Skinny Mom was lucky enough to get amazing breast-feeding advice from Beverly Hills Nanny star and expert Marika Tsircou the first time. Now, count our lucky stars, because the witty expert is back. This time however, Marika returns as a fellow mom in the fight of me-time versus family time. When she isn’t filming, she is a hands-on, stay-at-home mom. So naturally, the work never ends. Like all of you moms balancing a phone in one hand, the family schedule in another, and a baby in a stroller with whatever devices you have left, Marika goes through the same daily ups and downs. As a celebrity, she has done her fair share of cleanses and intense yoga regimens. But, at the end of the night she gives into her sweet tooth. It’s all about that balance and figuring out what you truly want to prioritize.
SM: In your opinion, what is the most challenging part of being a mother?
MT: Finding time to do everything is hands down the most challenging part of being a mom. Time flies while taking care of Xander and being a hands on stay-at-home mom with a baby means you can’t ever sit at your desk during the day to make phone calls, do bills or respond to emails. So things stack up. I’ve wanted to make a photo album of the gazillion gorgeous photos I took in his first year, and I’m up until 2am some nights just organizing all his baby photos. Of course, I haven’t made it to the album yet! I have a hard time even getting to my camera to download photos to my computer. After he goes to bed at night I try to play catch up, but at the end of the day it’s impossible to get it all done. Your time is simply no longer your own as a mama. The fact that Xander only takes one 45 minute nap a day doesn’t make things easier in terms of having my own time. He recently transitioned himself to one nap a day and it was harder on me than it was on him!! When Moms tell me their babies take two naps a day for one to two hours each, I’m always in disbelief. But Xander sleeps well at night and you can’t have everything.
SM: Do you ever find yourself feeling guilty when trying to balance work and family life?
MT: Thankfully Xander was on Beverly Hills Nannies with me so my work involves him! You couldn’t pay me to leave him all day to go back to a career. I know some women have to and I feel very blessed to be able to stay home with him. Thankfully my career as an artist will always be there and my studio is in my home. Although I must admit that I used to paint every day, and now my goal is to make it to the studio once a week. As I said, time is just not your own any longer when you’re caring for a baby all day. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have only not put him to bed three times in thirteen months and am here to put him down for every nap as he nurses before naps and bed. I really try to schedule my work and social life around him and we only go out after I’ve put him to sleep for the night. On the three occasions I didn’t put him to sleep, I did feel guilty! I’m sure as he gets older and more comes up and we have another baby everything will be even harder to juggle. I just love spending every minute of his waking day with him, but I also look forward to having some me time when he goes to sleep.
SM: What keeps you calm and motivated during those crazy mommy moments we all have?
MT: Looking at Xander’s sweet face every day is what keeps me calm during the crazy moments. He stares at me with his gorgeous blue/green eyes and gives me the most loving glances, and I know I am needed by him like no one has ever needed me before. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for him. Wanting to be the best, most loving Mommy to a loving and happy baby is what keeps me motivated. The only time I’ve had crazy mommy moments is when he’s been literally up all night teething or sick and I just can’t get him back to sleep no matter what I try. He wants to nurse for four to five hours straight in the middle of the night and occasionally I go in and wake my husband up and ask for help, because I don’t do well with a complete lack of sleep. It’s always hard to see him sick or teething and not feeling well so I do everything I can and I literally feel his pain in my bones but I’ve had a couple of “moments” of breaking down in the middle of the night on night #5. It can be exhausting having a sick baby and Xander is a terrible teether. Normally he’s a great sleeper though, so we’re lucky. We practice our own version of attachment parenting and co-slept for six months at which point Xander went into his crib in his room. I feel it’s very important for a baby to get 11-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night and so co-sleeping and all night nursing after six months is the only point of attachment parenting I disagree with. But even when things get really nuts and Xander is chasing the dogs and dumping over their water bowls or when he’s sick or teething and up all night, I just give him all the extra love I have as that’s what babies need to get through the rough times. They are little for such a small period of time and I think because I lost my father at such a young age, when I was twelve, I’m particularly sensitive to time going by quickly and therefore want to truly cherish every moment of Xander’s childhood.
SM: Can you please describe for us your diet and fitness routine?
MT: I’m breastfeeding so I can’t diet. I know that someday I’ll be able to get my old amazing body back but at this time in my life I’m willing to give up having a perfect body in order to nourish my baby. I therefore put my entire pre-prego size 0 wardrobe in the basement and bought bigger clothes. I eat oatmeal with fruit every single morning as it’s great for your milk supply and healthy as well. For lunch, I’ll have a sandwich or leftovers from dinner the night before and for dinner anything I want…I really eat it all, and I have a sweet tooth. I try to eat healthy, but I need to eat carbs to keep up my milk supply. I gained a whopping 65 lbs while pregnant and have lost 40 lbs in one year. It didn’t happen overnight, and I didn’t try to lose the weight. It came off slowly as a result of eating semi-healthy, breastfeeding and walking. Walking is the only exercise I have time for. I take stroller walks with Xander and our dogs in the hills by my house. It’s a nice break in the day and it’s great for everyone to get some fresh air!
SM: Did you struggle at all with weight loss after the birth of your child? If so, how did you cope?
MT: Being heavier is definitely something I had to get used to. For some reason when I was pregnant I didn’t realize how much weight 65 lbs really was. I’ll admit I went a little crazy. I ate what I craved and I craved Häagen-Dazs every day. After I didn’t have my big fabulous belly anymore, and I instead had a flabby belly with no baby, I got a little sad. But I didn’t want to go crazy exercising because it’s not good for your milk supply. I couldn’t diet for the same reason and breastfeeding was and is a thousand times more important to me than getting my body back. So I tried to slowly eat healthier (ie I gave up the Häagen-Dazs) but not deny myself of anything as you definitely get very hungry while breastfeeding. I knew it would eventually come off by walking, breastfeeding and running after an active toddler. Stroller walks in the hills are my favorite!
SM: Have you ever tried a crazy diet or workout?
MT: Before having a baby I used to do the “Master Cleanse.” Every January, I’d feel as though my body needed cleansing but I’d never last more than two days. I’ve never been one for dieting, I love food far too much. I once did a thirty day challenge at Bikram Yoga which entailed doing Bikram yoga thirty days in a row. I’m naturally thin and was lucky to have a size 0 body before having Xander. Now my body has normalized, and I’m a size 6. Eventually when I’m done having babies I’d love to get down to a size 4, and I know I’ll have to motivate and exercise. Right now however, stroller walks are perfect.
SM: When you’re having one of those “worn out mommy” kind of days, how do you refresh yourself and what helps you feel beautiful?
MT: I’m always casual during the day as I’m running around with Xander, getting dirty feeding him, playing with him and bathing him. I often feel worn out and tired by the time I put him to sleep as it’s a non-stop job but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. My two favorite cures for the worn out end of the day Mommy feeling is to either get in bed, put your feet up and watch TV or to take a shower, curl your hair, put some makeup and a pretty dress on and go out! I feel completely different when I’m the “daytime mommy Marika” and the “nighttime social Marika.” I adore my gorgeous Louboutin collection but I also love wearing tennis shoes & flip flops during the day. I also always feel more beautiful after having a manicure and pedicure, though these days I rarely get manicures anymore. When we were filming Beverly Hills Nannies I got the gel manicure since you only need one every three weeks. Getting a manicure and waiting for my nails to dry only to have them chip a day later just isn’t high on my priority list these days. A massage is really the best treat for a hard working mama! It’s the smallest things that make a mama happy!
SM: How do you make time for yourself with everything you have going on?
MT: This is the hardest thing for me. As I said, your time is not your own with a baby. This is where a part time nanny, even for a few hours a week, comes in handy. While I am with Xander 99% of the time, it’s definitely important to get a little bit of time to do my things. Even if it’s to get a mani/pedi every two or three weeks or to be able to sit at my desk and catch up on some work or make it down to my art studio to paint. I also consider me time to be going out with my husband at night. The nice thing is we have our evenings after Xander is sleeping so I don’t feel I’m missing anything and leaving him. He’s a great sleeper (unless he’s teething or sick, and then it’s brutal with him up every two hours) which is nice because the evenings are when I mostly get a little bit of me time to catch up. I’m not on my computer at all during the day and try not to be on my phone checking emails or texts or Twitter. I think it’s important to be physically and mentally there for your baby, so I try to put the iPhone away as much as possible during the day.
SM: What advice would you give to other moms out there struggling to balance everything while still finding time to stay healthy?
MT: My best advice is to accept and embrace that you’ll never get everything done and to be okay with it. I have a revolving list and will sometimes lie in bed at night thinking about things that I didn’t get done. I roll over, write it in my to do list on my iPhone then go to bed. At the end of the day, if Xander and I have had a great day together and he’s happy that’s all that matters. Of course multitasking is the name of the game…I only make phone calls while driving as Xander can listen to his music and play with his toys in the back seat. I won’t be on the phone when we’re home as I feel it infringes upon my time with him. I exercise by taking Xander and my dogs on stroller walks in the hills. I only shower and get on my computer while he’s sleeping. And last but not least, I check emails on my iPhone while on the toilet. A mama has to do what a mama has to do to get things done.
If you want to hear more from Marika, follow her on twitter @MarikaTsircou!