If you you’re feeling tension with your partner, boss, feeling anxious, confused, or stuck in any pattern that you know you need to change, you will likely get stuck in fear. If you’re not aligned with your partner, or if you’re baby isn’t sleeping, you might fear that you’re doing something wrong, that you’re a bad partner or parent, or no matter what you try, nothing will ever change.
Regardless of what you want to change in your family, here are my Top 5 pieces of wisdom
to help you get out of wherever you don’t want to be:
Personal Challenge: Take a few minutes to consider what’s not working for you and/or your family, and write it down. From there, envision what you really want. If you had your ideal family life, what does that look like, and how would that feel? Write down your vision, and then ask yourself, what’s standing in your way? Chances are there will be a chorus of fears spinning in your head. That’s totally normal, but it's a VITAL step to making the changes that you know you need to make.
- Admit that something’s not working. If you’re struggling, deep down, you know it. Acknowledging that there’s a problem is the first step to making positive changes.
- Be willing and ready to change. You can’t change anything if you don’t want to change, and chances are, you won’t change if you’re not ready. Hopefully you won’t get into a crisis before you start to crawl out, but sometimes that’s what it takes to be willing and ready to change.
- Identify your obstacles. When you want to change a family dynamic, you’ll find many excuses why you can’t. You might tell yourself that it’s not the right time, or that you can’t because of XY and Z. These are your obstacles, and chances are, they are deep fears.
- Get aligned with your partner. If your partner isn’t willing or able to support you to change what you know you need to change, you probably won’t get very far. Sometimes you may need to stand up for what you need, but you won’t know unless you ask if s/he is willing to support you.
- Accept support. If you have family, friends or a loving spouse who’s offered to help you, step aside, and let them help. If you know deep down that you need outside support, give yourself permission to reach out, and ask for it.
I suspect that everyone reading this already knows that breastfeeding is best for babies; that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk exclusively for the first six months. No disrespect to La Leche League and other organizations who work to raise awareness about the benefits of breast milk, but enough already. I think we got the point.
The pressure to exclusively breastfeed our babies has become so strong, that women who CAN’T breastfeed are shamed into a horrific amount of guilt if they’re unable to lactate. There are hundreds of thousands of new moms worldwide who aren’t able to breastfeed. Adoptive moms, surrogate moms, moms who've had medical complications, moms who simply don't produce enough milk. And then there are regular moms like me...
I found breastfeeding stressful, painful and I struggled with milk supply for many agonizing months. I nursed and pumped night and day. I drank gallons of milk-inducing teas, and spoke with a lactation consultant daily - all to avoid supplementing with formula.
Looking back, I realize the stress and anxiety was my biggest problem. The lactation consultants all wanted to keep me exclusively breastfeeding. I seemed to be the only one in my new moms group who was struggling, and I didn’t know any experienced moms who may have given me permission to relax and give my baby a bottle of formula every now and again, and give myself a break. That's all I would have needed, and ironically enough, it was a non-mother friend who suggested it when she found me in a puddle of tears.
A friend of mine, after intricate planning for a natural home-birth, ended up with an emergency C-section, followed by a serious infection, two extra hospital weeks with IV antibiotics, followed by mastitis, more antibiotics, etc. The result was a crippling case of postpartum depression and an inability to produce enough milk to feed her baby. Her depression was so crippling, her mom had to take care of her and the baby for six months. With medication, she recovered.
On her first excursion alone with the baby, she was scolded by another mom for feeding her baby a bottle of organic soy formula. The woman smugly said, "Breast milk really IS better for your baby." Can you imagine?
This kind of righteousness and down-right nastiness amongst mothers is shocking, and it needs to stop. The cultural pressure to exclusively breastfeed is hard enough, and I believe that the increasingly high rates of PPD would drastically decline if we stopped putting so much pressure on moms.
So please ladies, give other moms--and yourselves--a break. A bottle of formula every now and then is not going to kill your baby, and it won't make your milk dry up. Instead of beating yourself up, maybe you can leave a bottle with your partner and go out for a drink, get a pedicure or simply do something to take care of yourself?
If this resonates with you, read this article, and share your experience with other moms in the comment section below. It's so helpful to know that we're not alone.
As a committed international adventure traveler, I often get asked for tips for traveling with tots in tow. You asked - here they are!1. Keep it Simple
I swore when we had kids that we would still travel to cool places like Africa and India and more specifically, NOT travel to any big, tacky, all-inclusive resorts. After a few miserable cross-country and international trips, I gave in and realized it just wasn't any fun. Now, I'm not even embarrassed to admit that we travel to Mexico and stay in those big all-inclusive beach resorts every year, and we have fun! 2. Strategic Airplane Seating
If you're traveling more than 2 hours, buy a seat for your kid, even if your baby is under two. It will be worth every penny. If you don't have an extra seat, be strategic about your seat assignments. If traveling with two parents, book aisle & window seats -- the guy in the middle will gladly move! If that's not an option, get to the airport early, bring your baby in your arms (mom) for check-in, smile, and ask politely if there are any better seats for your family. Sometimes, unless a flight is oversold, the ground staff may even "block" a middle seat, giving you a whole row.
3. Feeding for Take-offs and Landings
Time feedings during take off and landing. If they're nursing, sucking on a bottle, or snacking on cheerios for take-off and landing, their ears will pop naturally, it will be easier on you, and they're more likely to pass out with the motion.
4. Car Seats You might hear that you need car seats on the airplane, but you don't. If you're renting a car, leave your car seats at home and book car seats with your car rental company. Request infant, toddler or booster based on your child's needs. If you must bring car seats, check them so you don't have to bring them through security. You can buy a car seat cover like this to protect your seat in general baggage.
5. Go With the FlowInstead of stressing about naps and where your kids sleep, can you give yourself permission to forget about your routines, where and when your baby sleeps, and just have fun? Your baby will sleep in the car, in the stroller, she may get overtired or want to sleep in your hotel bed with you. Can you let go of your fear that your baby won't get enough sleep, or have sleep regressions when you get home? Honestly, it's going to happen whether or not you stick to your routines and schedules, so why not skip the stress and have more fun!?!I know there's so much more travel wisdom out there, so if you have any more great family travel tips, share them with us here!
Those of you who already know me, know that I’m totally transparent and humble about my own parenting struggles. And I’m just going to tell you straight: Nearly 9 years into parenting, I still struggle with a lot of the same things that you do.
I still don’t get enough sleep. I’m still plagued with fears, anxiety and guilt about what I should and shouldn’t do. I’m constantly worried that I’m doing something wrong, and I often feel like I’m failing at everything. I’m scared that my kids will struggle at school, that they won’t make any friends, that my apartment will never be clean enough, that my kids don’t get enough protein, and that they’ll hate me when they grow up. And even though I know this is all totally normal, I still feel crappy about it.
The thing I sense that you and I most likely share is the worry, the anxiety, the fear that we’re not good enough parents, that we’re doing something wrong, that we’ll never get enough sleep, and the (annoying!) feeling that every other parent looks like they’re handling it with more grace than you are. And maybe those other well-rested, happy parents really are fundamentally relaxed, Zen people. Or maybe, as I suspect – they’re all lying!
If you want to hear more about this topic, you DEFINITELY want to listen to my recent tele-seminar (download here), where I’ll be sharing some of my best-kept secrets: the ones that really help me, and families like you sleep and feel better.
And as always, I love to hear from you. If you're struggling with sleep or any new parent anxiety, share them with me here. Tell me what's keeping you up at night and how you're feeling.
And if you're just sleep-deprived and ready to change, please reach out to me. You can schedule a complimentary connection call HERE.
I look forward to hearing from you!
If you're reading this, you may be feeling hopeless that you'll never sleep again. I'm sorry. I know. It sucks. It really, really sucks in the not funny, losing-your-mind kind of way. But good news: there is hope.
Even if you've tried everything, even if you've read every book and tried every sleep training method under the sun, there is hope. Though all the branded sleep-training strategists will try to convince you that their system is best, there is no right or wrong way to teach your baby to sleep. You are the expert -- all you need is permission to throw the books away, and believe that you're in charge. If you haven't seen what happens to parents who read every baby sleep expert book, in a nutshell, here's the (hilarious) story.
Though I'm adamantly against all of these branded baby sleep books, with their confoundingly complex sleep-training methods and systems (which lead nearly every desperately sleep-deprived family to repeated failure), I reluctantly wrote my own new e-book.
The title, "Three Vital Steps To Help Your Baby Sleep", cracks me up because it's really the antithesis to everything else you will read and very different than a simple 3 step cure. I just wanted people to read it (therefore the annoyingly catchy title). Though it actually DOES include 3 Vital Steps, they're not what you think. It's all part of my evil plan to actually provide something useful that won't make families feel like crap, but actually help them sleep. I'm reserving some free copies for my community, so send me an email to email@example.com with E-BOOK in the subject bar, and I'll send you a copy - my gift!
Meanwhile, I give you permission to burn all your other books. Henceforth, you will have no need for them. :)
In this video, I share some of my tips for parents of babies and toddlers about sleep -- and how to get more of it. (Newsflash: It's probably not what you think!)
Real question from a real mom: "Will it ever get easier traveling with a baby and a toddler?" Me: "Yes, in about 4 years."
I wish I were kidding, but it's true. Before kids, I swore I would schlep my kids with me to exotic places like India, South Africa and Scotland. But then I learned the harsh, ugly truth. One trip to Seattle with a baby and a toddler waking at 3am cured me forever. And we're much happier now vacationing in big tacky all-inclusive Caribbean resorts where we can "Dump & Run" at the Kids' Club...So if you’re traveling with wee ones during the holidays, be prepared for sleep regressions and to need a vacation when you come home. Yes, it really will suck, but here are my Top 3 Tips to make it feel less painful:
- Go with the flow. Your sleep schedule will get messed up when you travel. If you let your baby nap on the fly, you will have more fun.
- Stress less; sleep more. Drink extra wine, give yourself permission to co-sleep, take turns on the couch (with earplugs!), and deal with sleep regressions when you get home.
- Accept support. Allow well-meaning family and friends to help, and give them jobs! Whether you need a nap, a date or a shoulder rub - delegate, accept, and ye shall receive.
You both have jobs, but only one of you gets paid. There’s a common myth that the Bread Winner has a harder job, but it's just not true. I’ve been on both sides of this fence, and I guarantee that childfree office work is a trillion times easier. I was shocked when my former boss tap-danced into the office on Mondays, openly giddy to be free of diapers and tantrums. I get it now. The harsh truth is that parenting is the hardest job you will ever have.
I don’t care if you're a banker or lawyer or candlestick maker, you Bread Winners get to leave, you get a break, you can pee whenever you want, your work has material value, and you don't feel like a loser when you can’t manage a shower or finish folding massive mounds of laundry.
So the next time you wonder why your spouse is so stressed when you come home from your relaxing office job, think twice before you ask why. Instead, I dare you to swap jobs for a week and see how it feels to be needed 24/7, to have your work focused exclusively on naps, puke and poops. You will learn a lot, and your marriage will benefit, because you will finally understand what it feels like to walk in your partner’s shoes.
You lovingly rocked and shushed and soothed your newborn, and have likely enjoyed many peaceful moments while she slept in your arms. You learned to ever so gently to lay her down, and it worked – for a while. Then sometime between 4-7 months, you find that you can’t get her to fall asleep so easily, and your previously peaceful sleep routine turns into a 45-90 minute ordeal. Suddenly, no amount of nursing, rocking, bouncing and shushing works, and no matter what you try, she wakes up screaming the minute you put her down. Repeat 8-12 times, night and day, and you end up feeling like you’re in a bottomless pit with no way out. I've been there, I know.
First of all, you haven’t done anything wrong. You’ve been helping your baby sleep, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if it stops working and you find that your entire life revolves around trying to get your baby to sleep, then maybe something needs to change.
I’d like to invite you to think about how your baby sleeps, and be honest with yourself. Do you really think you’re helping her sleep with all the bouncing and shushing and nursing and rocking? Is it helpful to go in and out of the room, pick her up and put her down, over and over again, while she’s trying to fall asleep?
If any of this resonates with you, maybe you can give yourself permission to simply DO LESS. I’m not saying you should send her off to boarding school at 5 months old, but can you simply pull back a little bit, and empower her to feel 100% secure and safe falling asleep without all your help?
You're a new parent, and you're trying to roll with all the constant changes. One day you think you have it all under control, the next you feel like you've totally lost it. You can barely get out of the house and shower daily, and the sleep deprivation is playing tricks on you. This is unfortunately one of the hardest parts of your journey, and an impossible problem to solve. The only way to really cope with all the changes is to embrace it, and know that every time you get into a good groove, something else will change. If you’re emotionally prepared, it might feel a teensy bit easier, but not much.
If you like predictability and routine (like me), you will spend much of your time trying to organize and control everything. That’s fine if it makes you feel better (it does for me), but one thing that will NOT change for the foreseeable future is that you no longer have control over most aspects of your daily life. You will try your best to be the Perfect Mom, to have everything in order so you feel more relaxed; you will have good days and bad days, and few of them will feel totally successful.
The more you allow yourself to let go, accept that your new life is chaos, know there's nothing you do to make it Perfect, the better you will feel. Embrace it, because basically, you have no other choice!