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How To Make Yourself Feel At Home When You Move Abroad

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Have you ever considered moving to another country? I know I have, especially over the past 4 years. Being that my father is from another country and I spent my childhood summer’s in another country, living in another country has always been an exciting and viable option. In fact, I’ve spent my life learning languages and experiencing other cultures with my parents and now, traveling with the Big Guy and our girls, for just such an occasion. But how do you make yourself feel at home when you move abroad?

While the thought of moving to another country is exciting it can also be quite a scary thing to do; leaving behind friends, family and everything you’ve known.  But be brave, it will be worth it. Inevitably, when you first arrive in a new country, you will feel overwhelmed and it’s common for people to feel homesick. Before you start worrying that you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life, you need to give yourself time to adjust. Everyone goes through this. 

To be honest, it takes a couple years to feel completely at home in a new place. Think of it as a new opportunity for adventure. It always takes time to get used to a new place, but it’s especially tough when you are in a new country with a totally different culture. However, there are some simple things you can do to make yourself feel at home. 

How To Make Yourself Feel At Home When You Move Abroad

Get Your Home Sorted

Before you do anything else, you should get your home sorted. If you don’t feel comfortable in your own home, you will struggle to feel at home in a new country. Make an effort to create a cozy, welcoming home for you and your family. You can fill it with some things to remind you of home but you should also buy new things to celebrate the transition. Once you start feeling comfortable in your own home, you then have a safe space to come back to and you can start exploring the new country.  

How To Make Yourself Feel At Home When You Move Abroad

Learn About The Culture

When you first arrive in a new country, you will still feel like a tourist and everything will feel a bit unfamiliar to you. The best way to settle in is to make an effort to learn about the culture. Be open to new things. Seeing a lot of the local tourist attractions and going to museums is a good place to start. You should also be adventurous with the food that you eat, as well. Go out and find lots of local places to eat, and instead of cooking your favorites from home, look up some recipes and start using local ingredients. Try to engage with local holidays as much as possible too. When you start engaging with the culture, you will feel more like a local. You’ll stop feeling like a visitor and start feeling like you’re home.

How To Make Yourself Feel At Home When You Move Abroad

Consider Applying For Citizenship

Even though you are a permanent citizen and you have the right visas in place, it can still feel like you are just a visitor. If you want to put your roots down and you plan to stay for the long haul, you should consider applying for citizenship. If you get in touch with an immigration lawyer, they will be able to advise you about the process. It’s easier to become a citizen in some countries than it is in others, so consider how long the process is before deciding whether it’s right for you. If you do become a citizen, you will feel much more at home. 

How To Make Yourself Feel At Home When You Move Abroad

Host Visitors From Back Home

Having people visit you from back home will really help if you are feeling homesick. It also gives you a good opportunity to show people your new life and the home that you have created for yourself. After these visits, your new lifestyle will feel more permanent and being able to share it with your family puts a more positive spin on things. 

It’s important to give it time when you move to a new country because the transition takes time. If it didn’t, that would just be weird. Don’t let fear of change stop you from trying new things. If you don’t like it, you can always move back home but a life of untaken chances and unrealized dreams will definitely end in regret. Be brave. Follow these simple steps and go for it! You’ll feel like a local in no time. 

What would be your best tip for how to make yourself feel at home when you move abroad?

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Tips to Get Past Your Fear of Needles, #Hackthevax

This post is made possible with support from the Meg Foundation. All opinions and tips to get past your fear of needles today are my own. 

There’s a lot going on in the world. It’s been a crazy year. None of us ever imagined we’d live through a global pandemic in our lifetime. The biggest concern for most of us before 2020 was a laundry list of first-world problems. Life in 2019 could be hard, but not 2020 pandemic hard. Suddenly, for most of us, nothing made sense, and when that happened, the unknown brought with it new stresses and anxieties. 

Right now, the only answer to stopping the pandemic is herd immunity. That term kind of makes me want to moo, right? All kidding aside, I’m thrilled that science has given us a way to save ourselves and those we love, but getting vaccinated brings with it a new set of anxieties and stresses for some.

The fear of needles is real and nothing to be afraid of.

Tips to Get Past Your Fear of Needles, #Hackthevax

Don’t like shots? The thought of a needle freaks you out? You’re not alone. 25% of adults have a fear of needles. Don’t be embarrassed. I got so many shots as a kid with chronic health issues that I get sweaty palms just thinking about it even now. I worked through my fear of needles by making a plan and moving through my fears. Please don’t let needle anxiety stop you from being safe from Covid-19.

The Meg Foundation has resources to help you get through needle fears. Everyone can benefit from learning these techniques, but for people with needle anxiety, the techniques are life-changing. The first thing is to make a plan because action is the enemy of anxiety; the more concrete the plan the better you will feel.

Tips to Get Past Your Fear of Needles, #Hackthevax

Here are a few simple tips from Hack the Vax to get past your fear and get vaccinated.

Be an advocate for yourself

If you are nervous about getting your vaccine, don’t be afraid to say so. Lots of people have a fear of needles. Those administering the shots are aware of this. Letting people know what you need is the only way they will know (this goes for everything in life, not just vaccinations). You’re not being difficult, you’re advocating for yourself. You are a self-aware bad B. People don’t mind giving you what you need but you’re going to have to tell them.

Block the pain

Getting vaccinated doesn’t have to be painful. Over-the-counter anesthetics like Lidocaine cream are great for a little pre-vaccination numbing at the injection site. To be honest, when I was vaccinated recently ( both times) I didn’t feel a thing. I usually get the flu shot every year and I do feel that but with the Pfizer vaccine, I honestly felt no pain or even the standard pinch when a shot is injected.

Take deep breaths

You probably remember the power of breathing techniques from giving birth. I never put much stock into breathing techniques, until I experienced a unmedicated, Pitocin induced birth. That made me a believer and anyone who has used it, knows it works. Don’t overthink it. Just take a few slow, deep breaths before and during the injection. Using a meditation app for a minute before also helps me in stressful situations to just slow down and get through the moment.

Distract yourself

If you want to rely on something more than just deep breaths to get you through, focus on something that makes you feel happy or relaxed. To clear my head, I always listen to music. However, watching kittens on YouTube or just scroll through your social media feeds is enough to take your mind off the task at hand…or arm, I should say. I’ve done this a lot with my girls throughout their childhood. Distraction is a great way to refocus those overwhelming feeling of stress and anxiety that needles might bring. For me, when I am stressed, I talk, so I chatted with all the other people getting vaccinated.

Bring a support person

Phone a friend or family member and either bring them with you physically ( schedule your vaccinations together) or Facetime them during your vaccination appointment. Maybe it feels a bit awkward as an adult to be virtually hanging out with a friend in a room full of people but if it relaxes you enough to not feel as overwhelmed, it is totally worth a few minutes of talking to your phone in a room full of strangers. A bestie, spouse or sibling is a great support person for getting out of your head and engrossed in conversation. The Big Guy and I got both vaccinations together, sitting side by side.

Tips to Get Past Your Fear of Needles, #Hackthevax

The Big Guy and I got both of our vaccinations, and even though there was trepidation about getting the shot, I’m so glad that I did it. Getting everyone vaccinated is a step towards keeping the whole country safe and being able to hug our loved ones once again. Making a plan and working through your fears of needles to get vaccinated not only keeps you safe, in my eyes, but it also makes you a superhero because not only are you protecting yourself from getting coronavirus, you are protecting everyone you know and love. You are part of the solution to this devastating problem that is ravaging the world with no discrimination, rhyme, or reason. 

Don’t let your fear stand between you and your safety. Think, plan, and go get your shot and pass on these techniques because you never know when someone else is feeling nervous, too.

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Wayfair, settee, Quinceanera, Sweet 16

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

It’s funny how changing something as simple as a throw pillow, a blanket or a chair can change the whole vibe of a room. Don’t even get me started on a paint color or art. When we bought our current home, it was a fixer-upper but we saw the potential because it “had good bones” as my Father-in-law would say. It wasn’t going to be instant gratification; it wasn’t our dream home but it had a charm and was in the perfect neighborhood for a young family. So we bought it.

Disclosure: This is a compensated post written in partnership with Wayfair, but, as always, all opinions are my own.

We’ve grown with the house. As we’ve renovated and changed every single thing in this house in the past 9 years, we’ve also changed in every single way except for one, we are still that oversharing, possibly co-dependent family who does everything together. We laugh, cry, scream and shout together. We lift each other up and face change head on, just like this old house. We’ve got good bones.

Latina, Latinas, Stereotypes, DEvious maids, Latinos, racism, business, motherhood, raising daughters

This house has welcomed friends and family for dinners and holidays, it’s hosted several Halloween and Ugly sweater parties. Echoed the sounds of newest additions to the family and enveloped the cries of pain and sorrow of loss. It’s witnessed love in more ways than I ever thought possible. With its meager structure, it’s brought us through a pandemic. Now, it will see our daughters turn 15. In fact, our Bella turned 15 during the first week of the pandemic. Out Gabs will turn 15 next spring.

15-years-old is the age a Latina girl becomes a young woman in the Latino culture. It is the same age that the Catholic church recognizes children as adults. Being a Quinceañera is something all little Latina girls look forward to from the day they attend their first Quinces party and realize that someday, they will get to wear the big dress and crown and be the princess in not just their parents’ eyes but to everyone. She will be celebrated in a way that most girls may never get the chance to be.

We had such a beautiful celebration planned for Bella. It was as big and grand as any wedding and years in the planning. Friends and family for all over the country were planning to come. Bella, who is a shy and humble introvert, was ecstatic to celebrate this Latina rite of passage. I wasn’t able to have my own Quinceañera because my parents couldn’t afford to throw that party 3 times, and they had 3 girls so it’s something I’ve always dreamed of giving my girls. 

She had the dress, crown and shoes. Months of practicing professionally created choreography by her world-renowned ballet teacher with her damas and chambelanes. Decorations, food, outfits and even a special settee for our princess, to serve as her throne for the night. Months of organizing and planning, saving and working towards goals all to be taken away by a global pandemic.

Then the pandemic hit and snatched it away from her on her actual birthday, 1 day before her the biggest party of her life, the CoVid pandemic caused the country to come to a screeching halt. She was inconsolable. I didn’t even know how to reason it with her. How do you reason with a 15-year-old who just lost something she was looking forward to for years? Think of trying to reason with a bride who just lost her wedding the night before the wedding because the world had other plans.

We tried to reschedule for August but, as we all know, the pandemic was not done (still isn’t). Family and friends sent her well-wishes and tried to cheer her up. But the dress still hangs in the corner and all the decorations are boxed up in our theater room. Champagne flutes and Mexican candy for 200 are collecting dust next to the decorations and atop all of it there are two crowns and a last doll, as a constant reminder of what never was. But the settee, the one that was to hold her in her big dress on her big day, now sits in our dining room and is where she sits to do virtual school. It’s where she often naps when she’s feeling down. It’s where her and her sister sit, cut up, laugh and plan their TikToks.

Wayfair, settee

This settee is more than just a place to sit, it’s a place to reflect and feel your feelings. It not only changed the room in this old house, it occasionally changes the moods of my daughters. Most importantly, next June, it will hold my Bella on the day we celebrate her and her sister, Gabs, in a post-pandemic double quinceañera celebration like you’ve never seen. I guess now, I’ll have to order another one so each princess has her own thrown. When they move out someday, I will send these settees with them so they can always remember their big day and the family who loves them more than they can even imagine.

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ACEs, three people who saved my life, childhood, adverse childhood experiences

This post is made possible with support from the American Academy of Pediatrics through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All opinions are my own.

2020 has been a crazy year. Things have happened to all of us that we never could have imagined. As an adult, it’s been trying. It’s hard to get your bearings when the world feels like it’s on fire. I can only imagine how hard this must be on our children; struggling to make sense of everything and trying to function in this new normal. It’s not normal for any of us. 

I’ve stayed vigilant these past 9 months since the pandemic began, trying to keep our lives right side up. It takes effort, work, ingenuity, and creativity. I’ve spent the past 15 years trying to help my daughters avoid the pitfalls of ACEs because I suffered them myself and know the effect they can have on a child.  Hopefully, our vigilance as parents being safe nurturing caregivers will help our girls fair better should the pandemic be traumatic.

READ ALSO: Sending Kids Back to School during a Pandemic

 ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) are negative childhood experiences that impact children and can have long-lasting effects. There are 10 ACEs, and they fall into 3 categories: 1) Abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual); 2) Neglect (physical or emotional); and 3) Household dysfunction (mental illness, domestic violence, divorce, incarcerated relative, substance abuse). Thankfully, ACEs can be prevented or mitigated when adults and children have strong support systems through individuals or organizations. 

There are a lot of traumatic things that can happen in a child’s life—including death, pandemics, or natural disasters—over which we have no control, but ACEs can be prevented either directly with help from another person, or indirectly through policy, education, or society changes such as paid family leave or prison sentencing laws. 

Luckily, I had adults in my life who helped me navigate those ACEs in my life and get through them. Since then, my goal has always been to be an advocate for children and to pay forward the kindness that was given to me by the three people who saved my life without ever knowing it, even more so this holiday season.

READ ALSO: What Every Mom Needs to Know about Coronavirus

This is not something difficult. I’m not special. But being there for a kid when they need it most can make a huge difference in their life as it did for me.  We all have the capability to be kind to others, to help others in need, especially children. Experiencing an adverse childhood experience can be traumatic and can set the tone for the quality of life going forward. Having a support system in place can mean the difference between moving through and past hard things in life or getting stuck or even regressing. 

ACEs, three people who saved my life, childhood, adverse childhood experiences

This year, coronavirus has taught me a lot of invaluable life lessons. The most important is how important it is to be able to ask for and give help when needed. But kids can’t always do that. Just the way toddlers can’t always verbalize what they feel because of their lack of vocabulary, bigger kids and teens still have difficulty expressing their emotions, especially during a pandemic. It’s hard to turn to the adults in your life for help when they are crumbling under the enormous weight of an international health crisis. We’re all trying our best but sometimes, as parents, just like our kids, we have to be willing to ask for and accept help. 

ACEs, three people who saved my life, childhood, adverse childhood experiencesThe most important thing is to create safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments for our own children and the children around us. This is the foundation upon which their entire lives will be built. This foundation is not only essential to lifelong health and happiness but could even prevent ACEs from happening in the first place. 

For my own children, I check in daily; sometimes hourly. A big part of being there for them is being present in a time when, honestly, a lot of us just want to check out. Another thing I did was put both of my girls into virtual therapy. I am diabetic (underlying condition) so we have only left the house a handful of times in the past 9 months. The girls are doing school virtually. I’m doing grad school virtually. I’m working virtually. We’ve been wearing masks and quarantining for a long time. There have been no family visits. No friends to talk to in-person or at birthday parties. There was no family Thanksgiving celebration. Our world is pretty much the 4 of us who live in this house and as much as we love one another, it is a lot. I didn’t spend all these years doing everything so my girls didn’t experience ACEs just for the aftermath of a global pandemic to mess everything up so I’ve learned to pivot. I know my limits, and I’m not too proud to ask for help.

Therapy helps my daughters talk to someone other than me and express any anxieties or fears they might have and don’t want or can’t talk to me about. It’s a pressure release. I’ve also encouraged the girls to video chat with friends and family and encouraged my husband to initiate his own conversations with them. I want them to feel connected even when we’re physically not and feel heard when the world is so noisy. 

I’ve noticed my daughters’ friends also experiencing these same issues as my girls. I’ve always been the mom who the kids know they can talk to about anything. I’m the mom who isn’t afraid to go to school and speak up for the kid getting bullied. I’m the mom who if I see your child struggling or reaching out for attention, I will tell you. I know it might not be popular with my daughters, but if I see a child talking about depression or suicide (needing help), I will and have reached out to their parents or school officials. I can’t ignore it when it can mean the difference between life and death. The thing is you never know what kind of desperation is behind a social media post (especially during coronavirus), and I just don’t feel comfortable taking that chance. I know it’s not a lot, but it’s a small way that I can provide kindness and advocate on behalf of the children in my life.

READ ALSO: Surviving Child Abuse

Being there for children is free. It only takes a willingness to help, time, and genuine concern. This pandemic holiday season, I am going to make sure to send personalized cards to the kids in our lives to let them know they are not alone and we are here to support them. I am also going to take some time to personally call and check in on some of them. I’ll also be checking their social media accounts including the fake accounts their parents know nothing about. The holidays are always a hard time of year for some, but I think this year is hard probably for most. 

My gift to the children in my life this year is to be one of their three if they need me, like the three people who were there for me when I needed them most. If I can help a child get through these uncertain times by being part of an unconditional support system and providing some stability, that would be a gift to me.

We’ve all had our three (or more) people in our lives who’ve been there to help us when we needed them most. This holiday season, let’s all pay it forward. Who were the three people who helped create a safe, stable, and nurturing relationship or environment when you were growing up? What will you do to be one of a child’s three this holiday season?

 

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back to school, office envy, wayfair, virtual learning,

Back-to-school looks a little different this year for many families, mine included. I’ve been a work-from-home for the past 13 years, so I’m used to the rigorous scheduling of being a stay-at-home mom while balancing working full-time, only this year, I decided to add going back to school to earn a Master’s degree in the middle of a pandemic. On top of that, and the world being on fire, my girls are embracing virtual learning because I have a dreaded “underlying condition”. We had to make some concessions and tweaks on expectations because it’s hard, all of it, for all of us.

Disclosure: I am a Wayfair homemaker ambassador and this is a compensated post, however, all opinions are my own.

I’m sure that we can all agree that the “new normal” is not normal at all. My girls are learning from home because it’s the safest option for our family. I actually love having this extra time with them, when our time is so limited. In a couple of years, Bella will be heading off to college and that fact is not wasted on me. I know these CoVid days at home are a gift to us. Still, working from home while going to school with both girls learning virtually and not being able to do the things we normally do or even the simplest things like vacation, is absolutely exhausting.

READ MORE: What is Coronavirus and what every mom should know

So, we try our best to find the extraordinary in the ordinary moments and appreciate the challenges for giving us fresh perspective on our blessings and still, even with all the positivity we can throw at it, it’s still been really hard on all of us. I’ve learned to pick my battles, as a wife, mother, student and freelancer, let things go and give grace to others. I’ve become more forgiving and understanding and even still, there are days when it’s almost too much to bear.

One thing that has helped me throughout this pandemic and not leaving our house has been to be able to change our spaces. It sounds simple but some plants, some paint, a little blood, sweat and tears and a few new pieces of furniture can be a simple way to create a completely new feel in an old space. Aside from refreshing bedrooms to make them more calming and relaxing, streamlining bathrooms and scrubbing kitchens, the most important refresh I’ve done is creating functional schooling areas for the entire family. For mi kids, I discover a list of  the best Adderall alternatives which improved their focus, this has been the most effective since learning at home makes them  easily distracted.

READ MORE: How to Enjoy Your Summer While Social Distancing

I have a home office but normally, there is just me at home. With three people going back to school in a pandemic, in Zoom meetings, trying to read, write papers and stay focused, there had to be more than 1 office. We can’t all squirrel away in our bedrooms and work, that would be too depressing. I spruced up the office with a mini makeover and the cutest Ghislain daybed because during a pandemic, even big kids need naps sometimes. We also got another HVAC installed, which you can get from CM Heating’s services.

back to school, office envy, wayfair, virtual learning,My latest spruce-up efforts have been directed towards the virtual schooling oasis AKA our living room. It just didn’t feel particularly uplifting and definitely not inspiring. The furniture is big, heavy and dark-colored. The walls were actual 1970’s brown paneling. PANELING! It felt like being stuck in the past. We removed the paneling and primed and painted the walls in a more contemporary grey with bright white molding. We painted the brown shelves and beams white. I covered the brown leather couch in a teal couch cover. Covered the cold hardwood floors in a white furry shag rug and placed a matching throw pillow cover on the sofa. We also upgraded our internet connection with EATEL – wi-fi since the kids can’t lag during their classes.

back to school, office envy, wayfair, virtual learning,In addition to that I updated the look with, my favorite piece, the Janelle End Table that replaced the oversized wood tables. Since it was going to be transformed into a study area for one of us, I also added a new lamp to provide better lighting and added some plants for fresh air. Throw in a small modern shelf with some classics and inspiration is everywhere. I love the way it feels and looks. The more open, bright design and concept feels like a breath of fresh air when your brain feels too tired to go on.

What would you do to freshen up your virtual school area?

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If you Wouldn't Drink Paint Thinner while Pregnant then Pass on Decaf coffee, clean label project

Do you love coffee? Is it something that’s part of your daily routine? I’ve been drinking cafecito bombon since I was a tween and sneaking sips from my dad’s mug since before then. Coffee has always been comforting in my life. Even now, one of my favorite things to do is sit on the back deck with the Big Guy and sip coffee over conversation or make TikToks while dancing around the kitchen with my teens sipping our whipped coffees. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold, caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee is comfort and enthusiastic support on all days and in all the ways.  But what if you found out that your coffee had toxic chemicals in it? Worse, what if you were pregnant and found out that your decaf coffee had paint stripper in it?

Disclosure: This post is a sponsored campaign in partnership with the Clean Label Project. All opinions and pregnancy experience is my own.

When I was pregnant, I kicked my coffee addiction. I gave up caffeine completely. A few times, I did treat myself to a decaf Frappuccino. We lived in Tennessee, 600 miles away from our parents. Some days during pregnancy, I really needed to be comforted and I thought it was safe to treat myself to a small decaf coffee. Was I wrong?

READ ALSO: Unexpected Pregnancy at 40

My mom has a heart condition. She doesn’t drink caffeine because it’s bad for her. She drinks decaf coffee twice daily. A lot of older people drink decaf coffee because caffeine is bad for them. Pregnant women drink decaf because caffeine is not great for development. There are several different kinds of medical and mental disorders that encourage those diagnosed to switch to decaf because it’s “better for you”. But what happens when the very thing that you are told to be healthier is terrible for you?

READ ALSO: Things no one tells you about pregnancy

Clean Label Project recently released findings on methylene chloride (the active ingredient in paint strippers), which is found in popular decaffeinated coffee. Clean Label Project has filed lawsuits against four national brands for false and misleading advertising and labeling. These brands claim that their decaffeinated coffee products are “pure and natural.” In contrast, Clean Label Project’s study showed that methylene chloride was detected in the decaffeinated coffee products of these brands.

I’m not saying that you can’t drink coffee. I love coffee. Just ask my Nespresso account. Seriously, coffee is still warm and comforting to me but, as I’ve gotten more label savvy in the past year thanks to my recent health scares, I am also more discerning about what I put into my body. There are always healthier options, we just need to be aware of all the facts and ingredients.

 

So what’s going on with decaffeinated coffee? Removing caffeine from coffee generally involves one of two processes: water-based vs. solvent (chemical) based. However, the FDA currently allows methylene chloride to be used in the coffee decaffeination process and brands are not required to disclose which decaffeination process they use on their labels.

 

 

Clean Label Project tested 25 popular brands found in major retailers for the presence of methylene chloride. Ten brands tested positive. The onus is on the consumer to demand chemical-free decaffeinated coffee.

 

The thing is we have enough to worry about when we’re pregnant or elderly or just trying to take care of our health without having to go in search of all the hidden dangers of every single thing we ever want to eat or drink. There shouldn’t be secret chemicals in our food that can poison us or cause harm to our unborn babies. You don’t have to just take it. You can take action and Detox Your Coffee.

If you Wouldn't Drink Paint Thinner while Pregnant then Pass on Decaf coffee, clean label projectIf you Wouldn’t Drink Paint stripper while Pregnant then Pass on Decaf coffee. If you don’t think paint stripper is acceptable in decaf coffee, use your voice to contact your favorite brands and demand that they make it safer.

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How to Safely Reenter the World After Coronavirus Quarantine

Over the course of 2020, the ‘new normal’ has become staying indoors, avoiding others and keeping our distance. As sad as this reality is, it is a necessary step for keeping ourselves and others safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Staying indoors and being afraid to hug or be near others was bound to have a negative effect on our mental health; many people struggled to cope with the reality of the situation, and understandably so. I am too.

While this pandemic is still a part of our lives, slowly the world is beginning to open up again, freeing us up to socialize again. But what if we don’t want to? What if it’s not safe? Sometimes, just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean that we should. We all want to know how to safely reenter the world after coronavirus quarantine.

READ ALSO: What Every Mom Needs to Know about Coronavirus

Reentry is anxiety-inducing and frightening. Re-emerging into normality after quarantine is stressful. Those of us who’ve diligently stuck to the rules and been isolated for months feel trepidatious and scared to go back to socializing like we used to. The idea of commuting on public transportation or being in a crowded office is totally overwhelming. How can we get used to being outside and back to reality when almost everyone and everything can be a potential threat in the time of Coronavirus?

Here’s how to safely reenter the world after coronavirus quarantine:

Firstly, ease into it. Jumping in at the deep end and going totally back to normal is both unsafe and unsettling. Prioritize your own mental health and take it step by step. Don’t over commit to too many things. Even if work or friends are pressuring you into doing the ‘normal things’ you used to do, get comfortable saying no. Just like the transition into quarantining was challenging, coming out will be equally hard, and you should allow yourself to feel vulnerable and worried. Trust your gut.

Secondly, prepare yourself. Bring your mask. Just because you’re going to an event where social distancing is in place that doesn’t mean people will be following the rules. You’ll feel safer if you come prepared with your mask and hand sanitizer. Check out this FDA Approved and CE Certified medical mask at https://www.ltc.sg/product/disposable-medical-surgical-mask/#tab-reviews to ensure your family’s protection. Don’t feel weird or apologize for wearing your mask, even if others aren’t. Do what makes you feel comfortable. If you need to leave, leave. Don’t put yourself in danger because you’re afraid to hurt someone else’s feelings.

READ ALSO:  Can You Safely Send Kids Back to School During a Pandemic?

Thirdly, invest in helpful tools to help you organize your life while on the go. We’re all comfortable being home all day – collecting packages, organizing your space throughout the day and having everything just so. Going back to spending more time away from home can create organizational anxiety which negatively affects your experiences of re-entry. Using online organizational tools such as https://physicaladdress.com/ can help alleviate stress and create a calm outlook on returning to normality.

Finally, be sure you keep in touch with the real news, not speculation that circulates on social media. Don’t let Facebook be your source of information. Check the CDC, WHO and your local health department’s websites. Read the actual facts and figures of coronavirus cases in your area. Don’t assume what you read on Twitter or Facebook is always true. Reading opinions rather than facts can spin you into an unnecessary panic. Social Media will stop you from feeling comfortable living your day to day life.

It’s vital to safely reenter the world after coronavirus quarantine

For now, we’ll be learning virtually and working from home. As cases are rising here, home is where I feel is best for our family. What is your plan to safely reenter the world after coronavirus quarantine?

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ACEs, three people who saved my life, childhood

This post is made possible with support from the American Academy of Pediatrics through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All opinions are my own.

I grew up in a big family with an even bigger extended family. Our family wasn’t just the people we were related to. It was also the people in our community whom we loved and who loved us and cared for us, too. I am grateful for those people who were there when I needed them most. 

My parents are good parents. They’re even better grandparents. When I was small, they were new at parenting and, like all of us, they didn’t always know the right thing to do. I’ve made mistakes as a mom, just as all of us do. But I survived those moments thanks to good intentions and the village that was there to help guide me when I was a little lost and couldn’t find my way. In many ways, I’ve thrived because of the positive childhood experiences I’ve had.  

I did however live through my fair share of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). ACEs are negative childhood experiences that impact children and can have long-lasting effects. There are 10 ACEs, and they fall into 3 categories: 1) Abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual); 2) Neglect (physical or emotional); and 3) Household dysfunction (mental illness, domestic violence, divorce, incarcerated relative, substance abuse). Thankfully, ACEs can be prevented or mitigated when adults and children have strong support systems through individuals or organizations. 

There are a lot of traumatic things that can happen in a child’s life, including death, pandemics, or natural disasters, but ACEs can be prevented either directly with help from another person, or indirectly through policy, education, or society changes such as paid family leave or prison sentencing laws. 

The ACEs that I experienced were physical and emotional abuse by a father who was an alcoholic. He has since stopped drinking. He has been sober for most of my adult life, but those early days have left their scars. His alcoholism sucked all of the air out of the room. This isn’t to say he wasn’t a good dad. When he was sober, 5 days of the week, he was a devoted, loving, and involved father. But when he was drinking, he was selfish, mean, quick-tempered, unpredictable, and volatile. He was scary, maybe even more so because when he was sober, he was so good.

His behavior had ripple effects. His instability caused my mother to spend a lot of her time distracted, overwhelmed, afraid, and unhappy. She loved us so much, but it always felt like she was withdrawn, even though she was always physically there. She teetered between being emotionally removed and overly emotional. For me, I never felt like she was completely present; putting out fires while awaiting the next crisis. 

ACEs, three people who saved my life, childhood

In turn, this caused me to pick up the slack, and that impeded my childhood. With 6 children, a volatile father who drank, and a mom who was always overwhelmed, worried, and afraid, I was left feeling abandoned even when I was living in the house with both of my parents. They were physically there, but I felt very alone. I needed to talk. I needed to be seen. But I was just one more thing on their lists of things to survive, and sometimes, my needs were too much for their patience that day. 

Each day was an unknown—maybe it would be a day at the beach followed by a cookout and laughter, or maybe it would be a drunk dad, an overwhelmed mom, and a slap or a belt buckle for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I just never knew, and that was my entire childhood until I went away to college, which may have never happened if not for a few special people who saw me drowning and threw me a buoy. University was my escape plan, but these people were integral in helping me get through some of the rough patches. 

ACEs, three people who saved my life, childhoodThankfully, for as many adverse childhood experiences as I had, I also had many positive childhood experiences with my parents. Luckily for me, a few very special people’s simple acts of kindness towards a little girl in crisis helped me to grow into the person I am today. They’re the reason I’ve always made myself available to lift children up when I can, to advocate for my children’s friends, and to be a champion and cheerleader for my girls. I learned from the mistakes and the kindnesses of the adults in my life. Our actions, good or bad, have ripples and can make a difference in other people’s lives, especially a child’s. 

There were many but these are the three that I would like to thank:

Mrs. Vrabel, my 2nd-grade teacher who took a special liking to me and saw me at a time when I needed to be seen. She nurtured my gifts and praised me at a time when I was one of five children under 7 at home. She made me feel special when my parents were too busy, tired and overwhelmed to do it themselves. 

ACEs, three people who saved my life, childhood

My Tio Narci and my Tio Ramon, who both made the time to talk and listen when I was trying to understand what was going on with my parents’ fighting and my dad’s drinking. They made me not feel alone, and I felt safe knowing they were there to intercede when my mom couldn’t. I felt heard when my voice felt small. They stepped in on my behalf to remind my parents we were still there watching—afraid and confused. They made me feel normal at a time when my life felt out of control.

ACEs, three people who saved my life, childhood

My friend’s mom, Linda, who I will never forget. To this day, I adore her. A lot of things were happening at home when I was a senior in high school. It was all so much that I was depressed and, at one point, suicidal. School wasn’t very important to me. I knew college was my escape plan and I got good grades, but I was depressed and I just didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be anywhere.

ACEs, three people who saved my life, childhoodBy that point, I was suffering from eating disorders, and that was just one more thing I had to hide. I suffered from a lot of stomach issues from anxiety from my home life, so I missed a lot of school. My mom let me stay home because she knew what was going on and that was the only thing she could do to help. My English teacher tried to fail me for the last quarter of my senior year because of my attendance issues despite my grade being an A. 

He would have succeeded. I was terrified when he gleefully told me. Yes, he smiled. He didn’t know what was going on at home, and he didn’t care. That wasn’t his job. He just knew that I missed his class a lot, and he felt that deserved punishment. Did I mention I was #3 in my class? Did I mention that I had been in journalism, yearbook, and newspaper for all 4 years of high school? Did I mention I took 2 languages, all 4 years? I was the nerdy girl who worked her tail off to get accepted to every college she applied to. I got a gold seal on my diploma. But he tried to fail me, and I had no one to advocate for me because my parents were otherwise engaged.

I didn’t know what to do. Then my friend, Laurie, stepped in with her mom, who happened to be on the school board. The teacher was overruled because all of those journalism classes counted as English coursework, so his one quarter was not going to affect my overall requirements. She saved my future when no one else could or would. 

I’ll never forget what these people did for me. They saved me at pivotal moments in my life when I could have been lost. It’s so important to create safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments in childhood, which are essential to lifelong health and success as well as the prevention of ACEs. Prevention or mitigation is possible when adults and children have strong support systems through individuals or organizations. That’s the idea of preventing them directly. You can help other people and stop ACEs from happening, and other people can help you and stop ACEs from happening. That’s why support networks are a necessary component of preventing ACEs. 

ACEs, three people who saved my life, childhoodThese three people changed the trajectory of my life. I am who I am, in part, because they were in my life when I needed them most. Are you one of some child’s three people? Are you a  resource that children can rely on to create those safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments? How can you be part of someone else’s “three,” and provide that vital support that every child needs growing up?

 

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

We are less than 6 weeks away from Bella’s big day. Her quinceañera is something we’ve been planning for years and I can’t believe it’s almost here. For her, it’s the moment our culture recognizes her as changing from a child to a woman. As a mom, it’s a moment of ostentatious pride, which if you know me is not something I ever do. It’s also the opportunity to learn all the event planning tips I didn’t know I needed.

Give me all of your quinceañera planning tips.

I love my daughters more than everything but I’ve never felt the need to brag on them to impress anyone. I know who they are and what they are capable of. I know that they are smart, funny, witty, creative, kind, compassionate, good human beings who love life and care about people and they know that I feel that way about them. I tell them. I just don’t feel like it does anyone any good to boast about them to strangers and put them in competition with anyone else. The only competition I want them to have is to become their own best self. But, make no mistake, I am so proud of my girls and then young ladies they’ve become.

READ ALSO: How to plan a quinceañera

Next month, we’re celebrating Bella’s indoctrination into womanhood with a big party with all of our family and friends. Think of a wedding-like party celebrating how much we love our daughter, how proud we are and how excited we are for all to come for her in her life.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written in partnership with Basic Invite. However, all opinions are my own and Bella ( and I) adore her invitations from Basic Invite. They’re everything we’ve dreamed of.

Big life events like a quinceañera are exciting. The energy, the love, the sheer celebration of such a momentous occasion. There’s nothing like it. When you’re hosting the party there are added stresses. In fact, it can be very stressful.

Everyone expects weddings to be challenging to plan, coordinating and organizing all the things is hard. I’m finding that planning Bella’s quinceañera is pretty much the same.

Event planning tips to for the best quinceañera ever

It’s helpful to be organized and to take the time to plan and do research, from choosing the venues to deciding where to shop for the dresses for the quinceañera and damas. There are a few simple tips that we can do to help make the whole process easier on ourselves and get the celebration of our dreams without the anxiety.

  • Start planning as soon as you set the date… or sooner if you can. Sure, you may not have plans to celebrate your daughter’s quinceañera for several years, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get planning now. It’s never too early to go on Pinterest and start a wedding planning/quinceañera board with ideas of things you’d like. It’s never too early to start watching hours and hours of quinceañera surprise dances. You can also start looking at venues and booking appointments. Starting early can be the one thing that gets you the date that you want for your event.
  • Sort out your budget at the very beginning. No need to make big plans with no realistic budget in mind. Before you can start buying anything, you need to know what your budget is and what’s going to tip you over the edge for your big day purchases. The earlier you have a concrete budget outline, the more accurately you can plan your event. This is one of the hardest parts for me. 

READ ALSO: How to throw an awesome party on a budget

  • Get as much of your family and friends involved as you can, from photographer and videographer recommendations to getting to know who’s able and willing to help you with your big day. You need to know which family members are willing to give you a hand with organizing everything from the prevents to the main event. The most important thing is that you enjoy every moment with the people that you love.
  • Be selective with who you choose to invite. Everyone you’ve ever known doesn’t get to be a guest on your big day. You need to get RSVPs to know how many people you’ll be catering to. Invite the people who you know will show up. Don’t feel obligated to invite everyone you share DNA with or anyone you’ve ever known.
  • event planning tips, quinceañera, guestbook, basic invite, quinceanera
  • A well-thought-out personalized custom guest book can really be the perfect keepsake for your big day. With almost unlimited colors at Basic Invite, it is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. You can change the color of each element on a card or guest book. With over 180 different color options, your invitations or guestbook can be exactly how you want it, down to the littlest detail, making the little details perfect.
  • Pick your court early, you’re going to need their help. The planning won’t be as smooth without them by your side. They’ll need dresses and tuxes, makeup and hair. Ask them early and plan accordingly.
  • Always have a backup plan. Things can and do go wrong, even if that’s the last thing you want to think about. But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Your special day can go off perfectly, as long as you do your research.

What is your best tip to make your big day the thing dreams are made of?

 

 

 

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