Motherhood vs. Oneself

Motherhood vs. Oneself

I’m sure you had a life before the conception and birth of your child, I know I did. Who you are doesn’t magically change because you’re a mother. Yes, you have a new baby who needs your attention to thrive, but you’re still you with desires, goals and idiosyncrasies.

We’re living in what appears to be a collective renaissance of self-enhancement, especially where I live in Los Angeles. Everyone is trying to be the best version of themselves by keeping a healthy lifestyle and chasing their dreams. As with anything, you shouldn’t stop trying to be the best version of yourself when you become a parent.

If you’re a stay at home mother the household and lifestyle requirements still need to be maintained. A home doesn’t run itself, and even with a regular housekeeper, someone has to make sure that everything is being done to the desired specifications and that scheduled events like doctor’s appointments are met. Making a stable home life for your family is an important component of being a high functioning mother.

If you have a job outside of the home it can be daunting to stay connected to it while welcoming your new baby into your family. There are many thoughts and things to consider when you’re a working mother. Is your baby going to forget who you are when you’re gone? Are you going to miss out on opportunities to grow in your career if you take too much time out? Are you a horrible mother if you have to do daycare, because hiring an in-home nanny is too expensive? Can you even breastfeed if you go back to work? Is it acceptable to do formula?

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Creating Simplicity & Joy with Christine O’Brien

The beginning of the year brings reflection and resolutions for many. As a mother in Southern California, where it’s technically “winter” but often warm enough to go without a jacket and let the children play outside everyday, the new year still brings an urge to nest and create a cozy home.

Christine lives in Northern California with her husband and daughter. She is a Parenting Coach, recently trained as a KonMari Consultant, who helps other mothers create joyful homes for their families.

KonMari is the organizing method created by Japanese professional organizer Marie Kondo. A method she shared in her bestselling book, “The Life Changing Method of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.”

Creating Simplicity with Christine O'Brien

Christine is also a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach. She teaches techniques based on Kim Payne’s book “Simplicity Parenting” which is full of helpful tools for creating daily rhythms that allow children to feel secure and supported.

Several years ago I read the book that started the KonMari craze: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” There are many aspects of the book that I find informative, however I don’t apply it strictly to my own home. I found that the book “Simplicity Parenting” was more applicable to my family’s personal lifestyle and I implemented several of the techniques it outlines.

The KonMari method was the catalyst for a complete lifestyle change for Christine. A few months ago I sent her an email to hear more about her personal philosophy and how it made her life more joyful.

Since then I’ve been following her wonderful Facebook Group, “From Chaos to Calm,” where she offers guidance to parents who are looking for peace in their day-to-day family routines. It is inspiring to read testimonials on this page from people who are making positive changes in their lives.

I can understand why the KonMari method has such a passionate following. Many people are also applying the KonMari practice to areas outside of the home and making more mindful choices throughout their lives.

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Wild Boys and Girls x Annie Kruse

A few years ago I stumbled upon Annie Kruse’s interior design blog Stylejuicer. In four short years she has gone from blogging for fun to launching her children’s clothing brand Wild Boys and Girls.

Wild Boys and Girls x Annie Kruse

Annie resides in London with her husband and two sons. Here she shares her thoughts on motherhood and what it takes to balance family life and work.

With two adorable little boys underfoot, where and how do you find time to run your business?

Ha, with great difficulty but I think if you’re passionate enough about something you will simply make time, even if that means putting on the TV for the kids for an hour, so you can answer some urgent emails or pack some orders. I don’t like to do it, but it’s a stop-gap, and as long as it doesn’t happen too often, I don’t feel I’m neglecting my children in any way.

I’ve got a little (tiny) home office which is my haven. The door is never closed and I can always hear what goes on, so if my lion cubs are getting too rough with each other, I’m there to solve any issues.

Mornings are my most productive time as that’s when both of them are off to nursery and school. Those 3 hours do fly by though and most evenings when others are settling in for a night in front of Netflix with a glass of wine, I’m heading upstairs to finish off some work, often with some dark chocolate to help me through.

I struggle with balancing work and family life every day. I feel so much is expected of us moms today. Most of us have no relatives, neighbors or friends who can help out with childcare on an as needed basis, so the pressure of child rearing is mostly on the mother and the bar is placed incredibly high.

There is so much (often conflicting) research and testament out there telling us how we should parent, what is and isn’t good for your child that you’re set up for failure in the eyes of society from the start. I always thought I’d be strong enough not to take on parenting guilt as long as I tried my best and saw that my kids were happy and developing well, but I’ve discovered that I am not immune to this burden of guilt. I constantly feel that I should be playing, singing, reading, drawing, interacting with them more and being the best mum I can, but I do know my limits and often I’m too tired and exhausted to play Mary Poppins.

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Birth Trauma: Having Another Baby after a Traumatic Birth

Being pregnant again after a traumatic birth or high risk pregnancy is like walking through a field of memories and revisiting places you would rather not see again. It is not unusual to experience anxiety, self doubt and fear during your pregnancy.

Pregnant after a Traumatic Birth

Anxiety can come from unresolved trauma from your previous birth, as well as worrying about what could go wrong this time around.

Fear can come into play the closer you get to your due date and during routine tests, or milestones in your previous pregnancy or labor where things might have started to unravel.

Self doubt can arise at any point where we find ourselves trying to make the “perfect decision” to avoid our previous experience. This can result in procrastination, indecisiveness and looking to people outside ourselves to make the right choices for our family.

Pregnancy and birth are unpredictable by nature, most of the time things go well, but sometimes they just don’t. A way to set oneself up for a better experience is to accept that it will go how it goes on that day and in that moment.

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Knocked up Abroad with Lisa Ferland

Sweden, land of IKEA, Elsa Beskow and Carl Larsson, is one of those Scandinavian countries known for providing generous paid family leave and being very supportive of families. Lisa Ferland, an American mother of 2, relocated to Sweden from Georgia after the birth of her first child. Then went on to welcome a second child in Sweden, which led to her book “Knocked up Abroad.”Knocked up Abroad with Lisa Ferland

Last month she launched a Kickstarter for her next book “Knocked up Abroad Again.” This book will feature stories from mothers in South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. These varying stories and experiences will help us to see there are many ways to bring a child into this world.

I reached out to Lisa after hearing her speak a little of her journey on a podcast interview and I’m so glad to be able to share more of her story with you today.

Pregnancy

When you talked about the difference in prenatal visits in America and prenatal visits in Sweden, so many thoughts came to me; specifically how both models can influence a parent’s confidence. I got the sense that not having as many prenatal visits and multiple ultrasounds, as well as being told “let us know if you need additional care,” was more empowering, because its trusting you to know what’s best for your baby. Has birthing and parenting in Sweden made you more confident as a mother?

I recognize it is not the same for all mothers but for me personally, I found the hands-off approach of Swedish prenatal care as a stress-reliever. During my first pregnancy in the U.S., everything was treated as an emergency, and I was in a mild state of constant panic. With the frequent scans, I was terrified that they would find something even though they never did. Then they found white spots on the baby’s heart but couldn’t tell me if it meant anything. The increased investigations without any answers or diagnoses only made me more fearful of the unknown. My baby was born 100% healthy. All of those scans and worries were for naught. In Sweden, their approach is very much, “let us know if there are any issues but until then, go live your life as you would normally (but no drinking alcohol or smoking).”

Birthing in Sweden has given me the firsthand knowledge that my body can have a baby without interventions of any sort. I had an uninterrupted, complication-free childbirth without any pain relievers and still never experienced any pain whatsoever. A comfortable and easy childbirth experience is very possible—a concept that goes against the majority of the cultural depictions of childbirth in the U.S.

Parenting in Sweden has unquestionably increased my confidence as a mother. I don’t feel the social pressure or judgment that I see so many other American mothers facing today on Facebook or in social media. It helps that the Swedish cultural norms of child-rearing align with how we wanted to raise our children. It is culturally encouraged to breastfeed in public, allow your child to play outside unattended, climbing, exploring, screaming, and laughing in public—all of these things are seen as “kids being kids” and it is a positive environment as a parent.

Childcare

You shared in your podcast interview and tell me if I have this right, you can’t place your child in daycare in Sweden until they’re 12 months? How did you feel about this, especially after returning to work much earlier with your first son in the US?

That is correct. Swedish daycare or preschools don’t allow children to start younger than 12 months of age but if you did enroll your child, s/he would be the youngest in the group. Parents in Sweden receive 480 days of paid parental leave, and many people stretch those days, so their child is a bit older when they start daycare at 16-18 months.

Knocked up Abroad with Lisa Ferland

At first, I was surprised that daycare was so much later than in the U.S., but Sweden has free “open preschools” which are as much for the parents’ benefit as for the child. These open preschools are usually held in churches (Swedes aren’t very religious with only 5% being regular churchgoers), or local community buildings. Unlike a regular preschool, parents must stay and play with their children. Coffee and snacks are provided at a fee but the singing time, access to a safe play space, and other babies and toddlers make for a great meeting spot for parents to socialize and stay sane while at home with their child for that first year after birth.

Truly, Swedish society values family time and places it at an equal or a nearly higher priority than the career.

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Hypnosis for Birth Trauma with Jessica Porter

Hypnosis for Childbirth Trauma with Jessica PorterMost of the time birth happens in a way that leaves a new mom feeling empowered and joyous. Although for some of us, the birth of our babies can leave more complicated feelings in its wake.

Childbirth trauma is something I and many of my clients have experienced after more challenging deliveries. Processing the birth in a healthy way, is an important step in working through the event.

Hypnosis is something wildly popular in childbirth preparation and less well known as an option to treat trauma after birth. I discovered Jessica Porter years ago through her book “The Hip Chicks Guide to Macrobiotics.”

Here she shares how HRCT hypnosis can release and shift emotions and move postpartum mothers towards emotional healing.

What is Hypnosis

Most people have this idea of hypnosis being “look into my crystal ball,” what is hypnosis for the uninitiated?

Hypnosis is a totally natural state of mind, in which we focus and reflect deeply. All of us go in and out of hypnosis several (if not hundreds) of times a day: When we daydream, space out, drive somewhere we know the route to, listen to music, dance, have sex, watch TV, or relate to our inner worlds and imaginations in any other way. We go into these little trances–as we contact our subconscious minds–and they are totally normal and healthy.

Hypnotherapy is simply using this state of mind therapeutically–and in a sustained way–because we are more open and suggestible when functioning from the subconscious. So hypnosis is not the entering of some mysterious Pandora’s box, locked away at normal times, or full of scary secrets. The subconscious is just a layer of one’s mind that we don’t normally lead with in our lives, but we do have contact with it.

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Parenting in Vienna with Hannah

Hannah, a mother of 3, runs a play-based home daycare in Vienna, Austria. Here she talks about minimalism, embracing her parenting choices and enjoying her children.

Parenting in Vienna

Motherhood in Vienna

What is it like being a mother in Vienna? Are there moms groups, support for families, etc?

I really like my city, so I have to say that Vienna is a good place to be a mom! There are playgroups, cafés especially for families, Yoga classes where you can bring your baby, lots of parks and playgrounds! We really have great museums and theaters with programs for kids, even for the smallest ones. There are good places to go when you need counseling and there are tons of opportunities for further education. So it’s really all there, you just have to know where to go.

Embracing Chaos

How do you manage 3 children, specifically the interaction between siblings?

Well, that’s an interesting question and I thought a lot about it. I don’t feel like I have to manage anything really, this life with kids feels really natural to me. Being a mom for 12 years and a working mom for 5 years, I accepted that life is a beautiful chaos. And sometimes it is just plain chaos, without it being beautiful. There is always laundry and a messy bathroom, beds to be made and things to be stuffed away, there is always, always something to do.

But I chose this life and I chose to have kids. I chose to work from home and I guess I chose the chaos that comes with it. And you know what helps me on highly stressful days? To simply think about how much I love my kids and my husband and that it is for them, for us really, whatever I do and that some day, when I’m old and grey, I will say to my husband: “Do you remember when the kids were little? These were the best days of my life!”

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Motherhood, Stress and Meditation

Motherhood, Stress and Meditation
Motherhood and Stress

Being a mother can be stressful. Children are full of surprises, and although we try to anticipate their needs, it’s impossible to head off every challenge. After a long day, it can be difficult to unwind our nervous systems and go to sleep. It’s also especially hard to fall back asleep when a crying child has woken you in the middle of the night, and your heart is pounding from the adrenaline rush. It’s easy to end up surfing the internet in an attempt to zone out or worrying about tasks that need to be done.

Meditation and Mindfulness

One technique I’ve found to be helpful in clearing my mind is meditation, even if it’s while laying in bed trying to go back to sleep. Meditation has been shown to help our brains process stress and how we respond to stressful situations. A mother’s nervous system can become tightly wound after a day of crying children, lack of sleep, and juggling work and home life. We are constantly required to be non-reactive when our children do things that can be frustrating, and it’s important to find healthy ways to relax. One of the quickest, easiest and least expensive options is taking a short moment to meditate or practice intentional breathing techniques.

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Interview with Natalie Robins :: Hypnobirthing Educator

UK based Natalie Robins is a childbirth educator and mother of one. She teaches Hypnobirthing, a style of birth preparation that uses affirmations, breathing and visualizations. Many mothers, including Natalie, have used hypnotherapy to have a calm and peaceful birthing experience.

“Words used in a positive way have a dramatic affect.”
Hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing Educator Natalie RobinsMany believe Hynobirthing will give them a pain-free labor, is this true?

I wish it were, but Hypnobirthing’s only promise is enabling women to have the best birthing experience for themselves and their baby.

That said, many mothers do say they experience a pain-free labor and I completely believe them.

I have thought about the idea of pain recently and why some women experience it and others do not. My conclusion is pain associated with fear is a bad thing. The pain associated with childbirth is understandable when you learn the biology and physiology of labor. This is addressed in the very first session of a Hypnobirthing course. When you understand why labor can be painful, you can prepare for how to deal with the sensations you may experience, and there is no longer a need to be fearful.

So like all things in Hypnobirthing, it depends on how you view things, positively or negatively? That is what will have the biggest impact on your birthing experience and the level of “pain” you may or may not experience.

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Summer Sleep

Summer is officially here and now that the sun is setting later in the evening, it’s important to check in with our schedules and ensure everyone is still getting enough sleep each night. We need all the rest we can get to enjoy these long and sometimes very hot midsummer days.Summer Sleep

Brain

Our brain has an internal clock called the circadian rhythm which modulates sleep and wake times. Inside our brains is a very tiny regulator, called the pineal gland which tells us when to go to sleep and when to get up. The pineal gland is the size of a pea and functions to secrete a hormone called melatonin. This hormone serves as nature’s timekeeper and is produced at night beginning around sundown. Melatonin secretion is inhibited by light, which is why summer and other time changes like daylight savings can throw off sleep habits for both you and your children. If for any reason our circadian rhythm becomes out of sync, there are simple lifestyle changes we can make to realign it.

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