If you’re a parent, you may have noticed that you have less time for your partner now than you did in the B.C. (Before Children) years. You may have also noticed more conflict, more stress, less connection, less sex. Obviously, right?
Do you ever wish there was some kind of formula you could follow for doing your relationship better while managing the massive transition to parenthood just a little bit better? Me too. As it turns out, this exists!
I tend to become a little self-reflective on my birthday every year. I take the day off, do some things for myself, get together with someone I love. This year I decided to share my reflections. Enjoy!
Back in the early days of my undergraduate social work program, we learned about “intended” and “unintended” consequences. Intended consequences are what you expected to happen. For example, someone starts some kind of social service program that trains unemployed folks for jobs. Intended consequence: people get jobs. Then we would have to come up with a list of unintended consequences. These might be positive or negative.
New Year, New You! Gym memberships galore! Whole30! Keto! Quick-fix weight loss! Make this year the year you get your life together!
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Many of us now roll our eyes at the idea of New Year’s resolutions and claim we’re far more enlightened than to stoop to making unrealistic pledges about overhauling our lives. But if we look deep down, many of us (myself included!) still have some deep longing to make this year the one where we start to do things a bit different than before.
You’re going about your day when something sneaks up on you. Again. You feel the tightening in your chest, your heart starts pounding, your mind begins to race. It’s almost paralyzing, this feeling. Then that Voice inside begins to taunt you:
“What if you drop the baby? What if I do it on purpose? What kind of mom are you? Why can’t I get these thoughts out of my head? I’m a terrible person! Make this go away!!!”
Anxiety has you in its grip and now you’re fighting to get free so you can get on with your day.
Holidays bring an abundance of family time and celebrations, which may or may not be a good thing for you. And so much delicious food. If you’re like me, you’ve probably eaten All The Things because they’re just so yummy. And it’s the holidays, so we’re allowed to indulge, right? Maybe family stress makes you want to drown your sorrows in just one more cookie/scoop of mashed potatoes/glass of wine.
I was that kid who lived for back-to-school shopping. I didn’t always need new clothes, but I adored school supplies. Nothing made my day more than a brand-new pack of pencil crayons, fresh notebooks, and a set of those cool new Crayola markers in the “bold” shades - you know the ones - raspberry, teal, mustard yellow, that deep navy blue… Walking through Walmart now, my 9-year-old self would probably pass out at all the amazing options. I mean, sparkle markers? Yes, please!
t’s been a long day, hasn’t it? You were up before the sun, because toddlers can be jerks. And you were up in the night, because toddlers just have this need to know that you’re still there, even when they’re sleeping. And you couldn’t fall asleep last night because your ever-growing to-do list was running through your head. Over. And over. And over. And your muscles ache because you tried to exercise today, and now you wince at ever again having to use those muscles in strange places that you didn’t even know existed in your body.
Hey there new mama. I see you there, with your fresh new baby in your arms. Listening to the sounds of her sweet baby breath. Tracing the outlines of his tiny, perfect lips. Breathing in all the new baby smells. Covering every last inch of that little one with kisses. Marvelling that this tiny being was inside your body only weeks, days, or even just hours ago. Wanting to soak up all this newness and beauty, and not miss a second of it. Wanting to show the world that you are the Mama, and you can do this!
You’ve heard of the “push present”, right? You know the one - where a dutiful husband goes and buys his lady something shiny to show how much he appreciates her hard work in growing and birthing your little angel. Push presents are great. But there are other gifts you can give your partner that don’t cost a thing, and will likely be even more meaningful to her as you build your family together.
Today is all about rest. I’ll wait while you stop laughing. I know what you’re thinking - “Yeah, right. Like I have time to rest.” This isn’t about taking a nap in the middle of the day. Although, if the opportunity presents itself, by all means, do it! This is about what you do once you’re in bed.
So. If you’re like me, you probably have a serious love affair with your phone. We love to stay connected, snap pictures of our adorable littles, and share them with everyone we know. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But. Sometimes being plugged-in leaves us out of touch with what’s real, and what’s right in front of us.
Today is another opportunity to get out of the house. You know how our little ones attract dirt? They can’t resist that muddy puddle or pile of leaves, and every stick is something to be picked up and carried around.
When we have little ones keeping us busy all day, it’s easy to spend the whole day inside, or rushing from house to car to grocery store to car and back to house. Baby is napping, so get something done around the house, or take a nap. Baby wakes up. Feed baby. Change baby. Repeat.
Take a seat, Mama. It’s early. You didn’t get much sleep last night. You have lunches to make and kids to shuffle out the door. Or a baby who is getting into everything all of a sudden and is surely going to climb those stairs any minute now. That’s ok. You have 5 minutes.
You know that moment when your partner comes home and asks, “so, what did you do all day?” And you just cringe. And the guilt creeps in. And then the defensiveness. “I kept your kid alive! What more do you want?!?”
Did you know that pregnancy and early parenthood is a prime time to bond with your partner? Your body is producing oxytocin, aka “the love hormone”, and this makes you more likely to feel close to your growing baby and to your partner (emotionally, even if not physically, because let’s be honest, pregnancy can also make you feel gross).
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about self-compassion, it seemed appropriate to talk a little bit about self-care. I can already hear you laughing to yourself. “Yeah, right. Who has time for that!” Sometimes we think of self-care as doing big, time-consuming things, like spending a day at the spa, or going away for a night. These things are great! But maybe not realistic when you’ve got young kids around, or limited funds.
Raise your hand if you’re harder on yourself than you are on anyone else. C’mon. It won’t hurt to admit it. My hand is in the air too. We often have a monologue running through our heads: “Why did I just do that? What a dumb thing to say! Why can’t I get anything right? I suck at life/parenting/marriage. I can’t seem to make good decisions.” These are the lies that depression and anxiety tell us.
Attending a conference, for me, feels like an overload of inspiration, excitement, learning, and momentum, followed by a crash-landing of a return to real life. In an effort to maintain some momentum and consolidate my own learning, I decided to write about the things I learned and apply them to relationships and parenting.
Someone recently asked me what it means to "let people in". We often hear people talk about how they "put up walls" and "won't let others in". Never do I hear this more than in counselling sessions with couples.
Today I had the great fortune of listening to Dr. Travis Bradberry speak at a conference about his research on emotional intelligence. While his message was intended to speak to a business audience, the message can also be applied to parenting.
When life starts to catch up to you, and you your relationship with your partner has been put on the back burner, it can be hard to remember what drew you together in the first place. You spend your days busy with work and kids. Your evening are full of preparing for tomorrow, or crashing on the couch with Netflix. You can’t even remember the last time you had a conversation with your spouse about anything other than the kids and the details of daily life.
After the glow of new love wears off, you settle into the daily grind of life. Paying bills, keeping up the house, chasing children, dishes, laundry, careers… It can all add up. One night you look over at your partner and wonder who this person is that’s sitting at the other end of the couch. You want to have a meaningful conversation, but you don’t even know where to start. You want to have sex, but your partner looks so tired, and you’re quite sure the answer will be no.
I just yelled at my baby. Who yells at a baby? I’m such a bad mom.
I don’t want to be around my kids right now. I just want to run away. I’m a terrible mother.
I can’t even remember the last time I gave the baby a bath. I’m the worst mom ever.
My kids deserve better than what I can give them.
Do you ever feel like The Bad Mom? You’re convinced that everyone else is better at this mom thing than you are. Other moms have more patience with their kids, have actually showered today, have better relationships with their spouses, enjoy being a mom more than you do. It’s true, Facebook says so.