50 Shades of Grey Mama Style

Did you know that one of the two most common complaints women report to their doctors is low libido? Well, the popularity of the new novel 50 Shades of Grey certainly suggests otherwise. So where’s the disconnect? Check out what Mollee Bauer of pregnancy.org had to say about this.

“It’s not easy feeling sexy in regurgitated breast milk and hair that is matted with mashed bananas (which of course has been strategically placed by your wee one).

Sex and motherhood – is that an oxymoron?

These days, it seems that women aren’t necessarily raised with a sense of entitlement to sexual expression. Moms face antiquated notions that maternity and sexuality shouldn’t even be in the same room. Lots of mothers mention that their desire for sex didn’t go away when they had children. Instead, they insist the desire gets buried under mounds of conflicting demands for their time and attention.

If you ask a mom about her sex life, you’ll most likely hear, “Sex? What’s sex?” It’s a well-known statistic that parents who are living with children (especially younger children) only spend 20 minutes each week being intimate with one another. There are always exceptions but sadly this seems to be the norm.

How does sex and motherhood fit into self-care? Fulfillment in this arena is just as important for your overall self-esteem, not to mention emotional and physical well-being. Like meditation, sex is good for the soul. Just because you’re a mom doesn’t mean you’re dead.

Today’s guest Mollee Bauer, is founder of Pregnancy.org, the premiere online health site 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 and overcome obstacles to self-care.”

Sensible Weight Loss for New Moms (and the Rest of Us)

Losing post pregnancy pounds can be hard work and whereas some mums find that the weight falls off easily with breastfeeding, many mums struggle with losing baby weight.

The most important thing to remember is that there is no rush to lose the weight by a certain date.  Yes the celebrities seem to do it in record time but they have a whole raft of helpers, nannies, chefs, cleaners and night nannies to help them and the average mum certainly does not.

A mum should only think about losing weight when they feel 100% ready. For some mums this could be more than 12 months after their baby is born; others may want to start sooner. For every mum it is a personal and individual decision.

If a mum does decide to lose weight, it is crucial to do it in a safe and healthy way. This means no extreme dieting or diets that cut out food groups or include weight loss accelerants.

Top 5 tips for losing weight

 1.     Include more fruit and vegetables in your diet. Make sure half your dinner plate is filled with vegetables.

2.     Don’t eat processed white bread, pasta or rice. Instead include more whole grains in your diet. Try grains such as Quinoa as a substitute for white rice.

3.     Eat more lean protein as protein will boost your metabolism and help you feel full longer.

4.     Cut out junk food which will not give your body nutrients and will leave you craving more sugar.

5.     Incorporate incidental exercise into your day such as walking to the shops, doing squats whilst making a cup of tea or dancing with your baby.

Today’s author is Rhian Allen founder of The Lose Baby Weight diet and exercise plan, specifically created for mums post pregnancy. For more info on her healthy eating and sensible exercise program, visit http://www.losebabyweight.com.au.

We Can’t Choose Our Families But…

June is National Family Month. I didn’t know until a friend told me which leads to the topic of this post. While we can’t choose the families we come from, we can create “families of choice” comprised of people who support us in our life’s journey. Of course, it’s wonderful when part of our “family of choice” is a parent, sibling, cousin or relative but this is not always the case.

First, let me emphasize that the intention of creating a “family of choice” is not to alienate or upset our “families of origin.” Although I am not particularly close to my siblings, I am friendly and accepting of them. If we were not related by blood, it’s unlikely we’d associate with each other. Learning to accept our differences and the limitations of our relationships has helped me grow as a person.

It’s enabled me to understand that just because someone is part of your family, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be close to them even though we grow up thinking this. In some families, people need to distance themselves from parents, siblings and other relatives who are a negative influence on them or abusive.  Still, it’s hard to abandon the idea of having a caring, connected relationship with close relatives. However, sacrificing our own emotional health to preserve an unhealthy connection is not a good option.

This is where “families of choice” come in. These are the individuals-friends, teachers, co-workers, we bring into our lives because we want to and feel there is something to be gained from each other. They are supportive, caring, mutually nourishing, and growth enhancing. They are not one-sided, negative or abusive. They help us feel good about ourselves and we do the same for them.

Who is in your “family of choice?” How are they different from your “family of origin?” What do you think of this idea?

They Grow Up So Fast

It is almost noon and I am sitting here waiting for my teenage girl to wake up. It is now summer break, and she takes advantage of catching up on her sleep deficit. As I sit here, I’m feeling nostalgic and a little bit sad.

Yesterday, the kiddo and I made plans to spend the day together. It’s my day off and it seems like I don’t see her very often. She’s really good about doing all her chores and so her reward is being allowed to visit friends. And visit she does! I know her friends now know her much better than I do, thus the sadness.

I remember when she couldn’t wait to spend time with me. She was always a “momma’s girl” and really still is in a lot of ways. I know in my heart that this is what happens developmentally: adolescents focus more on their peers than on their parents. She’s developing her individuality. She’s proving the idea that “they grow up so fast.” But who says I have to like it?

This is our challenge, moms! We have to move into acceptance as our children grow up. It is our job to teach them and guide them so we can feel confident about them eventually going out into the big, bad world. There’s nothing wrong with feeling sad or whatever else you may feel. Just make sure you don’t let yourself go down the “hurt” road. Your child is not trying to hurt you on purpose; he/she is doing his/her job, which is growing up and launching him/herself out into the world. You don’t have to like it, but just know that’s how it is. Accept this and look back at all the things you and your partner have given your children: lessons learned, guidance, being there through sickness or emotional issues, and letting them know that you will always be here if they need you. That, my friends, is how it’s supposed to be!

How the Universe Conspires to Help Us

When I was brainstorming today about a topic for my post, my older daughter and her friend suggested I talk about “accepting help” and how I finally have a new website thanks to Kay Murray my talented web designer. Since we’ve been discussing the value of support, this seemed perfect and then it occurred to me. The story of my meeting Kay goes beyond receiving support to how the universe conspires to “help us” when we make our intentions known.

For years, I’ve been trying to revise my website without success. I spoke with several designers who didn’t work out in addition to realizing I couldn’t do it myself. I didn’t know where else to turn so I stopped looking. Then last December I was sitting at the auto license bureau waiting to renew my license when I overheard a conversation. Two young women were discussing plans for their new businesses and one was a web designer.

Because I’ve learned to listen when the universe speaks, I turned around immediately, apologized for interrupting, and asked the web designer about possibly working with me. Kay and I met a few weeks later and decided to move ahead. In May, my new website launched and I can’t thank her enough for her wonderful design and tech skills (which I do not have) and mentoring me.

Now besides livingselfcare.com, you can visit me at www.drdianesanford.com. The site is designed for moms and health providers and allows you to download my book and relaxation CD. Please stop by and let me know what you think.

This week, make your intentions known so the universe can help you. You never know what may happen.

P.S. A neighbor just stopped by to tell me my book was reviewed in a paper I’d thrown away. Click here for the story.

It’s Memorial Day-Let’s Show Our Support for Each Other

During the self-care challenge last week, several of you commented on the posts about support from other women. Because this is so key to self-care, we wanted to share them.

“When I was a first time mom, reaching out to other moms via moms groups, support groups and early childhood meetings was invaluable! Knowing that these other moms were struggling and questioning themselves about their parenting abilities, made me feel so much better! Another step I took that helped me to become more positive and confident was to write down the “positives” of the day, this would help dispel the “negatives” that would instantly enter my head in certain situations. Both of these actions were simple ways of taking caring of myself.”-Linda Meyer, Executive Director, Mother to Mother Phone Support Program. For info and support, call 1-800-644-7001.

The tip I’ve been  trying to practice is #8: Nourishing relationships with family and friends. As a new mom and someone new to the area, it’s been important to me to reach out to other women for support and friendship. I’ve been able to do this by joining the Mother to Mother postpartum depression support group and by taking several parenting classes. I’ve never been the type to reach out and ask for friendships, but in this case, I realized that if I didn’t take a bold step to fast track these relationships, that they might take a long time to cultivate. There was this one lady in the support group that I felt a particularly strong connection with the first time I met her, so I invited her to come visit me. She did, and we’ve been great friends ever since. Now that I look back on my life, I wish I had taken the initiative to pursue more friendships by asking people to my home or suggesting activities we could do together. I guess this old dog has learned a new trick!-Jennifer, mom of 7 month-old at home after 17-year career.

Self-Care Challenge Day 4: Support and Positive Thinking

As a first-time mom of a 16-month-old daughter, this past year has been the most rewarding, challenging and exhausting of my life. From the time my precious R was born, we have struggled with sleep issues.  First, she woke every hour letting us know that being put down was overrated. The next few months she could only sleep while breastfeeding which usually resulted in my being pinned to a chair (or bed) with my breast in R’s mouth. By month 7  we saw a sleep specialist, made some changes and things improved with occasional setbacks.

But this post isn’t about sleep training or my complaints, it’s about how I’ve taken care of myself during this year plus of sleep deprivation. The answer is two-fold: First, I created a network of support for myself that I rely on when I feel like I can’t go on and second, I think positively.

I cannot stress the importance of having a network of other moms. Whether it’s to say aloud, “I am so tired and I just don’t think I can go on like this” or “What did you do when your baby didn’t sleep?”- the support I have gotten from other women- some I know well and others I don’t- has been invaluable. It makes me feel stronger knowing that these women are there for me. What a treasure!

Thinking positively has also helped. When my friend’s babies started sleeping through the night at eight weeks and I was up 3-4 times a night and R wouldn’t nap anywhere but on me, I reminded myself to savor our cuddles and time together. Now when she wakes at 6 am, I think how lucky I am to take a walk with her before I go to work. Refocusing my attention on our “precious moments” gives me the energy to face the day.

Taking care of myself is good for my precious R because it makes me a better mommy.

Jessica is a first-time mom, LCSW and creator of the moms’ community on Facebook mamaSpace where you can to connect with other mamas. Reach Jessica at info@mamaspace.net.

Self-Care Challenge Day 3: Healthy Relationships

As we like to say at livingselfcare.com, “Self-Care is like chocolate. You can never have enough.” During this week’s self-care challenge we’ll bring you daily tips and inspiration with a chance to win prizes that pamper. Click here to learn more.

***********************************************************************

Just like we wear many “hats,” we maintain many different types of relationships: kids, parents, siblings, in-laws, friends. Sometimes it’s easy to avoid or ignore a relationship and let it die. At times, it’s essential to cut ties with people who are unhealthy for you. But what about the people we love, but won’t interact with?

Relationships die for many reasons. Conflict is a big factor in this. I have a friend who moved several years ago. She go that far; her home is just a few hours away (can you tell I live in Texas yet?). But I don’t know what’s going on in her life anymore and she doesn’t know about mine.

This is a woman I’ve known for 15 years. We used to talk about everything and help each other out whenever needed. What happened to us? We had a big argument right after she moved. Neither one of us would budge. Now I feel sad every time I think of her.

I’m afraid to call her. “What if she hates me?” I always think. Most likely this is a distorted thought. I know that if she called me, I would be glad to hear from her. So, I am going to make that call today.

I urge you to reconnect with anyone that is special to you who you have avoided due to conflict. It can be scary to face but most of the time, anger dissolves into relief once you take the steps to reach out.

***********************************************************************

For more tips on how to preserve relationship health, check out our friend Mollee Bauer. Mollee is founder of pregnancy.org, a site which offers great advice on pre-conception, pregnancy and post-birth mind-body health. She’s also one of our Challenge Champions!

Self-Care Starts with You-Let the Challenge Begin!

As we like to say at livingselfcare.com, “Self-Care is like chocolate. You can never have enough.” During this week’s self-care challenge we’ll bring you daily tips and inspiration with a chance to win prizes that pamper. Click here to learn more.

The tip I’ve chosen to talk about from our Top Ten Tips Plus Two is #6-“Accept yourself and others wholly.” To love one’s self unconditionally, both strengths and limitations, may be one of the biggest challenges most of us face. Without self-acceptance, it’s impossible to feel secure, peaceful and accepting of others.

Exercise: Five Minutes for Yourself (from Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide):

Try to remember a day in your life when you felt happy, peaceful, and self-confident. It doesn’t matter if the memory is recent or from long ago. If you don’t have an actual memory to draw on, imagine what a day like this would look like. Are there people around or are you alone? Are you at the beach, in an office, on stage, snuggled in bed? Picture as vividly as possible the details of your surroundings. Use all five senses—identify sounds, smells, tastes, textures, and colors. Now pay attention to what your body feels like on this wonderful day. What is your breathing like? Can you feel your heartbeat? Are your shoulders relaxed? Can you feel your happiness clear to the tips of your fingers?

Now take a mental snapshot of this scene. You can return here whenever you need to take a break, whenever you need to feel refreshed and renewed. It only takes a few minutes. You only have to close your eyes and look at the snapshot again. It will all come flooding back to you: the sounds, colors, tastes, textures, and smells; the feelings of happiness, peace, and self-confidence radiating out into each part of your body. No one can take this away from you. It’s yours to keep and to draw on whenever you are in need.

Practice accepting your unique, wonderful self all week long. Remember, “progress not perfection” is the goal.

Self-Care Challenge Starts Monday

Are you ready to live self-care? We hope so and our May 21-25 self-care challenge/contest will provide you with the tools and encouragement you need to get started or keep going if you’ve already begun.

Each May and October, we at livingselfcare.com offer a week long contest/challenge to help you make self-care part of your life. For our May 21-25 2012 challenge, we are asking you to take a look at Diane’s List of Ten Plus Two and choose a technique that you either already use or would like to try out. Then write a brief paragraph letting us know what you did and how it worked for you and email it to Stacey. Your submission qualifies you for our prize giveaway which includes a massage envy gift certificate, pedicure kit, Amazon gift certificate and more.

Our Challenge is not a competition. Instead, it is designed to encourage and support women as they move themselves to the top of their lists in order to support themselves as well as they do others.

We will also be tweeting and posting about how we’re doing personally with practicing our favorite self-care tips during  the challenge/contest at  www.twitter.com/realmomexperts and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/livingselfcare. Remember, progress, not perfection, is the goal!