Amanda Handleson: On Self Regulation, Rituals, and Gratitude

Amanda Handleson: On Self Regulation, Rituals, and Gratitude

Mom of three Amanda Handleson has worn many hats in addition to her role as “mama.” The florist and educational psychologist turned social media strategist shares how to find gratitude in the journey, navigate surprises and create our own rituals and routines amongst the chaos, so that we can regulate as mamas.

 

Amanda, tell us a little bit about you: 

My life is always changing!  I am a mom to 3 little ones, ages 7, 5, and 1.5. I am from California and we moved to Portland, Oregon a year and a half ago. Even though we only moved one state away, it has been a big change and finding our way here has been our focus the past year. There is so much to love. I've been a florist and an educational psychologist. And while I am still both of those things, I am currently working freelance in social media strategy and design, which I have absolutely loved. Depending on the day, I'm also learning more about photography, gardening, home DIY, and well-parenting.  

What did becoming a mom look like for you? 

My husband and I weren't sure what direction our family would take and I wasn't over the moon about babies before having them (of course, I am now :) ) I grew up around a lot of children and my husband and I enjoyed gatherings and time with my much younger siblings. Eventually we knew that we saw ourselves with children. Pregnancy happened quickly for us. We are incredibly lucky in that aspect; this is not lost on me. Our daughter was a pleasant surprise and we eventually made the decision to have a third. Three has been the absolute biggest shock to our family ecosystem AND we all absolutely love our little Hugo, who brings us more joy than we could ever imagine. 

 

What helps you find gratitude in the journey - especially on the hard days?

I have a lot of mantras that pull me out of an anxious state and get me into a place where I can find gratitude. I remind myself to breathe, slow down, and put away distractions. Sometimes I pull in one of my little ones--whoever is most regulated :)-- and give them a snuggle. From there, I'll find gratitude in the simplest details. Of course, journaling, meditating, movement, and being in nature are incredible practices to find peace and gratitude. But I have found that with three children, things can turn quickly and I need moments of gratitude to be more immediately accessible. 

How does Matrescence’s Mission to “mother the mother” resonate with you as a mom?

The mission is incredible and so very necessary. It felt as though I never needed mothering as much as I did right after becoming a mother, and in my conversations with other parents, I know I am not alone in that. We all do need a village - but it can be incredibly hard to find. Especially when you live far away from family and many of your peers are in the same life phase. I find the most balance when I create rhythms and routines for myself and the family that are tied to the seasons. As a family, we have seasonal activities and practices in our home- like a fall soup we always make. And I personally, have my own practices and self-care routines that align with the seasons. Day to day we find grounding and connection to nature here and on a bigger scale, my husband and I are creating beautiful memories with our children. 

 

What is your favorite part about motherhood? What is the most challenging? 

My favorite is watching them grow and watching their relationships develop as they become who they will be. The most challenging is keeping my nervous system regulated among the noise and mess. And also finding time to connect with my husband, myself, and each of the children (and the dog). I recognize that this is a tough season and I am always reminding myself that I will look back on this with nostalgia, but it's also ok that it’s a lot right now.  

 

 

What is the best advice you received about parenting, and who did you get it from?

I'm going to be real pragmatic here- the book, Simplicity Parenting. If the only advice I heard or read was what came from this book, I would be just fine! I pick it up when I am in need of empowerment. 

 

What struggles have you encountered finding balance? How do you navigate them? 

I'll be honest - as soon as I find balance in one way,  something falls off the table and it feels like we lose it again. I work part time and my days at home are my most challenging because so much is outside of my control. When it feels like too much, I look for one little thing to do that will allow me to move some energy. 

I am also trying to remember that boundaries are my key to balance, whether it's saying no to an invitation or reminding my children of an expectation or house rule. I will admit this is difficult for me. I like a tidy home, I am incredibly extroverted and like to be out, and I'd often rather let my child be destructive than deal with a tantrum. But we all operate best when we maintain our boundaries.

Photo credit to Abby Tohline

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