Self-Care for New Families and Parents

Bringing a new baby home often feels overwhelming and exhausting.  The regular feedings of a newborn, physical recovery from birth, and changes in relationships contribute to the shock experienced by new families. A myriad of information on parenting exists and most theories focus on either the needs of the mother or the needs of the baby.   There is no perfect formula to parenting and no answer that works for every family. Viewing parenting as a relationship can help parents navigate a way that works for their family.

The relationship between a mother and child is symbiotic.  The needs of both members must be met consistently and appropriately or the relationship is jeopardized.  Ensuring the mother is physically, emotionally, and spiritually nourished is essential to her well-being.  When a mother’s needs are unmet, she may feel resentful, depressed, or overwhelmed. When a mother is unbalanced, she cannot provide the positive energy needed for her infant and soon neither party is nurtured optimally.

Self-care is an important part of wellness and feeling positive towards the mothering role. Self-care may include exercise, innercise(breathing, yoga and meditation practices), good nutrition, and activities that make the mother feel energized and good about herself. Couples must take the
time to nurture one another.   When the needs of the mother, baby and couple are met successfully, parents feel confident and families become stronger. Finding the balance and harmony is more important than following a prescribed method of parenting.

Today’s guest author is Jamie Bodily, postpartum doula.

Independence From the Myths of Motherhood And Being A Parent

Since it’s Independence Day, we thought we’d stick with that theme. In our book, “Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide,” we talk about the myths and realities of being a mom/parent in the first chapter. We did this to help liberate moms/parents from our idealized expectations  of motherhood and replace them with a more accurate, balanced view.

One mom told us, “When I thought of becoming a mother, I pictured myself singing to my baby and walking her in her stroller, happy all the time, thoroughly enjoying being a mom. When that didn’t happen, I blamed myself. I looked at my daughter certain that someone else could take better care of her than me. Yet all my life I had wanted to be a mom. What was wrong with me?”

Of course, nothing was wrong with this mom but like many of us she didn’t know that motherhood would be “the most demanding job ever.” In truth, “parenting is tough work. Being a mother is being in the trenches, mucking out the stalls, completing tasks that are neither glorious or immediately satisfying.” And every mother/parent knows this.

Likewise it’s true of many myths we have like getting married and living happily ever after or finding the perfect job and staying there. None of these happen without much effort and hard work.

So let’s release our myth of motherhood bliss and embrace what is. For more strategies, visit www.realmomexperts.com to order our book.

Post-Birth Stress and New Moms

You’ve survived nine months, have a beautiful baby in your arms
and can’t stop crying. If you’re feeling depleted, you’re not alone.
Motherhood is profoundly fulfilling but can be the most stressful and
demanding activity you’ll have.

The media tends to ignore the challenges faced and instead gives out
chirpy advice. Worse yet, it tends to make moms feel like it’s
their fault they’re run down.

Practicing self-care should be more than just a mantra. I called for
self-care to be a revolution. Perhaps there is a happy medium that’s
attainable.

Self-care is more meaningful than “chirpy advice.” Since we can’t add more hours to our day (who’d really want to) new parents should create a regimen of self-care that works for their family. Not every piece of advice is going to work for everyone.

Consider these solutions:
• Delegate household responsibilities
• Consider “outsourcing” household responsibilities
• “Plan” your life by calendaring and making solid choices
• Get rid of what doesn’t work in your daily lives
• Go for quality not quantity and relax
• Mandate “breaks” for yourself and really take them
• Reduce stress by exercising

Choose what sounds good and put it into action.

Today’s guest author is Mollee Bauer, founder of Pregnancy.org which gives moms the tools they need to empower themselves, feel safe and get advice on how to take care of, pamper, and check-in with themselves. These tools help them conquer their challenges. We welcome you to join us!

When Did “NO” Become a Dirty Word? The Value of Setting Limits

I was watching an episode of House Hunters where a couple who had already lost $30,000 on their last house looked at a house which was $70,000 over their budget. I said to my husband they would never choose that house and he said, “They will.” And they did.

How did sanity lose out to granite counters and double sink vanities? When did we decide that we deserve what we want regardless of the consequences? How can we expect our children to control themselves when we don’t?

The same week I was sitting on a plane next to an older mom whose children were in their 20’s. We talked about the rules and expectations we had for our children which garnered me the title “meanest mom on the block.” We agreed that it’s more important to be a “parent” than a “friend” and that our children had turned out the better for it.

But parents today seem afraid to say “no.” Whether it’s putting their baby down to sleep when they’re crying, timing their 3 year-old out for yelling, or telling their 13 year-old they can’t do something just because everyone else is. They seem more concerned about their children liking them and not fussing at them, than being firm with clear expectations and rules. Has life has become so stressful we lack the energy to stand up and not give in?

So, let’s learn to say “no” to ourselves and our children. Limit-setting promotes responsibility and self-reliance. Valuable qualities, indeed.

Spare Your Sanity; Save Yourself-Part 2

Here’s part 2 of what you can do to maintain your health and sanity.

  1. Ask for help.  Speak with family and friends about how they can help especially if you’ve just had a new baby.  Be direct about the kinds of help you will appreciate, both childcare assistance and emotional support.  Research has shown that you benefit most from support if it’s what you need, not what others might imagine you need.
  2. Nurture your sense of humor.  The ability to step back and laugh at life’s challenges and frustrations is an asset.  If you can see anything funny in what you’re going through, imagine looking back on this scene two or three years from now.   Believe it or not, some of your worst days now will make great stories later on.
  3. Self-Acceptance:  One of the hardest habits is learning to love ourselves wholly with our strengths and limitations.  Practice unconditional love and positive regard towards yourself because you are a unique, special person.  For no other reason than that.  Don’t compare yourself to other moms.  Make your motherhood and life journey your own.

If you can practice one or two of these habits weekly, kudos to you.  If there’s one which appeals to you, try it 2-3 times a week or daily for 10-15 minutes.  Make it your goal over the next few months to experiment with adding each of these to your weekly/daily life.  Remember, motherhood is a lifetime journey and self-care is the key to emotional health and happiness.

Striving for Underachievement

Have you noticed that we live in an achievement-oriented society (at least those
of us in the U.S.)? Many people feel like they are wasting time if they are not
producing, attaining or completing something. It can get exhausting at times!
Sometimes the only occasion we give ourselves a break is on vacation  and many
times even those are meticulously planned out to the minute, leaving little real
relaxation time.

When is the last time that you aspired to “underachieve?” I’m talking about
taking a day off to do “nothing” like watching TV, movies, reading a book,
staying in your pajamas, eating ice cream? Have a day to turn off your phone and
computer, to not do any errands or chores, take a nap or go within? When is the
last time you were able to take a whole day to “play it by ear?” I hope your answer involves some time recently, but if it doesn’t, why not“ try underachievement”soon?

When you give yourself permission to not do anything productive, there’s
no reason to feel guilty. You may, however, feel a little pampered – and that’s
generally a pretty good feeling!

Today’s guest author, Stacey Glaesmann, LPC has a private counseling practice in Pearland, Texas where she specializes in treating perinatal mood disorders. She wrote her first book, “What About Me? A Simple Guide to Self-Care in the 21st Century” in 2007. She can be reached through her website at www.pearlandtherapy.com.

Spare Your Sanity; Save Yourself-Part 1

While this article was originally written for new moms, it offers advice which all women can benefit from. If you don’t have children, think of all the people in your life you care for and how that affects you.  All women need self-care to stay healthy and sane.

7 Sanity Saving Tips:

  1. Care for your children by caring for yourself.  Practice our “Five A Day.”  Eat, sleep, get regular physical activity, rest/take breaks and connect with yourself and others.  Put your oxygen mask on first, so you have the energy and vitality to be the mom your children deserve.
  2. Take three to four hours a week for “me-time.”  You may think you can run full-tilt 24/7, but your body and mind was not designed for this.  You need periods of rest-oration for optimal health.  Without refilling your pitcher, you will feel depleted, exhausted, impatient and resentful.
  3. Know yourself.  The greater your need for control, the more likely you are to come unraveled as a mom when life runs itself.  Try cutting back before children.  Start removing items from your “to-do list” and prioritizing what is truly important.  Practice not having things “just so” for improved adjustment.
  4. Notice your accomplishments (even if no one else does).  Put your attention on what you’re getting done instead of where you’re falling short.  Keep a jar and every time you do something, drop a coin in.  Change a diaper-a coin, feed your baby-a coin, bathe your baby-a coin.  It adds up fast.

Part 2 next Monday 🙂