POST:

Self-Care for Moms | Figuring Out Self-Care is About Learning How to Filter

CATEGORY:

Parents

Date:

October 19, 2018

I’m sitting on my mat, eyes closed, trying to breathe. The lights are dim, the music is just right, the instructor’s voice is calm and melodic as she guides the class in getting centered and getting comfortable, but I just can’t seem to focus. It’s a shame, really, given that I’ve spent all week arranging for this one hour of “self-indulgence”—paying extra for my sitter to stay with my youngest at home, timing a business meeting to start directly after I’m done, even putting off more “important” errands like the grocery store and a Target run in the name of self-care.

Yet, somehow, my mind keeps flitting in and out of focus despite multiple attempts to bring myself back to the present moment. I’m already onto the rest of the day in my head, and somehow also back to yesterday, where I’m analyzing an in-office interaction and questioning my clinical decision-making process on a patient’s particularly tough condition. Yep, my filter system is broken today. 

So, this morning’s exercise session was a loss. So what? As I walked to my car after the class and out to the rest of my life, I thought about the bigger picture—about what the class represented, about how many of my self-care attempts are affected by my ability to properly filter. I thought about how much time we all waste, especially as mothers, unable to get past the noise, the false messages, and the endless, meaningless to-dos that face us every day. About how, if self-care really is about trying to achieve some type of balance, it’s our filter system that—nine times out of ten—keeps us from actually getting anywhere with our attempts. 

Filtering Out the Noise

How much time do you spend on your phone? I’m not judging, I’m just asking, because I often have to spend A LOT of time on my phone (mostly due to the nature of running a blog and a business and promoting both on social media) and I notice that, when I’m on it without a specific task in mind (just to surf) and without a plan to GET OFF OF IT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, my whole life ends up filled with noise.

I follow a link to a story and it leads me to some other worthless distraction, scroll through Facebook and I get sucked into watching some viral video, hang out on Pinterest and I get bogged down in pictures of professionally-decorated homes that I can’t afford. It’s all noise, and it eats away at the precious moments I do have to actually do what feeds me, what restores me, and what builds me up. 

So, what can we do to get rid of some of the static that clogs our thinking and takes all our time away? I’m guessing you’re probably not all going to throw your phones into a pool anytime soon, but how about this? What if you worked on consciously setting aside times throughout the week without any devices, even if it’s 20 minutes at a time. Especially when my kids are around, I’m just turning my phone completely off, leaving it, allowing myself to see it as a tool I can use when I need it versus a letting it kind of use me.

Filtering Out the False Messages as We Work on Self-Care

Why is it so hard for us to take good care of ourselves when we become moms? In part, because it feels selfish and indulgent. Because it feels like there are a million other things that we could be doing with our time that would be more productive or would be more helpful for our families. Because, when we become mothers, we are seen primarily as caretakers and secondarily as human beings with basic needs. Or, maybe, because we try to do it all and be it all and soon realize IT NEVER WORKS so we just give up (and end up resentful) or we keep running ourselves into the ground (and end up exhausted and unhappy).

There are a million lies that float into our heads day after day, that make us confused about what’s important, that—okay, this is going to sound extreme but I’m going to go here anyway—suck the joy out of everything. 

Each time we have a choice to take care of ourselves we also have an opportunity to choose what messages we’ll believe about ourselves and about our place in this world. We have a chance to choose what defines us. We get to take responsibility for how we live our lives. 

Filtering Out the To-Dos

I’m used to angst over decisions I make in my pediatrics clinic (in fact, I think it’s part of what keeps me honest and thinking as I doctor), but those to-dos that keep piling up in my head? Yeah, I could do without those. Moms who focus solely on getting things done miss out on LIFE, plain and simple. Instead, think about how to lessen your load. If you have a partner, figure out a plan for dividing responsibilities along strength lines. No matter what your family construct, stop doing everything for everyone else. Get other people on your team. Let go of the tasks that don’t matter and give away the tasks that drag you down. You only have the time and the bandwidth to do so much—use the time you do have to narrow in on your priorities.

If the whole point of focusing on self-care is to figure out some way to a more balanced life and family, then we’re all going to have to hone our filtering skills to get to our end-goals. Of course, we’ll inevitably have our off days no matter how hard we try. Don’t beat yourself up when that happens. I mean, my yoga mat mishaps, although annoying, weren’t catastrophic, they simply were a reminder. The more mindful we are of the distractions and the storylines that keep us from taking care of ourselves—as moms and just as members of the human race—the more we’ll be able to find the balance we all want…and need.

Wanting More Parenting Help?

Want more information about how to parent and cope when you’re a new mom? Check out our book, The Newborn Baby Blueprint: Preparing to Care For Your Infant and Yourself.

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Looking for baby registry or baby shower gifts? You’ll love our Newborn Gift Boxes (in Baby Boy, Baby Girl, and Gender Neutral). They’re full of information, inspiration, and a little love for all the mamas and mamas-to-be in your life (including you!).

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Top tips for moms on how to filter so they can practice self-care and find balance

POST:

Self-Care For Moms | Do You Need a Mommyhood Vacation?

CATEGORY:

Parents

Date:

October 9, 2018

This summer, I took a mommyhood vacation. Well, actually, I worked all week while my kids and husband went on vacation. Even so, without two littles on my heels and in my arms for five days, it felt like a holiday getaway. 

I’d taken way too much time off earlier in the year, leaving me short on summer vacay opportunities, so we decided to divide and conquer this time around. While my husband played on the beach with his side of the family and our children, I stayed behind and kept my job. 

Of course I knew I would miss my girls the second they boarded the airplane but I also knew I had a rare opportunity to do a lot of the things I never do, things that never happen because it’s hard to coordinate everyone’s needs on a weekly basis and because, when my kids are around, I really like to hang out with them (if you want more help with wrangling young kids, click here for our free guide).

My Mommyhood Vacay

I went to a movie (it had been three years since my last in-theater experience), I met my girlfriends for drinks on Saturday night, I planned a fancy brunch on Sunday morning. The mid-morning yoga class I loved pre-babies was finally an option. No one called and asked when I would be home. I WAS FREE. 

You’re probably going to guess my next line, right? 

“And then you realized you didn’t really want to be free.”

INCORRECT. I loved it. The guilt was gone. My time was mine. I could choose. 

My revelation on my mommyhood vacation was more nuanced than that. Here’s what I realized:

It would not be that hard to replicate any of this in my normal life. Shocker: my life pre-kids was not THAT interesting. I like to romanticize it in my mind. I like to pine away for it but I don’t really have to because none of the things I wanted to do without the pull of responsibility were that extravagant. No, I can’t do them all in a 48-hour continuous stretch every weekend, but I CAN sprinkle them into a weekly and monthly routine, achieving that same college-era “I just finished finals for the summer and I am free as a bird” feeling— that feeling of no pressure, no obligation, no me-shaped hole in my heart.

It’s not that I don’t already make self-care a priority.

Those who know me know I’m constantly preaching that moms can’t take good care of their littles until they start taking good care of themselves. It’s that my attitude, while I’m taking care of myself, is often with a sense that I’m on borrowed time or that my kids are wistfully wishing for me each time I go away for short periods of time. What if I could shift that? Is it possible be mindful about my parenting responses, about my perspective on the stage of motherhood I’m in, but also about my self-care moments? What if I could truly enjoy my opportunities for enjoyment, sans mom guilt and martyrdom?

I realized I don’t have to torture myself. I can just enjoy. 

In my pediatrics office, the moms I see who learn that mindset trick are happier and better-adjusted to their new mommy role. They care deeply about their children but they know that having healthy priorities means not always putting their kids first—sometimes it means consciously, mindfully, putting themselves first for discrete periods of time. On the other hand, the moms I see who never acknowledge their own needs or who live in a “less than” mentality, struggle more than they need to. Those moms never get to fully enjoy motherhood OR their own personhood. 

When I reunited with my babies at the end of our journeys, I felt complete again —back with the people I loved the most. But, I didn’t regret the decision we made to let me have some moments by myself. My mommyhood vacation taught me a lot —mostly about how I didn’t need more TIME to get all the self-care I think I need, I just need more perspective. 

Wanting More Parenting Help?

Want more information about how to parent and cope when you’re a new mom? Check out our book, The Newborn Baby Blueprint: Preparing to Care For Your Infant and Yourself.

new mom, breastfeeding, parenting hacks, new mom hacks

Looking for baby registry or baby shower gifts? You’ll love our Newborn Gift Boxes (in Baby Boy, Baby Girl, and Gender Neutral). They’re full of information, inspiration, and a little love for all the mamas and mamas-to-be in your life (including you!).

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POST:

Parenting Hacks for New Moms | Why It’s Great That You and Your Partner Aren’t Exactly the Same

CATEGORY:

Babies

Date:

October 5, 2018

So, you and your partner don’t parent exactly the same way. You have different styles. You see things differently. Let it help you. You have probably always done a lot of things differently, it just hasn’t been quite so in your face as right now. You’re trying to team up, to be a parenting partner, and to create consistency for little Lucy (or Joey). Your ideas about the best way to do that might be different some (or most) of the time. You may like different bottles, you may think certain toys are better than others. You may even have a different way of discussing which bottles or toys are the best! 

Parenting Partner Differences

I’m a talker. I could hash out my thoughts about child rearing verbally all day long. My husband HAAAATES doing that. He would rather think on his own about it, then have a short session where we try to problem solve. Fair enough, I’ve decided. I save the hashing out for my girlfriends (and my pediatrician) and I keep it short and sweet with hubby. Now that my eldest daughter is getting older, I see that sometimes she needs me to help her talk through her emotions but sometimes she just needs silence, an empathetic look and a hug from her dad. 

It’s tempting to consider yourself the better parent, especially if you feel like you do all the reading, all the researching, all the planning around your baby. But partners are meant to be just that – two people working together to problem-solve, to support each other and to, ultimately, become the best parents they can be. Embrace your differences and let them work for you, not against you. After all, isn’t that what being a parent partner is all about?

Wanting More Parenting Help?

Want more information about how to parent and cope when you’re a new mom? Check out our book, The Newborn Baby Blueprint: Preparing to Care For Your Infant and Yourself.

new mom, breastfeeding, parenting hacks, new mom hacks

Looking for baby registry or baby shower gifts? You’ll love our Newborn Gift Boxes (in Baby Boy, Baby Girl, and Gender Neutral). They’re full of information, inspiration, and a little love for all the mamas and mamas-to-be in your life (including you!).

new mom advice, top tips for new moms, breastfeeding advice, baby gear, baby gift, baby registry

Newborn, new parent hacks, breastfeeding, top tips for new parents

POST:

Parenting Hacks for New Moms | How to Make the Most of Your Good AND Bad Maternity Leave Days

CATEGORY:

Babies

Date:

September 28, 2018

The Maternity Leave Blahs

I spent so much time postpartum on maternity leave as a new mom sitting and watching TV. Alone. With my baby sleeping on me. It sounds cute and it was, for a few days. But, in the end, it was a bad thing to be isolated and mindless for so long.

The parents I see in my pediatrics clinic who feel the most content (instead of “blah” like I felt) have a plan for what to do with their time on parental leave and beyond. They know that, while unstructured weeks on end SOUND like a good idea, it usually leaves them feeling pretty down and purposeless once they’re about a month (or sooner) into it. We can ALL learn from them!

When my second baby came along, I made a commitment to turn off the TV and to turn on background music instead. I made playlists so I could already have music on-command that inspired and relaxed/energized me.  I made a list of the friends I wanted to connect with and books I wanted to read. I figured out a self-care plan. I set up some (very light) contract work to do for a local health organization during my maternity leave. Non-stressful tasks that aren’t baby-related are so important for us, especially if we are used to being at work 40 hours a week.

Even if your baby is already here, take a moment to make a plan for self-care and for mental stimulation in the early days, weeks and months- it will pay off in the end.

The Maternity Leave Blues

There you are, half-dressed on maternity leave with baby vomit on your sweatshirt, hair kinked and messy, a house strewn with toys (that you swear you just picked up last night – how on earth did they get all over the house again so soon?). 

It’s either laugh or cry on those crazy parenting days. How to get from a feeling a complete desperation to a place of peace? I use a technique I call  “Out of the Bubble.” 

Imagine yourself sitting on top of a huge glass bubble and you’re inside it with your child, having your moment. You can see what’s going on but you’re not a part of it. Instead, you’re an observer. You notice what’s going on before your eyes but it’s going on in front of you, not to you, like you’re watching yourself in a movie. Suddenly, as you breathe and observe, you’re not so caught up in how horrible everything is right then. You have emotional distance and gain some objectivity.

Of course, breathing in and out and while using imagery is not going to solve every problem you ever have as a parent, and you may not be able to even use this strategy every time you have a crazy day. When you can use it, though, you’ll feel yourself relax and develop mindfulness. You’ll build resilience in yourself and your kids as they watch you learn how to cope in stressful situations.

The Maternity Leave Blessings

We all know that maternity leave is no walk in the park. Hard days, boring days, in-between days…it’s like a roller coaster. There are, though, hidden blessings in it all. Learn to get mindful and intentional while you’re at home with your baby and you’ll set yourself up for long-term success months, even years later.

Wanting More Parenting Help?

Want more information about how to parent and cope when you’re a new mom? Check out our book, The Newborn Baby Blueprint: Preparing to Care For Your Infant and Yourself.

new mom, breastfeeding, parenting hacks, new mom hacks

Looking for baby registry or baby shower gifts? You’ll love our Newborn Gift Boxes (in Baby Boy, Baby Girl, and Gender Neutral). They’re full of information, inspiration, and a little love for all the mamas and mamas-to-be in your life (including you!).

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POST:

Parenting Hacks for New Moms | Happy Parents Have Realistic Expectations

CATEGORY:

Babies

Date:

September 19, 2018

I see a lot of parents-to-be in my office and they have a lot of questions. They also have a variety of expectations when it comes to having a new baby.

Most of their questions are about sleep and breastfeeding. Often, though, there a lot of questions about how to preserve some sense of normalcy, about how to keep things as easy and fun as possible. To be honest, I get the most nervous for the parents looking for things to stay the same. I encourage them to, instead, consider this a moment in time that will soon be over but that tends to go best when expectations are in check.

You will have fun again, I tell them, you will have date nights, you will at some point (kind of) get back to who you were before you became mommy or daddy. Right now, though, it’s time to dig in your heels and expect there will be a lot of tough days and nights. There will be moments of complete bliss, to be sure, but being a parent can be, well, annoying at times. You don’t have your freedom, you lose control of your schedule, you get lost in a sea of feeding and pooping and sleeping, then doing it again (if you’re looking for a free new mom guide to help you along, click here). 

Setting Realistic Expectations

Is it worth it? Absolutely. Is it hard? You betcha. Turns out it’s better to be mentally prepared for a period of awkward transition than to expect smooth sailing from the get-go. Becoming a parent, just like starting any new and challenging job, usually involves a steep learning curve at the beginning.

Dealing With a Tough Baby

Now, maybe you’ve already had a new baby and that baby is TOUGH—one with colic or who is just straight up a lot of work (If you have an easy baby, congratulations. Now, stop telling other parents how easy your baby is. They will only go home and cry in private.).

If you have a “hands-on” baby, first remember this: it will get better, believe me. I’ve been there and I know it does. But, while you wait till that magic day, do this as much as possible:

Talk about it. That is the only way to get the support you need. Call your mom or your sister, get to a mommy support group, call Baby Blues Connection, meet up with a friend. Better yet, have the friend come to you.

Expectations vs. Reality

If you are struggling with a baby under the age of four months that you think has colic, talk to your provider. Dealing with a colicky baby all day and all night can cause discord between parents, maternal depression, and anxiety. Your pediatrician can help by doing a thorough history and physical to make sure there isn’t a more serious medical condition and can offer support and resources to help you cope with the stress of a baby that doesn’t give you a break.

Colic is a real, difficult, confusing thing to go through with your baby. The good news: it does end. Your baby will not fuss and cry forever. But while you’re waiting for that magic day to arrive, reach out for help if you need it and take as much care of yourself as possible.

Wanting More Parenting Help?

Want more information about how to parent and cope when you’re a new mom? Check out our book, The Newborn Baby Blueprint: Preparing to Care For Your Infant and Yourself.

new mom, breastfeeding, parenting hacks, new mom hacks

Looking for baby registry or baby shower gifts? You’ll love our Newborn Gift Boxes (in Baby Boy, Baby Girl, and Gender Neutral). They’re full of information, inspiration, and a little love for all the mamas and mamas-to-be in your life (including you!).

new mom advice, top tips for new moms, breastfeeding advice, baby gear, baby gift, baby registry

expecting mom, first time moms, when you're expecting, breastfeeding moms

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