Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

Getting Rid of the Mama Guilt

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Get Rid of Mom GuiltWhile reflecting on 2015 and settings intentions for 2016, I would love to share with you some thoughts on “mama guilt,” We all know it, right? Some of us all too well, perhaps? But I’ve decided 2016 is going to be a GUILT FREE year for this mama! And I invite you along on this journey.

What I have discovered is that guilt is a highly unproductive emotion for me. When I engage in feelings of guilt, a cascade of edginess and anxiousness follows. Allow me to give you a concrete example:

My Little has had the same sleep pattern for a while now. He generally falls asleep right after I drop my 3 Bigs off at school and will sleep for roughly an hour. I used to refer to this time period as my “power hour.” I would rush around madly trying to get 3 million things checked off the never ending to-do list. Then when he would wake up I would be like, “Grrr! He’s awake already?!? I barely got anything done!”

That mad rush from the time I woke up–squeeze in a workout, make a healthy breakfast, get kids ready and out the door, arrive to school on time–would fester into an upregulated nervous system and linger for the rest of my day; to the point where I was cranky and snappy with my family all the livelong day. When I realized this pattern I thought, something needs to change. My “power hour” was turning out to be quite unproductive to my well-being. And when it came down to it, that hour wasn’t even serving its purpose to help me feel more organized and on top of life. In fact it almost made me feel more scattered and stressed.

So I have a whole new approach to that precious hour of my day where my world is quiet and no one needs anything of me…I savor it! If I want to have a hot cup of coffee and read a book, I do. If I want to snuggle with my wee one and mindlessly scroll social media, I do. If I want to take a hot bath while listening to my favorite Spotify playlist, I do. If I want to pin a bunch of recipes I’ll probably never end up cooking, I do.

I decided to use that time doing something that nurtures me and my nervous system. It’s even become a bit of a joke between my hubby and me. He texts me almost daily around 9:15 a.m., asking what I’m doing. I often reply with a selfie to show what I’m doing with the hashtag #sorrynotsorry.

Ok. So believe me when I say that at first allowing myself an hour a day to simply relax and “do nothing” of apparent value took strong convincing. For some reason in my head it was a luxury; one that apparently I didn’t feel worthy of.

Wait!

Hold up.

I AM WORTHY! And so are YOU!

Who knows why I didn’t place value on self-nurture? Gosh, that seems crazy to me now! But I truly didn’t.  I now better understand (and appreciate) that when I engage in activities that restore and nurture me, I approach life with more clarity, focus, intention, creativity, and (gulp) even kindness.

So mamas, as we approach a new year, I encourage you to spend time discovering what truly nurtures you. Pay attention to what leaves you feeling peaceful, relaxed, and joyful. Really be open to the idea of learning what help regulates your nervous system. I used to mistakenly think running was my outlet… but it actually is a highly UP-regulating activity for me. Yes I LOVE the endorphin rush it gives me, but I have discovered I need to balance it out with some activities that soften and slow the vibration of my heart.  Once you know what best relaxes you, examine where you can infuse these practices into your life to the greatest extent possible. YES. You heard me…as MUCH as possible! Be the resourceful mama you are and find ways to make this happen. The benefits of self-care/love/nurture are deep and radiate from the inside out. The world shifts in response to YOUR positive energy. Own it. Express it. Live it!

Ditch the Resolutions in 2016

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

ditch resolutions in 2016Every year we get a fresh start, a blank slate, to make this the best year ever. We make decisions to get in shape, lose weight, advance in our careers, buy a new car, save more money than last year. Whatever it may be, there’s something about rolling into a new year that brings with us motivation to do all the things we’ve always wanted to do but haven’t gotten around to yet. At least until the end of the month.

I stopped making new years resolutions a long time ago. The feeling of failure when you don’t accomplish the resolution you’ve been telling yourself you’re going to accomplish for the past five years just isn’t worth it. Instead I’ve opted for baby steps. Better behaviors that I want to incorporate into my life. Behaviors I’d like to see my family incorporate. No resolutions. No I’m going to lose 10 pounds and be a better mother this year.

What does that look like? Simple. Find some small things you’ve always wanted to do and just do them. Small changes don’t seem daunting and life changing but at the end of the day anything that improves your life for the better is life changing in the best of ways.  Here are some good ones to think about for this year.

Spend more time in nature. No matter what you do, make it a habit to spend time outside. We spend too much time inside and nothing connects us to the bigger picture of life than connecting with the physical planet we live on. Go for a walk, plant a garden, hug a tree. Just do something to get you outside.

Cook more. Eating home cooked meals is one of the easiest things you can do to keep yourself, and your family healthy. How many times do you cook dinner? Add one more dinner to the list and something and you’ll be surprised how much of a difference it will make.

Express gratitude daily. We easily get lost in all the material things we want and “need” it can be easy to forget all the blessings we already have. Take some time to look beyond all the “things” and focus what wonderful things have happened.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.

From a Professional: How We Do Bedtime

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

IMG_0655_2Establishing a bedtime routine is essential for the emotional and mental development of your child. As a mental health professional, my education and training have provided me with the essential tools and understanding of the benefits of this routine, and thus have spent the past five and a half years optimizing this precious time before my angelic children retire for the day.

Step 1: Dinner

As the final meal of the day, and as the only meal we eat with all family members present, this is a great opportunity to reflect on the attributes we cherish most about one another. In our household, this usually includes enthusiastic declarations of how much one child appreciates another child’s fork/plate/cup/seat, more so than their own, even, and will make such exuberant vocalizations throughout the entirety of the meal. The children will often be so enthralled with the time they are spending together as a family that the food will be left uneaten. When encouraged gently to eat, the children will take the opportunity to show the skills they have learned in self-advocacy, and independence, and declare the food before them as inedible. Such valiant leaders they will make someday!

Step 2: Bath time

This is necessary, as while no food was actually eaten, they have managed to utilize the items on their plate to decorate their clothing, the wall, and the floor. Upon preparation for bath time, you will be impressed to discover food items have made it through the shirt, the onesie, and into the diaper. You will feel such pride for your tiny magician!

Step 3: Anarchy

While you are cleaning the feces out of the tub that has hastened the conclusion of bath time, your naked darlings will make vocal declarations as their wet bodies sprint through the hallways, ignoring any and all admonitions that it is time for settling down. Optional consumption of wine is encouraged while the Scrubbing Bubbles soak into the skid marks on the side of the tub.

Step 4: Pajamas

These are optional, of course, as by the time the two year old has insisted repeatedly that he no longer requires a diaper, and the one year old continuously wrestles away before you can get the second tab on her diaper attached, you are likely to lose any and all will to actually parent. Second glass of wine is encouraged as children scream over who gets to wear the only remaining superhero pajama top, as the others always seem to disappear just in time for the evening routine.

Step 5: Negotiation

Upon announcing that it is time to officially retire to bed, your children will recall the lack of food in their bellies from abandoning their uneaten dinner, and will make dramatic declarations of their level of starvation. This is the ideal opportunity for their vocabulary development, as they will relish your colorful response and selectively remember just the words that are guaranteed to garner a phone call from the principal tomorrow. It is important to foster opportunities to invite communication with those responsible for our children’s education.

Step 6: Put the children in bed.

Step 7: Gentle Reminding

Remind the children that it is, in fact, bedtime. Consider ingesting more wine.

Step 7: Pleading

Plead with children to please, just tonight, go to bed without fighting. We do, in fact, go to bed every night, so we do understand how this works, don’t we?

Step 9: Weep

Step 10: Triage

Ignore the wrestling, crashing, and shrieking coming from the children’s bedroom to utilize mental health education and training to contact all of the therapists to undo the damage you are undoubtedly inflicting upon your children, and find one that can squeeze you in first thing in the morning.

Sleep tight!

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

Parenting Through Trauma

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Parenting Through Trauma“Mommy, I hungry.”

It’s a sentence you’re used to, one that peppers your every single day. It’s a request that is a part of a routine: an offering of snacks, a reminder that it’s almost time for the next meal, or a conversation about how ice cream is not a breakfast food.

But on this particular morning, these words weigh on you like an impossible burden.

Because whether you were up all night watching the minutes tick by, or you’ve been asleep since well before the sun went down, the idea of doing something that used to be so routine seems impossible.

At least, it can, when you’re experiencing trauma. “Trauma” on your favorite television show usually involves explosions, fires, and massive catastrophes. In reality, though, those traumas can take another form: Death. Betrayal. Infidelity.

Whatever label your heartache takes, it can be jarring to realize that though your world has stopped, the players around you have not. Dealing with trauma alone can feel like an arduous task. Adding parenting on top of it can seem impossible.

So when you hear that little voice pipe up, making what previously had been a much less daunting request, here are the ways to help you tread through today when you feel like barely keeping your head above water:

  • Give yourself permission. You might have ideas of what a “good mom” looks like, whether that is limited screen time or made-from-scratch organic foods for every meal. When it hurts to breathe, take out the extra. Let PBS do some parenting while you get a good cry in, order a pizza when it’s time for dinner. Your energy is finite, and you’re using up a lot of it on healing.
  • Let your kids see your sadness. You’re a person, and it is so beneficial for your kids to know that. They don’t have to know the intimate details of what caused you pain, but a simple, “Mommy’s feeling sad right now, and sometimes when Mommy’s sad, Mommy cries. It’s okay to cry when you’re sad.” Modeling emotion and acceptance of hard emotions not only allows you to process your difficult situation rather than stifle it, but also gives your children permission to acknowledge their hard emotions as well.
  • Ask for support. Call up your friends/family/carpool partner. You don’t have to share the details of the situation—a simple, “Something just happened and I’m in a really tough spot right now, and I could use some support.” It’s so hard to ask for help, and being vulnerable can be scary. Vulnerability is courage, and in letting our walls down to those who care for us, we increase our connections and are strengthened by our village.

If you are parenting through a personally difficult situation, remember the oxygen mask instructions on an airplane: It is important to put on your mask before you help someone else with theirs. You are worth taking care of.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway.