Battling the Back-to-School Blahs

Now that my daughters are older, starting school is less challenging time and energy wise. But for those of you who still have younger children, August can be a stressful and depleting month. Here are some recommendations from Lisa Salazar, a therapist and mom of two teens and a toddler, who’s found that organization and routine is key to decreasing stress and maintain a healthy balance in at home.

Schedule family time:  Allow your children to help plan a weekly family night.  An example is renting videos and watching them at home with favorite movie snacks to enjoy.  During family night, rules should be established, such as no texting or taking phone calls.

Choose chores:  Because everyone’s schedules are busier now, it is helpful to have a family meeting where everyone can decide which chores they will be responsible for.

Homework:  By providing your children a calendar and having one for yourself, both of you can jot down any special dates and scheduled tests.   Staying organized is the key to a successful school year!

Observe child’s behavior:   Be mindful of any changes in behavior, sleep, and eating behaviors.

Offer support and solutions:  Be your child’s strongest advocate.  Reach out to teacher s and counselors to help you and your child.

Listen:  Use car rides home and dinner time to talk with your child.

Real Mom Lisa

Today’s guest author is Lisa Salazar, MA, LMFT, LPC who is a licensed marriage and family therapist.  She has been married for 18 years and has 3 children.   Books in the Burbs is a blog that Lisa maintains to write book reviews.

Summer Sunsets and Back-to-School

These last precious moments of summer pave the way for the annual back-to-school countdown. Are you ready to rumble?

While we’d love for all our days to be relaxing, purposefully lazy and carefree, we
know that’s not reality. Darn it. Sounded good though, didn’t it?

How do we make that transition smoother? What’s a mom to do? You’ve gotten used to the kids being around, if only for a few weeks. With the change in season, come changes in schedules and stress-levels potentially on the rise.

Here are a few quick tips to make the transition a little less bumpy:
• Create special back-to-school routines for you and the kids
• Take care of all the shopping ahead of time to ensure proper planning
• Pay attention to those phone calls and emails coming from school
• Create a special way to say “see you later,” when dropping off at school
• Take a tour of the school with your child so he or she knows where
everything is
• Have a family meeting to discuss any and all loose ends

It doesn’t take much for families to get it together as new things come our way. A
little prior planning prevents poor performance.

Today’s back-to-school author and mom is Mollee Bauer, founder of pregnancy.org, the premier website for info, advice and support for pregnancy, new moms and early motherhood. To visit, click here.

When A Mother Kills-How We Can Prevent This

Last Monday, the unthinkable occurred in the idyllic, picture perfect community just 10 minutes from my home. A mom who was known to have struggled with depression but seemed to be “doing okay,” shot her children and then killed herself. A week later, it’s become clear that a severe mental illness led to their deaths.

Could this and other tragedies like the recent movie theater shootings have been prevented? I think so. Because of the stigma associated with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder, people are afraid seek help for fear of being labeled “crazy.” Instead, they try to “mask” their distress by appearing “normal,” which doesn’t work. Likewise, they frequently don’t continue with counseling until they’re well or stay on their medicines because they don’t want to admit the full extent of their illness.

Truth is that each of us is vulnerable to depression, anxiety, OCD or bi-polar disorder depending on what runs in our family and that under the right conditions/stressors, we’ll experience a clinical episode. But, we believe that nothing as bad as the above tragedies will happen because we’ll be able to stop it. Tragically, when you have a severe mental illness and your brain isn’t working right, terrible things can happen to anyone. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate.

What can we do to prevent such bad outcomes? First, we must let go of any stigma we have about mental illness. Next, acknowledge that depression, anxiety, OCD and bi-polar disorder can affect anyone, including us.

Click here for video- Understanding Mental Issues for Mothers

Know our family’s mental health history and seek help immediately if we start feeling bad and it’s not letting up. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the most we’ll be out is our time and co-pay if we discover you don’t need help. Make certain our loved ones do the same. Insist they follow their health provider’s recommendations until they’re fully recovered and without symptoms for a minimum of six months.

We can make a difference for ourselves and our loved ones. Let’s start today.

How Our Children Teach Us to Surrender

One of my most challenging life lessons has been surrender-letting go of what I want to have happen and allowing life to unfold naturally. Sound familiar? I imagine it is. Why is this so hard to do? Because we’re convinced that if we “let go” bad things or at least random things will happen, that will be bad for us. But if we hang on really tight, then we can produce the desired outcome. Right?

What often happens though is that we produce the effect we wanted to avoid. Take our children for example, the more we struggle to make them like us, the more they fight to be themselves. I am not talking about teaching them to be kind, respectful and compassionate. Of course, we want to do everything we can to instill these values. What I mean is trying to control who they become like who they choose as friends or the interests they pursue.

Here’s what Kahlil Gibran had to say “On Children”

“Your children are not your children, They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”

This week, look deeply into your child’s eyes and ask “Who are you? Who are you becoming?” Then listen with your intuition. If you don’t have children, look into your own eyes in the mirror and ask the same questions. Finally, release whatever comes to mind and let the universe fill in the details. Ah, the sweet taste of surrender.

Enjoy!

Sex and Creativity: The Power of the Second Chakra

As you know, I recently spent a week at “Seduction of Spirit,” a signature workshop given by Deepak Chopra and his talented Chopra Center instructors. While there, we studied the seven “chakras” or energy centers in our body. Today, I want to pass on what I learned about our second chakra-the seat of our sexual energy and creativity-physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Second chakra energy is critical to he evolution of consciousness which depends on sexual union and procreation but also our union with universal consciousness which you may call God, Jesus Christ, Buddha or your higher power. What this means is that by expressing yourself creatively in your own unique way through the arts and who you, you enable life to change for the better. If this sounds a little “woo woo,” keep listening because when you are in harmony with the “cosmic dance,” life is an endless, creative pursuit which flows effortlessly.

Here’s what Patanjali, the author of Yoga Sutras had to say in the first to third century B.C.

“When you inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds;

Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new great and wonderful world;

Dormant forces, faculties, and talents come alive, and your discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

This week express second chakra energy by connecting with your authentic self through pleasure and joy, physically, emotionally, and spirituality. Abandon yourself to the cosmic dance. Let the energy of the universe flow through you free and unbounded.

Enjoy!

The Law of Giving and Receiving

I just got back from a wonderful week of meditation and yoga with Deepak Chopra and the amazing Chopra Center teachers. In it, they talked about how each day corresponds to one of “7 Spiritual Laws of Success,” and ways to practice each law on a given day.

So, here’s my first gift for you-ideas from Deepak Chopra about how to put Monday’s law, the “Law of Giving” into practice.

1. Bring everyone you come in contact with today a gift. For example, a smile, compliment or hug. Be creative. Material gifts count too but research shows that affection, attention and acceptance nourish our souls most.

2.  Be grateful for all life’s gifts like the sun, the flowers and waking up in the morning. Be open to receiving gifts from others whether it’s a material gift, compliment or kind remark. Let it soak in.

3. Keep the ultimate “wealth in life” -love, affection and caring ” circulating through giving and receiving which work in unison to keep the energy of the universe flowing. Send lovingkindness silently to everyone you meet.

My second gift to you is to encourage you to sign up for the Chopra Center’s 21-Day meditation challenge “Free to Love” which starts today. Each day has a guided meditation, inspiration and practical tips about improving your health and well-being. Don’t pressure yourself about this. Be open-minded and take from it what works for you. That’s all.

Enjoy!

Sex Isn’t Just to Procreate-It’s Important for Self-Care

Let’s face it – summer is hot. This summer is no exception, especially in the Midwest where the temperatures are hotter than the sub-tropics. What better time to talk about sex than when it’s hot?

Sex is hot, just like summer. Well, it can be if you want it to be. Your version of sex doesn’t have to match “those” kinds of movies or involve any fancy moves or technics. Sex is what you want and need it to be. Whether it’s more about intimacy or steamy, sweaty action, sex is part of the self-care continuum.

Are you wondering why I’m stating this to be true? In my opinion, what better way to instill a positive image in oneself than when you’re feeling confident and sexy with your partner? Many of us refuse to see the beauty in ourselves – inside or out. Sex and intimacy and the amount we have – or not — is a direct measure of our self-esteem, confidence and self-caring.

When we care about ourselves, we care about our bodies, our well-being and our ability to please ourselves and our partner. That’s why when we don’t get enough of it, sex becomes a chore when “babymaking,” or it isn’t fulfilling our needs, it can put a crimp in our self-care regimen.

Want my advice? Crank up the air conditioning, grab that partner and have some fun together! Don’t have someone to share sexy times with? There’s nothing wrong with taking care of you. That’s what self-care is all about! Have a safe and sexy summer!

Today’s “sexy” author is Mollee Bauer, founder of pregnancy.org, the premier website for info, advice and support for pregnancy, new moms and early motherhood. To visit, click here.