How to Find Support for Postpartum Depression

My mom suffered from postpartum depression. And it altered the course of her life and mine forever. I’ve had dear friends whose relationships with their children and partners have similarly been affected in a deep and defining way by PPD. One of them is my friend, Katherine Stone. Babble included her blog, Postpartum Progress in the Top 10 Mom Blogs of 2011, naming it as a groundbreaking resource for moms and moms-to-be.

I happen to agree. If you are a new mom and are struggling… please check it out. And if you or someone you love need some pre- postpartum support, I have another great resource.

Katherine, in conjunction with me and Jen Lemen, just completed a project specifically designed to provide gentle guidance and promote maternal mental health. It’s called Daily Hope and is delivered every weekday for a year directly to your inbox.

It features quotes and messages from Katherine, accompanied by the breathtaking images of British photographer Xanthe Berkeley. Katherine has been piloting this program for a year and is one of the ways she has been invaluable to the PPD community.

So for just $49, you can give the gift of a year of Daily Hope this holiday season, a light in the middle of the night of darkness that I know we sometimes feel as new moms.

Hugs to you,
Ria

How to Find Your Child’s Parenting Manual

I needed to be reminded by my own message today. Tune in. Trust.

Thank you spirit for this reminder that came in the form of a conversation with my friend Katharine — a loving mama (to a very lucky little five-months-old boy) who is navigating the sometimes crazy road of mothering an infant, seeking balance as she lives with sleepless nights  and the many questions we moms face as first time (heck, as ANYtime) moms. “Am I doing it right? What does my baby need? Am I a good mom?!?”…

My friend is a warrior because she is taking the spiritual path of motherhood ON. It’s not always an easy path, but what it lacks in ease it makes up for in soft baby kisses and looks of love that could charm the devil himself.

Here is what I am remembering today.

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Ok…where’s the manual??? How many of us have felt that way when we are first sent out of the hospital with our little bundle of joy held snuggly in our arms? It would be nice though. Just turn to page 3 on crying and you will see exactly what you need to do. Not sleeping? Please turn to page 12.


Well, this may be hard to believe, but our children do come with a manual. And we actually get a different one with each child, each manual as as unique as they are. And like all manuals, just because we are given the manual doesn’t mean we immediately have all the knowledge inside memorized just by holding it. No, we will actually have to READ the manual if it’s going to help us. Or in the case of the manual that comes with each child, we need to LISTEN to it. You see, this manual is called our intuition.

The hard thing about intuition and parenting is that so often, as new moms, we are clear about one thing…we know nothing!!! I know it feels that way. But I am here to tell you, and hear me loud and clear, “Yes you do!!!” If it feels like you were absent the day this thing called “a mother’s intuition” was handed out, relax. It might just be that you are standing there holding it in your hands, wishing you knew what it said inside, frustrated that you don’t. Hey, I got an idea. Let’s OPEN IT UP and let that information in!

[Read more…]

How to Do NOTHING!

It’s the middle of the summer! If your family is like mine, we’ve taken a trip, the kids have done camp, and we’ve hit all the local attractions. But there are still six weeks before school starts so… what now?

NOTHING! Seriously… I’m giving up the guilt about not having an activity planned for them. My kids are actually looking forward to some days when we can just lounge around and sleep in. I feel validated in my decision to UnPlan when I stumbled on an American Academy of Pediatrics report that says that free and unstructured play is healthy and actually essential for kids’ social, emotional and cognitive growth.

It seems like overnight, I’ve turned into The Soccer Mom, with my kids playing year round soccer. And along with all their other summer interests — tennis, swimming, drama camp,  it doesn’t leave many opportunities to just lay around. It’s a trade off because they get to do some fun stuff but that means that many days are carefully planned and orchestrated. And it can be stressful.

The times that I’m short with the kids and when we butt heads are when we are rushing out the door trying to get somewhere by a certain time. We all crave those mornings when we can sleep in as long as we want… and in our house, that can be as late as 10am! But then again, when you have free and unplanned time, there’s always the risk of your kids insistent refrain throughout the day… Mommy, I’m boooooored!”

I’m on Great Day St. Louis today sharing some ideas on what to do when that happens. One of my tips: making sure you are stocked with art supplies and fun ways that the kids can express themselves. In our house, we have an Art Wall and the kids have spent hours doodling on it. I use a strip of Frames wallpaper applied with double-sided tape. When it’s full, I just take it down and add a new strip!

For more ideas, join us today at 10am CST on KMOV’s Great Day St Louis. It’s gonna be fun!

How to Slow Family Life Down

Today I had the honor of being a guest on Dr. Phil Dembo’s Blog Talk Radio show called The Parent Coach. If you’d like to hear this 15 minute interview, inspiring us as parents to slow down, click here. We talked about a fabulous topic (and one we post about frequently here on MMM) the “slow” movement in parenting.

For me, as a parent of four, when I think about slowing our family life down, there are a few important places I look to in my approach to parenting:

1- Tuning into intuition. It is important to my husband and I that in our home, we value emotion as equal to if not more powerful than intellect. This may seem counterculture as when we look to the world around us it tells us and our kids that the head rules, that things need to make “sense” and that following the heart is the weaker path. But we question this in our home and value being a high EQ family… not just a high IQ one. As parents, when we trust our little voice inside – our kids learn to as well. What a powerful gift to model trusting ourselves for our kids. Intuition. It resides in our body. Body wisdom. It is present for us, holding wisdom and truth in this moment… not the past, not the future, but right here, right now. When we practice tuning in – breathing – and seeing what is there for us, we are actually practicing mindfulness. What a powerful way to slow life down. Pausing to listen to that still small voice that resides within each of us, even if, especially if, life is feeling crazy.

2- Valuing connection. Talk about the connection you have to one another in your family and how important this is to you. Talk about the connection you have to your self – that your child has to his or herself. This conversation of connection has been shown to be the most important thing you can do for your child to ensure their happiness as an adult. It’s been shown that of 12,000 tweens and teens, the most important indicator of if a child will avoid behaviors such as drug abuse, early sexual activity, depression and suicide is if they feel CONNECTED at home and at school. (I talk more about this study here.)

3- And finally PLAYFULNESS!!! Being playful is a wonderful way to slow life down. Begin by moving at your child’s pace for one hour of one day. Let them lead the fun. Stop and examine the worm on the sidewalk or the weed growing out of the crack between the step and the house that your little one notices as you all are heading to the car. Normally you might have brushed this opportunity off, saying, “That’s nice, now come on. Let’s go. Hop on in the car sweetie!” It works with older kids too. Just give them the opportunity and they will lead you to the fun. Our kids are MASTERS at being present to the joy that each moment holds. If we but slow ourselves down to be playful with them – if we let them lead and we but follow, we can be present to the silliness and sheer joy of this moment. Let’s slow life down by being more PLAYFUL PARENTS. Our kids have something to remind us— how we once PLAYED through the day instead struggled through it.

For those interested in learning more about the online course Dr. Phil and I discussed called Yoga Parenting, we’d like to offer you the opportunity to receive Lesson One on Centering free.

Related Articles:

How to Find Balance for Life

How to Raise Your Child to Be Happy

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Suzanne Tucker, aka Zen Mommy

In addition to mommy-ing to two magical girls and twins born in 2010, Suzanne co-owns a holistic health center with her husband Shawn in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as a physical therapist, Certified Educator of Infant Massage and health education teacher. Suzanne is the Co-creator of My Mommy Manual and the online parenting course, Yoga Parenting.

 

How to Tune In

This Sunday, Suzanne and I are facilitating a workshop at Passport to Power — a day-long mom-daughter conference in St. Louis. The event’s mission is one we strongly believe in, empowering girls through stronger connections with their female role models. Our morning session is called Sing Your Truth and will focus on how to tune into our own inner wisdom and how to model this for our girls. Of course, our regular readers know we can talk about this for days!!!

Intuitive guidance is a gift — a compass in a confusing world of too much external input, competing and conflicting agendas, and no clear cut answers. I already see it in my before-bed conversations with my daughter: My friends want this, but I don’t. Is that bad? Should I tell so-and-so what she said? Our night time ritual is now loaded with questions that are a lot more complicated than they were, even just last year. My response is usually a version of, “What does your gut tell you?”

But how much do we tune in to what our gut tells us? How often do we slow down enough to listen to the truth that our bodies already know? It’s an undoing or an unlearning, really. Because society places so much value in what we can decipher with our heads, what is logical, what makes sense….  As we “grow up,” we are taught to ignore what our gut tells us for what intellectual evidence our mind provides. In this sad way, we are unconsciously taught to distrust ourselves. And if we can’t trust ourselves, who can we trust?

The mental/emotional noise reaches a fever pitch in moments of real crisis. That’s just not the time to start turning to our inner guidance. If you start learning how to swim in the baby pool, you’ll actually fare better when you get tossed out in the raging sea. So I like suggesting that we start this practice with ourselves and our kids with the easy stuff: Does your body say, eggs or pancakes for breakfast?

The advanced level questions are ones like: What does my body say about this job/project/relationship?

Last week, I had the opportunity to steal away to Mexico for five days. No one else but me! Which meant this: I ate when I was hungry, I drank when I was thirsty, I slept when I was tired! It was an opportunity to tune into my body in a very elemental way. It was like a re-setting of the compass, back to due north. Since my re-entry into the noisy world, I’ve been practicing checking in and allowing my gut to set my priorities and guide my path. It’s been nothing less than magical!

So if you are in St. Louis, I hope you’ll join us on April 3, 9-3pm at The Doubletree Hotel in Chesterfield. It’s going to be a fabulous day. My dear friend and expert dreamer, Jen Lemen is doing the opening keynote on planting dreams for a hopeful world, so we can all learn how discovering and claiming your dreams can you help you develop and grow. Our breakout session for the moms is right afterwards, while parenting expert Annie Fox works with the girls on “Real Friends vs. The Other Kind.”

But it’s not all talk! There’s a luncheon, makeovers, massages, hairstyling, crafts, lots of photo opps, a boutique and silent auction. Oh yes, in addition to being a great day to spend with your daughter, Passport to Power is also a fundraiser for Girls In The Know, a nonprofit that hosts a speaker series year-round in St. Louis that helps start conversations between moms and tweens on body image, relationships, safety and the birds and the bees.

Space is limited at the hotel so go grab your tickets now! 🙂

How to Move Beyond “Good” and “Bad”

This is such an important conversation. Are you a bad mother?

In honor of the Guilt-Free parenting week we kicked off for BabyCenter.com last week, I pulled out these awesome interviews on being a “bad mother” in today’s world.  Watch as Ria Sharon and I team up with three other outspoken and prolific mom bloggers to interview best-selling author, Ayelet Waldman’s memoir, Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace. We interviewed Ayelet live on MyMommyManual.com a week after the book’s release and as part of a book tour that also included a session with Terry Gross on Fresh Air and another on the Today Show.

“You guys are amazing! I’ve been writing for ten years and this has definitely been the most fun, the most interesting, the most creative interaction I’ve ever had with readers and I’m so grateful to you all. You’re the bomb.” ~ Ayelet Waldman

If you would rather listen to the skype audio only… (no echo!), click HERE!

One of our mommies said this about this morning’s event…

“Let me push you to doing more of these b/c they are fantastic. I really loved how honest the conversation was. I think women in particular need to reclaim our “gut level” instinct & not be afraid to be honest & real no matter what people think we “should” do.

WE KEPT THE CONVERSATION GOING!

We invited moms to join us a week later on May 18th to continue the Bad Mother conversation and how this issue is reflected in many women’s lives. We even dove into the topic of “Bad Dad”,  the societal pressures men and women feel. Don’t miss the end where we talk about being selfish and how we women GET to encourage one other  with a little more “ass-slaping”. Yes, it got a little crazy. There was a lot of laughing and much inspiration in the raw, honest talk between us… five moms, yes, but five women as well.

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Suzanne Tucker is publisher of MyMommyManual.com and co-creator of YogaParenting, an online parenting course. If you liked what you read here, she hopes you’ll JOIN My Mommy Manual for always free parenting tips, inspired by the idea that we get to “look inside for instructions”.

 

How Achievement is Stressing our Kids

I am too excited for tonight. Not only am I going on a much anticipated date-night-out with my honey, we are going to see a great document to which I received FREE tickets. Woot. Always a nice thing. Thank you MO History Museum for giving me and two other couples in my St. Louis Mom’s Meetup group tickets. We are all looking forward to seeing “Race to Nowhere”. I’m bringing tissue as my friend Kim, mom of two teen boys, told me she saw it and it made her cry.

This documentary won like four different film festival awards. The flier for it explains the film as follows:

“A concerned mother turned filmmaker aims her camera at the high-stakes, high-pressure culture that has invaded our schools and our children’s lives, creating unhealthy disengaged, unprepared and stressed-out youth.

I was talking to my tween about this very thing last night. She had fallen asleep doing her homework the night before only to wake up at 3am to a sheet of unwritten spelling word sentences. Twenty four left to write. She woke me up at 3:58 am, disoriented and confused… and then got to work on that unfinished homework.

She told me about all this the next morning. It had taken her an hour to finish the work, so at 5:00am she tucked herself back into bed to sleep for another 90 minutes before her day began. She told me how GLAD she was to have woken up and finished her work as five other kids at school that day had not finished their spelling word sentences and had to stay in at recess.

None of what my daughter shared with me is out of bounds. If she had completed her work at 5pm instead of working on it at 9pm, none of it would have even happen. But I mention it because I think it speaks to the normal amount of stress kids feels in middle school. Add to that sports or a demanding parent and/or teacher and the stress levels rise way beyond what our tweens and teens need to be dealing with.

I hope you’ll join me in re-committing to avoid OVERSCHEDULING. Less is more. I’ll let you know what I thought of the movie tomorrow!

Followup: Okay – it’s tomorrow and I’m telling you, you HAVE TO SEE THIS MOVIE!!! Sign up for it on Netflix or where ever as soon as you can. See it if it comes to your city. IT is that important. Talk about a great conversation starter as well. My husband and I stayed up and talked about it for hours after seeing the film.

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Suzanne Tucker is publisher of MyMommyManual.com and co-creator of YogaParenting, an online course helping parents create more joyful, less stressful parenting. If you liked what you read here, she hopes you’ll JOIN My Mommy Manual for more inspiring (and free) parenting tips, delivered regularly right to your Inbox.

How to Tell… is your life happy or interesting?

I was having a fascinating discussion at BlissDom with Esther and Brené about Penelope’s post on happy versus interesting. Penelope’s conclusion is that “people need to choose between an interesting life and a happy life.”

And it got me to thinking… are these two concepts really diametrically opposed — at two ends of a spectrum?

I think I’m pretty happy. And I think I have a pretty interesting life. I’m almost certain that most people who know me would agree with BOTH those statements. What do you think, Zen Mommy? (Is it because I used the word “pretty” three times?)

Is it that your life can’t be interesting and happy in the exact same moment? Okay, so when I was interestingly transplanting my existence from one side of the world to the other at age 13, was I unhappy? No. I was happy. Or when I uninterestingly choose to do NOTHING and not leave my room for four days in a row, am I unhappy? No, I’m really good with that too.

Am I for real?!

Honestly, part of my definition of happiness includes interesting. According to Gallup’s Strengths Finder, I have Input, Learner and Maximizer in my Strengths profile, which means that not only do I want to continuously learn and improve but that I focus on stimulating personal and group excellence. Penelope links happy with complacency. I link happy with interesting… #interesting

So just from my poll of one… that being my own personal experience, I have to call shenanigans on her conclusion. You? Must YOU choose between happy and interesting? Or can you be both?

p.s. According to Penelope, I’m suspiciously well-balanced. 🙂

How to Measure a Year? Love

Here are our 525,600 minutes of life since the twins were born… condensed down to four. It’s true. What you remember from a year are the simple moments of everyday life filled with l-o-v-e.

And if you’ve NEVER heard the song “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent, enjoy this youtube.

On the next birthday that happens in your home, think back on the year and the moments that stand out for you. I’ll bet ‘ja they’re full of it (love I mean…)!!!

I’d love to hear about how you celebrate birthday’s in your home. If you have any cute pictures from your little one’s first birthday, upload them to our Gallery page. Just send them from your computer or phone to person55while(@)photos(.)flickr(.)com with the email subject line as your picture’s title.

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Suzanne Tucker, publisher of MyMommyManual.com and co-creator of YogaParenting, an online course helping parents create more joy and less stress in parenting.

BOLD SPONSORS

BOLD uses storytelling and the arts to raise awareness and support mother-initiated dialogue and solutions to maternity care problems.  The US cesarean section rate is more than 30%–15% higher than the WHO-recommended rate for industrialized countries; and it is estimated that only 2% of US mothers receive maternity care practices that promote normal birth.  Our wives’, sisters’ and daughters’ experiences are reflected in these numbers. Click here to see the BOLD sponsor levels or the download the full sponsorship packet if you think you or your organization would like to sponsor future BOLD events.

Proceeds benefit organizations in alignment with the BOLD Mission to inspire communities to create childbirth choices that work for mothers.

Sponsor support goes towards theatre costs, printing and, most importantly, getting the word out to encourage diverse members in our community to come and experience these events. In return, sponsors received the opportunity to show their support of the St. Louis Birthing Community while raising awareness of sponsors’ products or services. More than 150 people attended the BOLD event last year and 300 are expected in 2011!