Advice From a Reformed Conflict Avoider

I tend to avoid the hard stuff in relationships. If an issue is painful or difficult to address, I find a way around it. I don’t like conflict, and being the typical busy working mom, I can justify putting off “special talks” with loved ones because I don’t have time.

Sound familiar? If you’re a time-crunched, conflict avoider like me, take a moment and ask yourself, ” Is this really working?”   Because, it sure as hell wasn’t  for me.   I was so resentful of my husband’s lack of help around the house and with the kids, yet I didn’t want to discuss it (other than the offhand snarky comment). Too much risk of bringing up painful issues. Too hard to figure out workable solutions.

Until the day I thought I was going to lose it. Then came the break-down-bawling fest (me) and the deer-in-the-headlights, what-did-I-do? look (him). When we finally talked—putting all our cards on the table—we were able to address the underlying issues and find ways to deal with them. It also led to more such talks, solutions and frequent check-ins with each other. I can’t say our marriage is perfect, but things are much better between us now.

Real Mom Susan

Your most valued relationships deserve the time and energy to make things right. Give yourself and your loved one the gift of an open, honest discussion and  you’ll  both feel better.

Today’s author is Susan Wenner Jackson, cofounder of Working Moms Against Guilt. http://www.workingmomsagainstguilt.com/

January:The Journey of Self-Care Begins

This month we’ve talked about how to make self-care changes which will stick, and how to appreciate the blessings of everyday life which is self-care in practice. While we’ve heard these ideas before, it’s “doing” them that’s challenging.

To summarize what we’ve said about making self-care part of  our daily routine:

  1.  Set small attainable goals, like 15 minutes a day.
  2.  Break the change into smaller steps.
  3.  Make it part of what’s already in the schedule.  Mommie Kate had some great advice on this.
  4.  Intend/visualize what we want to happen.
  5.  Don’t become self-critical of missteps.  Learn from the experience and try again.
  6.  Have a positive attitude about self-care.  Remember it’s a choice.
  7. Self-care and self-love gives us the energy to love others.  As Laura Nash said, “You can’t give what you don’t possess.”  

Now, for the big picture.  Self-care is not just a set of skills we practice, it’s an attitude for how we view and approach our lives.  With all life’s ups and downs, even in a single 24 hours, there’s much to be appreciated.  Often it’s in the small things-sunshine, our children’s smiles, flowers budding in spring or a kind word.  When we put our attention on life’s abundance, we feel loved and cared for. 

Buddha said, “If we could see the miracle of a single flower, our whole life would change.”  Embrace this year with wonder and positive intention.  Be grateful for all that is and all that is yet to be.  Self-care is a path to health, happiness and awakening the soul.  Let’s journey well together.

You Can’t Give Away What You Don’t Possess

Regarding self-sacrifice as a badge of honor comes from our very best intentions. We’ve been told that when we put others’ needs first, we’ll feel so good about ourselves that our needs will diminish. While this is often true about our desires, it is dangerously incorrect about our needs.

Our primary need is for love. Conditioning taught us to look for others to meet this: parents, siblings, friends, lovers and even our children. This dynamic would often require our significant others to suppress their needs in favor of ours. This can’t be love. Furthermore, there is nobody who can love you
the way you need to be loved — with one exception: YOU!

Love is best demonstrated with time and attention. We must give ourselves all the time and attention we need, so that our soul is overflowing with love. We can’t contain it.  We must give it away!  Free from unmet needs, your loved ones will sense the pure joy you derive from the relationship. They’ll neither feel defensive about disappointing you, nor will they act out in order to get your attention.

Real Mom Laura Nash

Only you know what you need. Only you can provide it. Take the time to check-in with yourself.  Discern your wants from your needs.  Extend love to yourself through self-care and your soul will soar.   

Today’s author Laura Nash is a consultant and Chopra-certified meditation instructor who teaches individuals and companies “peace of mind” skills.  Visit her an http://www.lauranash.com.

The Miracle of Everyday Life

Each January, we resolve to change ourselves and our ways so this year will be better than the year before.  We plan to be more organized, more motivated, more disciplined.  Always ” more,” and when we don’t succeed, we feel unhappy, inadequate and disappointed.  While goals are desirable, the miracle of everyday life is equally important.

Buddha  said, “Each morning we are born again.  What we do today is what matters most.”  Life occurs in the present.  If our gaze is too much on the future or in the past, we lose the chance to experience the abundance life offers.

I remember when my daughters were in elementary school and would burst in the door, chattering about the day.  Sometimes, I would listen.  Other times, I was occupied with work or making dinner, and wouldn’t  pay much attention.  I recall the disappointment on their faces when they saw I wasn’t interested.  Likewise, I recall how much I missed those chances during middle school and high school when it was far more important that they speak to their friends than me.

Now when they’re around and want to talk, I stop and listen.  At 18 and 22, they may not be around much longer.  I savor our moments together, and know it’s what matters most.  Buddha also said, “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”  Look for the miracle each day brings.  It’s right in front of us waiting to be found.

Diane's daughters

Scheduling Self-Care

I spent 2010 in a new-mom fog, topped off with postpartum depression. It seemed the day my son was born, I forgot how to care for myself as I learned to care for him. Now that I’m recovered from PPD and the shock of new parenthood, this year I’m refocusing on myself.

In 2011, I plan to spend less time on laundry and dusting and more time taking a bubble bath and reading a book.  Less time overscheduled, angry, and worried and more time playing, giggling, and snuggling.

But how can this be accomplished without neglecting my obligations? I hear so many mothers ask themselves and each other this.  Ironically, I feel the answer is  scheduling—relax, it’s the good kind! Grab your calendar and pick one date each week to devote 2 hours (or a whole evening if you can) to doing something JUST FOR YOU. I’m not talking about an hour online replying to emails! I mean a shopping trip for a new (maybe impractical) pair of shoes or a solo trip to the local coffeehouse with your favorite novel or best friend. If you have children,

Real Mom James with Jax

the minute you have your dates selected for the month, grab your phone and plan your childcare for the entire month. Trust me, this will keep you accountable!

Simple enough, right?  To nurture others, you must first nurture yourself.

Today’s author is James of James & Jax, a blog about discovering her new self after becoming a mom.

Time for Self-Care: Self-Preserving Not Selfish!

This month we’ve been talking about self-care and the importance of making it part of our lives. Last week, our guest blogger Mommie Kate, had some simple self-care tips which many moms appreciated.  Still, the issue of time stops many women from practicing self-care.  

 In our new book, Life Will Never be the Same: The Real Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide,  Ann and I devote an entire chapter to the obstacles that get in our way.   Here’s what we write about making time for self-care. 

1. Self-Care is a Choice:

“Children are demanding. They make their needs known. Messy houses scream: “Load these dishes” or “Make that bed.” Bosses inflict deadlines.  Your needs sink to the bottom of the list.  But, no one will make time for you or take care of you if you don’t.  No one will realize your needs if you don’t speak up.  Choose to put yourself first-at least once a day. ”

2. Adjust your expectations

“Another part of making time for yourself  is adjusting your expectations about how much time is needed.  Learn to think small. Take five minutes to practice deep breathing.   Or take twenty minutes to disappear into the bedroom when your partner comes home.  Use multi-tasking, too.   Lie on the floor with a magazine, next to the baby while he has his “tummy time,” and coo to him. Walk or jog with your infant.  Repeat to yourself, “Time for me is essential,” “My baby deserves a happy, healthy mom.”

For more ideas, preview our book at www.realmomexperts.com.

Simple Strategies For Self-Care

Think you don’t have the time or money to pamper yourself? Not to worry… I want to share some ways I squeeze in inexpensive “quickies” to nurture myself. Utilize 5-15 minute increments sprinkled throughout the day to take care of yourself while taking care of everything and everyone else.

  1. Flavor your coffee with fancy creamer BEFORE the rest of the family awakes. Read something uplifting or humorous to start the day on a positive note.
  2. If your children are jumping on that last nerve, put yourself in time out. For 3-5 minutes breathe deeply then hum a happy tune.
  3. Bathe young children during the day. While they’re playing in the water, read a novel or catch up on your favorite blogs on a laptop/smart phone right there in the bathroom.  It’s also an excellent opportunity for a facial scrub/mask or to paint fingernails (one thin coat of light iridescent pink dries fast and chips are less noticeable).
  4. Utilize kids’ nap time for craft projects, a good movie, or a nap yourself. Resist the urge to do chores. Resting IS productive.
  5. Time/childcare permitting, make a date with yourself. Spend an hour or two visiting the library, coffee shop, salon, or art galleries-whatever you enjoy.
  6. Monitor and eliminate negative self-talk. Speak kindly to yourself. Challenges are just opportunities to find another way.
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Real woman Mommie Kate

Each day, be good to yourself. You’re worth it! Today’s author is Mommie Kate who offers tips and encouragement for busy moms at Practical Faith for Everyday Life.