How to Make Quarantine Friendly Changes to Your Self-Care Routines

“Mom. Mommmmmmeeee! Look at this!” My son ran into the kitchen with his iPad and said, “Look, this is so funny.” My hands were wet, the dishwasher open and I tried to steer him with my elbow out of the kitchen. “Honey, can it wait until I’m done?” I asked.  Each time he discovered a new Star Wars® meme to share, I had to dry my hands and pause the book I was listening to. After the fourth time I was annoyed. Audiobooks, a welcome distraction from dish-washing-purgatory, require focus.

To be candid, I was already on edge. Housework is on the rise and self-care is down. Like many, I’ve also been worrying more and sleeping less. My son was thrilled with his screen time and didn’t notice my frustration. But I still felt guilty for wanting space to myself. I’ve always been the default parent so it’s normal for my kids to seek me out at home. But after weeks of sheltering-in-place with conflicting Zoom calls, homeschool projects and grocery-store-bingo, I craved time alone.

My self-care rituals were invisible to my family before quarantine. Me-time was usually squeezed into the early mornings and late nights. I had also started to reconnect with my friends and professional network during the workday.

Of course, with COVID19, everything’s different.

It may feel impossible to protect your mental and physical health but it’s essential to try. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective. Socially distant self-care is possible but Continue reading “How to Make Quarantine Friendly Changes to Your Self-Care Routines”

How to Make Healthy Choices Under Extraordinary Conditions

Social Distance Friendly Care for Yourself and Your Family

“Over the last couple of days, I’m recognizing I need to preserve my mental health to support my family, patients and colleagues. A lot of us who are caregivers and helpers, tend to have the urge to do as much as possible and often forget ourselves,” said Dr. Nicole C Brathwaite, Psychiatrist, Entrepreneur & Activist.

Moms, already Allstar-givers, have added homeschool and helping neighbors, while facing huge shifts to work, routines and income. It’s a gift to remain kind and resourceful in a crisis and with so many in need, it may be tempting to ignore self-care.  Caregiver burnout is real and strategies to protect mental health, become more critical in uncertain times.

Set New Boundaries To Preserve Energy

Nicole’s career is filled with meaningful work she’s passionate about. However, with the new obligations at home, she’s intentional about balance. “I have to make sure my family is safe and I’m well rested so I can provide the best care. It’s also the advice I’m giving to my colleagues who are working on the front lines of this pandemic,” she said. As we show up for our communities and families, we need different boundaries. Nicole said, “I’m setting aside time during my day for physicians and nurses who are directly exposed to COVID-19 and are completely Continue reading “How to Make Healthy Choices Under Extraordinary Conditions”

What is Self-Care? Spoiler Alert, It’s Not On Your To-Do List

It Begins With Self-Love. Today and Everyday!

Self-care is your divine right to emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. It’s belief, intention and action. Self-care cannot be purchased. It’s not something ‘else’ to ‘fit in.’ It’s a mindset.

Society doesn’t champion Moms yet wants to conflate our self-worth with achievement. We’re cheerfully encouraged to busy-ourselves-to-death. We work unsustainable schedules, to pay for unaffordable childcare. It’s a tiring race to the bottom.

In the trance-of-busy, we push healthy to Continue reading “What is Self-Care? Spoiler Alert, It’s Not On Your To-Do List”

Care for Yourself Like Your Survival Depends on It

How to put yourself back together after life-altering setbacks

“When I was 31 my husband passed away very suddenly from a very rare disease most doctors have never seen in their lifetime. This was 8 weeks after I had given birth to my second child. I had a 3-year old and an 8-week old baby when he died. It really shook my world,” said Keisha Blair, Author of Holistic Wealth, Economist and Supermom.

After facing the unimaginable, she took a year off from work to heal and ultimately, reinvent herself. She started by writing the pain and insights she glimpsed from grief. Keisha’s formula for radical recovery, distilled in her new book Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness, incorporates emotional, physical and financial self-care to live Continue reading “Care for Yourself Like Your Survival Depends on It”

Yes, You Absolutely Can Raise Your Self-Care Bar

“I believe Mothers standing up for themselves is the highest form of self-care. Higher than any massage or relaxing sound machine,” Said Katherine Goldstein, an award-winning journalist and Founder of The Double Shift podcast. She added, “…Getting in touch with your anger, with your experience, is a powerful form of self-care. Forcing yourself to accept unfair treatment, unequal relationships and bad workplaces is what’s really causing people to feel like ‘I need self-care, I’m so stressed.’ If you have a partner, tell him he has to do some f*cking housework okay?” I laughed in agreement. Katherine said, “I know it’s easier said than done. It’s easier to recommend a Continue reading “Yes, You Absolutely Can Raise Your Self-Care Bar”

How to Replenish When You’re Burned Out

“How was your trip?” I asked. “It was wonderful, but I broke my foot,” Anna said with a laugh. She then described stepping into an ‘ocean pothole’ while surfing.  “It was great fun, but it wasn’t the first time my body told me to stop when my brain said keep going! Now, I have to slow down, for 6 to 8 weeks.”

Anna went on a yoga retreat in the Costa Rican jungle on a mission … to recover from overwhelm and reclaim her joy. “I can’t believe I went. I’m so glad I went,” she said.

We oversee complex schedules and fragile childcare logistics, without breaks, for years. Moms speak the language of exhaustion. Burnout, however, can consume all of your remaining energy. Whether it’s from a crisis, or the daily routine, feeling drained and disconnected is Continue reading “How to Replenish When You’re Burned Out”

Is There Room For Self-Care in The Sandwich?

“My migraines were getting worse and I went to see a doctor. He asked about my life…I told him I worked full-time, had 3 kids and helped care for my dad who had dementia and was living with me while my mother recovered from surgery. The doctor said disapprovingly, ‘that’s too much.’” Jody Gastfriend, my friend and former colleague admitted, “The doctor was right.” I nodded and sighed. We met for breakfast to discuss self-care and lessons learned from her years in social work, building Care.com’s Senior Care services, and tending to her aging parents. In her new book, My Parent’s Keeper The Guilt, Grief, Guesswork and Unexpected Gifts of Caregiving, Jody shares how she ultimately had to prioritize self-care and pay attention to what her body was telling her.

Watch For Signs

We lamented how Mom-martyrdom is universally accepted and reinforces patterns of self-neglect. Making changes feels even worse than the to-do list treadmill. Envisioning a better way requires energy and creativity…inaccessible to most when overloaded. Jody shared what was happening in her life before the migraines worsened. “There were other signs from the universe… before I realized how worn out I was.” Jody eventually hired a home health aide to help with her father’s care and temporarily reduced her work hours.

Caring for adults is unpredictable. Whereas healthy children follow similar developmental paths, seniors defy patterns as they age. At 90, some remain very active while others at age 70 can’t live alone. An estimated 75% of family caregivers are female. Absorb that for a moment. The likelihood that your parents will need your help as they age is high! Few think of themselves as ‘family caregivers’ and just doing what ‘is Continue reading “Is There Room For Self-Care in The Sandwich?”

How to be a Happier Parent? Embrace Self-Care!

Gratitude for our families doesn’t mean we’re always happy. Moms routinely give up self-care (yes including sleep) for the perceived greater good. We break so many promises to ourselves, that the excuses sound hollow, even inside our minds.  The consuming baby years, soon give way to demanding school-and-sport logistics. Finding free time feels like trying to breathe underwater. We grow distant from the passions that shaped our personalities. Over time, we forget how to have fun without our kids.

Most of us dwell in the land of never-done, a purgatory filled with managing email, picking up toys and cleaning the counters for the fifth time. It’s not surprising when, in most families, Moms are still responsible for all-things-children-and-household. Although it’s tempting to try to outsmart the to-do list, there’s a better way! I had the pleasure of speaking with KJ Dell’Antonia, Author and former Editor of the New York Times’ parenting blog, The Motherlode.

After writing about parenting, while raising four children of her own, she’s distilled practical wisdom about ‘How to Be a Happier Parent’ in her new book. Spoiler alert, carving out your happy is Continue reading “How to be a Happier Parent? Embrace Self-Care!”

Can Mindfulness & Modeling With Our Kids Overcome Impatience?

Regain Presence Despite Mental Load Overwhelm

After conducting an anonymous survey with 225 Moms, to gauge how the ‘mental load’ from carrying the always-on to-do list, affects everything from careers to health and family relationships, 79% shared they experience increased anger, worry and distraction with their kids.

“…Throughout dinner and bedtime, I feel like I’m pushing my kids off, like ‘I’ll look at your picture…after I finish unloading the dishwasher,’ or ‘As soon as I’m done making your sandwich, I’ll be right there.’  All they want is my attention but I just don’t have it to give unless I want to do two hours of chores after they go to bed, which I don’t!  I try to get it all done before they go to bed…(after) I can take a shower, then sit down and rest.”

Mom Is A Utility

We preach the value of attentiveness and focus to our children. Yet unmade beds and unread messages vie for our mindshare. Constantly. In most families, Mom-energy powers everything from hugs to planning playdates…leaving little space for the trial, error or antics of childhood.

“They view me as regularly stressed… There’s really no full down time between what I need to do and the kids’ schedules.”

“I have less patience when I’m overburdened, which leads to being short tempered…and less engaged with them. I feel like I can’t stop and play Legos® or help with a craft because I have TOO MUCH TO DO!!!” Continue reading “Can Mindfulness & Modeling With Our Kids Overcome Impatience?”

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