may not) breastfeed she feels more weight lies on her shoulders. This causes many mothers, including myself, from many moons ago, to have a lot of stress and anxiety when it comes to their baby’s care. It is common to feel guilt at the thought of leaving baby alone, as the parent it becomes impossible to think. I, too, was plagued by this need to be hovering over baby, constantly checking on baby making sure he’s fed, changed and happy, but I quickly learnt that I needed to take a break once in awhile. I had to trust and let go allowing my family; my village, to take care of baby too. This realization doesn’t make me a selfish mother, in fact, it makes me a sane one, in order to take care of baby I first have to take care of myself.
Now as mummies we know it’s never as simple as just realizing we need some ‘me time’. First, we have to prepare for Baby and the main thing that actually required preparation was feeds for BabyJ, he is now just over six months, and I am still nursing him (part-time). Since his birth, I have been using the Medela Freestyle Electric breast pump and I’ve found this has been one of the most vital pieces of baby equipment for any new mother! I am sure all mummies can agree feeding babies is pretty stressful at times, but with this pump, I was able to be so flexible with breastfeeding. It allowed me to pump and leave feeds for BabyJ as well as pump anywhere and everywhere (and believe me I have).
When I had a fairly high milk supply I would use the breast pump to start building a freezer supply of feeds, something I am so grateful for now. The breast pump accompanied me to Tofino and I used it to pump and freeze some more feeds! Some could say it is my ‘Breast’ friend! *insert canned laughter here* Ok seriously though, I am a big believer in ‘Fed is Best’ as opposed to the (newly) publicized ‘Breast is Best’. I had some real struggles with feeding BabyJ at first and tried so many things before he started gaining weight. He was, therefore, familiar with formula and bottle feeds from day one, this reduced the stress and not worry about having a hungry baby.
After finding out I was expecting BabyJ, I decided that I was going to proactively take charge of my mental well being, I was not going to become a victim to my depression and anxiety, but instead work hard to prevent it as best I could. I undertook counselling where I was introduced to NESTS, which is an acronym for Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep, Time for Self and Social Interaction and this became my game plan. I will, in turn, talk about how I worked in each of these individual areas. This trip and this time away was both time for self and social interaction. I felt so rejuvenated after spending some time having adult conversations albeit with “mummy brain!”.
When I first moved here I was very slow at making friends, soon after having BabyG I made some great friends. It was so alleviating to share mummy stresses and track our babies growth together, these women are some of my best friends now. As a part of my plan for self-care, it became important to make time to see my friends, to spend time with them or simply a phone call. This weekend allowed me to spend some quality time catching up with my friends and we had a great time! My advice for all new mummies is to take some time every day to connect with your friends and stay social.
Take care and happy reading!