ast week on the blog, I talked to you about managing outside expectations on your family for the holiday season. If you’re wanting a quieter, simpler, more peaceful holiday season without the rushing around from this party to that dinner… First of all, I don’t blame you. Doing all that with a brand new baby or even a toddler can sometimes just be way too much. Especially if you’re only doing it because you feel like it’s expected of you.
But also, I do realize that telling you to set those boundaries with friends and family is kind of easy for me to say. I’m not the one that has to look them in the face and say it for you. So, I understand the anxiety that comes along with that.
Well, the holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving is a week away and I swear it sneaks up on me faster and faster every year. The holidays can be stressful, chaotic, busy for everyone. This can be especially true for new moms.
I have couples tell me all the time how stressful the holiday season can be with a new baby at home. They share that they feel obligated to make the rounds. I always tell them that they don’t need to do that.
We’re officially within the bounds of “holiday season” by now. We survived the time change (how did that go for your little ones, by the way?). It’s getting darker way sooner than it was just weeks ago. And fall is transitioning into winter.
This time of year, the sun sets so early in the day and even when it’s out, you might not always see too much of it. Skies turn grey or overcast many days out of the season. Northern California, where I live, definitely tends to get more precipitation this time of year than it does the rest of the year. And many places across the country get much more rain (or snow!) than we do.
Last week, in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I wrote about some of the common threads experienced by moms who have miscarried or lost a baby. This week, I want to talk about how to be a support to these moms.
Because I think we often struggle with how to support someone who has lost a loved one in general, and when someone who has lost a baby it can seem almost not real to the people in her periphery. But even when our intentions are good, we can sometimes slip up and say the wrong thing in our attempts to be supportive.
This Sunday (Oct. 15) is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and all of October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. To honor that and the moms* who have lived through the experience of a miscarriage or baby loss, I wanted to share with you just how common the occurrence is, what the experience can feel like for some moms, and ways friends and family can help.
Parenthood is never easy, even when life seems perfect. And those times when life is not so perfect? Harder. And those times when loss, tragedy or trauma happen? The hardest. Lately, it’s hard to listen to the news log onto social media. It seems like there’s a new natural disaster or political mess every single day. It’s starting to feel normal, even though we know nothing about any of this is or should be normal.
With details about the Las Vegas Shooting coming out nearly a week later (and will probably continue to roll out in the weeks and months to come), we might be in for a rough emotional ride. Especially because of how particularly senseless or inexplicable this event feels. Especially especially if you know someone was there or otherwise feel some connection to that particular place.
Ugh, potty training. Am I right? It can be so challenging, so stressful. For you AND for your little one. I want to help you get through potty training a little more pleasantly (Is pleasant potty training a thing? OK, maybe not. But let’s at least make it a little less torturous, shall we?)
There are a lot of good articles all over the internet on HOW to potty train your child, so I’m not going to spend time saying the same things many experts have already done. My aim here instead is to take into account the big emotions you and your child will likely be feeling during this process so that you can get through it calmly and with empathy.
When I was pregnant with my daughter (our second child), I distinctly remember being really worried that I would not be as in love with her as I was with my son (our first). In fact, my husband and I use to joke that we shouldn't have a second kid because he was so awesome and perfect--there was just no way our second could live up to that. “Our next kid would probably be a total nightmare,” we’d tease.
I don’t know about you, but lately, my Facebook newsfeed is filled with adorable first-day-of-school photos. I love it. You can see the anticipation in their little faces and I completely understand what those moms and dads posting them must be feeling.
This time of year always makes me a bit reflective about transitions. And I can’t help but think about how parenthood is constantly insisting we grow right along with our kids.
Quick--If you had to guess, when do you think our children first begin to notice racial differences?
You might guess that it begins in grade school, when kids are under more pressure to fit in or have had more time to absorb their parents’ perceptions and commentary on different races. But, you’d be wrong. These concepts begin taking shape much, much earlier than that.
Has your baby or toddler hit the “separation anxiety” phase in their development yet? Our littles can start feeling separation anxiety as early as 6 months and usually phases out by age 2, but the peak age range is 8-18 months. It usually looks like clinginess, tantrums or resistance to other caregivers. It often happens when mom or dad leaves the room for a moment, or during bedtime routines, or when a child is dropped off at a caregiver’s place.
What is it like as a dad or co-parent when your partner has Postpartum Depression or Anxiety? Well, "difficult" would be an understatement. Imagine you and your partner have the baby you’ve always wanted, but mom is just not herself anymore and you don’t know how to make things better. It can feel helpless or hopeless. It can feel frustrating. You might feel angry or impulsive. Or worried or sad. Or numb. Or way too preoccupied with tending to her needs and feelings that you have no idea how you even feel about it.
Remember back when you had roommates and it was so easy to divvy up the chores list and make sure everyone paid their share of the bills? And if someone wasn’t pulling their weight, it was really clear, right? Everyone knew who the lame roommate was and a simple house meeting could nip it in the bud or that roommate would be finding a new place.
Finding childcare for your little ones can be an incredibly overwhelming thing for new parents--especially if you are bracing yourself to go back to work for the first time.
There’s so much to think about just logistically: the research involved, phone calls to make, interviews to conduct, budgeting to figure out, and so on. And when you factor in all the emotions that come with it--The guilt! Oh, the guilt!--it can almost feel like too much to handle on top of everything else you already have to do everyday.
Ah, summer travel… Second maybe only to the Christmas/Chanukah season, this is probably the most popular time for travel. Vacations are always worth it--it’s great family bonding and relaxation time for parents, and little ones always have a blast when experiencing new things. But, let’s be honest: the traveling to and from our incredible family vacations is not always so restful. Or even pleasant. Whether flying or driving, the challenges often the same--keeping our little ones content and occupied.
So often in my practice, I see women who are struggling with a loss of identity now that they're a mom. I also see many parents--both moms and dads--who feel like it just isn't feasible for them to continue certain activities. That it would be impossible for them to enjoy it, to focus, or do it the way they want to with a little one tagging along. It can feel very literally like a monkey on your back while you're trying to do your thing. Or, like you can't just lose yourself in the activity because you have this other person to tend to.
Motherhood has a way of catalyzing change and growth. It's like the one great equalizer: Motherhood doesn't care if you're a so-called "expert" or not. We ALL struggle. And we all acquire our own set of mothering wisdom to share.
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.