Fourth of July weekend will soon be upon us. This is a popular time for many of us to make lasting memories from barbecues to fireworks. For my family, this is typically vacation time and we all look forward to it every year.
It is with this in mind that I want to talk about the importance of slowing down and just being present with our families. So easily, our lives can become a rapid pace of go-go-go. There’s school and work and extracurriculars and birthday parties. (Don’t even get me started on the holiday season or back-to-school time!) If your littles are too small for this hustle to be your norm yet, consider yourself lucky. And really, that’s all the more reason to enjoy this slower pace now. It doesn’t last. Nothing does, does it? That’s exactly the point.
Last week, in anticipation of Father’s Day, I talked on the blog about ways that dads can get involved during those first few weeks after baby comes home. This week, I want to continue the conversation about dads by looking at the bigger picture: Why dads matter so much and why the experience of fatherhood is so profound.
By now, we’ve all probably heard some statistic or another about how kids are likely to perform better in school, live more healthfully, be better behaved, and grow up to be more successful in life. You also may or may not know that the relationship the father has with the mother of his child can have significant impacts on her chances of postpartum depression after baby arrives.
Fathers Day is just days away, so in honor of all the World's Best Dads everywhere, I thought I'd share my best tips for new dads (and parenting partners) so that you can come into your own as a daddy. I think it's often assumed that dads will just step up after the baby arrives (and more often than not, YOU DO!), but we all say it so casually--as if it isn't just as disorienting, confusing, challenging or exhausting for dad as it is for moms.
Parents and Parents-to-be, this is so good: Catherine O'Brien, LMFT was featured on the podcast "The Family Couch", hosted by Mercedes Samudio, LCSW. In it, they discuss what surprised Catherine the most when she first became a mom, how to make sure both parents are connecting with baby (and with each other) and feel supported and empowered, and they even take on the "mommy wars" hot-button issue to help moms move past the judgment and guilt. Catherine gives the top three questions she asks every parent to consider at every stage of their parenting and how to have a plan but also remain flexible enough to change or modify your plans when life throws you curve balls.
Parenting in the modern world is unnecessarily cluttered with distractions and multitasking. Unfortunately–despite all the current advances and technology of our time–no one has yet to invent the SuperMom pill. (Don’t worry, I’m working on it.) So, in the meantime, you have to prioritize with intention, or the important things (people) will become neglected and…well…less important. Please, read on if you interested in some ideas on how to simplify your life and focus on family.
For our last Expert Momma Interview of the month, I'm speaking with Alicia Taverner, LMFT. Alicia is a mom of two (with a third on the way!), has experience with both foster parenting and adoption, and is also a therapist who supports women in their relationship struggles, such as infidelity, divorce and break-up. I love her honesty in struggling to ask for help and her message about remembering the purpose of what we're doing is so powerful.
Watch the interview, read the transcript, or learn more about Alicia.
Today's conversation is with Rebekah Fedrowitz, mom to a busy toddler and holistic nutritionist whose aim is to support busy moms on their own path to wellness. She's got a lot to say about balance and perfection (her perspective on how quitting one area of her life would change everything is so poignant), and RuMe tote bags and Daniel Tiger. Oh, and her fave motherhood quote is, well, perfection....
Watch the video, read the transcript, or learn more about Rebekah.
When my son was 10 months old, I found out I was pregnant with our second child. So, like most young families, we made the decision to move out of our “starter house” and into our “forever house”. Finally, when my second was 5 months old we moved into our “forever” home. Life was good. Two babies, beautiful house, happy mom & dad.
A couple weeks after moving into our house, my father (who had been living with Multiple Sclerosis for almost 30 years) went in for a routine surgical procedure. All went well with the surgery, I talked to my dad (who was still loopy) on the phone and promised I would be up to see him the next day.
Today, I'm chatting with Cassie Owens, LPC. She's a mom of two in Atlanta, GA, and is a licensed professional counselor specializing in maternal mental health. She's got some great advice that every mom should prioritize in her life (ahem, boundaries!). And I also find her story really interesting because she's a prime example of a mom who didn't experience any postpartum mood disorders with her first baby, but did experience postpartum anxiety and depression with her second--which just goes to show that there are so many variables at play and it's so hard to predict how you'll feel.
Watch the interview, read the transcript or learn more about Cassie and her work.
Mommas, I'm so excited to share this interview with Jo Muirhead with you! If you need to hear a fresh new perspective on motherhood, here it is. Jo is a working mom to her 16-year old son, has lived through divorce and postpartum depression, and has come out the other side with such a beautiful connection to her son and her family. I love the way she was able to follow her convictions and her gut even in the most trying of times, and her discovery that family is a choice to show up for the ones you choose to love is so refreshing. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Watch the interview, read the transcript or learn more about Jo.
Up to 20% of pregnant and new moms will experience some form of anxiety or mood disorder. This is a staggering number—especially considering these statistics are gathered based only on what women report. Due to the stigma around mental health, many women don’t report their depression or anxiety to healthcare professionals, so it’s likely that that number is higher. Pregnant moms often ask me if there’s anything they can do to prevent postpartum depression.
This week, I give you Lindsay Lipton Gerszt, Executive Producer of the new documentary film, When the Bough Breaks - a Documentary about Postpartum Depression. Mommas, I am so excited about this interview! Not only does Lindsay have one of those dreamy career trajectories that just makes you want to learn all about her--from Los Angeles music industry executive to documentary film producer--but she also has such an important message and story to tell. As a momma who has suffered from severe postpartum depression, she has some powerful honesty and wisdom to share.
Watch the interview, read the transcript or learn more about Lindsay and the documentary film.
Shana Averbach, LMFT is a mom and psychologist who specializes in perinatal mental health in San Francisco, CA. We had such a great conversation together. I love the way she is able to talk about how she works through her moments of self-doubt. And the connections she's made between observing new moms use trial and error to soothe their babies and how we can apply that flexibility to other areas of our lives.
Watch the video, read the transcript or get more info about Shana.
The recent coverage of celebrity mothers, like Chrissy Teigen, discussing how they came to discover that the unsettling feelings they experienced after giving birth was called postpartum depression sheds light on an interesting dialogue we need to have with women: becoming a mother is not always going to be a beautifully exciting time in a mother’s life; and that’s okay. The idea that a mother should love her new baby - or even the more seemingly inclusive sentiment that every woman has the baby blues - perpetuates the myth that women are supposed to be emotionally ready to be a mother by the time the baby comes into the world. It’s that myth that continues to fuel the stigma of maternal mental health and impedes women from getting the support that they need to develop a healthy parenting identity.
Today, I'm chatting with Amanda Zaidman, LCSW, a parenting coach and mother of two from Charlotte, NC.
Amanda is a mom who prioritizes growth over perfection, mindfulness and dancing to good music. I love her honesty about her struggles with her first baby and how motherhood has changed how she views her own mother.
Click through to watch the video, read the transcript or learn more about Amanda.
Katayune Kaeni, Psy.D., is a psychologist specializing maternal mental health and the creator and host of the Mom & Mind Podcast. In May of last year for Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, Dr. Kaeni wrote a powerful personal essay about her struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety for the Happy With Baby blog. And this year, I'm thrilled to have had the chance to interview her face-to-face for you now.
May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, so I've decided to relaunch my "Momma Interviews" series--This time with an extra special set of moms. These mommas also work to support other moms and their families during the transition into new parenthood and beyond. I'm calling it the "Expert Edition", but I think you'll find that while these women definitely are experts in their work, parenthood has a way of making a beginner out of everybody. Even experts get surprised by the unexpected and learn new bits of wisdom while in the trenches!
This series is all about their experiences with motherhood, in the hopes that it provides you with some validation and new tips to try. Because for all the many different ways there are to be a mom (and there are definitely MANY ways to do it right), it's so amazing how much we moms all really have in common.
So, to kick off this series this month, I interviewed Arianna Taboada, a wife and mom of a 1-year old, and a Maternal Health Consultant for Entrepreneurs. I love what she has to say about making motherhood easier and about what surprised her most about motherhood. Check it out!
There’s possibly nothing worse than an inconsolable little one in the middle of a meltdown. It can be heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time. And if you’re in a public place, it can be downright mortifying at times. For what it’s worth, momma, EVERY mom has these moments. Babies and toddlers don’t care if you’re a celebrity or on the phone or have already had a rough day. So, don’t feel too bad if it happens in public! So, when it happens to you, here are my 7 best tips to calm your child:
Being a new mom is an adjustment. OK, that might be an understatement. Sometimes, being a new mom is hard, and scary, and nerve-wracking, exhausting, confusing. Being a new mom can make you question whether you’re even cut out for this. Whether you’re any good at it. Why everything in the book isn’t working. Or, how you surely must be screwing your kid up from the get-go if you don’t do x-y-z right. Let me tell you: Every single mom has felt this way at some point. You’re not alone.
Not all of us win the lottery when it comes to kids and car rides. Some parents love driving their babies or kids around because they’re guaranteed to knock out during the ride. Other parents, not so much. If your baby screams as if they’re being tortured during any drive or if your toddler gets carsick, I know how traumatic it can feel for you, momma. I have two kids and they are like night and day when it comes to personalities. Their reactions to car rides….also like night and day.
Since it’s generally Spring Break time for many of us this time of year, I thought I’d focus on some thoughts on traveling with little ones and some hacks to make it easier. Plus, summer is coming, so it can’t hurt to plan ahead for your upcoming summer trips. First of all, I know that traveling with a little one seems daunting, but really, it’s not so bad. You’ll figure out your own system and your own travel hacks (which I’d love to hear!). And secondly, just do it. Do it now, while they’re young.
Like it or not, we live in a technological age. And, while there are definitely some hazards that come with that, there’s no denying the advantages. Since many of us use smartphones anyway these days, I thought it might be helpful to compile a list of apps that might make your life as a parent a bit easier. Now, by no means does anyone necessarily need ALL of the apps listed here. Just pick and choose the ones that suit your lifestyle and discard the rest. And, hopefully, this at least gives you a range of ideas for ways you can use your smartphone to simplify your life as a mom or dad.
Now, honestly, I mean that in the nicest way. Because if you’ve met me before you know that saying something direct and possibly hurtful is not my style. But I feel like if I don’t tell you, then I can’t continue to sit back and watch you be miserable and continue to let you commiserate. Because momma, you are so focused on what isn’t right that you aren’t noticing the positive.
Anxiety sucks. Anxiety while being a mom really sucks. One of the things I hear from moms is that they often blame themselves if they feel anxious. As if somehow they are failing as a mom, a partner, a person if they experience anxiety and motherhood at the same time. Maybe they just weren't cut out for this job. But NO! That's so not true. The truth is that you do love your sweet baby and no one can parent the way you can--there is just something else going on.
One of the most common concerns I hear from moms both in my practice and in my personal life is the constant worry they feel since bringing their baby home. For many, it starts during pregnancy. And, on the one hand, worry makes a lot of sense. We have been entrusted with the fullest of responsibilities--creating and raising a life. “I am a mom--it is my job to worry.”
One of the biggest challenges I hear from moms is how difficult it is to find mom friends. Some even liken it to going out to a bar and hitting on someone, hoping that they like you and want to start hanging out. That doesn't always have the best memories associated with it, does it?
The fear of rejection is real. And the effort it takes to meet new people can feel daunting or even draining for some of us.
Whether you are pregnant, have a new baby or even an older child, we moms all can feel touched out at certain times in our parenting adventure. I especially hear about this from breastfeeding moms. If you’ve already been there, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. The baby wants to do nothing but nurse. Or be rocked in your old rocking chair. Or will only sleep if she’s lying on your chest...
“When will we have a sex life again after the baby is born? And will it be any good?”
I hear this a lot from expecting parents, both with the couples I work with and in Facebook groups online. I’d venture to guess there are plenty more that are wondering the same things, but haven’t been brave enough to ask. Every new or expecting parent wants to know what’s normal.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted about stress and the brain. In it, I talk about the limbic system (our “reptilian brain” that controls our emotions) and the five main ways to impact its response to stress.