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It’s Summertime-Don’t Forget Yourself

It’s summertime when many of our schedules are crammed with kid and family activities. Several months ago, Susan Wenner-Jackson, co-founder of Working Moms Against Guilt wrote a great post about rediscovering herself after having children. We decided to rerun it so you don’t forget yourself during this busy season.

“As a mom, my only times alone with my thoughts have been 10 minutes in the shower or commuting to work. And guess what I was thinking? “Man, this shower feels good” or “I really hate this $#&@ing traffic.” Deep stuff.

Perhaps because my almost-5-year-old is more independent and my 19-month-old is no longer a baby, I’m now emerging from the mom-cocoon. It also helps that I work for myself, from home, with child care. As I poke my head (antennae?) out, I’m looking around saying, “What about me? What do I want?”

I’m allowing myself to move up my priority list. How do I want to spend my time? What do I want to experience or accomplish? It’s exciting to ponder these questions. I’m still a mom, with all the responsibilities and joys that come with it. But I’m also a person — who’s enjoying getting reacquainted with herself again.”

It doesn’t take long to reconnect with yourself. Spend 15-20 minutes each day doing something you enjoy whether it’s sipping coffee, sitting in a comfy chair daydreaming or painting your nails. Keep your thoughts on yourself and what you’re doing. Don’t let the summer pass by without making me-time. Have a great one.

If At First You Don’t Succeed

Since it’s summertime, we thought we’d lighten the mood. What follows looks at what can be gained when things don’t work out.

While on vacation in May, I tried to whiten my teeth. The first time I attached the plastic whitening strip to my lower teeth, it fell off. After several attempts, I gave up and decided it wasn’t my thing. Then this Saturday, I tried again and succeeded immediately. Although this example may seem trivial. life is filled with large and small tasks which if we give up the first time we fail, we’ll never learn what we can accomplish.

Last week one of my clients described the trouble she’d had with several tile contractors. She openly acknowledges her perfectionism and has been working on learning to let things go so she can feel better. Honestly, she’d done fine until the second tile guy lost it because she asked him to replace a cracked tile and to reset another which wasn’t level with the rest.  He’d advertised himself as “no drama, no trauma.” LOL.

What did she learn? First, to trust her gut. She’d thought about terminating him the week before but was trying to adjust her expectations instead.  Sometimes the other person really is the problem.  Second, although things went poorly it wasn’t a disaster and she didn’t torture herself by dwelling on it.

So, the next time things don’t work out, look for something to be gained. Then, shift into self-care mode, breathe deeply and smile 🙂

Pick Your Pie

“For those of you who feel overwhelmed and yet can’t see what you could eliminate from your schedule, I’d like to address a few things here. First, I want you to know that life really isn’t a competition. I think we can all agree that a little competitiveness is good-it motivates, keeps us on our toes and helps us do our best. But when you feel everything you do is being compared to someone else, it can make you a little crazy!

I’m not knocking being the best at something. But there are tons of other positions in life. You’re probably familiar with them despite killing your Self to be number one. I’m urging you right now to just do the best you can (and let your kids do the same) and then relax.

Instead of ‘putting your fingers in so many pies’ I’m urging you to limit your kids’ activities to one, maybe two, things a week. Just think how much more family time you’ll have! I’m urging you to choose one, maybe two volunteer activities you feel passionate about and let the others go. You will find you have more time and energy than you’ve had in a long time. Believe me when I say no one is judging you for what you are or aren’t doing. Everyone is too wrapped up in their own lives to give yours more than a brief notice.”

Today’s author is Stacey Glaesmann, MA, LPC. Her book is What About Me?

Remembering Lost Loved Ones

Today is Memorial Day which honors the memory our lost loved ones. In life, we experience many kinds of losses -the deaths of a spouse, child, family member, beloved friend or cherished pet. The loss of a job, a divorce or our children moving away.  Some of these are talked about openly. Others are not.

One loss which is rarely discussed is when a baby dies either during pregnancy or soon after delivery. Maybe you or someone close to you has gone through this.  Whether it occurs early or late in pregnancy, does not lessen its importance or impact on the woman/couple. While losses after 20 weeks are generally more traumatic, this isn’t always so. For couples who are struggling with fertility issues, each failure to conceive is a loss not only of becoming pregnant but also their dream of the child/family they hoped for.

If you’re supporting a woman/couple who’s going through a pregnancy/neotnatal loss, never assume that you know what their experience of grief is. Many times remarks made with good intentions like “These things happen for a reason or  I know things will get better,” are perceived as insensitive and offensive. If you’re not certain what to say, don’t say anything.  When people are grieving, often what they need most is for you to just listen. You cannot take away their pain or make it hurt less but you can support them with love and compassion.

For more, visit By the Brooke, Grieve Out Loud and Share.

Motherhood and Guilt

 When I went to write this post before my children, ages 19 and 23 had dinner, my husband said to me, “What kind of mother are you?” because I put a bag of lettuce on the table with dressing and left.  Now my children are certainly old enough to put it in a bowl for themselves; however, as a younger mom I would have chastised myself for not serving it “right.”  While those days are mostly behind me, this inspired me to write about  guilt and motherhood, borrowing from our book, “Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide .”     

“It’s a difficult task to try to maintain your pre-baby life…You may feel as if you never have enough time for everything you want to do.  If you neglect your own needs or your partner or your job, you feel guilty.  And you feel guilty if you put any of those priorities above the baby’s needs.  Guilt just comes with the territory at times.”

Now, substitute whatever stage of parenting pertains to you.  It’s all the same.  Moms everywhere feel they’re falling short, resulting in GUILT.  So, here’s what we recommend.  First, “focus on what you accomplish rather than what you leave undone.”  Second, “you may also need to lower your standards and set less ambitious goals for a while,” like me with the salad.  Finally, find other moms in similar situations for support and validation.

Try our friends at Working Moms Against Guilt for a great web resource.  And forget the salad bowl.

Self-Care Is Like Chocolate

Last week we switched to our new schedule where we’ll be blogging on Thursdays instead of Wednesdays,  However, for those of you who need some transition time, here’s another thought to help you through the week.  Keeping with our chocolate/mindfulness theme from Monday, we’d like to suggest that   “Self-care is like chocolate, only fewer calories and less guilt later.”

Like mindfulness which we posted about on Monday, self-care helps us savor life and enjoy ourselves and our loved ones.  As we’ve said many times, self-care is self-preserving not selfish.  It is a necessity for us to put our oxygen masks on first for if we perish, who remains to fill the many roles we occupy?  No one.

Each day do something good for yourself and all will benefit.  Eat chocolate, practice mindfulness, have fun, or find an activity which makes your heart sing.  Remember, there is no such thing as too much self-care and it won’t add pounds to your waistline.  Happy Wednesday!

Mindfulness: Make Each Day Count

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., creator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) used worldwide to improve health and enhance wellness defines mindfulness as “Paying attention to the present moment on purpose as if your life depended on it in a non-judgemental way.”  It is slowing our lives down to notice what’s happening as its occurring instead of worrying about the future or  dwelling in the past.

Research indicates mindfulness contributes to improved physical health, greater immunity, less pain from chronic health conditions, shorter recovery times from surgery and many other mind-body benefits including decreased stress and better moods.  All it takes is time and consistent practice for it to work.

Since it’s summertime, here’s a fun way to practice.  Takie a good piece of chocolate, at least Dove, and mindfully eat it.  To start, observe the chocolate and how it appears.  Then sniff it and notice the aroma.  Feel the texture and surface of it.  Pay attention to the sounds your body makes as you draw the chocolate near.  Finally, put it in your mouth and savor the flavor, texture, taste and total sensory experience.  Mindfulness in action.

This week dedicate 10 minutes daily to pay full attention to the present moment: playing with your child, sitting/walking outside, sipping coffee/tea, washing the dishes or showering.  Any activity is an opportunity to cultivate mindfulness as long as you are fully aware of it with all your senses.  As Kabat-Zinn suggests, treat it as though “your life depended on it” and you will succeed.