Posts

Big Girls Do Cry

Showing emotion has too long been viewed as a sign of weakness. “Tough” and “strong” meant holding in how you were really feeling, especially as a mom trying to juggle it all. Fear of being judged or being seen as weak or imperfect prevented us from sharing our emotions. No one wanted to be the odd woman or mom out. But unlike the lyrics of the song most of us know from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, big girls do cry. Shedding a tear doesn’t make you a wimp or pathetic; it makes you real.

Whether you are the mother of a newborn, a toddler, or a teenager, parenting is hard. And although the problems may change (getting your little one to sleep through the night to getting your teenager to come home at night), tackling them is equally as challenging. It can drive the sanest of us insane! Add to that another child or two, and the tasks don’t double, they quadruple: your head is spinning. Without your Google calendar attached to your hip telling you whom to pick up and when, you would be lost. But sometimes, even the most organized planner, the best parenting books, and the cleanest diaper bag can’t replace how lost you really feel.

Fear of being seen as lesser, imperfect, or subpar makes most of us hold our feelings in. And as the emotions build, so do the walls we put up to hide how we are really feeling. But the walls not only keep our feelings hidden, but they also keep the support of others out. They prevent us from making contact, from building relationships, and from seeking help.

When we share how we feel, our failures, and our fears, we create community. We create connections. We work together. And together, as a unit of women, moms, partners, sisters, and friends, we can stand stronger. Start a movement of honesty and truth by being honest and true with who you are and your fallibilities. You never know whom your words will reach and whom you will inspire.

So, take it from two big girls who frequently cry: crying is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a pretty good thing. Just find the shoulder of someone you trust when you do. It will make the whole process a whole lot easier!

7 Tips for Picking a Nanny: Advice from Expert Tammy Gold

Whether you are a new mom or a seasoned mom, searching for a nanny can be a challenge, to say the least! From where to find someone to what questions you should ask at that first meeting to when is the best time to start, the search can be overwhelming. Let’s face it: there is nothing or no one more important than your child. Finding the right person to help you care for your little one can seem nearly impossible.

To help soothe your nanny nerves, we sat down with Certified Parenting Coach, Licensed Therapist, and Founder of Gold Parent Coaching Tammy Gold (www.tammygold.com) to get the seven best tips on how to find a nanny. Here’s what she had to say….

Rule #1: Don’t rush the process of looking for a nanny.

When you’re worried about childcare, it’s extremely hard not to rush, especially if you need coverage immediately. But you must force yourself to fight the initial panicked instinct to hire the first remotely qualified nanny and put her to work right away. To make a good decision, you need data. You want to allow yourself plenty of time and ideally be under as little pressure as possible so that you can go through the entire process carefully, complete the necessary due diligence, and feel great about the person you hire.

Rule #2: Do the work to figure out what you need.

Your nanny will be intimately involved in raising your child, so you want to really hone in on the quirks and nuances of your family, as well as the nanny personality and skill set that you need. You’re the employer, so you get to create the job, and it can be whatever you want it to be. But you need to be absolutely clear about the requirements and expectations from the get-go. Things get complicated when a nanny feels misled, you feel like you’re not getting what you pay for, or you try to change the job and modify the nanny’s responsibilities along the way.

Rule #3: Have realistic expectations.

There will be pros and cons to every candidate, and every nanny will occasionally make mistakes. But that doesn’t mean that she can’t be a wonderful caregiver or that she isn’t the right fit for your family.

Rule #4: Don’t project too far into the future.

When you sit down with a nanny, try not to think, “Is this the person who’s going to care for my child for the next ten years?” Don’t worry about whether this is a life-long match or whether you can see her being at your child’s wedding someday. Most nannies don’t stay forever; they typically stay for a few years and then move on as the family’s needs or their needs change. So, all you have to decide is whether this person is the right caregiver for your child right now and whether she will still be able to meet your needs one to two years down the line.

Rule #5: Remember that, during the nanny interview, your nanny is also interviewing YOU.

Yes, you are choosing to hire a nanny, and yes, as the employer, you are in the driver’s seat. But in the nanny’s mind, she is also deciding whether she should work for you, and any really good nanny will have her pick of jobs. Be aware that, at any given point in the process, she will be asking herself, “How do I feel about this family? Do I like how they handle things? Do they make me feel respected and understood?” You are two equal parties in every sense of the word, and you want to think about it as an equal relationship from the start.

Rule #6: If you like someone, keep the process moving.

Remember that, when nannies are interviewing with you, they are also interviewing with other families. If you like someone, make sure she knows that you’d like to move on to the next step, and give a specific timeframe so she knows what to expect. You want to keep the nanny in the loop so she knows you’re serious and hopefully will not jump to accept another offer.

Rule #7: Keep the faith!

Nanny searches require stamina, and just like job searches or dating, they can have ups and downs. There will be setbacks. A nanny may do everything right and then be terrible in the trial, or your frontrunner may get another offer that you can’t afford to match. You will sometimes feel like you are getting nowhere—and then suddenly, you’ll meet the right nanny and feel that “click.” The key is to be patient and continue with the process. If you stay the course, it does work!

Even Moms Need a Day Off!

As moms, we often think we can do things one-handed, backwards, and in the dark. You know how it is. You use any extremity (even teeth) to hold bags, babies, and BIG cups of coffee. Your day starts with the roosters and ends with the owls. The responsibilities are endless, the needs of others limitless, and the workload large. Motherhood is the most rewarding job—but it’s also the most exhausting. On a daily (more like hourly) basis, you want to quit. You wonder how can things get any harder or any more harried, and then your toddler empties your jewelry box into the toilet bowl—and you think, I guess it can get worse!

The only way to survive the disaster days is to allow yourself time to recharge. Even the fanciest cars need to refuel (nobody can run on empty forever). You are not a horrible person for thinking that time with your kids can be terrific and terrible all at the same time. They can push your buttons, make you want to pull all your hair out, and force you to ask yourself, Why did I ever do this? Let us remind you that you did this because even on the temper-tantrum, drama-filled, never-ending-tears days when they are finally sleeping and you stand at the door watching them breathe, you think, I never knew a love like this existed.

That’s why.

However, when you are worked to the bone, appreciating even the most precious moments of motherhood can be difficult. If you’re feeling like you can’t take another minute of the crying, you’re not alone. You are not a bad person or a bad mother. It is because of the enormity of it all, the all-consuming, all-in and all-on, that we beg you to take a break. We ask you to give yourself a rest—even if only for a few hours. Ask your partner, your parents, your friends, or a sitter to come over and relieve you for a few minutes, a few hours, or even a few days. It’s okay to need time off; we all do! You shouldn’t feel guilty because you want a day to sleep past 5 a.m., not change a dirty diaper, or not have an argument about why you can’t eat dessert before dinner.

We get that guilty feeling too when we clock out, but you gotta do it. Time away from any job is needed, especially one that’s all day and all night. Don’t beat yourself up because you can’t be on ALL the time. Nobody can (and anyone that says they can is lying to you). We moms can sort of do it all, carry a kid, a bag, a stroller, and pay for groceries all at one time. You do whatever you have to do to keep them safe, smiling, and healthy, in body and spirit.

Just because you can do it all doesn’t mean you don’t need some time to just do nothing. You’re not a machine; you’re just an awesome mom.

The Waiting Game

As parents, we have all been there—the endless, time-stands-still, clock-barely-ticking waiting game. Whether you are waiting for the arrival of your baby or the arrival of your teenager (who is clearly late for curfew!), we have all stood by the door waiting for it to open. The anticipation and the anxiety can be debilitating. Not knowing what is happening and what could happen to your child can be incapacitating. And while we certainly don’t have any ways of making the clock move faster, we do have ways of dealing with the unknown. It’s called limits. We put limits on the situation, our surroundings, and ourselves to limit the negative emotions that can take over your mind and limit your ability to function.

  1. Limit the negative energy: The waiting game is not a solo sport. When you are waiting for news, be it good or bad, it’s nice not to be alone. It’s also nice not to be with people that drive you crazy. Find someone (or someones) who have good juju and can stay by your side as you are standing on the sidelines.
  1. Limit your idle time: When not occupied, your brain can go farther than a trans-Atlantic flight, especially when you are thinking about your children’s health. Your mind can concoct some pretty crazy stories. And while we are not recommending that you do algebra or geometry in your idle time, we are suggesting that you listen to music, read a book, consider meditation, and hop on the phone with one of your friends. Although these modalities won’t change the outcome, they can help speed up the clock and maybe even reset your psyche.
  1. Limit your Google search: On the heels of #2, be skeptical about what your searches reveal. While we too have many degrees from Dr. Google, the Internet can be a scary and sketchy place for advice (minus Truly, MD!). You can take any myriad of symptoms and make them into the Plague. Speak to a professional, and get their educated opinion before you make a diagnosis that is dubious, to say the least.
  1. Set limits for what you can and cannot do: So often, we try and do it all. It’s hard to find one woman who doesn’t want to be Cameron Diaz in There’s Something About Mary. But the reality is that there is no She-Woman (or He-Man, for that matter). We all need help. And we are all limited. Your limitations don’t make you less of a woman, a partner, or a mother. They make you real.
  1. Limit the what-ifs, the should-haves and the could-haves: Life is not lived in reverse. Unlike that car sitting in your driveway, it can only go forward. No matter how hard you want to turn back time, you can’t. At some point, you have to stop beating yourself up for what you “should have” recognized and what you “could have” done. It won’t change what happened; it will only change how you move forward.

Unfortunately, in this game there is no official time clock. There are no periods, no quarters, and no halves. To make it to the end takes fortitude and strength. Parenthood is a challenge. And while we may not be there on the field to cheer you on, we hope that just knowing how many other people have played the same game brings you comfort. You are not playing this game alone!

Bad Moms

The other night, amidst packing and paying bills, I stumbled upon the movie Bad Moms. And while I never had a strong desire to watch it, for a combination of comic relief and some much-needed mental respite, I decided to put it on. I was immediately hooked. As a mom who struggles with work and kids, family and career, there was something to this movie. And while I don’t think it will win an Oscar, the movie not only made me laugh, but I also came pretty darn close to crying (and not because I was laughing so hard).

My emotions went south because, from the title to the struggles that Mila K and her besties faced, I could relate. The being late to everything, the never having everything under control, and the constant feeling like you are doing a C job as a mom, a wife, and a professional resonated with me. Add to that the constant feeling that people are watching and judging you, and you really have yourself in a tailspin. It’s a wonder any of us can get out of bed in the morning! It seems that no matter how hard you try, crossing the threshold from “bad” to “good” feels impossible.

Unfortunately, this piece won’t offer you much in terms of advice. It doesn’t come with “10 Tips on How to Feel Better about Yourself as a Mom” or “5 Ways to Feel Good Rather Than Bad.” And that’s not because we wouldn’t share it if we knew (trust us, we give you all that we’ve got!), but because we also don’t really have the answers. We, too, just like many of you, struggle with the “bad mom” feelings on a daily basis. No matter how big our smiles are on Instagram or how color-coordinated our outfits are, we are far from perfect.

We are sharing these emotions, as well as our flaws, to bring unity amongst women. To help us all recognize our similarities rather than dissect our differences. At the end of the day, we pretty much all want the same things—health, happiness, and love. So, let’s promise each other that the next time you think about uttering the words “I am such a bad mom,” you stop yourself. Take a deep breath, and think about all that you have already accomplished today and all that you will do, both for yourself and for others.

Cut yourself some slack. Cut out the negative thoughts. And cut out the negative people who perpetuate those emotions. Although we didn’t learn it in medical school, we are pretty confident that a processed lunch with non-organic bread or an extra 30 minutes on the iPad is not the end of the world.

Give yourself a break: doctors’ orders!