strong couples Archives - Best Mom Blogs For Self-Care | Mom's Hierarchy Of Needs

Moms and Dads, is There a Better Way to Fight?

“We brought couples into the lab and had them argue with each other. And we found that how negatively or positively, they interacted with each other, actually predicted their experience of the birth! So, prenatal couples conflict predicted stress during childbirth and the baby’s medical outcomes. Couples are such an interesting target for prevention and intervention. We’re now thinking about how to support relationship quality,” said Dr. Darby Saxbe, Professor and Researcher.

Some couples have grown closer in the pandemic. But most have not. We’ve heard from over 2,000 parents, mostly Moms (97%) who are married or cohabiting. And the loss of date nights and personal space, combined with the rise in housework and childcare, has been a recipe for marital stress.

The gendered power struggle continues to test relationships for many Moms partnered with Dads. Who gets to have leisure? And who gets to do the laundry? It’s tricky to disagree without damaging trust. Particularly when the topic, sharing the work at home, is a well-worn source of tension. So, what can we do?

Invest in Better Communication

“There’s been much more demand on everything from meals to dishes, to just supervising kids in the pandemic. So, the stress on couples has really multiplied,” Darby said. But she’s seen couples get aligned. “There are great approaches to couples therapy. And improved Continue reading “Moms and Dads, is There a Better Way to Fight?”

What Can you Learn From the New Parent Journey to Support Your Mental Health?

“We know that the transition to Parenthood a critical window of change and adaptation. Our hormones, brains, behaviors, sleep and social interactions are changing. And there’s increasing evidence, that those changes are happening for men as well as women. Because it’s not only pregnancy that creates these changes,” said Dr. Darby Saxbe, Psychologist, Professor and Researcher.

Darby has spent the past seven years studying the transition to parenthood. And what she has learned, about the best conditions for new parents, can illuminate the scaffolding we need at all stages of the journey.

Although the pandemic has complicated caregiving, it’s also forcing improvements. So, how can we learn from this time of transformation and put the kind of supports in place that reduce stress and improve our health?

Parenting Expands Your Brain. Literally

Darby said, “When I established my own lab, I wanted to hone in on this idea of new parenthood being a window for neuroplasticity. So, we recruit couples that are expecting their first child. And we explicitly went with cohabiting couples, because we wanted to look at Fathers’ experiences, along with Mothers. Including their brains, stress hormones and the way they interact with each other.” She studies the positive effects of neuroplasticity, the brain expansion and development, that comes with parenthood. And this exponential change, brings both pain and opportunity. Because we’re more vulnerable during this shift.

And You Need the Right Support for a Positive Experience

So, it’s important to increase the support you have. Especially during pregnancy and your child’s infancy. The downside, to this time of cognitive growth, is that we’re also more impressionable to trauma. Like in a pandemic. Darby explained that previous studies from natural disasters, showed Continue reading “What Can you Learn From the New Parent Journey to Support Your Mental Health?”

Is the Mental and Emotional Load Shared in Your Household?

“I need the older children in the family and my husband to step up and help out. I feel like I’ve taken up all the slack and their responsibilities have remained the same. My husband says I just need to ask him for “help” but that just puts it on me to manage everything. I’m frustrated and exhausted and he doesn’t get it.”

“I am literally drowning in overwhelm while my husband is having a great time working from home! Because I’m picking up all the pieces keeping everything together.”

“I told my husband that him “helping” around the house is not enough anymore. He’s an adult and he needs full ownership of at least 50% of keeping our lives together.”

Over 1,800 parents, mostly Moms (98,%) have shared their pandemic stories for our research study. And they’re drained from doing more of everything: housework (78%,) kids activities (54%,) and childcare (73%.) Although they’re overwhelmingly married or cohabiting, in the pandemic, only 30% state their partners are doing more housework or childcare. The gendered division of household labor for Moms partnered with Dads isn’t new. And it’s a corrosive undercurrent for many couples.

The consuming nature of parenting and running a home, has ballooned during Covid. Although the physical work is considerable, the mental energy to plan, triage and react to countless daily choices, adds strain to the situation.

Although some couples successfully divide the work, few share the mental load. And that’s often where the perception gap between Moms partnered with Dads lies. But what if we could make all that hidden work visible? Does it change the conversation between couples?

Mind the Gendered Gap

“I’m doing all the emotional work of parenting (my spouse does only non-emotional tasks like grocery shopping and lawn mowing)…)

“…My personal routine has been overshadowed by helping/dealing with everyone else. If I try to work out, I’ve got kids hanging all over me, when I’m trying to work during nap time my husband wants to chat always preceded by “I know you’re busy but, just real quick…”

A recent Morning Consult survey echoes the stunning Continue reading “Is the Mental and Emotional Load Shared in Your Household?”

Come Back Stronger After Leaning Out or Back In from Your Career Post-Kids

“I had read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and the counter points by Anne-Marie Slaughter. So, there was this conversation happening,” said Donielle Buie, Human Resource Leader and Work/Life expert, “And I agree, we need to change policy. But I kept thinking to myself, there’s a woman right now who’s got two kids and is ready to quit her job! She can’t figure out how to make this all work. And I didn’t feel like people were talking about that enough. Or how to make these decisions related to career and family. So, that was my foray into the work/life space.”

Almost half of Mothers take time out of the workforce due to childcare. But Donielle has done what few have. She downshifted, opted out and then came back, professionally stronger. Millions of Moms are deciding to lean into, out of or back from, their careers through Covid. And historically, women don’t fare well when they opt out. But Donielle’s journey is a masterclass on how to navigate the care and career fit.

What About Parental Leave?

Donielle experienced the reality of navigating leave with her first child. “It was like, you had a baby? Here is a $5,000 stipend on top of disability. I worked at a small company so, they gave us dollars on top of short-term disability. But didn’t have a more formal extended leave policy. Even with that, I took unpaid leave because I wanted to be home for 6 months,” she said. “I thought, we should have parental leave because people had kids. Why don’t we have a better policy? Then as we started thinking about having a second, it was sort of like, okay how in the heck are Continue reading “Come Back Stronger After Leaning Out or Back In from Your Career Post-Kids”

What Couples Do to Strengthen Relationships in Lockdown

The pandemic has forced impossible tradeoffs. As fragmented parents search for hidden bandwidth, the strain on couples has grown. Maintaining spark through the happy chaos of life with kids is difficult. But to completely revamp home life and face Covid as a team, often under the watchful gaze of children, is a herculean effort.

Over 1,200 parents shared their pandemic stories since March. The majority are Mothers (95%) who are either married (85%) or live with their partner (7%.) And lockdown continues to challenge relationships.

In the spring (March – June 6th) about a third (36%) felt they were doing ‘terribly’ or ‘not as well as usual’ as a spouse or partner. By the summer, it jumped to almost half (48%) and by the fall (September – November 6) it climbed to 52%. Dr. Yael Schonbrun, Clinical Psychologist, Author and Couples Therapist, shares strategies for the most commonly cited relationship trials of Covid.

Be Generous with Self-Compassion

Yael explained, “Self-compassion offers a raft through the roughest life waters and is available to each of us, even when nothing else is. It involves three Continue reading “What Couples Do to Strengthen Relationships in Lockdown”

Social Distance Does not Make the Heart Grow Fonder

Are Couples Closer or Farther Apart? It’s Both

“(I need) a more supportive spouse who understands that just because I’m working from home doesn’t mean I get to be responsible for all of the housework and childcare. My job still needs to get done.

“… I wish I had a support system. Dealing with everything on my own and walking on eggshells around my husband is hard emotionally.”

”…I love that I am working less and bringing in less money, and my spouse isn’t complaining about it.”

“Spending more time with my daughter and spouse. Bonding with spouse over how to relax.”

Over 1,200 parents shared their pandemic stories since March. The majority (92%) are Mothers (95%) and either married (85%) or live with their partner (7%.) As they continue to work without childcare, breaks or diversions, most crave more “time,” “sleep” and “quiet,” preferably “alone” for their wellbeing. And with their villages at a social distance, they expect hands-on solidarity from their partners.

Every marriage has its fault lines. And with the pressure of home becoming the default office, school and play space, it can feel like a sanctuary or cage. Overall, surveyed parents report more conflict and resentment. Yet, surprisingly, some couples are thriving in Continue reading “Social Distance Does not Make the Heart Grow Fonder”

It’s Okay to Let Go of the Old Normal and Build Something Better

Takeaways from ‘The Working Mom’s Playbook to Quarantine’ Panel Discussion

We learned how to compartmentalize work for sanity, presence and productivity but the separation is part of what makes it hard. Hiding the messiness of child-rearing from work and the appetite of work from our families, was tiring.

Now we’re trying to work, find work or start businesses during a pandemic and cultural revolution. Samantha Skey moderated a thoughtful discussion during last month’s BlogHer event with Super Mamas Karolina Kurkova, Eve Rodsky and Dara Tresseder.

They shared what they’ve embraced amidst the chaos and the need to change our systems at home. Now is a tumultuous yet perfect time to reexamine everything we’re doing. Remember, most of us were not emotionally or physically well before COVID19.
Continue reading “It’s Okay to Let Go of the Old Normal and Build Something Better”

How to Manage the Increased Mental Load Under Quarantine

I gave my son the same math homework twice, started my daughter’s Zoom call late and forgot to pull chicken from the freezer. That was yesterday. Because it hasn’t felt holiday-like, I forgot to buy jelly beans. Between debates about ‘carrying the one’ with my oldest and playing musical-rooms for video calls, I’ve been working at half-speed. When I spoke with my attorney, a mother of 3, to apologize for ignoring her emails, I admitted to fighting mental fog. She agreed and said, “I feel like I did when my kids were babies!” Exactly.

The mental load for Moms, from the to-do list in our heads, isn’t new. It starts when our kids are in diapers but it’s increased with COVID19. Big time. We’re relearning how to work, live and parent all at once, which strains our cognitive capacity. When the routines dissolve, school’s at home and housework multiplies, what are our options? Although we have to approach it differently, we can lighten the mental load during this surreal time.

Why we Can’t Concentrate

In most families, Moms remember the haircuts, permission slips and camp deadlines. This invisible choreography is at the heart of overdo and never-done. We tend to forget our brains have limits and it helps to understand what they are. I spoke with Dr. April Seifert, Psychologist and Co-founder of Peak Mind and she explained, “Any time we’ve got way too much on our mind that we’re trying Continue reading “How to Manage the Increased Mental Load Under Quarantine”

What Happens in Your Marriage When You Try to Set Personal Boundaries?

Coupled Moms who try to set limits get different reactions. However most experience extremes. They are either, rewarded with stronger connection or penalized with passive aggression, from their partners.

How does setting boundaries with your partner affect the relationship? Nearly 200 coupled Moms responded to this question anonymously. The results? Like everything-married-life, it’s complicated. Positive outcomes only slightly outpace negative ones for surveyed Moms. Trying to protect time and energy by renegotiating expectations with your spouse, gets tricky.

“It’s hard to ask for time for myself. When I do ask, even after a full day at work and taking care of the house and kids, I feel like my partner isn’t supportive. Even if he’s not doing anything productive himself. It makes me resentful.”

One surveyed Mom’s response

Did you understand how marriage would change after kids? Right. Few people do. Hours of togetherness become little scraps of Continue reading “What Happens in Your Marriage When You Try to Set Personal Boundaries?”

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”

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