What Happened When I Let My Toddler Paint My Nails

My left ring finger nail is painted a glittery blue. A dollar store nail polish I would have never bought myself, but has been sitting in my collection for over a year. It came in a door prize basket at a mom paint night. It’s half the size of my other polishes. A tiny, glittery unicorn in a sea of nudes and clear top coats.

I never paint my nails, unless I’m motivated to try to stop biting them. Again. I buy another neutral polish, and tell myself the shiny liquid will motivate me to not pick at my cracked finger tips. Or remind me not to. Or at least give me something else to pick at. So even though it’s a strategy that has failed 100 times already, I put a clear, shiny coat of polish on my nails a few days ago. Because I’m 29 now, and 29 year old moms shouldn't have embarrassing, ugly, harmful habits. Obviously the clear coat will work now that I’m 29.

I never buy fun polishes, only nudes and clears, some soft pinks. A bright colour or splash of glitter would be wasted on my short, self-damaged fingers. Or worse, it might draw attention to my stubby nails and cracked cuticles. My bad habit. I tell myself I don’t deserve the fun ones. Maybe I will get myself one if I can let my hands heal. Right now I’m not good enough for fun polish. I must’ve forgotten to put my old bottle of clear coat away, and it was sitting on my desk when my 3 year old came for a cuddle on my chair while I drank my morning coffee. Always the observationist, she asked me what the tiny bottle was.

“It’s nail polish. It makes your finger nails shiny. See?” I say, pointing out the difference between our nails.

“Can I try some?” she asks.

It’s not kid polish, but I never want to discourage her. So I agree, she can have one painted finger nail.

I wipe off the little brush on the edge of the bottle, until there is almost nothing there. Then I gently spread a little across her pointer finger. I blow on it to help it try. It’s probably doomed on a busy toddler finger.

But my little girl beams. “Wow! It’s so shiny!” she exclaims, inspecting the tiny nail.

That smile nudges me further, and I reach across my desk and show her my little collection of bottles.

“I have lots of nail polish see? It’s fun to decorate your fingers sometimes, isn’t it?”

She picks up each little bottle, and inspects it. Beige, nude, soft pink, another clear. Until she finds the little blue exception.

“Mama can I have this one? Can we open it?”

I cringe a little but I shouldn’t be surprised. I show her on my own finger, carefully spreading the blue glitter out just this once. She persists, “Can I have some too?”

So I once again scrape off the excess on the edge, and apply the thinnest coat I can manage in one little touch.

“Mama we look so beautiful!”

I smiled and thought about how my Mom used to keep her nail polish in an old peach basket. She’d often have her long, perfect nails painted pink or sometimes a bold red. She’d sit at the kitchen table, and sometimes let me help paint her right hand.

I didn’t think much more of it and we played, had our usual routine of naps and snacks and snuggles. We had dinner, and I put the kids to bed. The only extra thought I gave our mini manicure moment was a laugh and a shrug to my husband when my daughter announced our accomplishment at the dinner table. Oh, you know, anything to make her smile and feel a little special these days.

And then I looked at my hand as I leaned on the counter while I was brushing my teeth before bed. I admired my pretty blue nail. And I wondered why even though I always want to, I never give myself permission to do this “just for the fun of it” thing. Why do I give myself conditions to be allowed to do such a simple, inexpensive, joyful thing? Because, like with so many things, my mind tells me I am somehow not good enough. Not deserving of the blue nail polish.

Yet my 3 year old sees something fun and beautiful and immediately lets it in to her life. Demands it into her life. And my desire to see her feel joy overrides my own shame reflex, and I let a little of that goodness in. Why am I not as willing to create joy for myself? I need to start caring for myself the way I care for my daughters. The way my mom would want to care for me.

What other joys am I blocking because I feel undeserving? Knowing the feeling of wanting the world for my daughter, how can I start to demand the same for myself?

Joy isn’t something I have to cross a finish line to earn. And having bad days doesn’t mean I don’t deserve good. Biting my nails and picking at my finger tips yesterday doesn’t mean I don’t deserve glitter polish today.

It’s time to stop punishing myself and start choosing joy. Each day. Whatever that looks like. Taking care of myself. Wanting the world for myself.

It’s time to pick the blue glitter polish.

How will you start choosing joy and self-love today?

About the Author

Caitlin lives in Alberta with her husband, 2 little girls, and too many animals cause she is a sucker for a rescue. When she's not chasing kids and changing fluff bums she spends her time crocheting, gardening, and binging true crime docs.

Moon-time Teachings & The Celebration of Womanhood

As Canada works towards reconciliation, we at Lil Helper want to continue to learn and improve, and raise Indigenous voices. For more information on what Lil Helper is doing during this time, click here.

On Flo Friday, we at Lil Helper like to talk about all things menstrual health. For this week, we would like to thank author Kihci Têpakohp Iskotêw Iskwêw (Emily Jane Henry) of Ochapowace Cree First Nation for sharing these beautiful writings with us.

The Celebration of Womanhood

The Elder was asked to share teachings about the traditional views womanhood, specifically about ‘Moon-time’. She began her talk by thanking the people of the land and those who invited her. Next, she said a prayer mixed in both English and her traditional language. She finished by thanking everyone who came to hear her speak. She began, ‘speaking about womanhood and Moon-time is an important topic. It is important for both men and women to learn about our traditional teachings on women and I am grateful to see both, present in the audience today. For some, this topic will be new information; for others, it will be a review. In any case, my hope is to inspire you to get curious. My hope is that, after listening to what I have to share, you want to learn more about your nation’s specific teachings on womanhood. What you will discover is that your ancestral teachings on the celebration of women are simply beautiful. In the meantime, I humbly share just a few teachings with you and thank you for having an open heart and mind as I do.

Our ancestral ceremonies included pre-teen girls going through rites of passage; where they were given teachings on womanhood. For example, there would be a great celebration in the community when a girl was nearing her Moon-time or menses, or what some might call, ‘having a period’. The reason it is called Moon-time is that a woman’s body is connected to Grandmother Moon. As much as the moon is connected to Mother Earth’s ocean tides, it is also connected to a monthly cycle of a woman. There are teachings about the 13 Sacred Moons, and they are simply beautiful; I absolutely encourage you to learn about this teaching. For now, the important thing to understand is this is why we call it Moon-time. During life-giving years, Moon-time marks a miraculous monthly process occurs and this time is held in the highest regard. For us, Moon-time is a time of ceremony; and as such, there is absolutely no shame associated it. Sadly, views have changed so much that I’ve heard Moon-time being called ‘curse’ or other such derogatory slang words. It saddens me because nothing can be further from the truth. I believe truths are exposed as more information is obtained. For example, I heard that some people have been told that women do not take part in ceremonies when on their Moon-time, but only brief explanations are given. As a result, people fill in missing information with interpretations of the worldviews around them. Sadly, over time many have been taught that when a woman has her ‘period’, she unclean; thus, shame and secrecy have also become associated with this time of the month. I have been told that this is the assumption as to why a woman steps back during ceremonies. This is simply not the case. Our ancestral teachings tell us that Creator blessed women or ‘Lifegivers,’ with the sacred ability to give life. It is through a woman life-giving abilities that humankind prospers. For it is true, without women's ability to carry a child within her, no person on earth would exist today. Part of being a Lifegiver is undergoing a monthly personal ceremony, which we call Moon-time.

Moon-time is when a women’s body demonstrates its sacred ability to nurture life. This process includes the woman’s uterus walls thickening so it can prepare to carry a baby. However, as we know, a woman doesn’t become pregnant every month so her body found ways to naturally purifies itself. This means that on a monthly basis, a woman has a natural and spiritual purification ceremony. The lining that prepared for a baby becomes releases through blood, at the same time, the body mimics the process of giving birth; thus pain occurs. The body undergoes physical changes, essentially rebuilding its self. Additionally, for a short time, hormones that were preparing for the nurturing of a baby also become imbalanced. In a way, a woman’s hormones send her messages associated with feelings of loss. Though the woman may not be aware of it, in a sense, a woman is physically and emotionally connecting with the fact that she must ‘try again’ next month. The strength and endurance a woman goes monthly, really tells us how truly powerful women are. Women possess the natural ability to rebalance their entire being through a powerful internal purification ceremony. In other words, a woman can internally cleanse away emotions and thoughts that detract her from walking in balance, because she possesses the sacred ability to realign her energies. When you really think about it, what a women’s body goes through during her Moon-time is a profound and utter demonstration of the love of humankind because she is truly honouring her life-giving qualities. A man does not have the ability of internal cleaning because he does not possess the ability to carry a child within him. Therefore, in ceremonies when men are present, a woman demonstrates great compassion for men by stepping back. A woman also steps back in high regard and great respect for her time of personal power. She is undergoing a powerfully spiritual external personal purification ceremony. She is so powerful during this time of the month that the medicines are naturally drawn to her. For it is true, Mother Earth is also a Lifegiver; and the connection between her and women is so powerful that they are naturally drawn to one another. For Mother Earth understands a natural cleansing period as well; she demonstrates through the change of seasons. As the sacred medicines are naturally drawn to the woman, the purification properties are not as strong as a man might need to be able to purify their energies. As I said, a woman’s compassion for men is so great that they step back from participating in a ceremony during their Moon-time.

Still, this not to say that a woman does not participate in ceremonies during her Moon-time; no, quite the opposite is actually is true. In traditional times, during a woman’s Moon-time, the respect for women was so great that there was no other burden was placed upon her at that time. During monthly moon-lodges, women were encouraged to nurture themselves holistically. Women ceremonies honoured the cleansing time of the body, and also assisted to balance hormones. For example, our Ancestors knew that during Moon-time, the mind (brain) becomes influenced by a sense of ‘loss’. As a result, both serotonin (‘feel-good’ chemical in a person’s brain) and sugar (insulin) levels were being impacted. Our Ancestors knew the power of intermitting fasting for rebalancing thoughts and emotions. They also knew that breaking fasts with fruit naturally restore a body’s sugar levels; thus, today, we see sweet berries associated with women ceremonies. We also break our fast with buffalo broth because of the deficiency of certain alkaline levels in our bodies. Our Ancestors were naturally gifted with knowledge of the body’s chemistry, and a person’s emotional and mental states. Thus, daily lifestyles were based on holistic principles and spirituality was a simply a way of life. Therefore, we lived a balanced lifestyle where we were nurtured physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Today, we can learn more these holistic life views through the Medicine Wheel teachings. I encourage you to learn more about that the teaching of the Medicine Wheel; they have the potential to profoundly impact your life. For now, my hope was to provide you with enough teachings to make you curious about learning more about Moon-time ceremonies. Most of all I hope that I encourage you to learn about the traditional views of women. We must return to our traditional views in order that our culture endures. Our teachings were oral; and to a large extent, still are; however, if there is one thing about our people is that we are resilient because we adapt. We are sharing information with today’s technology and I am so happy for that. Still, there is nothing like learning traditional teachings from your nation’s healthy Elders – most especially the ones that follow our traditional ways. The Elder’s are waiting for you; they know it is time to hand the torch over to the next generation. They want to teach you about ceremonies, and they want to tell you about our ancestral teachings. They want our culture to thrive. I encourage you to go and learn. In the meantime, I thank you for your kind attention.

Kākithaw niwākomākanak (All My Relations),
(author) Kihci Têpakohp Iskotêw Iskwêw (Emily Jane Henry)
Original Home Territory: Ochapowace Cree First Nation

Featured is the beautiful artwork of Loretta Gould. To see more of her work visit her page at: https://www.facebook.com/mikmaq.artist.loretta.gould/?ref=br_rs

Fitness for People with Kids

Hey there! Yes, you. I know what you are thinking “I should workout. I need to figure out how to get in shape.” Focusing on fitness after kids is hard. I am with you.

Photographer: Boxed Water Is Better | Source: Unsplash

I have two tiny humans who need me 24/7 and a mom pooch that won’t budge. Now, I love my body. I am so proud of the body that has created two kids from scratch, carried them, and fed them for years.

My biggest issue is not the mom pooch, it’s my energy levels. I feel heavy and sluggish and just slow. I get so tired so quickly when I play with my kids. I hate it. I hate the feeling of just wanting to sit all day long.

Photographer: elizabeth lies | Source: Unsplash

I feel the desperate need to work on my fitness for strength and stamina.

Let me share my tricks on how I get 30-40 minutes to fit in a workout while my kids are awake and running.

My first tip before anything is make sure you are ready at all times. I live my life in workout clothes. I wake up and throw it on so if I have the opportunity to exercise, I don’t have to waste time getting dressed.

Photographer: Alex Shaw | Source: Unsplash

1. Throw some snacks and TV at them

Put them in a stroller, wagon, bike trailer, anything that will contain them and give them some snacks. Put your headphones in and go on that run, walk, bike. I promise you can do it. Don’t fuss about toys and entertainment. Go with easy and fast. I make my workout a priority now and give my kids each a tablet to play with so I can get 30 minutes of uninterrupted exercise.

Photographer: Emily Wade | Source: Unsplash

I feel so good after and my kids are so happy that they got TV. Do not feel guilty about this. I know how easy it is to get caught up in what you think you should do but throw all that out the window for those 30 minutes and focus on you. Make your needs #1. Moms deserve happiness too.

Smiling Family
Photographer: Edward Cisneros | Source: Unsplash

2. Include your Kids

I try to do this with my kids a few times a week so it’s fun and new. If my kids aren’t showing any interest, I go back to throwing snacks and TV at them.

My kid’s favorite exercise is any of the Cosmic Yoga videos on Amazon Prime but there are so many different workout with children on YouTube. A quick search yields thousand of results, including Cosmic Yoga, so you can play around and find some you like, save them, and have them ready.

A morning yoga session peering into the jungle in Ubud, Bali.
Photographer: Jared Rice | Source: Unsplash

I would recommend doing this prior to showing your kids if you want some control. If you want the kids to choose, by all means go ahead and enjoy! And stay tuned here for another upcoming blog from one of our ambassadors who loves to work out with her kids!

3. Workout at the Park While the Kids Play

My kids love to swing so I usually put them on the swings and do lunges in between pushing. This method doesn’t allow for a full uninterrupted workout but it is still super fun and it is good to get creative. I have also done push ups, sit ups, squats and even the dreaded burpees while my kids play.

Photographer: Johnny Cohen | Source: Unsplash

I also try to get in the playground and climb up with them to get my body moving. Bonus is my kids love watching me jump around or playing with me. I can absolutely tell the difference on days where I sit back and watch my kids play (Nothing wrong with this by the way. We all need chill days.) and days when I climb and do random workouts because my kids have more fun and honestly, so do I.

4. Switch off with your partner

I won’t lie. This is my least favorite only because my husband’s work is not consistent so somedays he comes home at 3 and others at 7. This makes it really hard for us to switch off.

Super cool family that goes to my gym, she was taking pics of her husband as the baby chilled in his pack.
Photographer: LJ Lara | Source: Unsplash

We have done it before though and it is so fun but would work best for those with more consistent schedules. It is a pretty straightforward concept– basically one day you get to workout and your partner gets the next. If you want to switch days, that's cool too! Find whatever works best for your family.

5. Wake up early or go to bed late

I am 100% a night owl. In a perfect world, my kids would wake up at 10am to allow me to sleep in after a long night of trying to get stuff done in between wake ups when I am at my most productive. Alas, this is not the case. My kids wake up like clockwork at 6:30 every single day. Waking up earlier just isn't possible for me. I barely function on the 3 minutes of sleep I do get so I cannot physically or mentally afford to take any time away from that precious sleep.

Once she stopped rushing through life she was amazed how much more life she had time for.
Photographer: Kinga Cichewicz | Source: Unsplash

Night time is my jam though. My kids are not super consistent with their sleep times regardless of routine or non-stop play to exhaust. There are days I am certain they will fall asleep early and 9pm rolls around with two kids jumping and dancing and refusing to stop. On days when they are asleep before 8pm, I get myself ready and get to work!

Photographer: Jonathan Borba | Source: Unsplash

I usually just wear whatever I wore all day (usually I am for workout clothes but that is not always the case), throw a sports bra on along with my socks and shoes and call that a win. I have definitely worked out in pajamas before and that is okay because I still did it and I felt incredible after.

6. Dancing it Out

I want to be very clear on one thing– you are perfect.

Your body is incredible.

Fitness doesn’t have to mean a “workout.”

It means moving your body in any way you enjoy. My absolute favorite way to move my body is through dance. I try to play music all day because I enjoy it and I find that when I sing and dance, my body and mind feel so good.

I am not doing a beautiful choreographed dance. More often than not, I am jumping around like I am trying to catch a mosquito and singing for my kids. They think this is the most hilarious sight ever and cannot stop laughing. They usually join in.

Photographer: Junior REIS | Source: Unsplash

Dancing is such commonplace in our home that if I start saying “dancing dancing dancing” in a playful tone, my kids bust out their moves. Those moments make my heart explode with happiness and I try to absorb every second of it before it’s gone.

A quick note: Working out does not make you more worthy or beautiful. Your body is perfect. You are perfect. You are worthy and beautiful in any size you are wearing. Your body is a vessel that carries you day to day. Don’t forget to thank it. Let’s also remember that our clothing sizes do not define us. We are all worthy of love even if we sat on the couch all day watching TV with our kids.

What are some of your tips and tricks for sneaking in some physical activity? Do you include your kids?

In the comments, tell me your favorite thing your body did for you today.

I’ll go first; Today, my body allowed me to babywear a heavy toddler who is teething and all around miserable. It carried his body while he rested and I am so thankful for this body.

About the Author

Jessica is a Latinx mom to a boy and a girl. She currently lives in California with her husband, babies, and a super cuddly pup. She has many hobbies but her favorites include dancing, hiking, and true crime podcasts.